Required Registration: A Conversion Killer?

Written: 29-Sep-2008 | | Filed under: Conversions & Sales

Back in the third quarter of 2007, Forrester Research asked web users what their reaction had been when they were required to register with a website before they could purchase a product or service.

As reported in the Fall 2008 issue of Search Marketing Standard magazine, 70% said they went ahead, registered and made the purchase. Not bad, maybe… but if you think about it, that also means nearly a third of the potential customers either left the website outright (23%) or registered, but changed their mind and didn’t buy anything (7%).

Let’s be clear — these were people who were “sold” on the product or service to the point they started the purchase process. And these websites that required registration prior to purchase basically changed their minds, and convinced 30% of them to not by.

Which, given how hard we all try to persuade people to buy from us, seems kinda crazy. Pretty much the opposite of what we normally try to do. And not just a little bit wasteful.

I mean, can you afford to turn away one-third of your customers?

If you currently require registration or you’re considering it… first, it would probably be a good idea to stop and think for at least a minute or two about why you want people to register before purchasing. What is it that they’ll get out of it? What do you get out of it — and, more specifically, what will you get out of it (that you can’t just as easily get through other means)?

While you’re pondering those questions, here are a few other things to consider:

  • Find another way to get the info you want. For instance, customers expect to furnish their contact information as part of making a purchase anyway, so you don’t need them to register to get that. If you want a newsletter opt-in, why not simply ask for it as part of the purchase process? If you think about it , you may find you can get the information you want without any registration necessary.

  • Offer customers something extra. In the same Forrester Research survey, 51% of site visitors said they’d be willing to share personal information with a website in order to receive an extra discount on their purchase. Some other reasons they said they’d give up their information: to receive fewer ads (41%), to save time (on future purchases, maybe? — 40%), to receive free content (39%) or to have a more personalized experience (27%). You can try to figure out what your customers most want and offer that as a “carrot” to reward them for registering.

  • Consider making registration optional. When it comes down to it, you need to decide which will work better for your business — to require registration and possibly lose 23% of your prospects (those who will bail without registering) and up to 30% of potential sales (the 23% plus the 7% who register but don’t buy)… or to make registation optional, and maybe save those sales (admittedly, while probably losing sign-ups from some unknown percentage of people who will buy without registering).

Bottom line, don’t assume registration has no effect on your conversions and sales. Be sure you’ve considered the consequences before you make registration mandatory.

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