We are always striving to boost conversion rates and encourage users to engage more.
Forward-looking businesses are using social login, also known as social sign-on, to do just that.
For the uninitiated, social login allows users to access websites using their existing social account IDs – such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Not only can it enhance the user’s experience on your site – no need to fill out a registration form or remember yet more passwords – it also allows marketers to gather more accurate data, including verified email addresses, age, gender, relationship status and interests.
If you are considering including social login in your marketing strategy, take a look at my top nine things every marketer should know about it.
1. 86% of Users Report Being Bothered By Having To Create New Accounts On Websites
According to research compiled by WebHostingBuzz, requiring users to enter email addresses, names and other data – and remember yet another set of usernames and passwords – puts them off and you might actually be driving them to other sites that don’t insist on traditional registration alone. Even at checkout stage.
Screen shot from: SportChek
SportChek’s data fields are far from atypical but users are increasingly disenchanted with these time-consuming forms.
In fact, 54% of users said they may actually leave a website and go to another rather than complete an individual registration form, according to a 2012 survey conducted by Blue Research.
One of the many things I’ve learned about users’ online behaviour here at LoginRadius is that the younger demographic not only expect a seamless web experience, they know full well it’s available and are irritated if websites don’t offer that.
Estimates as to the average number of passwords users currently have to remember vary from around 7 to 30, but we can assume so-called ‘password fatigue’ will only get worse.
Of course, I’m a total social login fan, but at least offering your users a choice between filling out a registration form and signing up using their social account IDs seems like straightforward business sense.
There is much more to say about registration processes than I have space for in this article, but you can read more here: Why user registration sucks and how it hurts your business.
2. 77% of Users Believe Social Login Is A Good Registration Solution…
… and should be offered by any website, according to the same aggregated research published by WebHostingBuzz.
The number of visitors directly correlates to revenue – whatever business you are in.
Whether you make money through sales or ads, you ALWAYS need more user engagement on your website.
On top of that, if your registration process might actually be driving users to other websites, it would be wise to do what you can to stop people heading to your competitors.
Let me be straight, I’m in no way claiming that every user wants to sign-on with their social account IDs. We know that older users, in particular, are more cautious about the information they share and are less likely to opt to use social sign-on.
Take a look at the chart below:
Some companies have found that while social login dramatically reduced the number of failed login attempts and password reset requests, take up wasn’t as high as expected.
MailChimp, the B2B subscriber email management service, recorded a 66% drop in failed logins after introducing social login. Impressive, but given only 3.4% of their users signed in using social login they decided to tweak their traditional registration form and remove their social login buttons.
While MailChimp found 3.4% disappointing, others felt very differently, noting that achieving 3.4% within a single month was pretty good going.
On the other hand, Easytobook, a B2C company, had 1.5 million monthly unique visitors but low engagement. They knew they had to simplify the registration process.
After implementing social login, they reported a 68% increase in user engagement because they were able to understand and interact with their users.
It seems that B2C companies might benefit far more from social login than B2Bbut even that seems to depend on a company’s expectations.
I’d still say that with so many users stating social login is their preference, giving them the choice to either complete a registration form or use their existing social account IDs is far more likely to result in enhanced user engagement.
3. 92% of Users Will Leave A Site Instead Of Resetting or Recovering Login Info
Not only that, but according to a poll by Blue Research, 1/3 of people say they leave frequently when forgetting.
People visit your site because you are offering something they are interested in. Why make it harder for them to come back to you by asking them to remember yet another password?
Offering social login itself won’t automatically increase conversion rates – you need to provide the products and services your target audience want too – but it does make it easier for the growing number of social login fans to come back to your site.
So, combined with the right product and services, social login can help users become loyal and habitual users, in turn boosting your customer lifetime value (LTV).
Be warned, however, that social login might not be an ideal choice for all businesses.
Some e-commerce websites might decide against offering social login if their target audience is aged 55 or older – these users are much less likely to have social accounts.
The same goes for businesses operating primarily in countries where social networks are blocked, such as China or Cuba.
And finally, if you only want to offer guest checkout or use third-party checkout – and you aren’t interested in collecting user data – social login might not be a good fit for your business.
4. 88% of Users Admit to Entering Incomplete or Incorrect Data on Registration Forms
In that same survey by Blue, it was found not only do an alarming majority of users enter the wrong data.
This is troubling, because in a 2013 study by Harris Interactive & Janrain, it was found that 74% of users get frustrated when the website displays content that has nothing to do with their interests. How can you personalize your marketing & create a better experience, when the data users give you is junky?
When users sign up via a social account, businesses access information already on their social profiles, such as gender, age, relationship status, interests, and the others seen below:
Businesses using traditional registration processes rely entirely on the data obtained from their own forms and know they are pushing their luck if they ask for more than five data points.
Tests conducted by web development firm Imaginary Landscape showed websites that require users to enter a large amount of data lost out in terms of conversions.
I broke down the stats and found websites decrease conversion by 17% for each required data point.
Of those users who do bother to sign up, the majority are likely to skip fields or falsify information.
Naturally, companies have tried a number of ways to validate user data, including email verification processes that require users to open their email and click on yet another link.
Programs that automatically detect irregular email addresses or incomplete dates of birth are popular and can stem the flow of falsified data, but these are time-consuming and irksome processes that don’t stop consumers voting with the escape key and heading for a competitor if they can.
Getting quality user data is essential for any online business, and offering social login alongside a registration form gives you access to verified email addresses and more than200 verified data points for each user. Without irritating the user.
It is important to note, however, that because of the large quantities of information shared through online social networks, data describing user behaviour is only as good as the methods used to collate and interpret it.
For an in-depth analysis of how to optimize users’ social data, take a look at Computational Social Networks published by Springer Link.
Others are fully sold on the value of users’ social data to marketers, including entrepreneur Higinio Maycotte.
“If login data is gold, social login data is platinum,” he says.Source: Big Data Startups
“In the current digital age where social reigns there is simply no gain digging out your own gold fleck amongst the gold mines that are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and so on. Instead, you’re better off joining forces via social login.”
5. 100% of The Blue Research Poll Participants Reported Receiving Irrelevant Information & Promotions
Hardly a surprise. We have all been directed to content we simply aren’t interested in.
Who hasn’t received endless invitations to buy men’s suits, despite being a woman? Or been offered a discounted bikini wax, despite belonging to an age group unlikely to be concerned with this type of beauty treatment?
Social login gives you access to much more information about your consumer base, allowing you to filter content according to their demographic, specific interests and personal circumstances. Basically, it allows you to personalize the user experience.
In turn, most users will be more engaged with your brand and products becauses they know you offer the things they want. Hooking users with appropriate content will see them spending much more time on your site.
That said, it would be foolish to suggest that absolutely everyone enjoys such a high level of personalization. Frankly, some find it plain creepy. Remember, though, that they are probably the type of user who is less likely to sign up with social login anyhow.
Offering a choice of sign-up options means giving consumers control over how they want to engage with you.
6. 78% of People Say They’ll Post Messages to Their Social Network About Products & Services They Like
If you’ve managed to increase your sign-up and return visit rates, you now need to engage with users and encourage them to like and share your content.
Social sharing means you can access a wider audience because users love sharing content online.
However, just as any marketing campaign needs to be properly thought out so it doesn’t backfire, website owners need to think carefully about what they are sharing and how they are sharing.
Take the infamous American Apparel campaign offering 30% off to customers living in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy “in case you are bored during the storm”. Users quickly took to Twitter and other social networks and roundly criticized the ad.
For more social media marketing don’ts, check out Mashable’s 11 Biggest Social Media Disasters of 2012.
Making your site social allows your users to easily share your content, products and promote your brand – just make sure you do it well and think through any possible, unintended consequences.
Still, the fact remains that Facebook ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons alone are viewed more than 22bn times daily across more than 7.5m websites.
With that sort of reach combined with the ability to segment users, you have to ask yourself if you can afford to ignore social sharing.
7. Better Data Means (Potentially) Better Marketing Decisions
“The holy grail of marketing is to proactively pounce upon every individual customer opportunity by predicting beforehand who will respond and to preemptively intervene each customer loss by predicting who will defect,”
Dr Eric Siegel, author of Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie or Die
Knowing who your users are means knowing what they do and don’t want. More detailed and reliable data allows you to tailor your business model, monitor trends and measure how they might impact future demand.
Perhaps more importantly though, Social login can help you to eliminate the excuse of “we don’t have enough data to know for sure.”
In two separate studies conducted by Pivot, it was found that most companies haven’t even asked what their social customers wanted.
This of course is a major contributing factor for very wide perception gap; social marketers think they know what customers want, but are pretty far off.
With social login however, you could create feedback loops to conduct your own surveys (like the one shown above) or collect testimonials, and use the social network ad platforms to target registered users & buyers in the places they’re already online.
Going social improves the quantity and quality of data your marketing team receives, enabling you to make more informed decisions about everything your business does – including marketing & customer retention strategies.
8. 82% Of Users Said They’d Consider Trying A New Product If Someone In Their Social Network Recommended It.
This data from the Blue research study reflects other research we cited in the “Why You Should Be Investing Testimonials” article.
Nothing beats word-of-mouth recommendations. Not only do you lower your costs to acquire customers (CAC), it also increases your return on investment (ROI).
Getting to know your users and having them share your brand with their networks is a marketers dream.
Social login allows you to go one step further. With integrated friend invite, users don’t simply endorse your brand and products but can actively invite their friends to engage with your site and content.
The number of potential referrals far surpasses anything marketing teams could manage alone, with users far more likely to check something out if one of their friend’s has shared it.
However, be aware that any slips in customer service or problems with products can also go viral. Remember how United Airlines came in for a roasting after initially failing to compensate a passenger whose guitar was broken during a flight?
The ‘united breaks guitars’ video on YouTube went viral, and not in a good way for United Airlines. They eventually offered some compensation, but this served as a cautionary tale for all businesses who’ve yet to understand the power ‘going viral’ also gives consumers.
But overall, making it easier to go viral by installing social login and sharing should see you get so much more out of your marketing efforts.
For some pointers on how to predict whether you’ll go viral, read Roger Wu’s blog about the very same subject on Forbes.
9. The Next Generation Of Social Engagement
Adapt or die, so goes the old adage. The world – and internet technology in particular – is evolving so quickly your competition will overtake you and win the race if you don’t stay at the cutting edge.
Just look at Blackberry and Nokia. Once absolute market leaders, they have been outperformed by competitors who saw where the mobile market was heading and understood that customer expectations were changing.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Of course, there’s a lot of discussion around the ‘is social media a fad’ question and it has its fair share of detractors.
Some marketers, including Pratik Dholakiya, founder of The 20 Media, point to falling user rates in many developed economies, including the US and the UK, as a key indicator that social media is ‘on the way out’… well, sort of.
While acknowledging social media user rates continue to rise in developing economies, Dholakiya believes that privacy concerns and user discomfort with being so visible will eventually drive social media’s popularity down.
Dholakiya does not, however, suggest abandoning social media marketing altogether, stressing that it is a niche business and marketers had better use it as such (see my points 5, 6 and 7 above).
“You can segment your audience by interests and commercial intent. Let’s put the focus back on niches. Stop trying to appeal to everybody with the same message. Go where you audience is.” Pratik Dholakiya
The lesson here is that you need a clear social media marketing strategy that does more than rely on headlines, and also can distinguish registered users, repeat visitors, and people whose “interest” profiles are similar to your existing customers.
Social login in combination with social ad solutions like Facebook custom audiences, Facebook Retargeting & Interest targeting allow you to deliver more personalized experiences over the social networks.
In theory, you can also use social login data to promote upsales & cross sells in the social feeds based on existing purchases, but that’s a conversation for another time ;-)
If you’ve been on the fence about introducing social login for your eCommerce site, hopefully this has given you enough to consider.
Of course, I’m an established fan, so I’m keen to spread the word and get some feedback from users and website owners alike.
If you have any questions or want to agree/disagree with me, ask me anything you’d like in the comments below.