Signup for any free service on the Internet these days, and the chances are good that you’ll immediately see a one-time-offer (OTO).

OTOs are a widely used marketing technique that tries to build on the action that you’ve already taken to get more money out of you. For example, let’s say you’ve signed up for a free traffic exchange service. The OTO might be to upgrade your account so that you get free credits each month in the traffic exchange, and instead of paying the normal $10 monthly fee for the upgrade they’ll give it to you for a one time fee of only $97! What a deal!

The key point to remember about OTOs is that they wouldn’t offer them if they weren’t making the company money. In the case above, by offering an OTO that seems too good to pass up, and that makes the commitment you’ve already made (to get more traffic to your website) easier, they hope to get some money out of a free member. And you can believe that once you’ve established your willingness to pay for upgraded services, you’ll get additional too-good-to-pass-up offers later.

That’s not to say that OTOs aren’t worth taking. But you can’t take all of them, or you’d be out of money in short order. I generally say no to OTOs, since at the time they’re offered (right after I signup for a service), I don’t know if the service is worth investing more money into or not. Some OTOs I take because I know from experience that the same sort of service has been effective for me at other sites.

When you refuse an OTO, the chances are good that you’ll get a second OTO. Assuming that the price of the OTO was the only thing keeping you from taking it, they’ll offer reduced services for a reduced price, immediately after you refuse the first OTO. This is happening more and more these days.

Another common Internet marketing technique is special pricing. You’ll typically see something like this on a blog or website.

I highly recommend using Vista Print for your business card needs. As a service to my loyal readers, I’ve negotiated a special deal where you can get 250 free business cards if you haven’t used Vista Print before. I’m not sure how long I can keep this deal going, so get yours now!

Or it might give you a special code to type in when you’re buying to get a discount.

Special pricing like this is a regular service that companies offer to their affiliates to help them attract new customers. There’s nothing that needed to be negotiated, and no worries that the deal will go away any time soon. In the example above, if you click the link and get your 250 free business cards, Vista Print gives me a nominal fee (a bit over $3) for sending a new customer their way. You win because you get free business cards, Vista Print wins because they get a new customer, and I win because I get a bit of cash.

If you come across a product or service you want to buy, and you see a box for entering a promotional code or discount code, it’s worth doing a web search to see if you can find one on a blog or website somewhere. The chances are good you will. You’ll get a discount, and some random webmaster will get a commission.

When you’re learning Internet marketing, it’s important to learn from these sorts of techniques as you’re doing your own buying online. When you see an OTO, pay attention to whether you feel compelled to accept it or not. It’d be a good idea to keep a collection of OTO headlines and ad copy to use as inspiration for your own OTOs later. If you’re able to offer special pricing on your product or service, don’t just offer it to the general public, save it as an incentive for affiliates.

What’s the best OTO you’ve seen lately?

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