A thriving B2B website requires the coming together of many elements to deliver an exceptional experience for your site visitors, leading them down the path you want them to take. For many organizations, that path leads to converting highly qualified visitors to prospects or, better yet, customers.

A critical consideration in the lead conversion process is the registration system, which acts as the point of entry into your marketing funnel—when the anonymous visitor becomes a registered user. That is the moment site visitors make the transition to high-value assets.

Although online user registration technology can seem deceptively simple, there are many opportunities along the way for things to go wrong. Low conversion rates, users who leave your site without engaging, and blatantly falsified registration data are the obvious symptoms of a broken registration system.

If you haven't yet, consider the following five best-practices for online registration that have been proven to increase conversion rates for leading B2B brands.

1. Offer high-value reasons to register

People come to your site to learn, solve a problem, or seek other pursuits, but they often face a registration screen in their quest for information. For them, registration is a means to the end and is far less interesting or important than it probably is for you.

Research has shown that users are far more likely to share some information if the exchange of value is in their favor. Therefore, to maximize conversion, offer compelling benefits to register at your site, such as access to high-value content or experiences, a members-only community, or other exclusive opportunities.

2. Watch registration rates grow with social login

Improving registration conversion rates begins with improving the user experience by removing hurdles that could lead users to abandon your form and leave the site. Market research from Janrain reveals that 92% of consumers admit to having left a site rather than face a traditional registration system with long forms and yet another username/password combination to set up and remember.

Many organizations have increased their registration rates by up to 50% simply by offering social login as a registration option, according to Janrain's data. Social login gives visitors the option of using an existing account with social networks or email providers, such as Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, to quickly register at your site.

Allowing the use of an existing account and profile with those popular identity providers means you can easily authenticate website visitors and let them quickly access the content they desire.

3. Use progressive profiling to increase conversions

While 76% of customers will share their data with companies with which they have a relationship, it often takes more than one interaction to build trust (DMA UK, 2012). In the early stages, people are unlikely to share lots of personal data. For instance, visitors may not be ready and willing to share their location, Twitter followers, political leanings, or phone number during their first visit to your site.

Progressive profiling refers to an incremental approach to collecting profile data from website visitors. Using this method, you request small snippets of information at carefully staged opportunities. So rather than asking users to complete a long form, or submit volumes of personal information up front, the user has a smoother and more granular experience.

This sort of profiling can be achieved during the same visit if the user is spending a significant amount of time on your site, or over the course of repeated visits.

4. Remove distractions in the registration process

Adding an email verification step to the registration flow has become common to ensure that new registrants are actual people and can be contacted in the future. Although that is an important exercise for marketers in the pursuit of clean data, for most website visitors it places yet another obstacle in front of them and provides an opportunity for them to leave.

By offering social login, you can harness the services of identity providers such as Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Salesforce.com, and others to provide a verified email address. Doing so also removes the risk of typos and drop off, and improves the quality of your database and the registration experience for your users.

5. Welcome registered users back

Third-party research has found that 65% of people are more likely to return to a site that automatically welcomes them by name (Blue Research, 2013). It simply makes sense to roll out the welcome mat to repeat visitors. The best-practice is to greet site visitors by name and encourage them to login again.

Encouraging them to sign in upon arrival enables you to personalize their site experience while collecting additional information based on their actions and behaviors during their visit.

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Forging relationships with site visitors is critical to your business growth and starts with their initial visit to your website. Optimizing the registration experience has proven to significantly increase conversions, brand loyalty, and customer engagement with your brand.

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Five Best-Practices to Increase Registration Conversion

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image of Bill Piwonka

Bill Piwonka is VP of marketing for Janrain. He's spent more than 20 years leading marketing for technology companies such as Intel and Oracle.

LinkedIn: Bill Piwonka

Twitter: @bpiwonka