How would you feel if you went into a restaurant and before you were allowed to sit you had to give the hostess your name, email address, street address, phone number, company name, how much you earn, and every other piece of personal information just short of your social security number and bank accounts? All this information before you even have a chance to try the food. Personally, I would leave.
So why do we tolerate websites that demand lengthy registration forms before letting us try their service? I say it is time to stop!
If you require registration in order to use your website or service you first should ask yourself if the benefit offered is worth a visitor registering to begin with? The pay off must be substantial enough to make visitors want to give you their information in order to receive whatever it is you are offering.
Once you decide that the benefit is worth a visitor’s time you must ask yourself, “What information do I absolutely need?” If you host a health/wellness database you need to collect a bit more information than someone who hosts an online community for coffee connoisseurs. The next question is at what point do I need to collect the information? More often than not you will realize you do not need all of a user’s information right off the bat.
There are three different lead generation/registration methods which I recommend you consider using. The first is called short registration. This works where visitors give you their name and email right away but then the rest of the information is optional and able to be given at a later time. This allows your users to become involved and start using your service without them having to give you their life story. You will find that the more value users get out of your site, the more information they will be willing to share with you down the road.
The second method is called auto-generating accounts. What this means is users can receive the full value your site has to offer but as soon as they enter personal information an account begins generating for them automatically. This works for websites where people would enter an email address or name/address such as a job search site. You have to enter your name and other pertinent information to apply for a job, so why make users fill out a form asking them for the same information? Pick it up along the way and store it in your system. Once your visitor enters their email you can create an account and shoot them an email with a password so that next time they can log in and use the full features that your site has to offer.