Let’s say you visit an ecommerce website, and up pops a little box that says something like, ‘Subscribe to our newsletter to get 10% discount’. You think to yourself, ‘That sounds like a good deal’, so you enter your email address. And, just as promised, an email arrives with a discount code.

Discount code popup

In that simple interaction there are some interesting negotiations and value exchanges going on. The website wants your email address so they can market to get you to buy from them. You might want to buy from them so getting a discount sounds like a good thing to you. Who wins and who loses?

Scenario 1

You ignore the offer and click the x to close the box. Nobody gains or losses anything, but there is failure to gain on both sides. The website didn’t get your email address and you didn’t get a discount code.

Scenario 2

You enter your email address and receive the discount code, but don’t use it as you decide not to purchase from this site. The website makes a little win as they have your email address to market to you in the future, but they didn’t get the bigger win of an order from you. You didn’t win as didn’t get what you were looking for (unless maybe you bought it elsewhere) and you had a little loss as you handed over your email address (but of course you could unsubscribe later).

Scenario 3

You enter your email address and receive the discount code, and place an order using the discount code. The website wins as they got an order (presumably with a margin they can accept) and got your email address to market to you later. You win as you purchased the item you wanted at a discount price.

This kind of cooperative/competitive game play is interesting. Are website owners setting out to create win-win situations with their customers? With a bit of research to understand how customers are approaching a website it isn’t too difficult to understand those value exchanges and create opportunities that help everyone achieve their goals.