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The Definitive Guide to Social Sign-In

By Michael Olson | Posted on August 16, 2012

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This is the first in a series of blog posts outlining best practices for integrating social technologies on your site. 

If you’ve ever been frustrated by visiting a website and getting prompted to fill out a registration form from scratch that requests a dozen pieces of information about yourself, you are not alone.  In fact, 86% of people out there find this process so tedious, objectionable and abhorrent (okay, maybe we are exaggerating just a bit on that last adjective, but then again, maybe not!), they may leave the site altogether when asked to register. For brands seeking to acquire users online and learn more about those users to better target, engage, retain and monetize their audience, this is a giant problem.  Traditional registration processes pose a barrier to customer acquisition.

Thankfully, there is a solution, and it is known as social sign-in.  Consumers already actively maintain identities on social networks and email providers such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and Yahoo!, and 77% would prefer to use one of those existing identities to register on sites.  Social sign-in lets people securely and easily sign-up on a site within just two clicks using an existing social identity.  During this process, consumers can choose to share demographic information from their social profile with a brand site.  This data can be utilized to pre-populate a sign-up form if there are additional data fields you need to collect, which eliminates the need to enter redundant data, improves data quality and accelerates registration.

janrain social sign in

For consumers, social sign-in is often 5X faster than traditional registration, and it eliminates the need to create or remember passwords on each site where an account is created.  For brands, social sign-in improves registration conversion rates by 10-50% and enables permission-based access to a rich set of profile data from a user’s social network account, which can be used to improve personalization and targeting within marketing programs.

Planning for Success:

Enable Sign-In with Multiple Social Networks and Email Providers

When it comes to social sign-in, people clearly prefer choice.  While in Q2 of 2012, 48% preferred to use their Facebook identity to sign in to websites, a clear majority would rather use a social identity from Google, Twitter, Yahoo!, LinkedIn or other networks.  Social sign-in preferences tend to vary even more greatly in different geographic markets.  For example, Hyves enjoys significant popularity in The Netherlands, Orkut is a leading social network in Brazil and India, and Mixi is popular in Japan.  To maximize registration conversion rates, cast a wide net and provide users with ample choice.

Display Social Sign-In Prominently on Register Pages

It sounds simple enough, but if you want to encourage users to register with a social identity, make sure they know about it. Place your social sign-in option “above the fold” on your registration and sign-in pages, either adjacent to or above the option to register the traditional way. We also recommend incorporating messaging on your registration page that explains the benefits of registering, and doing so with a social identity.

Provide Incentives for Users to Register and Sign-In

At Janrain, we often mention a “give to get” paradigm that exists. If you want users to register on your site so you can learn more about your audience and better target them for marketing programs, you need to provide a compelling incentive for users to register. Prompt visitors to easily register on your site with a social identity within the context of their experience on your site – whether that involves posting a comment, purchasing a product, publishing a review, accessing premium content or collecting virtual or physical rewards. Make sure to communicate the benefits of registering to increase the likelihood of conversion.

Let Users Link Their Multiple Social Profiles to a Single Account

Let’s say a user registers on your site using a Twitter identity, and then decides to delete her Twitter account a few weeks later.  Does that prevent her from accessing her account on your site?  Not if your social sign-in solution supports linking multiple social profiles to a single user account on your site.  Account mapping gives users additional sign-in flexibility by enabling them to access their account on your site with any of their preferred social identities.  And even better, it helps you build a richer profile on your users by pulling in profile data from multiple social networks.

Create a Friendly, One-Click Return Experience

As mentioned above, 86% of people admit to leaving a website when they forget their password, making forgotten passwords one of the major sources of customer attrition for brands on the web. The good news is that social sign-in eliminates the need for a user to create or remember a password on your site. If a user has previously registered or signed in on your site using a social identity, your social sign-in solution should welcome them on return visits with a friendly message that remembers their preferred identity provider and invites them to sign in again. This improves customer retention rates and reduces support costs associated with forgotten passwords.

Case Study

Savings.com saw registration rates double on its site after enabling social sign-in.  Social sign-in helps Savings.com acquire more users in its database to build community and empower email marketing campaigns and special offers.

Savings com Social Sign In

To learn more about how to effectively utilize social sign-in and other technologies, check out our Definitive Guide to User Management.

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About the author

Michael Olson

Senior Product Marketing Manager

Michael Olson joined Janrain more than five and a half years ago and has experienced the explosive growth of the digital marketing technology landscape. Previously, he managed demand generation programs at Janrain. Currently, as the Senior Product Marketing Manager, Michael drives go-to-market strategy for product launches as well as positioning and messaging to communicate the value of customer profile management solutions to companies. Michael's writing has been featured in publications such as GigaOM, Adotas and iMedia Connection.

View all posts by Michael Olson