Negative Shipping, Less Pain, More Gain


Endless.comIf there’s one persistent theme here at Neuromarketing, it’s that good offers reduce buying pain for consumers, and bad offers increase it. My fellow Web marketer and occasional PubCon co-panelist Andy Beal has identified an ad that he terms “the most enticing banner ad ever,” and he might be right. has moved beyond “Free Shipping,” and even “Free Overnight Shipping,” to offer “Negative $5 Shipping.”

From George Loewenstein’s work at Carnegie Mellon, we know that people tend to evaluate offers in terms of whether something seems to be a good value or is overpriced. This determination is presumably based on the person’s past experience and knowledge of the item in question. An overpriced item activates the brain’s pain center, and the individual is less likely to buy the item. This banner ad works well to minimize that pain, and can even grab the attention of a jaded Web marketing pro with its originality. Andy notes,

I?m online all day, which means I?m conditioned to ignore ads. I also have no interest in women?s shoes. Still, credit to Endless for getting my attention with their offer to pay me $5 to ship their shoes overnight.

Will the ad sell a lot of shoes? I don’t know – I suppose it depends on the selection, the presentation, and of course whether the prices look as if they have been pumped up to pay for the negative shipping promotion. I’m confident in predicting, though, that the ad will get above-average click rates, in which case it has served its purpose of driving potential customers to

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