Getting Out of the Way

Bill Flagg, the blogging president of RegOnline, recently posted this report about improvements to their online registration process:

Last April we cut 2/3 of the fields from our RegOnline open account form and then saw our sign-up rate triple. The way we did that was by asking for all the billing information later in the process when they are ready to start taking real registrations. We expect to see our conversions from free to paid to go down some, but happy to say our net # of paid users is increasing dramatically.

Hope this helps.

Indeed it does! One of the entries in our book, We Have Always Done It That Way: 101 Things About Associations We Must Change, that I wrote was about just this. Get out of the way of your members/customers when they are ready to invest with you. Here is the full entry from the book, also available on the WHADITW blog:

Many associations collect demographic data from their members when they join or renew their membership. Sometimes this can be as simple as a few check boxes to more involved multi-page surveys. When dues invoices could only be sent via postal mail, it made sense to piggy back a data collection tool with it to save money on postage and take advantage of the member’s attention.

However, just because it works well in snail mail doesn’t mean you should do it online. For example, the cost-saving benefit goes away when you invoice for dues via e-mail or accept a new member via your web site. Another challenge is that conducting an online survey of a member before they can renew is much more invasive of an interruption than including a paper form in the mail. Making online payment challenging by requiring extraneous forms to be completed reduces the benefits of paying online to your members, which will raise your costs when they choose to go with traditional methods such as calling you or mailing in forms that need to be processed.

When a member has made the decision to invest more money in the association by purchasing a product or paying dues online, get out of their way and make it as easy as possible for them to complete the transaction.

Thanks to Bill for providing an excellent case that illustrates this point.

(Two notes: I tweaked Bill’s comment for typos and clarity without changing the meaning. Also, I have an account with RegOnline and used them last year for an event I conducted. Consider myself disclosed.)

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