Optimizing Registration Pages

Marketers are continually challenged to grow their lists; yet their best acquisition source — their own site registration pages — often aren’t optimized to be fully effective.

Although consumers are generally willing to share basic information about themselves, such as email addresses, at least a third abandoned online purchases because the site required registration prior to the purchase, according to a Jupiter Research survey. Such a tactic may be necessary for content-oriented transactions, like news sites. Yet forcing a consumer to register appears to limit online transactions’ full revenue potential.

To maximize registration and opt-in page effectiveness, consider embracing the following tactics:

  • Promote registration and newsletter subscriptions across the site. Considering the value of an email address, registration opportunities should be treated as a product or service you sell to visitors. Promote registration across the site, especially heavily trafficked areas such as store locators and search result pages. Home Depot successfully grew its list by putting a simple registration form at the bottom of every page on its site.
  • Keep registration forms short. A 2004 Jupiter Research study found 42 percent of surveyed registration/subscription pages had 21 or more fields. Consumers are leery of providing too much information and seek efficient experiences online. Only require minimal information, such as name and email address, to begin building a customer profile. Collect only the data and information you’ll use immediately for segmentation purposes.
  • Collect customer information incrementally. With a minimalist approach to the initial registration page, use email campaigns that include polls and surveys to collect additional profile information incrementally. This approach can work well, especially as segmentation and targeting tactics evolve.
  • Use standard form-field names. To capitalize on Internet Explorer’s AutoComplete, adhere to Microsoft’s standard form file names. For example, a previously typed “name” will drop into the name field, making the registration process faster and more efficient for the visitor.
  • Explain registration benefits. Provide visitors with a reason to opt in to your newsletter. Tell them about the site’s or newsletter’s registration benefits.
  • Ask a basic segmentation question. While keeping required information to a minimum, ask one simple segmentation question to help qualify prospects.
  • Make opt-in permission clear. Clearly identify whether registration data will be used for marketing. Use a separate field for consumers to opt in. This should be an unchecked box that visitors check to opt in. Such an approach may also help challenge spam complaints or navigate delivery issues that may arise from such complaints.
  • Confirm age. If your Web site could potentially draw teenagers and children, the registration form should request age. It should be compliant with the guidelines set by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), which prohibits companies from collecting data from children under 13.

Enlisting some of these slight modifications can help drive your newsletter registration conversion even higher. Let me know how it works out.

Meet David at Search Engine Strategies in New York City, February 28-March 3.

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