Ah… Registration! The thing we all do not want to do but want our participants and clients to do as much as possible. During my many years of working in the online registration software field (with more than 4,000 organizations worldwide from super small to as big as Goodwill and Stanford as clients) I have seen the most amazing emotions connected to registration. From total lack of interest to registrar hawks that can test the specific wording of a specific field for weeks!
I can totally understand the latter type of people since it’s a fact that your online registration software is your on boarding process! It is your conversion funnel. Whole companies exist out there that specialize in making sure the conversion funnel is the best it can be. You might be asking yourself “conversion what???”. You are probably the person that has little interest in registration or think “it is just registration, what’s the big deal?”. And that’s ok, I am here to just give you a basic understanding of what all this means because registration is important to your organization bottom line!
The idea behind ‘conversion funnels’ and ‘on boarding’ is that when a visitor comes to your site, you want to convert them from a visitor into a client. Online shops accomplish this through a shopping cart. Camps, events, sports leagues and volunteer organizations do this through their registration! So just like that fact that Amazon, Apple and Google make it their sole purpose to make sure that you “convert” into a customer, you should take at least an hour or two to optimize your registration process. I promise you’ll see results if you do!
The Basics – The correct mindset
Let’s start with the basics. Get into the right state of mind! When someone lands on your website and more specifically, your registration page, they are basically still evaluating you and your service to see if this is something they want to do. This is not a win yet! Actually it is not a win until they actually make a payment. So throughout the registration process the potential client, and potential is the key word here, is testing you out. They want to know if you are the one that is going to win their time, money (and if they are sending you their most precious possession, their kid) and their trust.
First thing first – Make sure they do not leave your site.
Once you understand that you are under evaluation, you can now act accordingly. Put your best out there. The FIRST thing is to make sure they stay on your site. So do not use a registration system that will send them to an external site, even if it has your logo, that simply does not cut it. Having the user stay on your site is important for branding of course, but more importantly it also leverages the trust the potential client has already in your brand. They came to you for a reason, don’t test them and have questions marks pop into their head when they are actually in the process of on boarding to your service. It also makes you look more professional if you have a built in system as opposed to an obvious 3rd party solution.
Regpack is all about data. we collect data all the time in order to understand user behaviour and based on that build our system. According to A/B testing we have done with many clients, we have seen an amazing fact: When sending people to an external site for registration you will see a 27% drop from the first page. Yes, you read that right, 27% is the numbers that we have. That is A LOT of lost business and revenue! Remember, these are people that read your site, were interested enough in your product that they wanted to begin the application and then when they were redirected to an external site they just went away. All the hard work to getting that person TO your website is now for nothing.
Obviously building your own registration system (servers, programmers etc…) isn’t always an option and quite frankly you souhld not take that route since the SaaS (software as a service) has happened and small, medium and modern big organizations are all moving that way. You need to work with a company that already knows what they are doing and understands your target market. Just when you select the right company, make sure that the online registration software can embed into your site SEAMLESSLY. It needs to look as if it is your system, your site background, your site URL…the works!
KISS Your Applicants!
Don’t actually kiss them. That could get awkward. KISS = Keep It Simple, Stupid. People do not like to think when they are doing something tedious or when they are doing something they really don’t feel like doing. Sadly, registration falls right into this category. When I register my kid for school or for summer camp or when I am registering for an event, even when they are done with Regpack, I want to get it over with as soon as possible.
Regpack actually enables clients to automatically transfer information over so the process is actually pretty fun, or as fun as it can be! At least it makes it go by even faster! Basically, I just want to get the service or attend the event and not register. The registration is just the process I need to go through in order to get the end result. The same is for your sports league, your camp, your program or anything else you have a client onboarding process.
I have already spoken elsewhere about the fact that “simple is hard” and it is. In order to make the registration process super simple for your applicant you need to make sure that the process is customized exactly to their needs. This will ensure more applicants AND more on time and completed applications. By creating an application that is intuitive, easy to fill out and easy to follow and one that can be mostly, if not completely filled out in one quick sitting, is ideal. This is really the driving force behind a ‘customized’ application. And while that’s great advice, actually DOING this is what the point of this post is all about.
5 simple ways to get your registration completed ON TIME!
What are the key features that you should build into your online registration software to achieve the goal of more applicants, faster completion and payments and an overall positive experience with your brand?
Below are 5 ways to get your registration completed ON TIME and faster than ever before…
1. Intuitive and Intelligent Flow
Create the simplest application by only showing applicants the questions they NEED to answer. This means, the questions they see next will be based on the answers to previous questions.
For example, if you have a question about what medication an applicant takes and require a doctors note if the applicant checks next to a certain medication, that’s great. But does everyone, medicated or not need to see this? Probably not. Ask the question “Do you take any medication” and if the answer is no, move on to the next question. Only if they applicant answers yes do you show them follow up questions. See, KISS!
Put yourself in the applicants shoes – what makes the most sense when it comes to what forms they see first and what questions they are asked. Don’t repeat questions or require a user to enter the same or similar information twice. Also be very specific! Ask your questions in a way that makes an applicant not think about the question and how to answer, or try to guess what you want based on the phrasing of the question. For example, if you know a parent is filling out the application for their child, when asking for names don’t write just “first name” and “last name” as field. Don’t even write “Applicant’s name” since that is confusing as well. Write “Parent’s Name” and “Camper’s Name” instead so it’s clear what information you are asking.
You want to make the applicant feel as if the process has been tailored specifically for them. This will not only make them feel like you as a business care about their experience (which is an awesome reason in and of itself to do this) but it will also net you more on time and completed applications and payments. This concept applies not only to the questions you are asking but to your products as well.
As the applicant moves through your application and you ‘learn’ about them (their age range, for example) you can begin to offer other products they might be interested that fits their requirements. By presenting things that are relevant to them, they will fly right through your application. Also, by NOT presenting questions and products of the applications that aren’t meant for that applicant (based on their previous answers) they will purchase more of the right things for them and hopefully more of it.
Think of it like this: when you enter a store that offers you 50 different shirts, most of them are not your size, taste or style, it is just confusing and the information overload will just make you walk away. But when you enter a store that offers only the things that are YOUR size, YOUR style, YOUR taste, and in addition to that they are offering you only 6 or 7 items, you are more likely to buy and most likely will buy more than one. Remember: more is less and tailored is best!
Don’t be afraid to add helpful text and descriptions to your questions. Most people won’t read them, but for the people that would otherwise call or email you with simple questions such as “what name do I write on page 2”, a helpful line that says “Please enter your first name here. We will require your child’s information later on”. Look for a system that allows you to customize your application in this way so your questions and requirements are clear and understood.
Most applications should gather the essential information on the first page. If something happens or they stop filling in the application, you should have all the information you need to contact them and get the process in motion, from the data you receive on that 1st page. Get the applicants contact info right from the start! BTW, an important part of a registration system is that it autosaves the information as people are entering it. That way, even if they do not actually submit the form you will still have the information!
2. Effective System Design
Once you’ve outlined the flow of your application and written your questions, make sure the design of the system is on point.
One great thing to include in your application are multiple-choice questions whenever possible. Adding multi-selection questions allows users to click through the forms easily and quickly. Regpack, for example, allows admins to add multi-select questions as well as bulk entry of multi-selection answers. This means that if you have a list of 100 options for the user to choose from, you can add all of them in a matter of seconds. Including a search bar in the multi-select sections means the user can find what they are looking for quickly and move on.
Multi-select questions will also allow you to generate great statistics on the information entered by your applicants (your registration system should do that for you) and make sure that people are entering the correct information all of the time.
Use checkboxes and drop down lists instead of having to fill out the field with text. Alot of time is ‘wasted’ by having to type everything. You can always include an ‘other’ field if the options don’t match the applicant (like for example in a ‘how did you hear about us’ question). You want to make the application feel seamless. This will also allow you great filtering and reporting functions since you can choose the answers you want to view and analyze. If they enter text manually, this isn’t possible.
Another part of your application design should most DEFINITELY be your checkout page. You want to get paid, no? The page needs to present the correct dollar amount that is owed, should save credit card information and the system should just guide the user through the process as much as possible. Big buttons that say “PAY NOW” or “ENTER PAYMENT INFORMATION” should be visible and easy to find.
Saving credit card information is a great feature if you have applicants who come back to pay in chunks or if they will be using your system in the future for future products or payments. This capability means they only have to enter payment information once, so every time they come back after time #1, payment is just 1 click away. In addition, this will allow you to charge the client when they give you a call or email you that they want to come to that new event you just blogged about. Win-win-win 🙂
Remember how we said that people don’t like to read and might skip over some of your question descriptions? Not so on a payment page. People in general are worried about making payments online despite security on pages being pretty amazing nowadays (and most banks offer a 100% payback in case of fraud). They want to make sure they are doing the right thing, paying the right amount and what their updated balance is. Explain things as much as possible on this page.
Add their cart information to the page so they can see if they are ordering the right things or if there might be a mistake. Make it easy to add and remove things from their cart before they click “pay now” and you’re left with reworking their application and issuing refunds. You might even want to include other products they might want to add (see tip #1 above) which might net you even more sales while the user is paying.
Also, make sure to confirm that their payment(s) went through successfully. A “thank you” page is a good idea since this is a common practice that will look familiar to many. Include a confirmation number or an ‘updated’ balance to customize this page, if possible. Also always, ALWAYS, include a payment confirmation email. People look for this immediately after making any purchase online so your application is no exception.
Communication is everything when on boarding an applicant and getting them registered.
Messages throughout the process encouraging completion – status bar with % completed or % left to go (or both, using green and red), notes at the bottom where you press ‘next’ or ‘next page’ that say “keep going, almost there, almost finished” etc are all great things to include. People like to know where they stand as they move through your application. They are more likely to finish it if they see they only have 20% to go or can estimate the time they need to spend finishing up.
Also having a main dashboard or account page with a list of complete and incomplete items is helpful. It keeps the applicant informed and encourages completion.
Create a quick ‘button’ or ‘widget’ to register on any page on your website, blog etc. If you write a blog about an upcoming session, event, etc, include a fun widget or button in the post that says “Register Today!” and the button can link directly to your registration or application. This is also an option to include in an email, newsletter, etc. A simple, fun, attractive and bold image can get people clicking, registering and paying in no time.
We’ve written a lot of posts on how to communicate effectively with applicants. Check out some here…
4. Be mindful of your audience’s tech savviness.
The most important part of designing and creating an effective application is going through it through the eyes of the applicant.
This is hard in and of itself, but even when you succeed some people still forget that while they might be critical of their app from an outside perspective, the level of tech savviness they have doesn’t factor in when they are being critical and evaluating their registration process. Make sense? Don’t lose sight of the fact that most people DON’T know your product as well as you and don’t know what the application looks like as a whole when they’ve only seen 1 section.
Make your application essentially idiot proof by really focusing on where people might encounter hiccups and include text fields and descriptions, like we briefly mentioned above, to help them along. Remember, part of the point of having an online application is to automate your process, improve communication and save you time (and money!). Find a software that allows you to add free text fields on any form that can explain components that may not be obvious to users. Explaining required browser settings or other aspects of the application (like the whole camper vs. parent name thing) can save time by removing potential back and forth customer service emails.
5. Include incentives for improving registration.
Provide incentives for users that complete their registration and pay early by offering early bird discounts (Tweet and Facebook away about these offers!!!).
This might seem small in the grand scheme of your application but it’s a KILLER marketing tool and works great on an individual level to get people finishing and paying for their application.
People love to ‘win’ stuff and save money. If you love using social media, provide $5 off registration for sharing their completed application status with friends on Facebook or Twitter. Offer referral discounts and invite a user at the end of their application to email friends about the program. Every completed referral nets them $ off of their registration. This might seem like ‘old news’ but offering these discounts and incentives as PART OF the application not only encourages referrals and people spreading the word, but it motivates in real time your applicant to finish and pay!
Now off you go! Go on board some great applicants!!!