One Time Offers – Whats Your View?

5 One Time Offers.. Brian you Cannot be Serious!

Last friday I purchased a product on Facebook Ads by Brian Moran, it cost me $197 and I actually think it was a pretty good deal. But thats not the point of this post.

I was on the verge of refunding even before I had finished the purchase process because of the OTO’s (One Time Offers.)  I had to sit through 5  OTO’s before I could get to my purchase. I am not sure of how long it would have been if i’d sat and watched all the sales videos but I’d made an Impulse buy and I wanted to get my product there and then not sit through 30 minutes or more of additional sales videos.

In my eyes this is totally unacceptable and really got our relationship as Vendor/Customer off to a bad start.

So today I want to start a discussion about whether One Time Offers and related deals are a good thing or a bad thing, so I’d like you to give me your feedback.

There are good points and bad points to OTO’s and I’ll try to give a balanced view on both but the first thing to discus is when is a OTO not an OTO.  There does seem to be a lot of confusion even by marketers about OTO’s.  They should by their very nature be an offer you only see once and shouldn’t be able to get ever again.  More often than not if you bookmark the page you can go back to it later and get the offer.

OTO’s – Upsells -Special Offers- Downsells

The other area of confusion is when marketers confuse upsells and special offers with OTO’s so here is a brief explanation of whats what in the world of post sale add ons.

Buy this additional Product you’ll see it only once = OTO

Get an additional 3 licenses for the software you just bought = Upsell

Get 50% off all my awesome products  = Special Offer

Ok you didn’t buy my upsell when I offered it, get the Lite version for only $20 = Downsell


When OTO’s Don’t Work

Quite often a marketer will use an OTO when actually an upsell or a special offer would have been more suitable and would have made more money in the long term. The other thing is that you are trying to establish a rapport with your customer, get the sales funnel and process right and you’ll have a customer who likes you, get it wrong and you’ll struggle to have a relationship with that customer.

I have no idea if I needed or could have used the products that were offered to me during my purchase marathon, it might turn out that some of them would have been useful but I won’t know that until i’ve finished going through the product. The logical thing to do would seem to be to offer the products as a special deal at the end of the course or on the download page, that way I could go back and purchase if i needed it.  The vendor has my email address so there is no reason why he can’t send me the offer later when I am more familiar with what i’ll need.

I’ve noticed that several times recently I’ve bought products and the OTO has been something that really should have been part of the initial offer, once again this is unacceptable.  Surely if you are going to use a OTO then it should be something that will enhance the product not make it function as the sales page says.


A few months back I bought a WSO  and almost everything mentioned in the sales page was in the OTO not the main product. That was my first refund of a WSO,  I felt cheated and I will never buy a product of that marketer again.

 OTO’s Make Money

I don’t think we’ll see an end to OTO’s anytime soon as  OTO’s undoubtedly work, go to the warrior plus site and rank all products by conversion and you’ll see that OTO’s are by far the most common products in that list, 35%- 60% conversions aren’t rare.  That stat also means that customers don’t mind them.

Could it be that we as marketers are too fixated on them as we see them so much.   Maybe the average customer doesn’t mind them because he only see’s them occasionally and views then as a good thing, the chance to get another product at a bargain price. it may be that the customer actually likes your products and is grateful for the opportunity of buying another


My personal view is that I won’t be using them any time soon and I won’t be buying them. However I will place special offers on my download pages as I know that the right one can increase income by almost 50%.

I urge every marketer to think twice before using them, they may not be the best or most profitable solution.

Now It’s Down to You…

I really want to know what you think, do you love them or hate them or don’t you really care. Let me know by using the facebook comments section or the wordpress comments section below. The more feedback I get the better the consensus will be, so please share this post and lets see if we can get a well reasoned debate going.

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  1. says


    I’m glad you addressed this issue of OTOs. I understand that they’re profitable, but I hate it when I buy something and then the OTO is something that I pretty much need to have for the original offer to work. It’s quite annoying.

    Mike From Maine recently posted..$100 Niche Site GiveawayMy Profile


  2. says

    hey mark

    I have always been against any marketer that uses oto`s as a “must have” just so that main product works

    This is completely out of order and not something I have ever done and ever will do

    That being said when used properly oto`s make a massive difference with your overall profits

    The reason why they are so popular is because we all know that people that are willing to spend money on products are of course serious about there business and not offering any additional products to those buyers there and then many would say that this is a very big mistake and you are literally leaving a lot of money on the table

    Of course only offer something if it`s high quality and would really compliment the first product which they purchased

    There does of course has to be a line which you have to draw though as to how many

    Personally I am perfectly happy with offering a oto and then an upsell because im proud of my products which I have created and I know they will help people so I love being able to give people the information

    But as you say mark, when people like brian hit you with offer after offer after offer like he did with your facebook product that is “too much” and not something which I would ever recommend

    paul nicholls blog recently posted..How to Make Money Online Fast – My Clickbank Sniper Method RevealedMy Profile



    Good points paul, well made…


  3. says

    I’m not crazy about them, but as long as there’s only one, I don’t have to sit through a 10 minute video to get past it and it’s not required to make the first purchase work properly, they don’t really annoy me. I’ve used them in the past, but I stopped doing so because of the feedback I was getting.

    They’re hardly unique to the online world though. In a past life I used to sell computers and we had all sorts of upsells. When someone bought a printer, for example, 99% of them didn’t come with a cable so we had to upsell the customer on that (something that was absolutely necessary to make it work). We also upsold them on extra ink or toner, paper, etc.

    When you buy a car, after you’ve made the buying decision the dealers usually have all kinds of extras that they try to sell you. Extended warranties, maintenance packages, etc.

    It’s been proven to work since long before digital delivery over the internet.
    John Lenaghan recently posted..Google Really Screwed Up This Time. Or Did They?My Profile


  4. says

    I can see one, but 5, wow. Plus I hate them. Give me the product that I ordered and if you have something else email me. If I want it I will buy it. I know while I have my wallet out this is the time to get me into more crap, but at least have the oto’s have to do with the product that I bought.
    I have had oto that i have gone thru have nothing to do with the product that I bought. What is the sense of that? I did not know what they were even talking about when the first one came up. I hate them and most times I don’t get them. They try to scare you and say you will never see this again, what a load of crap. Hell I get an email asking me to buy it. But they have to try, so I don’t like this lying either. That is how I feel…


  5. says

    I do hate OTO’s which should be part of the main product…

    I’d much prefer to create a fully featured product that was more expensive in the first place than have the upsell/OTO hell…

    There are big companies that do the upsell hell, for example BMI Baby Airline… where you feel you are being raped every step of the process…

    GoDaddy is another pet hate (I continue to use them because they do everything else very well), but with about half a dozen upsells and cross-sells to catch out the unaware buyer is a bit sly.

    OTO’s on Brians site are a little too far IMHO, he does have some great products, but he doesn’t NEED to be so agressive.

    Tim Goodwin recently posted..Is Creating Products Like Pulling TeethMy Profile


  6. says

    The last OTO that I bought was an up grade to a “dime sale” (I don’t like dime sales) anyway I felt like I had to purchase the product twice. I would have rather to have just bought the enhanced product in the first place. If I remember right the first purchase was less than $10 and the enhanced one was like $29. The point that I’m not making well was that if I had been offered the enhanced product from the start I would have chosen it and saved my wasted time and money on the lite version.
    jon recently posted..Economic Home Improvement TipsMy Profile


  7. Dave Kendrick says

    I hate them!!!
    The other thing I hate is when you click on a link to check out an offer and decide you’re not interested. Then you have to click on “Leave Page” repeatedly before you can get rid of these jokers with all their other offers.
    I’m very tempted to un-subscribe from anyone who sends me links like that :-/



    Amanda Prior

    Often a quick way to get out of that is to accept the first purchase and exit from the invoice page.

    Amanda Prior recently posted..Crashed Out! What If This Happened To You?My Profile


  8. says

    Good post Mark.
    I am one of those that hate OTO’s. I don’t care if it is 20% or 200% more profitable. Think about the buyer, not your bottom line.

    If the seller has confidence in their product then why try and force someone into buying something extra at the time of the initial purchase.

    Why not let the buyer decide in their OWN TIME if or not they want your extra product or add-on.

    It always seems to me that the seller is desperate to make more and more money from a buyer.

    To tell a buyer that if you don’t buy this right now, (even before you have had a chance to see the main product that you have just this minute bought off me), then I won’t let you buy it ever again, (which is exactly what an OTO is). is morally bankrupt.

    If whatever they have bought from you is as good as the seller thinks it is, then more than likely the buyer would come back to purchase more, if for example, they had a nice thank you letter saying “Thank you for this purchase, I hope you like it, and just to let you know that This extra and This Product is also avaialble from me, if you decide you want them after you have checked out your purchase. Just click on the link to see more details.” Harmless and not hard sell..

    Maybe not as instantly more profitable, but a darn sight more buyer friendly.


    Janie Reply:

    I like that approach, Keith. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in selling more to your existing buyers, but I don’t like the aggressive approach and it does smack of not having the confidence in your product to try to sell everything at once before the buyer has had a chance to check out the quality.
    Janie recently posted..Planning Your Route To Continuity Income OnlineMy Profile


  9. says

    I know one online marketer who has been killing it recently has a pretty big OTO funnel on some of his products. It annoyed me because I did get stuck in the funnel and couldn’t get to my webinar registration.

    As as the original product delivers what the sales letter said it would then it’s something you have to live with. In your case it’s a good example of what not to do and the distinction between OTO and upsells is a good one. Probably better off giving people a limited time (eg a day or week) to get it at the discounted price.


  10. says

    First let’s distinguish between a One Time Offer and an upsell. A one time offer does not appear again – it is gun to the head and works on fear.

    Not good.

    An upsell that is done well is interesting and an option for the future but after 1 or 2 upsells I would do a refund and unsub.

    Actually I believe that all upsells/OTOs should be declared on the sales page before the Buy button, but that’s another story.

    PS Thanks for naming the “guilty party”.
    Alex recently posted..Oceans need vitamin B too, Who Knew?My Profile


  11. J W says

    This type of thing is what has kept me at arm’s length from IM for so long; I’ve been trying to figure out who the good guys and bad guys are, as at times they both make me feel I’m being pitched, or what I could buy really won’t be any good without the upsell. I’ve moved like a turtle through the whole process of jumping into IM because “gimmicky” is just not me, and I didn’t know if I could have a place in it. At times, even the “good guys” give me the feeling that they are just contacting me to sell again. Don’t worry, I’ve figured out you’re really one of the “good guys,” and I’m finding my way. :)



    awww thanks :)

    There is one simple rule that marketers should follow, treat subscriber how they’d like to be treated themselves.


  12. says

    One OTO is fine, as long as it’s a genuinely good deal and not essential to the performance of the product I thought I was buying as a stand-alone item.

    Multiple OTOs — just like multiple pop-up windows where I have to click “Leave Page” — mean that I won’t be recommending the product or site to anyone else, no matter how good it is. I feel as if I’d look like an idiot, a con artist, or… well, there are no attractive terms it.

    One recommendation like that means my readers will never trust my recommendations again. After all, I generally remove myself from any mailing list recommending a product with endless OTOs or a sales page with infinite pop-ups.

    Another pet peeve…? Finding out, two or three pop-ups later, that the essence of the product I was considering… it’s available for 1/3 the price I might have paid if I’d been foolish enough to click on the link in the original sales page.

    That kind of shell game is beyond annoying.

    Someone who doesn’t respect my time, intelligence, or my budget has not earned my respect for his or her business… and generally won’t get a second chance.
    Eibhlin recently posted..Content Curation Handbook – Available now!My Profile


  13. says

    Hi Mark,

    I personally don’t like them. They make me feel that somehow I haven’t bought the real deal – that I have purchased a compact, when I should have purchased a cadillac. A OTO is especially bad and unethical when you have to buy it, in order to get what you expected to have with the original purchase!

    I don’t mind an upsell, if it has to do with something like additional licenses, as you mention in your post. This is straight-forward and upfront.

    Oh, and I don’t buy anything anymore unless I first try to click away from the page. A lot of marketers offer discounts – even multiple discounts – to those who attempt to leave a sales page. I don’t especially like this practice, either.

    All the best,


  14. says

    You raise excellent points Mark.

    I find joining all those lists to be the most annoying element of the sales process – especially for WSOs. Both the seller and I as buyer know that there won’t be any ‘lifetime updates’ to that $8 ebook. They just want me on their list so that they can email me the same WSO offers that everyone else does. But not letting me access the product that has now been paid for without joining the list feels and seems wrong.

    If I walked into a shop and bought an item but they refused to let me have it after purchase until I gave them my name and address, there would be arguments, complaints and refunds, but digitally there is no person to complain to at that point in the transaction, so a buyer is forced to join.
    Stuart recently posted..The Great Internet DeleveragingMy Profile



    Thats pretty much down to thinking that what they see others do is the only way to market successfully.

    I like to wait a week or two until people have unsubscribed because they think I’ll spam them with offers then i send a bonus out.. makes me feel good :)


  15. Steve says

    Maybe the customer ought to ask …

    “Is the purpose of the OTO to genuinely assist me with the product I just purchased … or is the main purpose to further enrich the seller?”

    I realize not every case is “either – or” but if I sense the seller is only after more money, I close up my wallet fast! I always think – If the OTO can really help, why didn’t the seller include it with the main product?


  16. says

    Like Mike said, I only really despise them if I need the OTO to make the original product work. Also I think that 5 pages of additional selling before you get to your product is really pushing it. The more expensive a product is, the more likely a person is to buy the OTO. So the fact that the original product in your post cost $197, probably made the OTOs easy for the seller.
    Josh recently posted..Our 3 Most Visited BlogsMy Profile


  17. Doug Prentice says

    Hi Mark
    As long as there are people selling things there will be upsells, downsells and OTOs, although I can’t remember the last time I came across a true OTO. “You’ll only ever see this page once!” – how often have you seen that and found that you can either bookmark the page or get back to it from the WSO confirmation page.
    But I digress. The real point as I see it after a few years in selling is that once you have the customer committed to making a sale you try and sell genuinely compatible additional products. For example, if I had a pet shop and you come to buy a hamster, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t try and sell you a cage, a wheel, hamster food, hamster insurance ……. it goes on for ever.
    The difference is that in a face to face it’s easy to judge the customer’s reaction and alter your approach. In an online situation, to carry forward the hamster analogy you’d have to settle for add on sells of say a cage and hamster food, both of which would be essential if you did not already possess them.
    So if you’re approaching the sale in a scrupulously ethical way and nothing else is required to run your product offer nothing else.
    If you’re product is good and useful you can freely contact the customer again with other products to make another sale based on the customer’s good experience of the original purchase.
    However how many of us can turn down the chance of an extra sale when we know that customer is in buying mode with his/her credit card in hand and the next mortgage payment is looming?


  18. says

    Hi Mark,

    Also a few months ago I bought into a WSO that offered an oto or upsell product that really should have been a functionality in the initial product mentioned in the salespitch.

    My first reaction was: red flag.
    My second reaction was: the extra cost is still ok but
    if they can sell it now, they can sell it tomorrow as well, let’s test the first product first.

    Ended up with a refund as well. At least I learned like with any investment big or small: do your homework and don’t be lazy trusting the person who is recommending you something, there is still no such thing as a free lunch :)

    Other than that I am with Paul’s idea: if the initial product perfectly stands on its own and the oto is a nice to have extra, then by all means offer the OTO or upsell.

    For a buyer, OTO makes more sense when somebody is selling e.g freshly baked cakes: if you don’t buy them now, tomorrow they really wont be that good.
    For a seller: OTO’s and upsells do work, so do consider it when the product on offer is valuable.



  19. says

    I recently had the same experience of sitting through five endless OTO’s and as a result I cancelled everything. The OTOs were needed to make the thing work and this was not mentioned on the sales copy (surely fraud) so I felt that this would be reflected in other attitudes so I termintaed the deals with a well-known marketer. I want to get on with my life and projects and do not take kindly to someone trying to force my hand and also I found I had to sit through the same video several times, I don’t have a spare 30 minutes and do not take kindly to someone stealing time like that without warning nor permission. A good OTO adds value, is understandable, and does not continue the game of “pay more to get what you already thought you bought”. OTO’s should be about saving time, money or doing it for you.


  20. Kathy Cutia says


    I see the “No evil OTO’s!” That people put out there to be equally as bad. I purchase WSO’s because of the deals I get and once in a while (very rarely lately) that is more than what I paid for it. I do not mind them personally, if it’s an automation idea of a concept or theory (hated them before getting inside someone who is eerily similar to you head – jamesboulay I think on Skype) who said “..businesses are all built on an idea and normally only innovate on a proven model”.
    I am surprised to see people hating OTO’s or upsells. Does anyone flip at McDonalds when they are asked if they want cheese on their burger?
    One approach I find to be not intrusive at all is jamesboulay( checked, same on Warrior Forum and Skype – smart, very smart guy) who sent off an email saying he had an upsell for constant content the google gift. The interesting approach is the first email didn’t have a link, he said if we felt we were wise enough to invest in our business in a big way he would happily send us the Sales Page. I bought it and his business development group (closed now but AMAZING insight) because of the extreme curiosity factor it brought. Probably the best WSO I have ever purchased aside from Blog Cash Cow and Owl Pigeon. Those 3, if you’re stuck are drastically under priced products that have changed my business.

    Kathy Cutia



    Hi kathy,

    If i was in McDonalds and they asked me If i wanted cheese.. I’d be annoyed if i’d paid for a cheese burger :) Unfortunately this sometimes happens with WSO and similar .


  21. Mike says

    As long as they are something that enhances your original purchase and not a requirement, then I’m ok with 1 or even 2. 5 is way over the top and I think I would have got a little agitated (I’m not really known for my patience).
    I often purchase WSOs, and while some guys are up front and display their personal/developer licence prices, it has become a common practice to use these as OTOs. I was going to purchase “Social Slider” I think it was called, until I read the sales page and comments on the thread. Seems the initial purchase was for use on 1 website. Who only has 1 website? The OTO was for multiple sites. And this was a “warrior special offer”. This is stealth charging, it’s an upsell and left me with a different opinion of some guys that I’d had respect for.
    And while I’m on a roll, don’t call it an OTO and then keep sending me emails trying to get me to purchase it. IT’S AN OTO. That’s the concept. Not a ten time offer.


  22. says

    I agree with you Mark, I don’t like buying extras before I’ve even had time to go through the course or product. Offering as a special offer at the end of the course would truly give more value and build a better relationship between the customer and marketer.

    I have also been held hostage before and could not even click through to the download page until I bought one of many OTO’s. This completely destroyed the relationship and I had to “work” to get my money back.
    Carson Smith recently posted..Free Graphics and Banner MakerMy Profile


  23. says

    I know what you mean. It is getting so bad that I will not even order anything on a WSO anymore. I had some interest in two offers about a month and a half ago that looked like something I could really benefit from. I bought with the excitement of jumping right in right away. And 45 min later it was still just one more OTO. I was so frustrated that I submitted for the refund with the complaint of far too many second hand offers before I could get to the product I had ordered. The second offer had the same problem.

    I am starting to think that many of these people are thinking that the primary product they are selling is really not any good and needs ten more things to make it just okay.

    I can understand the one time single offer but ten extra offers online with a fast internet connection is going too far! A lot of times you end up weeding through so much junk you get lost or sometimes I do and totally lose interest.

    I have resorted to finding a contact page to ask how many OTOs there are before I order. But that does not always work or I lose interest before I get an answer.
    David Nettles recently posted..4ch RC HelicopterMy Profile



    David, just found this lurking in Spam, don’t think Askimet likes you !

    Great points you made


  24. says

    G’day Mark:

    In general, I don’t have big issues with OTO’s and upsells, but only if they are upfront.

    What gripes me is being held captive by a lengthy video spiel when all I want is to close the deal.

    Nothing is more annoying than being on a tight budget, but managing to scrape up $47 for a supposedly comprehensive course , only to find you have the “lite” version.

    This always makes me feel I’ve been a sucker.

    Cheers, Leon
    Leon recently posted..A clean tent lasts longerMy Profile



    I hate the 30 minute video sales pages.. I saw one yesterday that had a 3 minute “Tip” as the video then the sales page below.. quite liked that


  25. says

    You hit a hot button with this post! I purchased a WordPress video player last week with some impressive features, but the OTO included a “video manual” on how to use the plugin. The initial purchase did not include instructions. Hey, as alluded to above, buy a new car and for a couple of thousand more we’ll throw in the keys.
    Thanks Mark, for another great post.
    Jeff Bernstein recently posted..Mr. Buddylee: Sushi TrackerMy Profile



    I saw that one, thats just plain stupid and another example of why most IM’ers shoot themselves in the foot…


  26. says

    I hate OTOs as almost everybody here. Based on my experience they are either not that great deal or should be part of the “thing” I bought – I simply hate when seller tries to squeeze more and more money out of me, right after I just paid him.
    Zdenek recently posted..Sonic Smash BrothersMy Profile


  27. says

    Hi Mark,

    I just bought a product yesterday that had 4 OTO’s!!! I bought the first one at the full price of $199 and then going through the other ones and clicking on the “No Thanks” only to be taken to yet another video with a reduced price for the previous OTO… so, now I’m wondering did I get ripped off by buying the first OTO for the full $199??? It makes me pretty angry to think that I DID get ripped off just because I trusted this “marketer” not to play games with me!!! And I’m not talking just $20 or $30 off either! This guy reduced the prices of his other 3 OTO’s by half!!! So, if that’s what he could charge for the person who did not want his garbage OTO in the first place, why couldn’t he just play it straight and charge that price up front???? I’m still steaming about this! So much so that I think I will just refund the whole thing and unsubscribe from his list!

    Cindy recently posted..Girl Gets Ring System – A True WinnerMy Profile



    Cindy, thats just a really bad OTO funnell, anything that adds doubt into the mind of a buyer can’t be good.


  28. says

    I see the trend with wsos is for people to ask what the oto’s are. The product creator more or less has to come clean with what each oto is and how it ties in with the original purchase. So within that framework there is a bit of self regulation. Whether they are genuine otos is debatable…I guess the only criteria is that they are never offered again so they could be anything really.

    Other people offer silver, gold, platinum versions of the same product upfront which is their way round the oto haters/being more transparent but like you say these are upsells really.

    I think the main reason why people offer otos that overlap the original product is that they don’t have a back catalogue of products to offer as otos but feel obliged to create a oto because, as you say, it’s the prevailing wisdom on the topic. John Thornhill offered a oto with his last product that was heavily discounted past products. I don’t have a problem with that.
    Ade recently posted..Using Amazon For Your Article Marketing Ideas – Article Writing TemplateMy Profile



    Ade, discounting your past products is a good idea but I am not convinced that adding these to the download page wouldn’t be a better idea.


  29. says

    Sometimes in addition to being a regular pain in the butt, those OTO’s can be confusing. Especially if you are new to purchasing things from the warrior forum anyway. They have their place but I don’t think that anyone should be bombarded with them when they are trying to just buy one thing!

    These marketers get a little OTO happy and forget that they have your email address on their list. So why destroy a relationship before it even begins? Let the person buy the first product and then suggest the next product in an email. That’s the ethical way of doing it, I think…
    Kenneth White recently posted..The Hunger For More…My Profile


  30. says

    Unfortunately, they are essential to make a profitable WSO. Most JV’s won’t promote your WSO on the merits of the product alone, only the potential to make money on it.

    I just vomited a little bit…



    I know how you feel… pass the sick bucket!


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