Give and You Shall Receive: Using the Reciprocity Principle in Your Email Campaigns

Learn how to use Cialdini's Reciprocity principle in your email campaigns.

Marketing Psychology
March 30, 2023
Give and You Shall Receive: Using the Reciprocity Principle in Your Email Campaigns

So much of marketing boils down to understanding social psychology and human behavior. If you, as a store owner, can tap into these primordial triggers–shaped by million years of evolution–you can sell your products a whole lot better.

What is Reciprocity?

Think about the last time you were at Walmart and someone offered you a free sample of Spicy Salsa. Did you feel the urge to get a bottle? 

Of course, you did! That’s reciprocity at work, my friend!

It’s human nature to hate being indebted to others. We’re wired to return favors and offer something when we receive something. There’s a reason it’s the first principle in Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

It’s just a long-winded way of saying: I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine.

How to use it

Like in real life, Reciprocity works well in business too. When you offer something of value to your subscribers, they feel obligated to reciprocate it…by buying something from you, hopefully.

Offer a small gift (like discounts, downloads, entertaining BTS) that has inherent value while asking shoppers to take an action–whether it’s clicking a link, buying a product or sharing information.

Here are a few ways you can use reciprocity to your advantage:

  • Free gift with purchase
  • Discount coupon for future purchases
  • Content, ebooks and guides within which you can add a quiz or survey
  • Free consultation sessions
  • Free product trials
  • Offer free shipping 
  • Style tips or behind-the-scenes looks
  • Giveaways


Snif is an online store that specializes in fine fragrance and scented candles. They take a simple and straightforward approach while employing reciprocity. 

They run giveaways on Instagram periodically. They also offer free returns and an in-home free trial for 7 days before people need to make a purchase.

By giving value upfront, their shoppers feel obliged to make a purchase.

Made In is a professional-quality cookware brand. It’s one of the few brands in the space that offer good, free content that complements the items they sell.

Their email newsletter contains recipes, technique, and cookware care information for free.

Their website has a dedicated “Learn” section as well.

Hawthorne is a personalized skincare brand. They offer 1:1 sessions with an Aesthetician to help curate a personalized skincare regimen for you.

Let’s say, you get so much value out of this blog (I really hope you do), and I ask you to share this with others or sign up to Forward, would you consider doing it lol?

Cut your email marketing bill by 67%

No limits on contacts.
Pay only for what you use.

By subscribing you agree to  our Privacy Policy.
Start your Free Trial
You’ve been added to the list.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Share this post

Latest posts

Combine email, SMS, and push notifications in a single platform.