If you’re having difficulties meeting the target registration rate for your website, don’t dispare. You are not alone. Many organisations struggle with converting website visitors into registered users and feel that they are unable to utilize their website to its full potential.
The truth is that web users today have become very demanding, and a lot less patient. The average user spends no more than 15 seconds on a web page (Based on a study conducted by Chartbeat). There is a lot of great content out there and the competition is fierce, in almost every sector. If you are unable to grab your user’s attention and successfully (and quickly) lead them where you want them to go, you will lose out.
From the moment a vistor lands on your site, by searching on Google, from a social media campaign, a referring website or any other source, the journey through to conversion begins. What can you do to make it more likely that this journey will end in a new registration?
In this article we will outline our 3 step path to increasing user registration on your website. Your route to increased conversions starts here:
1. Give your users a great reason to register
This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many organisations simply don’t offer enough of an incentive to register on their site. Completing a registration form, no matter how simple (more about that in a minute) is asking a lot of your users. You need to make it worth their while. The incentive will differ greatly from organisation to organisation, but here are a few ideas that might work for you:
- Access to restricted content that is relevant to your target audience, such as guides, documents, images, videos or software.
- The ability to interact within a members-only community, including sending personal messages to other members, taking part in group discussions and sharing information.
- A personalised profile. If you have the option of creating a personalised member zone, complete with each user’s details and content catered specifically for them based on their preferences or past activity on your site, this is a great benefit and has the added value of providing a better user experience which is likely to result in your users returning to the site time and time again.
- A taste of your product or service. This is a great way of reaching out to people who have already shown an interest in your product or service and allowing them to get to know it better.
- A bonus gift. If all else fails, offer a small gift of appreciation such as a free item or a discount voucher. This small gesture to your user, thanking them for signing up on your site, will surely be appreciated and will undoubtedly increase your registration rate. Try to find a gift that is relevant to your organisation, to ensure that you are attracting the right audience.
2. Provide a clear CTA (Call to Action) with prominent placement
Ok, you’ve given your users a great reason to register on your site. Now you have to make it extremely easy for them to find out where to do so. Your average user spends 15 seconds on your site, remember? Make it really simple (and fast) for them to find your registration form. A/B Testing and analyses of hundreds of websites around the world have come to the relatively intuitive conclusion that the more your ‘Call to Action’ stands out on your website, the more likely people are to click on it. How can you make sure your CTA stands out?
- Use colours, shapes and a font that attract attention. Use bold colours and shapes that stand out against the background of your site. Use an interesting font (but make sure it’s easy to read). Making your CTA prominent will draw the user’s attention to it.
- Use simple language. To ensure your users understand the action expected of them, use simple language on your CTA button such as “join us” or “donate now”. Creativity is definitely a plus as this will draw attention to your CTA, but it should first and foremost be simple and the message clear.
- Positioning your CTA. It is advisable to keep the amount of clicks a user has to make through to your form to an absolute minimum. Your user should be able to reach your registration form in one click, no matter where they are on your website. Therefore, it is important to have a sign up button on the homepage, but also on any other relevant page that your users might be accessing. Keep in mind that Google’s search results often link to internal pages, as opposed to your homepage, so the user might not have even passed through your homepage on the way to the current page they are viewing.
3. Create an effective registration form
You’ve managed to bring your site visitor to the registration form, hurrah! Unfortunately, this is the most vulnerable place for user drop off. So it is now imperative that we take extra care to ensure the user follows through with the registration process.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing (or reviewing) your form:
- Keep your form short. In a case study to determine the most effective way to set up online registration forms, short forms (3-4 fields long) outperformed long ones by a landslide, garnering a conversion rate of 74.6% (prospects who visited the landing page and completed the form), compared to only 50% from the longer form. So try to create a short form and only ask for the fields you absolutely need.
- Use headers and simple language. Make it easy for your users to understand what you are asking of them, and how best to complete your form by explaining each part simply and briefly and providing context in the form of headers where appropriate.
- Create informative error messages. One of the most frustrating scenarios your user might find themselves in, is filling out a form is not being able to submit it because of an error. Make sure your user can easily find their mistake by highlighting the problematic field and providing a helpful error message, such as “email addresses must be in the following format…”
- Using Auto-fill and images on your form. Using images instead of, or alongside text where appropriate, make the form easier to read and more visually pleasing. Using auto fill tools, such as Address finder web forms, reduce time and effort while filling out the form and also reduce input errors.
- Split the process into steps. If you require more than a handful of fields for registration, split the form up into parts so that it looks less intimidating. Users are more likely to carry through with filling out a form if they have already submitted a part of it.
- Show your user where they are in the process. Number the parts of the form and indicate to your user where they are at and what they still have left to complete (i.e. page 2 of 3).
- Choose your required fields carefully. Make sure you’re only asking for fields you absolutely need. If we haven’t convinced you of the importance of keeping a short registration form so far, this just might – When Expedia removed the “Company” field from their forms, their yearly revenue increased by $12 million.
- Optional fields? Should you leave some fields optional, so that the user can still submit the form if these are left blank? This is a matter of opinion. Some organisations add fields which are optional in the hopes that these will not scare off potential subscribers (by lengthening the form), but offer others a chance to fill out this information should they be so inclined. From our experience, this doesn’t usually work. The form will look longer and therefore more intimidating, and most users will not fill out optional fields anyway. We think it better to decide one way or another whether each field is truly important for your organisation and if not, leave it off of the form altogether.
- Progressive profiling. Here’s another option for those of you who are having trouble letting go of those “optional” fields. A newer, incremental approach to collecting profile data, is progressive profiling. By this method you collect small snippets of information at carefully staged opportunities. For example, after a user has registered on your website and performed some kind of an activity, you can ask them for a piece of personal information relating to that activity (such as adding their phone number when logging onto your website from a mobile device).
- Social Login is becoming an increasingly popular way of authenticating website users by using their existing social media accounts. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google contain information about their users, and by allowing social login you can obtain some of this information. This option simplifies the registration process immensely for the user but requires a certain degree of trust. Users are unlikely to provide their social media login details to a website they don’t trust completely. This option is also limited in that you cannot choose the fields yourself but must rely on the information provided to you via the social media platforms.
- Safety. If you’re asking users to provide credit card details or other sensitive information, you need to ensure that your website is properly secure. Apart from having safety features in place, you need to inform your users that this is indeed the case to put their mind at ease. Provide an icon or explanation about secure browsing and assure your users that security features are in place on your site.
There are two additional tips we think are crucial to your success with user registration.
The first is having a responsive site. To ensure that you are making use of every opportunity, your website needs to be adapted to different types of devices. With mobile searches officially overtaking desktop searches in May 2015, a website that isn’t mobile-friendly simply will not hold up against the competition. It’s not enough to have mobile presence. You need to have a fully optimised mobile site. According to Google, there is a 29% drop off when mobile users reach a mobile site that takes too long to load or doesn’t provide the right information at first glance.
A responsive website adjusts the content layout to the device being used, so that the user experience remains intact. It is important to keep this in mind when designing the website and create a layout that works on all different devices. When designing a new website, we create wireframes for desktop, tablet and mobile and consider the user journey on each to ensure the best user experience no matter what device is being used.
Our second tip is to continuously test and tweak! Don’t be afraid to make changes on your site. The great thing about a website or any other digital platform is that it is relatively easy to make changes on-the-go. Much can be learned and perfected with time by trail and error. If you use Google Analytics or other website monitoring tools, you will be able to track your visitors through the website and see where your visitors are running into difficulties.
Reducing friction and removing obstacles on your site can be an ongoing process, and the more you try the more your site will improve. Monitor your data in an ongoing manner and don’t be afraid to make informed changes. You will soon find the best option for your organisation.
If you follow the path outlined above, you will undoubtedly see a significant improvement in your online registration process, which will ultimately result in better conversions. You are also likely to find that this process will impact user satisfaction. By providing a better user experience on your site you will probably find users returning again and again and inviting their friends to join as well.