Forced Email Signups: An Ecommerce Deal Breaker

Worried about shoppers abandoning your Web site? Maybe you’re asking too much of them. A new survey by Jetlore shows that mandatory email signups can kill the deal.

Forced signups aren’t the only problem, or the largest one, of course. Consumers are even more frustrated when they are served a less-than-satisfying experience. Here’s what bothers them:  

  • Don’t remember me or my information — 86.4%
  • Items dropped from cart — 81.6%
  • Offer products I already bought/don’t want — 79.6%
  • Automatic cart additions — 72%
  • Mandatory email signup — 52.4%
If this study proves one thing, it’s that you have to have your data house in order, and the ability to serve personalized offers. Of the 750 consumers polled, 69% will quit a site if given poor recommendations. Only 15% will stick it out, and 16% will think about leaving.

Indeed, while most online shoppers have a favorite, “go-to” store, they will even jump ship from if the experience degrades, Jetlore warns.

“Remember, shoppers chose to buy online primarily because of its convenience,” Jetlore states. “How convenient is it if they have to search through pages and pages and pages of product listings to find the product they want?”

Sadly, only 40% of the respondents are willing to scroll past two pages. “Basically, retailers have one, maybe, two, product listing pages to get it right,” the report notes.

Don’t get us wrong: There’s also some sunny stuff in this document. Jetlore learned, for example, that consumers like shopping in their pajamas, and that 62% prefer to shop online at least half of the time. 

The survey also found that over 50% enjoy the larger inventory of products available online, and that 64% like the convenience of “buying anything from anywhere.”

But what about that mandatory email finding? It’s clear — you shouldn’t demand an email address on the first visit, or make it a condition of purchase or site entry. People are put off when companies overplay their hand that way.

Why did Jetlore ask that question?

“When we explored what questions to ask on the survey, we did a quick internal survey of friends and coworkers to determine what their shopping deal breakers were,” said Stephanie Kaul, senior director of marketing at Jetlore, in an email. “Even in that limited small sample, a large percentage hated when sites forced them to give over their email address before they even searched for,  better yet, bought a product.”

The next stage was the survey itself. “It was interesting to then see the results play out pretty similarly with the larger survey report,” Kaul said. “Online retailers need to remove barriers to purchase and understand that shoppers have almost infinite choices of stores to spend their online dollar. If retailers provide relevant, easy-to-find products, shoppers will happily provide their email address as an organic part of the purchase process. On the flip side, if retailers continue to force mandatory email sign ups, they will lose shoppers.”

Good point. Sure, you want to build your email list. But you can’t unless your customer is willing. In the end, what’s more important — an email address or a sale?

Wait until the shopper has purchased something. And give them a choice. They may provide their address for communications about shipping. Or, they might subscribe to your newsletter or opt in for messages about promotions. But let it go if they don’t want any of that. And don’t clutter your site with invitations — they may sign up, and forget the product they came for.

There's a privacy lesson here — namely that you shouldn’t ask for phone numbers, street addresses and other information at first blush. Political sites have gotten especially aggressive about this since the election.

Purchasing and scrolling behaviors are easy to track. And once you have identified the visitor — i.e., when they’re a customer, and have shared personal details — you can append additional data. But use it wisely, and remember that the customer should always have control.



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