Historically marketers have paid close attention to site traffic, time on site and page view statistics. Success on today’s Internet, the social web, is however, not guaranteed by any of these numbers. The most savvy marketers are waking up to the fact that new key performance indicators are more relevant:
- Quality of site traffic takes precedence over quantity of site traffic
- Interactions on your site are far more important than just time on site
- Sharing content from your site leads to effective word of mouth marketing, unlike passive page views.
The critical foundation underlying these new success methods is knowledge of your users. But how can this level of insight be achieved?
Create a Compelling Reason to Register – The ‘Give to Get’ Paradigm
This give-to-get scenario is a catalyst that prompts and ensures successful user registration because the user perceives the benefit of membership to be worth the time it takes to register. A compelling why is arguably the single most important factor in getting a visitor to become a member. Think about this as a value exchange or a ‘give to get’ relationship. In exchange for something of value – information about the user, for example – the organisation will provide something of value such as premium access, promotions, free content or other value-added benefits.
Once the value proposition has been identified, it is critical that this is displayed everywhere, ensuring that a user cannot spend more than 30 seconds on the website without knowing why they should become a member. This list of potential benefits to offer members is by no means exhaustive, but here are some options to offer:
- Access to premium content – Allow members to view enhanced content such as in-depth features, multimedia, podcasts, case studies and marketing briefs
- Access to enhanced customisation – By creating an account and pulling in profile data the user, or member, will benefit from personalised features on your site such as recommended reading and suggested products to purchase
- Access to an online community – Promote the concept of ‘community’ by allowing members to interact with each other through personalised profiles, photo sharing, forums and user generated content
- Free newsletters – Keep registered users informed of new product releases, current articles, and organisational updates
- Vouchers and promotions – Offer discount vouchers and special promotions such as free shipping, daily discounts and contests only to registered users of the site
- Insider scoop – Let users be the first to hear about new products, events and tour dates.
Expand your membership through online word-of-mouth marketing
Once the community has some momentum, it can be taken to the next level by involving members’ wider social networks. Through the addition of social sharing functionality, members will be able to share experiences from the site directly with friends and online communities, expanding the brand awareness. For example:
- Commenting on an article or posting a review
- Promotional campaigns that provide incentives for members to win a prize when they invite friends to become members
- Loyalty programs that upgrade the membership level when friends they have invited become members
- Encouraging sharing of a purchase on completion of the process
- Mobile campaigns that send messages out to promote both membership and additional downloads of the mobile application.
Optimising the Registration Process
Make the registration process as simple and painless as possible. The answer to growing members is to provide the key combination of compelling with an incredibly simple registration process. There are best practices to simplifying the registration process:
- Keep the registration form as short as possible – Determine what user profile information is required and limit it to that. Most sites see an immediate rise in registration rates when forms are simplified and only ask relevant questions
- Adopt a progressive disclosure model – Request a minimal amount of data from the user at the initial registration point, and then at future touch points, ask for more information to build a complete user profile over time
- Ask users to login via existing social networking accounts – Offer login through a Facebook, Twitter, Google or LinkedIn account and speed up the process. This method enables the instant collection of users’ accurate profile data.
Offering Registration with an Existing profile
The rapid spread of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as the availability of Internet email accounts through Google, Yahoo or Microsoft Windows Live, has increased the likelihood that the majority of site visitors already have at least one preferred online profile. Offering registration or login through these profiles has been proven to not only increase registration rates, but to increase the quality and reliability of the user data.
In order to increase ROI on the Internet today, marketers have to reconsider the registration process and value proposition. Optimising these two factors will lead to higher member acquisition rates and increased ROI. When converting visitors to members, marketers gain more insight into their users and uncover new marketing opportunities. Providing compelling reasons to become a member, coupled with a streamlined registration process, will drive member acquisition and improved online revenue.