Optimizing The Mobile Registration Process

You built a great app that has been downloaded a bazillion times with tons of engagement, great reviews and everything is going super-duper, right?


If your goal was to create a one-off experience without worrying about up selling or cross selling your next experience or if you are not interested in understanding how your audience is engaging with you across multiple platforms, you are good to proceed. For the rest of us, we want to know who is engaging with our content, especially our expensive to build and manage mobile applications.

Creating the right type of mobile registration experience is the key to making that happen, but it is not a one size fits all situation and you will need take several factors into consideration to formulate the right approach:

  1. Brand awareness — Do people know your brand well enough to understand what your application experience is and offers?
  2. Application integration — Are you providing a seamless experience across multiple devices or is this a standalone mobile destination?
  3. Data — What customer data do you need in order to create a new profile or to match a new mobile user back to an existing profile in your database that was captured from a different experience?

These factors will drive how and when you gate, what type of value proposition you will need to provide during the gating process to help support enrollment and the actual form requirements users will need to fill out in order to access your experience. Additionally, you will need to comply with standard mobile form best practices; limiting type in forms, simplifying typing using native GUI elements, predictive fields such as using geo location to pre fill city and state, etc…

Let’s use Instagram as an example of a brand that is doing this right:

  • They have a high brand and experience awareness of what their application offers/does. This means they do not have to waste time or space illustrating their value proposition during the sign up process to educate users on the benefits of why they should use this app (it would have been a nice to have but understandable and justified why it was left out).
  • Their experience is mobile first, web second, so they focused on streamlining the registration/login process for the mobile device without worrying about retrofitting an existing web form template into the app. This means promoting social sign in first and then a traditional email sign up form to supplement that can be completed just as quickly with 2–3 clicks.
  • From a data perspective, the social sign on process using Facebook and the traditional email sign up form returns the same 3 pieces of user data: email address, first & last name. This allows them to create a consistent customer record in their databases regardless of how the user signs up and can be used to match against when a user logs on from their web experience using a different form of entry (think email address for mobile app, Facebook connect for website and vice versa).

Now let’s take a look at another application with a similar visual experience and talk about why it doesn’t stack up to Instagram’s.

Pheed is a lesser known rich media content creation and social networking platform that is one of those up and comers you might hear about with a similar mobile dedicated experience to Instagram’s.

While it may be similar visually, it falls short when you start to dig in a little bit deeper for 2 reasons:

  1. Pheed does not have the brand or application awareness that Instagram does and they do not articulate their value proposition to potential users who might have an interest in their app but not really sure if this is an app for them specifically.
  2. The inclusion of the Twitter connect option for login creates a little bit of a challenge for the simple registration/sign in experience they are trying to create. This is because Twitter does not provide an email address back as part of their OAUTH process. So if someone registers via the Twitter connect option, they will need to include an additional registration page/field somewhere in the process to get the user to provide their email address in order to create that connection back into the database for a consistent sign in process after the initial sign up with other login options.

(The social connect process is something I will cover another time, but at a high level to help you understand the challenges described in the scenario above; if I use Facebook connect to create my account then log out and use Twitter to log back in, they will not be able to match those identities together without that additional email registration page to supplement the Twitter connect process. If they did not supplement with that additional ask, that app would most likely create an additional account for you under your Twitter credentials. This is why if you ever use Twitter connect to register for anything, they will typically try to get you to provide additional information such as an email address to use as a matching point.)

Brands that require additional information to create an account such as an email address, credit card that links to an existing loyalty program, mobile number, age, etc.. are in a bit of a pickle. They can use social sign on and then supplement with additional form fields like Pheed does with Twitter, but that really impacts the positive experience of the one click social sign in process. The trick here is to balance the data needs with the experiential needs of the mobile user who expects to have quick and easy micro engagements on their device.

To solve for this scenario, instead of creating a sign up process composed of one long form or a combination of social sign in with additional form, we could take a cue from Uber who broke the traditional 6 field registration form into 3 micro sections and does not offer a social sign on option. These sections also use a simple gamification technique via the small status bar up top that feels like it is leading the registrar quickly and efficiently through an otherwise burdensome process.

(Uber has also done a great job of also including its value proposition on the home screen for users who are more curious about what Uber is and how it works before signing up. Their call to action while subtle, works by playing on this curiosity asking users to vaguely “Swipe Up”.)

Flipboard, a popular social news network does a fantastic job at putting its value proposition and “flip” based user experience front and center and using it to lead into their sign in process. It basically says to the user, take a look at all of these articles you can have access to around the topic areas you are interested in, choose a few to get started and then sign up to access more. While very streamlined and enticing from a psychological standpoint, it covers the needs of our registration requirements and trains the user on how to us the app once they are in without a clunky demo. Very clever!

What have we learned from all of this?

There is no single answer for solving your mobile registration needs, but if you can simplify the experience as much as possible leveraging the right combination of social sign on and micro engagements to meet your data requirements while communicating your apps value proposition in the right place at the right time, you are well on your way to finding your mobile registration success.

Keeping your users engaged after the opt-in, that is for another article.