Email Marketing Incentives are Gold Nuggets

Gift-giving, according to studies done by psychologists, anthropologists, economists and marketers, is an important part of human interaction.  Gifts help define relationships and strengthen bonds. 

 Studies indicate the act of gift giving shows care and thoughtfulness.  The act of gift-giving goes back as far as recorded human history. 

Giving gifts, or incentives,  is frequently used as a marketing tool by online marketers to entice prospective customers to examine more closely the product or service offered. 

Most prospects, once they have accepted the gift, will, in fact, make a purchase.  This is because the subconscious ‘law of recipricity’ says that once someone has accepted a gift, they are likely to feel the need to give one in return.

There are two kinds of incentives — immediate and future.  They’re pretty ‘self-describing’ — the immediate incentive comes now, while the future incentive arrives later.

What works best for you or your organization?  What are some ways you can offer both?

As an immediate incentive to encourage prospects or possible clients to become an email subscriber, you can offer

  • Members-only information.  This incentive works particularly well when you have access to a large volume of information you have gathered, some of which you are willing to give away.
  • Free trials.  You have probably seen this used by marketers of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, as well as software companies and others, who offer the immediate incentive of free trials prior to purchase.
  • Discounts or reward points.  Airlines, hotels, major retail chains including office supply companies and pet stores give discounts and reward points to email subscribers.
  • Special Event access.  Subscribers, particularly those who are big buyers, are often awarded complimentary VIP tickets,  front row seats, etc.


A future incentive is a forthcoming gift of some kind, and it’s often used in email marketing to gain subscribers. 

  • An example of a future incentive in retail sales could be an offer for subscribers to receive  notification of a special ‘twice-a-year subscriber-only’ sale with special discounts.   This can be particularly useful in gaining subscribers when they know they are the only ones who will receive this incentive.
  • Monthly Quick Tips and Tricks Newsletter.  This is a future incentive when the recipient knows it will be coming, and has found it helpful in the past.
  • Infrequent subscriber drawings for special discounts.  The percentage of discount at the drawing could range from 10-75% and create the possibility of finding a particularly large gift or  ‘gold nugget’ in the discount drawn.

In addition to subscriber-only sales, of course, you can send other offers that are advertised in your store, in the newspaper, or other venues. 

Creating the anticipation of upcoming subscriber-only sales, random drawings for potentially high discounts, and other incentives,  is like sending out branded gold nuggets.  Gold nuggets that can be spent at your store only. 

You can use immediate incentives, or future incentives, or a combination of the two.  Everyone loves to get a gift…although there might be a few who try to tell you otherwise.

The most value, however, also supported by much research, is to the gift giver.  In fact, psychologists say the gift giver benefits psychologically even more than the receiver.   

If you’re an online marketer, give yourself the gift of giving…whether it’s reciprocated…or not. 

If you’re the receiver, you can give the gift of acceptance and offering the opportunity for the online marketer to get to know you better. 

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