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Forced Registration: the Problem and the Solution

September 04 2012

register bigAnd the debate over "forced registration" rages on . . . weighing in today is MarketingCharts.com. Their article, Consumers Frustrated by Site Registrations, PasswordsConsumers Frustrated by Site Registrations, Passwords, confirms what many of us already suspected: consumers don't like being asked to register on a website. In fact, one survey the site quotes found that 90% of consumers will leave a website if they forget their required login information. (For the record, I'm among that 90%.)

The Conflict

Most consumers have password fatigue. You can sympathize with this, I'm sure. However, you have made the significant investment in your website because you are hoping it will generate leads for you. In order to generate a lead, your website needs to somehow capture the contact information of the people visiting it. But the last thing you want to do is annoy them in the process, potentially losing their business.

One way to do this is with a simple lead capture form – you know, the good old "For more information" box in the side navigation where people enter their name and email address. The other way is what we're talking about today: forced registration. Forced registration requires a consumer to create an account on your website in order to gain access to some sort of benefit. In creating the account, they provide their contact information and (herein lies the rub) choose a username/password.

Oh, and did I mention that they apparently HATE it? According to MarketingCharts, more than half of respondents in a recent study will leave a website and never return if presented with registration requirements. That's a pretty disheartening statistic. So what is a poor agent or broker to do?

The Solution: Capture Leads Properly

It's okay to incorporate forced registration on your website – just be sure that you're doing it strategically. As a general rule, you should not be putting the registration requirement in front of any listings. Your basic property search functionality should be accessible without registering. Instead, only force registration for other tools to make property search easier. Let's look at some examples where it wouldbe appropriate to create forced registration:

  • Give consumers the option to "save a search." If they opt to do this, they will register for an account – the benefit is that they don't have to enter their criteria every time they want to search for properties on your site.
  • Rather than requiring a daily visit to your website, allow visitors to register and create saved search criteria for an email or text alert when a new or updated listing matches their interests.
  • Technically, a VOW (or Virtual Office Website) could fall into the forced registration category. A VOW is a consumer-facing site with a twist – it offers additional data (fields that cannot be displayed in IDX like sold data, days on market, etc.) but requires that consumers register in order to access the VOW.
  • You may choose to offer CMAs, AVMs, or other resources on your site and it would be appropriate to require registration in order to gain access to these.

As you can see, in each of these cases, the forced registration isn't limiting a casual visitor from viewing your properties, but it is allowing them to access customized, value-added services to enhance their real estate experience.

Sidebar

We force registration on RE Technology and understand that it might be annoying for you. The reasons we force registration are many. Perhaps you would enjoy understanding a few:

  1. Your registration allows us to highlight products and product pricing that is special in your area – like technology tools that are included in your MLS or Association fees that you would otherwise need to pay for.
  2. Your registration allows us to highlight which companies have data feeds in your market – there are lots of property search vendors across the nation, but none of them (aside from REALTOR.com) have data feeds everywhere. We would hate to get your hopes up for a product that is not available in your area.
  3. Your registration confirms that product ratings and comments on products and articles are real rather than anonymous babble from marketers.
  4. Your registration makes RE Technology free as a member benefit from your MLS or Association.

Some areas of RE Technology are available to unregistered users, but not the good stuff that helps you stay informed about the evolution of technology in your area.

Other articles of interest: dsSearchAgent IDX | Top Producer IDX