In Defense of OTOs

23 Feb

Recently I had a discussion with a marketer who shall remain nameless (his initials start with Konrad), about OTOs and the sales process. 

One Time Offers are a bit like exit popups – everyone hates them, but they are everywhere.  And why is that so?  Because they work.

I admit that I find OTOs and upsells a bit annoying.  Mostly the funnels that have 2 or 3 or more.  It’s a bit like getting trapped in a pornado. But even though I find them annoying now, there have been times when I have taken advantage of them. And I do mean taken advantage of.  I found the upsell a valuable complement to the original purchase.

True, if you are offering junk, and your (only) goal is to make money, then the ethics of the OTO might be questionable.  But if you are truly attempting to offer your buyers value, then why would you not offer to sell them additional quality products?

The problem is that people look at the upsell and think, “Well the original offer must have been junk”.  But it seems to me that the undercurrent is “Why didn’t he just throw this in with the original offer?”  I’ll tell you why – because he couldn’t afford to.

The fact that there is an upsell doesn’t mean the original offer was junk.  In fact it often means the opposite.  The model works because the original offer is a good value.

Look at some of the WSO’s that come available.  A 50 page book with 7 hours of video and a free software product as a bonus?  For $7? Really?

These products are loss leaders. There is only one way someone can afford to sell something like that for virtually no money.  By making money on the backend.

Admittedly, there are unethical marketers out there who deliver half a product and use the upsell to make it work.  But that is most certainly more the exception than the rule.

If you see that  a product sells 3,000 copies and all you hear about are two people who complain about the OTO, there probably isn’t a problem with the offer.  The problem is with how you perceive things.  You’re like the movie star who gets fifty great reviews and spends days obsessing over a bad one.

You should worry not about the two people who got to an OTO and copped an attitude.  You should worry about the thousands who never buy in the first place.

Last – by all accounts, OTOs work.  Let’s face it – you didn’t get into internet marketing to make the world a better place – that’s what the Peace Corps is for.

It is hard enough to make money in the first place.  You should think carefully before you pass up an opportunity to increase your earnings.

Danny McConnell

I am an internet marketer/writer fighting bland content one word at a time. I write regularly here and on my site:

22 thoughts on “In Defense of OTOs

  1. Hahaha… you made my day. I say it was a successful day if I manage to inspire someone. Glad I inspired you to write this post. 😀

    I do not know the statistics on this, but I think for the most part, OTOs conversions in the internet marketing niche have gone down. They are just not what they used to be. Marketers (especially experienced marketers) know the psychology behind OTOs and as a result many refuse to even look at them when they present themselves. It’s almost like “banner blindness” where people don’t really see banners on a site anymore… they look right past them. We should call this “OTO blindness”.

    This does by no means mean they don’t work anymore (banners still work too) but they are just not nearly as effective if your customers have been exposed to them a hundred times before. Know what I mean?

    Taking it a step further: I would hate to get a reputation with my buyer list of “if I buy this, he will try to sell me something even more expensive in the back-end”. I like the idea of being straight forward and upfront with my customers so that they know they mean more to me than dollar signs.

    As such, I personally refuse to use OTOs in my business (for the most part). Will I change my mind about it someday? Maybe… I don’t know.

    Am I leaving money on the table? Probably, but I am perfectly happy with having a stronger reputation than income 🙂

    Just my five cents. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and philosophy 😉

    Are OTOs bad? No, they work (like Danny said) but most marketers hate them which is reason enough for me to avoid them like the great plague.

    Anyways, great thought-provoking post Danny 🙂

  2. What really sucks is when the original offer is hyped by saying that this is all you need and the first sentence on the download page goes something like this. “Stop! This is the hidden secret to how to make our system work!”
    Really?! now I feel like a fool and cheated besides. Buyers buy for all sorts of emotional reasons but reading words like that destroy any sort of credibility with me.
    Personally I appreciate OTO’s as long I am educated ahead of time, shown what the value will be and do they add lots of value by cutting down time of implementation or automate the process. A good example might be a course on getting traffic and the OTO is a plugin that automates much of the process. Those complement each other well.
    In fact I would almost expect the OTO with that kind of offer because it shows the vendor has done their research and is giving good value as an up sell to me their customer.
    You haven’t mentioned this but what really irritates me is getting 5 or more exit popups and then offering a lower price each time. Now what are they really telling me? Their product is over priced to begin with and potentially junk to boot. Come on!! my time is more valuable than having to fight my way back to the browser.

  3. i hate one time offers,I really don’t think they are a valid marketing tactic any longer.. If the product does stand on it’s own the it shouldn’t be released.

    A recent wso made a big issue of 2 things the vendor did to sell 7000 copies of his wso. They were mentioned in the headline, the copy and the video… Guess what they were only revealed in the OTO

    on my latest and final wso I actually offered discounts codes for my previous wso’s comparing notes with other marketers I made twice as much on the back end …there was no hard sell the links were just mentioned under the downloads….

    Glad to be out of the wso market now…

  4. I hate One Time Offers. I am broke, and try to squeeze out money for an offer if it is not too much and then told I can really make money if I buy the OTO.

    That stinks in my book.


    • I couldn’t agree more!

      One I seen recently was: a decent service as the front end offer… and the OTO was the training on how to use the service.

      Marketers get a bad reputation in my books in no time with cheesy OTOs… nevermind OTOs like that!

  5. I really don’t have a problem with OTOs, only a problem with bad minded marketers(scammers).
    As long as the OTO adds value to the user but it’s not necessary to run or understand the functionality of the plugin/software…that’s cool!

    Last but not least, when we buy a car we have an opportunity to purchase extras at a reduced price..I would possibly buy.

    I would be more inclined to purchase a plugin for $15.00 that cuts my time investment by 5 hours and an OTO for $15.00 which could save me a further 5 hours rather than paying a one time $30.00.
    Psychologicly, it always hurts to pay larger sums and leaves more room for reluctance


    • Hey TW,
      Thanks for dropping by and adding to the conversation.

      That is an example of a good OTO. I am sure part of the problem people have with OTOs has to do with unethical OTO sellers, but I wonder if some of it isn’t also jealousy of a sort. Perhaps when people see that if only they had more money they could have gotten a better product, they get discontented with the product they did buy.

      That sort of thing could be resolved by putting all the offers on the sales page to start with. Some marketers do that instead.


      • Indeed Dan, but puting “everything” on the sales page kills the suprise and thats what it’s all about. The “SUDDEN IMPACT”, “the adrenaline effect” of being able to purchase something that others don’t have is the essence and motivation to continue buying.

        Informing them briefly about a “Delightful Surprise” on the backend entices them to buy the initial product.

        It’s not a charity show, it’s a business but not everyone realizes this.
        The majority are always looking for that magic button and no matter how good your product is, if it still entails work, many will find a reason to blame the OTO, your mother or their bank manager.

        You just can’t pleae everyone and ONE SINGLE negative posts regarding the OTO inflames a flock of stressed wannabies that seem to suddenly arise out of nowhere.

        The imortant thing IMHO is that we don’t neglect the buyers which happens far to often. My God, how many WSOs are there that end with customer asking for information before purchasing and the vendor simply ignores the WSO having achieved his finacial goal for that project.

        I think It should become a WSO rule that potential buyers are informed of the OTO(not the price) and whether or not the functionality of the promises made in initial purchase are dependant upon the OTO.

        One thing is for sure, birds of a feather flock together and no matter how much info is presented, the moaners and groaners will always be present.


  6. The OTO Tag lines are what bother me! It is adding insult to injury if you could barely scrape up enough money to purchase the lead offer, and on the OTO tag line they put something like; “If you don’t care enough about your future, to purchase this one time offer then click here”. That’s cheezy on their part to insult their client to intimidate them into buying. This is just my thought, but I know that i am not alone with these thoughts!


    • That you aren’t. I can see the day come where OTOs will have strict governing laws… it will only take a few lawsuits of people claiming “emotional manipulation/damage” as a result of OTOs.
      Far stretch maybe… but I certainly think we as product sellers ought to take our reputation online seriously… and not trade it for a few extra bux.

  7. Interesting subject – I don’t like OTOs. The prime reason is because they are invisible until you pay the initial, advertised cost. Also, there is usually the associated comment…”You don’t need it to run the blah blah but it will certainly help” or words to that effect. My question is: If that is the case then why not include the OTO in the whole, initial purchase price and so make the deal that much better? Sales may be lower, but people’s perceptions of getting a “fair go” will be higher and this l provides longer term benefits.

    • Mike,

      I see your point, but I wonder if then you might not be cutting some people off from the chance to buy the “lite” version.

      The other problem, at least in the case of your typical WSO, is the hard ceiling that seems to exist at about $10. This acts as an inflection point – where you don’t just drop a few sales, but can suffer a huge drop off. If the “everything included” product can’t reasonably be offered at that price point, then it might as well not be offered at all.

      Just throwing stuff at the wall here.

      • Hi Danny,

        yes I take your point about the “lite” version.

        Perhaps because the majority of the WSO’s are now dime sales etc., this may limit the reality of offering an “everything included” price, because it would appear uncompetitive in comparison.


        Mike FD

  8. I got frustrated with the OTO recently, I think it must have been the same WSO as was mentioned earler in the comments, when the sales page mentioned 2 secrets of the WSO, only to be sold a WSO without those “secrets”, but which were sold in the OTO. Then the seller (and his cronies) proceeded to put down anyone who questioned his sales tactics.

    I have just heard about Konrad through his recent offering on the WF, but must say I appreciate his integrity with this, and will be keeping an eye out for his future products. (assuming the plugins I bought are as good as I read!)

    I’m not a newbie, and actually love marketing, so can appreciate the OTO from a marketing perspective, however, it does get tiring when the “lite” version is just not going to be good enough.


    • Well said. And agreed!

      Thank you for the kind words also. I much appreciate all feedback and hey, if you got any issues with the plugin, you know where to find me 🙂

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