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Should You Required Registration or Not?

I know this will be as popular with some agents as using a road map or set of questions when following up with a prospect 😉

I have been selling real estate online at a pretty high level for about 6 years now. I have also done a lot of A & B testing with required registration and without. Our analytics tell us that required registration, if done correctly, will convert more closed transactions than not requiring a registration. I know a lot of agents will argue differently but, I am sure they have not actually run two sites in the same market tracking and comparing the data.

Both the sites we tracked had over 40,000 unique visitors a month and were in the same market. We tracked the data for approximately 6 months and the site that had the required sign up actually had a 35% higher conversion rate. It also had about 40% higher (conversion rate) email inquiries requesting information about properties than the one without a required sign up. It makes sense that would happen based on the fact that there are more users getting daily emails of new listings. Plus if you are an active agent that likes to call users that sign up to see what you can do to help. You are naturally going to convert a higher percentage of prospects into actual closings.

Another interesting test we ran side by side at a later date was when we actually required a registration. These results totally surprised us.

1.    The first one we required registration when the user clicked on the property to view more details. We loaded the property and then our registration form popped up.
2.    The second one we let the user view 4 properties and then had our registration form would pop up.

We were amazed to see that the one that required the registration earlier actually had a 5% higher conversion rate then the one that required to registration after viewing 4 properties. I think that may be because the users were annoyed.

With all that said, I would only require a registration if your site is easy to use and the user knows that they are going to be able to view properties. If you have a long confusing registration form, the user is redirected to another page and they are not really sure what they are signing up for. You should either get a better site or not require a registration because you will definitely have a high bounce rate.

I am sure the big national real estate portals like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and their employees would definitely not agree with a required registration since they are in the business of selling ads and placements based on page views and clicks.

If you are an agent that is serious about converting more business from your website, you might want to consider requiring a registration — remember, only if you have a web site that is set up correctly to do that. I think it is the difference between being a proactive agent versus being a passive agent.

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  • brianwilsonhello

    Thank you for sharing your research on this. Based on your results, which of the available IDX systems do you think is most effective?

  • Great post Jeff however I have to possibly disagree with “Requiring a Registration.” I think that with all the great sites out there that offer free listing details without registration, more consumer on an individual agent's site will not stick around to register. I think the reason that most consumers have flocked to the internet to look for real estate is because they want to remain anonymous. It's no difference than a Floor Call. I think a better approach to Lead Generation on a Real Estate website is to use more Call to Actions within the actual listing. This is the difference between Lead Capturing (Registration Requirement) and Lead Generating (Call to Actions). I do think that you should have Registration incentives on your site, but just not make them required to view listings. My site actually allows consumers to view listings all day long for free, of course there are 5 Call to Actions within each listing as well as 2 Registration Incentives. We have to make the consumer “Want” to register, not require them. If we make the site/info valuable, they will come back and even take the next step and contact us. I've been in the Real Estate business for over 12 years as both an Agent, Designated Broker, and Technology Trainer. This is just my opinion and I thought I would share.

  • I like that you took a site with a large flow of traffic, and scientifically compared the results. I've heard opinions and first hand accounts of different tactics, but the hard data is very interesting. I agree with your assessment though that your site needs to be easy to use to get the most of the process. Thanks for the good research!

  • atlantarealestate

    Jeff:

    Great article and holy cow, it's about time someone actually did a tangible analytical study on this. I've always required registration, since day one. The only way I would ever change that is if my traffic was so unbelievably high that I wanted to use voluntary registration as a screen.

    I think a combination of forced registration and registration for other desired items, like reports, etc., will get the lion’s share of what’s real out there.

    Great post,

    Rob for Atlanta Real Estate Info

  • christopher0661

    I have an IDX system that let's users fill out their search criteria first, click submit, and then they are taken to a screen for a “one time only” fill out form of basic information. I get my share of leads because I'm on page one of Google for “Cedar Rapids Real Estate.” Now, my broker has his site on PPC alongside mine and he gets three to four times as many leads BECAUSE his site is PURELY SEARCH FOR PROPERTIES. It doesn't have the “Catch All” stuff that I have on my site. Chris Mattix; I've tried the “free registration” with calls to action everywhere on my site but to no avail. I feel like a FREE REAL ESTATE LIBRARY, and I am just giving away free information. I'm frustrated with the lack of results of my IDX and wonder if it's even worth it anymore to pay the $30 bucks a month to keep it!!!

  • bobgibbs

    I have found that requiring a registration can be very successful. The key is to not pursue the lead and them come to your site unharrassed. We wait until they contact us.

  • @Brian – There are a couple half way decent ones out there, but are really that great so we have programmed our own solution through Real Geeks. http://www.homesalessandiego.com is also now running our solution and went from 10 -12 sign ups a day to 40 -60 a day when in started running our solution. We are almost ready to start offer it.

    @Chris – Thanks for your opinion. I prefer to run my business based on tracking real data. I do think everyone should run their business on what they are comfortable doing 🙂

    @Jeremy – You are 100% correct. Have to make it easy for the user so the have a good experience. That is why our map search displays the properties on the left and ajaxes the properties in where the map is and then they can page through properties. Bouncing them from page to page is confusing for some users. Having a great automated lead management system doesn't hurt either.

    @atlantarealestate – not really forcing them if they have a good experience and feel they are going to get what want once you ask for the registration. They can choose to move on if they want to.

    @christopher – A good integrated system probably shouldn't take them to another page to sign up. Have to make it as easy as possible.

    @bobgibbs – Your conversion rate would go up if you actually made a friendly follow up call to see if there was anything you could help them with or answer any real estate questions about your market. I find that being proactive will generate more business.

    @christopher0661 – you get what you pay for. I went to your site and you definately need to upgrade to a better solution. That probably will cost 4 – 5 times more than you are paying, but if you get the correct set up with those rankings it would more them pay for itself 😉 You are losing a lot of business based on your current solution. Way too many steps and you do not know what you are getting.

  • atlantarealestate

    @jeff

    Good point about the “forcing.”

    I think if your site is appealing enough, FAST enough, simple enough looking and adds some value, then you have a decent chance of getting a registration.

    I've got 12 in the last two days on my site and I'm about as cheap as they come with the AdWords and my site is not that attractice.

    Tonight, I'm slapping some lipstick on the home page.

    Rob for Atlanta Real Estate

  • I agree. It's not just asking for registration, but how you ask for it. Everything from the way the sign up form looks to what it says can have a huge impact on your conversion rate.

    Split testing is a must

    • atlantarealestate

      Lima:

      A HUGE impact for sure. It's called “ad copy” and all the same rules apply.

      I've experimented with various messages above my sign up form from the usual “your info will not be sold, etc., bla bla” “feel free to sign in and enjoy the site..”

      I'm open to more. We should share these.

      Go to my site and shoot me an email.

      Rob for Atlanta Real Estate

  • I prefer the no registration method… Maybe it's because I don't have that much traffic yet and that I feel visitors might be turned off when they have to register. It makes sense that if you had a lot of traffic then you can afford to weed out the serious potential clients from the “just looking” visitors. We'll see, maybe i'll change my method when I get to first page of google:)

  • Denver Real Estate

    I have been using both required registration and free access. Without a doubt you will get more leads when you require a easy sign up, with free access people just come and go and you never know they where there.

  • Susan

    This just seems silly to consider and analyze in such detail. Requiring registration to view listings? What makes your site so special when there are dozens of other sites offering the same data without requiring people to give out personal info.

    If you're going to have a registered user section on the site, let them opt into it because you're offering them unique data, unique services that will empower them to make an educated decision. Respect your site visitors and clients.

  • Although it might lead to more total bounces it will also be a great screen to not just give away your resources for free. That being said i agree that it must be a quick, efficient, and all together simple registration process otherwise the advantage will quickly be lost.

  • gregsmitih

    Jeff,

    We are just gettingn ready to test required registration. I have used the 3 property model in the past. This time we are going to test a soft registration. I am curious to see the results.

  • mattbarker

    Our initial testing of forced vs. unforced registration confirms this data -http://www.barkerhedges.com/blog/real-estate-technology/ The website that we force registration on is producing twice as many leads as the unforced website. We will keep at the testing and reporting!

  • mattbarker

    Our initial testing of forced vs. unforced registration confirms this data -http://www.barkerhedges.com/blog/real-estate-technology/ The website that we force registration on is producing twice as many leads as the unforced website. We will keep at the testing and reporting!

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