Sign Up, Please!

Aug 26, 2009  |  Michael Wurzer

There’s been a great discussion going on over at Bloodhound Blog regarding whether and when to ask visitors to an IDX site to register.  In his post If You Want to Close More Deals, Require Registration, Eric Bramlett makes the case  that requiring registration can produce more sales if you have a good follow-up process in place.  The basic premise is that requiring registration produces more sign-ups from a wider variety of people (including those not wanting to buy or sell now), and so you need an incubation process to find those ready to do business now.  In the comments to the post, there are arguments pro and con for requiring registration, with those who don’t require registration preferring to allow users the freedom to indicate when they want to register, which provides a sort of self-selecting process (fewer but higher quality registrations).

To help our IDX customers find the best options for their site, FBS recently released options in its IDX Manager to allow agents and brokers to specify registration options for each link:

There are a couple of things I think are cool about this: (1) the options can be set up for each link, so you can try different options on different links and compare how they perform; and (2) you can allow users to skip the registration requirement, which effectively turns the requirement into a request.

My personal view on registration is that I think it should be as natural to the consumer’s search activity as possible.  For example, it’s necessary and expected for users to register when they want to save something, and that’s the default behavior of our IDX links.  If you’re going to require a registration to view content, perhaps requiring for it right up front is the most natural — if you want in, identify yourself — because some arbitrary limit based on time or number of listings or searches viewed is, well, arbitrary.

Overall, as I’ve written before, I think consumers are more accustomed than ever to registering at web sites, and so asking for registration no longer has the negative connotation it once did.  I also think registration requirements are going to become more common on real estate sites as VOWs gain popularity.  As others have commented, the key is how you follow up.  If you provide a useful service post-registration and don’t spam the recipients, the consumer may just become a valuable customer making the registration a win-win.

I also realize that what matters are measurable results.  Some or all of these approaches may work better for you than others.  That’s why we’ve provided the options, for you to try and see what works for you.  As these new options are deployed by our customers we’ll collect data and report back later with which options are producing the most registrations and it will be interesting to see if we can tie the registration data to sales data to measure the real bottom line.

Let me know your thoughts on the best place to ask for or require registration during the consumer search process.

3 Responses to “Sign Up, Please!”

  1. Matt Cohen says:

    I love all the options you have provided – if I had one of your IDX sites I would want real-time A/B testing to start collecting measurable results off the bat but it’s great that you’re going to report back as you described. I can’t wait to find out the results!

  2. John Mijac says:

    I have been carefully monitoring users on my IDX site for the last few months. In this time I have had places where users can register for additional information, but up until the last month I have allowed searching without registration. This last month I have required users to register prior to a search. This has cut down on the number of users who stay on my website, but interestingly enough, it does not seem to have reduced the percentage of users who register.

    My feeling is that the best place for registration would be to create an environment where users want to save their work (though I do not have this facility now). This would seem logical and would be interpreted as a necessity if the user wants to pick up where they left off in the future. It may be a way to convert those who were wary about registration, but I too would like to see your results.

  3. Jon Cardella says:

    I’d love to see the results and methodology of your study. Keep it as scientific as possible, please, so that the data has real meaning. Another thought is to have a number of real estate brokers submit their website metrics, namely registration rates, and their url while you review their website and classify them into one of the categories listed above in Step 6, aggregate the data, and anonymize the results. You could correlate resgistration/response rate with the various registration schemas, draw a few graphs and summarize the results in an impressive report or white paper that you could publish on your website. I’d surely particpate in return for access to the data.