At a high level, as digital strategists and ecommerce professionals, we all have similar goals:

  • Drive traffic to our websites.
  • Convert/register anonymous visitors into known users.
  • Gain intelligence about these users in order to offer a more compelling, personalized experience that leads to higher revenue and profits.

Pretty straightforward, right?

Now ask yourself a few introspective questions (and be honest):

  • Have you ever left a website when asked to register or share personal information?
  • Have you ever left a website when you couldn’t remember your username/password?
  • Have you ever abandoned a shopping cart when asked to register or share personal information?
  • Have you ever entered false information when asked to register or share personal information?
  • How many unique username/password combinations do you have?

I’m guessing at this point you know where this is headed: Consumers have reached a point of password fatigue. It’s simply not possible to create a unique username/password combination for every website that requires registration so coping mechanisms are employed, making all of our jobs much harder. For instance:

  • Consumers simply leave your website; 86% reported having done so, according to research Janrain commissioned earlier this year.
  • Shoppers abandon their shopping carts; as high as 25% 75%, according to the infographic below from Monetate).
  • Visitors enter false information; 88% reported doing this.
  • They re-use the same combination. The average consumer has 6.5 unique combinations, which can lead to security issues because if one website is hacked, yours could be vulnerable as well.

Social Login Helps Solve These Issues

As a result of the rise in popularity of social networks, there’s an easy way to address all of these issues. Allow your website visitors to sign in or check out using one of their existing identities from providers such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Paypal, and more. By doing so, you can quickly increase your conversion rates; Janrain retail customers have seen increases between 10%-50% almost immediately.

Social login helps marketers create a more enjoyable online shopping experience in several ways:

1. Speed up form completion. The quality of data is enhanced because when users choose to sign in with an existing social identity, they grant you access to certain demographics that are highly likely to be accurate (few people lie in profiles that are read by family, friends and colleagues). You can use this information to pre-populate registration or shopping forms, making it easy and quick for your visitors to complete the purchase.

2. Support social sharing. You gain the ability to tap into the social graph of these users, enabling them to share purchases, reviews, recommendations, etc., with their peers. This can be a highly effective way to drive referral traffic back to your site. One music retailer saw an average of 34 referrals for every share their customers made!

3. Deliver more relevant content. Social profiles can be a treasure trove of valuable psychographic information. You can easily gain access to customers’ location, birthdate, and interests (hobbies, music, movies, etc.), as well as similar information on their friends. Sears, for example, uses this information to not only suggest items for purchase for the customer, but also gift ideas for their friends.


4. Leverage customer insights across all your marketing channels. This psychographic data can also be used within your other technologies. Consider the effectiveness of an email campaign if you were able to target customers based on their age, location, marital status, and other interests.

With social networks becoming even more tightly woven into consumers’ lives, online retailers will want to work within the social landscape to make shopping easy, fun, and fast.

Bill Piwonka is the Vice President of Marketing for Janrain, a leading provider of user management platforms for the social web, and a pioneer of social login. Bill’s background is firmly rooted in B2B marketing operations, having led marketing teams and initiatives spanning strategy, product marketing and management, demand generation, marketing communications, and business development for more than 20 years.