This classic book Influence by Robert Cialdini is currently blowing our collective minds here at the RateNow world headquarters.  It’s about the real-world factors that cause people to say yes, and the techniques that drive that compliance.  It’s a beautiful summary of the ways in which we become persuaded.

We may have read this book during our MBA coursework, a fact we like to throw out there as often as possible because MBAs are as rare as air molecules and we are so proud to be among the elite. But, coursework being what it sometimes is, we may have just skimmed this book during our studies, and not, you know, invested in it. Because Cs get degrees.

Circle of Reciprocation. So Zen.

Anyway, on the current re-read, this book gets two enthusiastic thumbs up.  It’s just brimming with lessons that everybody knows by instinct, but that few understand in a way that they can put to use. And, of course, being text marketing zealots, we’ve found an abundance of applicability to the world of texting with your people.

What we’re highlighting today on the Loud Blog is related to one of the weapons of influence: the rule of Reciprocation.”

“One of the most widespread and basic norms of human culture is embodied in the rule for reciprocation. The rule requires that one person try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided. By obligating the recipient of an act to repayment in the future, the rule for reciprocation allows one individual to give something to another with confidence that it is not being lost. This sense of future obligation within the rule makes possible the development of various kinds of continues relationships, transactions, and exchanges that are beneficial to the society.”

Interesting, yes? In the most basic terms, reciprocation drives us to want to pay back what we’ve received from someone else.

Therefore, if you want to influence more loyalty from your people, you can use reciprocation to your advantage simply by giving them something for agreeing to receive texts from you.  Give them an incentive.

Cheap ice cream, right now? Yes, please! And take my future money, too!!!

Lots of RateNow clients offer an immediate incentive for a customer who joins a text club – a free drink, an entry into a giveaway, a complimentary piece of swag, a shiatsu massage, total consciousness, or whatever. The specific incentive doesn’t matter, it’s the act of giving it that spurs the rule of reciprocation.

So, a call-to-action that includes an incentive would read something like:

“Text GOOBERS to 78619 to receive VIP Texts from us, and we’ll give you a free box of thing-a-mabobs right now!”

Most clients do this to drive the actual opt-in behavior, the idea being that customers are more likely to take action if there’s an immediate reward. This is a great thing.

However, according to the rule of reciprocation, offering an incentive not only drives the initial opt-in, it also strengthens the long-term relationship between brand and customer. If a customer receives something from you, simply by signing up to receive messages they already want to receive, they’ll be more likely to want to offer some kind of repayment to you – increased business, more referrals, easier problem resolution, even something as simple as not opting-out of receiving your texts. Using an incentive at the time of opt-in can drive any of the longterm loyalty behaviors that are the foundation of successful customer-brand relationships.

Such is the power of the rule of reciprocation.

So, if you want to strengthen the loyalty of some of your most loyal people, if you want to have a better shot at influencing them, a ridiculously simple way is to give them something when they agree to receive your texts.

Reciprocation and the Incentive