At the Internet Strategy Forum Summit 2009, happening today in Portland, Jeremiah Owyang posited in passing that registration pages will go away as a result of the advent and growth of identity management and single sign-on solutions.
Identity management solutions allow people to log-in to sites using credentials and social network profiles they’ve already created elsewhere. Key providers of identity management solutions (and holders of users social network profiles) include Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, myspace, AOL, Windows Live ID, as well as various OpenID providers. From an end-user perspective, the value is obvious, and the experience is simple: I already have a log-in and profile at Facebook, let me use that log-in (and my profile info) to log-in to your site; I don’t want to fill out your registration form.
Jeremiah’s point was that, because of the adoption of these solutions, the way site operators collect leads from the site will change as a result. Without a registration form, you won’t be collecting email addresses and other lead data and passing to your CRM, at least not in the same way. This piqued my curiosity, as lead capture is a key part of digital markeitng operations and analytics. As it happened, I was sitting next to Tore C. Steen, VP of Business Development at JanRain. JanRain, a Portland company, is creator of the open source libraries that power most implementations of OpenID. JanRain also offers a product called RPX, a SaaS offering that makes it easy for site operators to integrate any or all of the OpenID, OAuth, or proprietary identity management systems into their site.
My big question to Tore was “what data is made available to the site operators who adopt an identity management solution on thier site?”. Jeremiah was right…how site operators collect leads is going to change, but wow, what a postive change it will be. The data available to site operators, from the big players especially, is almost stunning. Think about the about the information about me stored in my Facebook or Plaxo profile – name, age, sex, email address, interests, etc. Most or all of that data (depending on the specific player) is made available to site operators when I log in using my Facebook (Plaxo, etc.) credentials. And, everytime I log back in to your site you get updated profile information from the identity provider I used to log-in. Most surprisingly, site operators can also access the list of user IDs of my friends and connections. What marketer doesn’t want that?
As a site operator and a marketer, letting customers log in to your site using an identity management solution has significant benefits:
- Customer experience: End-users like it because it eliminates registration friction on your site
- Registration volume: registration rates will go up due to eliminated friction
- Data Accuracy: Data is kept up-to-date as users update their social network profiles
- Data Richness: There’s no way I’d give you all the data in a registration form that you’ll get from my Facebook profile
The value prop to site operators and marketers is clear. This is certainly the way of the future – the registration page will disappear. Marketers will need to form new data strategies around the types of data that are going to be available from the identity providers. It may not be quite as easy as pasting a form on your site, and using a Salesforce.com plug-in to collect it, but the robustness of the data should more than make up for the little additional effort and planning required.
I really like the JanRain RPX solution, too. There are too many identity management providers to try to integrate them directly on your site. With RPX, you simply deploy the RPX solution, select which identity providers you want to support, and JanRain brokers all the data transactions and registrations for you. I think they’ll have a nice buisiness.