Have you thought about what you can do for your customers lately? Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in trying to persuade customers to buy, we forget the simple power of offering them something extra for no charge. It’s important to view buying and selling as a two-way street; after all, both you and your customers play equally important roles in making the relationship work. The concept of selling cosmetics online is gaining popularity among users.

The principle of reciprocity in selling cosmetics online has power because it taps into a strong tenet of human psychology. “This principle highlights the fact that if someone does something nice for us we generally feel the need to repay the favor or the debt,” according to Kissmetrics. In other words, doing something nice for your customers does more than just boost their levels of “warm fuzzies.” It actually makes them more likely to pay you back in the form of future purchases, completing the desired goal (like signing up for a newsletter), or telling a friend about their positive experience with your brand.

Making the most of reciprocity means you must identify the behaviors you want customers to engage in—such as signing up for your email list, referring a friend, becoming a loyalty club member, repeating a purchase, adding another item to their cart and etc. You can then match your incentives accordingly.

For example, let’s say you want to focus on increasing Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) among your shoppers. This means you’ll need to devise a way to keep shoppers coming back again and again over time, long after they’ve bought their first lipstick or contour brush from your brand. A smart way to accomplish this is to roll out an online loyalty program in which your customers can earn points for their purchases. By offering your customers points per dollar they spend in your store, you’re motivating them to keep buying until they can redeem a discount. You’re also giving them the chance to score cosmetics at reduced prices, in exchange for which they’ll give you their continued patronage over time.

As you sell makeup online, one of the best gifts you can give your customers is the chance to try new products before they commit to spending their hard-earned cash. Reciprocity can help here too. Try offering your customers a freebie or sample size with each purchase over a certain threshold (say, $25). It’s a win-win because your customer will appreciate the gesture and you will have the opportunity to show off new offerings in your product lineup.

Research also shows shoppers view additional products and gifts as a gain; conversely, getting discounts or coupons feels more like reducing a loss. Since shoppers frequently engage in emotional decision-making when it comes to buying online, this means offering freebies is a great way to get bang for your buck when it comes to a reciprocity payoff. Of course, few shoppers will turn down a discount code or special coupon if offered, so it’s still worthwhile to do every once in a while, or if you find shipping out actual products to cost prohibitive.

One study showed sending customers a full product to try boosted word-of-mouth marketing (WOM) by 20 percent on average. Sending branded extras (like stickers) boosted WOM by 15 percent. Consider how you can ramp up your unboxing experience with a well-chosen surprise to delight your customers by selling cosmetics online. If they tell their friends about your generous gifts and quality cosmetics, you’re poised to acquire new potential customers for a minor expense.

Ultimately, this is the secret behind the principle of reciprocity in selling cosmetics online. Gifting shoppers a free mini nail polish is more than just a nice perk. It could well be the feel-good interaction spurring them to make subsequent purchases and gift you their loyalty in return. Give a little up front and your customers will be more willing to reciprocate the favor.


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