Are Social Logins the Future of Segmentation?

Content Takeover Email Marketing

Sites that forego social login buttons in favor of classic email signups could be missing out on some important data, according to industry experts. But the key to social logins is to know the audience and to serve the right social media to the right user.

Social login works for a variety of reasons, but the most basic is the fact that it immediately provides a valid email address, according to Catherine Magoffin, director of strategic services for StrongView, an email and cross-channel marketing company.

“There are a few reasons that make social logins work. You can get a lot of data. On a really baseline nuts-and-bolts level you can actually make sure you’re getting that valid email address right off the bat because you know if they’re using it on a social network that it’s active. That eliminates potentially needing to reset passwords,” says Magoffin. 

Social logins also provide a wealth of social data far beyond the reach of most brands relying purely on email or data brokers, says Dave Scott, chief marketing officer (CMO) of Gigya, a customer identity management service.

“With an email registration form, all I know about a customer is their name, email, address, maybe what city they live in. Let’s say that I have a sale for a certain type of men’s shoe; I have no idea if you’re a man or a woman, so I sent the same email regardless of whether or not I know who you are. I could be able to tie information to past purchases or maybe buy third party and hope it’s accurate, though data brokers are about 60 percent inaccurate.”

“With social data, gender comes through in the profile along with likes and dislikes. Social data provides first parties more accurate information, so marketers can make better decisions on how to promote things,” says Scott. 

The wealth of data provided by social logins can also help retailers segment audiences to push the right product to the right user. For example, a subscriber who logs into a flash sale site using Facebook and agrees to share cookies with the site provides a windfall of data.

“For example, within email you can go in and look at the socially authenticated audience and the data, and find out who’s really into Burberry. Maybe a flash site has some Burberry products and can push those out over email, and maybe it can even make a mobile push to that segment to let them know that they’ve got a great sale coming up with exclusive Burberry products,” explains Magoffin. 

In the past, consumers have been wary of sharing social data with brands, even though Victor White, director of marketing communications for Gigya, insists that social logins don’t go as far as retargeting, or enabling brands to “harass consumers across the Internet.” And consumers do seem to be warming up to simplifying logins by connecting them to social media. In fact, White notes that in a recent Gigya study the number of social media users who use social logins “often” has grown nearly 10 percent since 2012, from 23 percent to 32 percent.

Consumers are more willing to provide social login data if the login buttons reflect social media that is both relevant to them and to the purpose of the brand. Not every business needs every button. “Marketers need to think about their business objectives, their goals, what kind of data is going to be meaningful for them, and where it their audience actively participating,” Magoffin says. “For example, if the brand is a B2B it should obviously look at LinkedIn, potentially Facebook.”

The best way to overcome consumer suspicion of the login button is to provide transparency around the experience. “Consumers are willing to give some data if they have control over the level that they provide,” Magoffin says. “They have to be able to edit the data that they’re willing to provide. So as long as that option is there, users have a good experience.”

Related reading