Secrets Of Psychology 1: The powerful rule of reciprocation

The power of reciprocation

How do some sites have a responding audience with a higher conversion rate and others don’t? There are many but...In a lot of situations this can be put down to the powerful rule of reciprocation.


  • Give and you shall receive
  • The rule of reciprocity states that
  • “Reciprocity in social psychology refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions.”
  • Do some good and that good shall be returned
  • Karma also states do bad and bad will return

Real world example The success of Amway

Amway are a Very successful door to door selling company. What they do is give you a free trial of their products. It's a no obligation completely free trial. Amazingly their results show that they get orders for half the value of the free trial products for the average customer order. How come they are so successful? It helps to have great products and i assume Amway are good products, but there is something else going on. The rule of reciprocation: by giving away a gift the customers return that gift in buying.

The story of Joe and raffle tickets

Joe was a young guy selling raffle tickets for his local organisation and was desperate to sell more with any legitimate means he could. By testing something simple and the team produced remarkable results. When speaking initially to random people in an art gallery he took a small break from them and returned. In half the occasions he came back with a bottle of Coke for both himself and the person he was chatting to. In the other half he brought back nothing at all. Joe then proceeded the conversation and then asked for a donation in raffle tickets. When he returned with a bottle of coke for both he increased his sales of raffle tickets by double. All because of the rule of reciprocity.

An obligation

  • Within us humans there is an obligation to give, an obligation to receive and an obligation to repay.
  • It’s our obligation to receive that makes the rule of reciprocity easy to exploit
  • This works even for unwanted gifts, we are letting the person down if we don’t accept their gift

So what? What does that mean when dealing with websites?

  • Even by blogging you can invoke the rule of reciprocation
  • No self promotional pieces but by simply helping out people with articles can invoke the powers
  • Content and content strategy is all about helping people with real problems that they face
  • When you then ask them to Tweet or eventually buy your product the rule of reciprocation can work in your favour
  • Give and you shall receive

Free reports / guides / resources?

  • A very common tactic is give away a free report for an exchange of an email address
  • They give you their email address and you give them a valuable report
  • Give away your best content is what a lot of sites do, not hidden away but given away for free on their blog
  • With Media Surgery, the agency i work for we have given away our Web Design contract without exchange for an email address, we have received a handful of back links and social mentions

Help people out

With an initial enquiry for an service business, help them out with no obligatory advice and even a specific free report tailored to their business. It would in almost all situations raise your conversion. You may not have time but something to think about.

Many initial customer enquires are crucial to whether the person will stay with your business for the service. Don’t have an automated response here, a human genuinely helping out can make a huge difference in returns of products.

Give and you shall receive.

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