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How to Build User Registration that Helps Conversion

There is no doubt that websites offer companies many opportunities to gather information about their visitors. When users ‘register’ they give away contact details to make a purchase, download a white paper, or watch a webinar. But are you actually losing conversion opportunities by forcing visitors to register? Is your registration process too difficult?

Online retailers like registration because they can maintain a purchase history and suggest other products the customer might enjoy – a service many customers appreciate. Registration brings other benefits to returning customers: check out faster, avoid re-entering the same shipping and billing information, or use discount coupons. Enterprises like registration because they can capture names to add to their prospecting database, and in return, customers gain access to useful information. For some sales managers, the rationale is that registration qualifies the visitor. Only someone who is really interested would go through the steps of registering. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Or does it?

Are you losing conversions because you’re too insistent on collecting customer information?

In a now-classic case study titled “The $300 Million Button”, a retailer found that 75% of shoppers who got to checkout never completed their purchase, dropping out when asked to register before committing to the purchase. The web designers changed the checkout process to make registration optional and put it at the very end, after the user completed purchasing. Within a month of making this change, the completion rate increased by 45% and revenues by $15 million. This ended up adding $300,000,000 to their revenues over one year. Your conversion goal might not be a product purchase, and the payoff you look for may not be so dramatic, but here are some things to keep in mind:

Monitor the analytics

If you haven’t set up conversion goals in your analytics to track how well your forms are working, do it now. There is no other way to collect the objective data you need to help you decide how to refine your registration process.

Create a trustworthy presence

What have you done to make a user trust you with his information? Privacy concerns these days make it that much harder to convince users to part with their contact information.

  • Make sure your website is designed to convey a professional and trustworthy image.
  • Make sure your own contact information has very clear information about how to contact you in case of privacy concerns.

Provide a benefit

Think of it as a fair trade. What does the user get in exchange for his information? Depending on your business, it could be:

  • Retailer: a discount coupon for the next purchase, notification for upcoming sales. The convenience of not having to re-enter your information again, alas, is not that much of an incentive. Take a look at the Tim Horton’s site, which a good example of a page that provides lots of good reasons for registering a Tim Card.

  • Corporate: download of valuable content, access to premium content, ability to ask questions or contribute to forums, receive notification of conferences or events, or receive a discount to attend valuable events. The key here is “valuable content”. If you would give it away at a trade show, it’s promotional. A candidate for required registration is information which cost you an investment: proprietary surveys, significant white papers, or webinars.

Keep it minimal

Only ask for as much as you truly need. If all you want is to add the user’s email address to your newsletter list, just ask for name and email address. Resist the urge to dig for job title, company name, city, or which transit system they ride to get to work.

The more you give, the more you get

As a corollary to the above, if you are swapping something really valuable for the user’s contact information, you get to ask for more. This is why contests get to ask a lot of questions about you. You know and they know that a big reason for the contest is to collect audience demographics. But they’ll do it for a trip to Hawaii. Or even a gift card for coffee.

Is your registration form driving them away?

Once you’ve nailed down what you’re providing to the user in exchange for however much personal information, take a look at your form design. Keep the flow logical and the design simple. Here are two examples, one short and one long. Both examples are minimalist and convey clearly to the user what to expect. Here is the Speedly sign up for a free trial. There’s no doubt about the purpose of this page. The information they collect is minimal – not even a credit card number at this point. Not until you’re ready to make a commitment. This is a pretty safe way to go for Speedly since their implementation lets users play around and test indefinitely – until the they are ready to start taking real payments from real customers.

Here is the Litmus sign up for a 7-day free trial. Instead of one big long form, note how it’s broken down into three sections, each clearly titled so you know the reason why you’re filling out the section. Litmus does ask for credit card information but makes it very clear with a message below that the first 7 days are free, with a clearly-defined closing date.

So turn on those analytics and take a quick audit of the forms you use to collect user information. Whether or not a purchase is involved, this helps determine whether your current registration process is defeating your conversion goals. Then take a hard look at what you’re asking for in exchange for what you’re giving. Finally, make sure your forms are well-designed and walk the user through a simple, non-disruptive process. Let us know how it goes!