You got the thumbs up to go ahead and find an online registration software for your organization. GREAT! You have done the most important step towards increasing the number of registrations you get, the amount (and speed) of funds you receive and most important – the time you and your administration team are going to save.
When looking for an online registration software there are essentially two main options: custom registration software and an out of the box software option on the market. In just a second, I will talk about why you should not go the “custom made” route, but I do want to highlight one VERY important feature that all custom made online registration systems have: they sit right on your site with your URL and do NOT redirect people who are registering from your site to a 3rd party. Any registration software, custom or not, should be an embedded registration software.
Why does this even matter, you ask? It’s essential to increasing your completed registration and boosting your income! By analyzing the over 4,000 organizations that use Regpack and nearly 3 million registrations we processed in 2015, we saw that when the registration process is NOT embedded on your website, you lose 27% of your applicants!
This is 27% of the people that wanted to come to your event, course, camp or conference, clicked the “Register now” button, saw that they moved to a different site and left. Hurts, right? Let’s get down to the specifics and why this is happening.
I want to start with the obvious: do not go on the custom system route!
This is the checklist you need to mark off in order for a custom registration software to be worth it:
- You have a huge budget.
- You have a team that is willing to go through endless change rounds.
- You have a fixed process that is not going to change anytime soon, or the first 2 items, lots of money and manpower to make constant changes.
- Your process is extremely unique to the point that everything you looked at is not going to allow you to replicate it.
- You are not able to replicate 90% of your process with one or more systems out there.
- If you have checked all the above you should build a custom system. I can tell you up front that that is very very rare. Maybe one in 50,000 organizations fit the bill for custom software. I have written a post that goes in depth into why you should not build a custom registration system. If you are even considering this, it is worth reading.
So, now you realize you probably can’t go the custom route and you’re looking for an online registration system available on the market. And your first priority is probably not what URL the system will be on. After all, you first want the functionality of a system to mesh with your process and then you will go into the “small details” such as whether it’s embedded on your website. Unfortunately this is not a “small detail” at all, but one that will determine how many people are going to register to your program, event, class, course or camp. This detail will determine if the move to an online registration system is a great success or just an OK one.
So why does it matter if the your registration software is on your website or not?
Registration is part of your client’s experience. If it’s easy and problem free – it should be quick and easy to do, and you get completed applications and on time payments!
Your registration is an extension of your ‘storefront’ and part of your brand, so part of that user experience includes the ease with which the client can access the registration, how it fits in with your overall color and style, and whether they stay on your website to complete the process or are redirected to a 3rd party site they don’t know or trust, to complete registration.
Think of it this way, let’s say someone comes into your office and tells you “I really want to register to your program”. You tell them “Great! You see that office across the street? You need to go there and register. OK?”. “Sure, but who is Company ABC, you are Company 123, no? Are you sure it is OK to register through them and pay them?
Will it be to the correct program?” they answer. But unlike this example where you have access to a real person to ask these questions, and can assure them that everything is OK and they should go ahead, on the internet people are suspicious (and for a reason) especially when they are entering their credit card number and personal details. So trust is the obvious reason!
Below are 4 more really important reasons you should have your online registration system seamlessly embedded into YOUR website.
1. Embedded registration software improves your conversion rates.
If a person already trusts you enough to spend money on your products, redirecting them to another site to register and pay (i.e. share personal information and payment information) might put some people off. In fact, 27% of people will abandon the process if they are redirected to another website for payment. That is A LOT of people! Let’s put this into real numbers since just talking about percentages does not always explain what a major drop this is.
Just to help you calculate, let’s say your program price is $1,000 per applicant and you get 1,000 people clicking on the application link. Let’s also say that only 70% of the people that start a registration actually makes a payment (after all your registration process is your conversion funnel so it would be wrong to assume that everyone that starts actually makes a payment). That means that from 1,000 people you generate $700,000.
700 applicants x $1,000 = $700,000 income generated
Now that you did not integrate the system into your website out of the 1,000 people that clicked the link, 270 just leave right away. Then out of the 730 remaining, only 70% actually pay which totals you $511,000.
511 applicants x $1,000 = $511,000
Let’s take a closer look at just what happened: You just LOST $189,000! Yes you read that right, $189,000!!!
$700,000 – $511,000 = $189,000 LOST INCOME
That’s a lot of lost business and that will actually snowball in other areas. Less business means less people referring you (which generates more business) and less people returning to future programs and on and on. Not such a “small detail” anymore, is it?
2. It’s really easy to do!
While the whole idea of “embedding” the process (via an iFrame, if you’re curious) sounds kind of complicated, I promise it’s not at all. You can see a step by step of how to do it with Regpack, but it’s pretty similar across the board: 1 line of code, added to your website, and voila! It is easy to also add the colors of your website as part of the embedding process, so the embedded process is even more seamless with your overall brand and site.
You can see some examples of how the embedding and color coding looks for some of our own clients:
3. Builds Trust With Your Clients
A software that is taking payments from you needs to be SSL 256 bit encrypted and PCI compliant. This is a huge factor for trust in your clients. Many people these days understand the internet is a scary place. Think Target credit card scams, for one and many others that come to mind. The cost of having a site that is both of these is in the tens of thousands of dollars annually.
Most chances are your site is not SSL 256 bit encrypted and PCI compliant and it shouldn’t be. It’s overkill for what you want to do (“I just want to register people to my event…”). One of the great things about embedding a registration software on to your actual site, is that while the process is seamless for your user and sitting on your website (which I explained above is great!), it is actually a separate entity from a technological standpoint. This means your website does not even need to be secure but your registration process is! It is like having something, without all the negatives that come along with it. Totally worth it!
4. Allows your users to explore other content and offerings on your website.
This is another really convincing reason to not redirect your users to register somewhere else! Once they are done registering, you aren’t redirecting them BACK to your website, which they might not even follow through with, they are already right there.
You can choose what page they see the second they complete the application or make a payment, and allow them to continue to explore what you have to offer – your blog, a link to your social media profiles, another program or event you have going on that they might want to know about – the options are endless.
Just like taking a customer in a brick and mortar store and making them checkout down the street, keeping your customers in your space is key for better experience and higher registration rates! (Here are 5 more ways to increase your registration completion rates!)
Conclusion: Why you should skip custom registration software and use a more affordable software that embeds directly on your website!
Many of the big time registration software companies don’t offer the ability to embed the registration system directly into your website, they redirect your clients to THEIR website. Why do they do it? It is connected to upgrading their exposure on Google and other search engines.
They are basically using the fact that you are linking to them to show Google and other search engines that they should be high on the ranking for “online registration” or whatever other keyword they are targeting. And there isn’t really anything wrong with this, except for that pesky data that shows the amount of business you lose with redirecting users away from your site.
In addition to losing 27% of applicants, it’s way better for your SEO (the way online business finds you in search engines like Google) to have the process on your site. If SEO is something you are working on, care about, or know about – you know that traffic and links to your registration (on your website!) help you and your marketing out! It’s also great for registration processes that require the user comes back more than 1 to complete registration. It’s easy to know exactly where to go if it’s on your website!
With just 1 line of HTML code, embedding your registration process on your site is as easy as embedding a YouTube video on your website! Why pass up the opportunity to offer this experience to your clients, and yourself, and why lose out on the business you could have had when you were directing to a 3rd party?