The Benefits of Requiring Online Registration Forms

By Zack Sanders, NetEqualizer Guest Columnist

The registration form is quickly becoming antiquated in the online world. Once viewed as an easy way to sign up or declare your interest in a company or product, the annoyance level and security concerns associated with filling out your personal data in a web form has led many businesses to utilize other techniques to grab new clientele. For a lot of companies, this is the right approach. There are metrics that show conversion rates for sales and sign-ups are higher when one asks for less information up front. This works particularly well for business-to-consumer sites, social networks that rely on ad revenue and large user bases, and web startups who need to gain a following.

For example, signing up for an online dating site might require you only enter in your sex, age, and email address. Then, once you’ve used the site a little bit, they’ll have you fill out other information in your profile. They’ve already hooked you at this point so obtaining a little more data is a trivial task. If they asked for all your information initially before letting you try the site, they’d be much less likely to gain you as a user.

A lot of companies might be quick to switch to this sort of registration method (after all, it’s the increasingly popular choice), but they should be careful about acting too hastily. It isn’t the best choice for every business. In fact, most business-to-business (B2B) organizations will see more success from a typical registration form. This is true for the following reasons:

  • Business customers usually have more strategic, long-term goals and have already determined there is a business need for your product. They usually aren’t just browsing with little intent to buy.
  • Your sales team will be more efficient because their calls to potential clients will convert better. They won’t be wasting their time as often when they know they are talking to at least semi-serious customers.
  • More sophisticated products might require a discussion between an expert/engineer and the customer. Every organization has slightly different problems they are trying to solve and it’s important to determine quickly whether your product will really help solve their issue. Just like with sales, you want to be efficient with these discussions too.
  • B2B transactions are usually large in volume or cost. Any organization or individual looking to purchase an expensive product won’t mind filling in their information. Because they are serious, the annoyance factor associated with a form goes down.
  • B2B companies have established reputations. Likely, potential customers already know you are legitimate. They won’t be as concerned about providing you with their personal details.

Figuring out what information to ask for is also an important task. You want to walk the fine line of getting complete data without being too invasive. Your form will be best received when you:

  • Make sure that the information you ask for is relevant to your product.
  • Make sure the customer feels confident about your privacy policy. No one wants their information sold to third parties.
  • Don’t hound potential clients with sales calls. Repeat calls from vendors can be extremely annoying and are a huge turnoff.

At NetEqualizer, we’ve tried both the quick/no registration method as well as our current method of requiring a form to be completed. We’ve found that the above benefits of a registration process outweigh the ease of not requiring any information. Our sales team and engineers can make more targeted, efficient phone calls and it gives us the opportunity to explain the benefits of our solution completely to potential customers. In return, the customers get better, more tailored service and support.

About the author:

Zack Sanders is a Web Application Security Specialist with Fiddler on the Root (FOTR). FOTR provides web application security expertise to any business with an online presence. They specialize in ethical hacking and penetration testing as a service to expose potential vulnerabilities in web applications. The primary difference between the services FOTR offers and those of other firms is that they treat your website like an ACTUAL attacker would. They use a combination of hacking tools and savvy know-how to try and exploit your environment. Most security companies  just run automated scans and deliver the results. FOTR is for executives that care about REAL security.

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