How to Leverage Social Login to Boost User Engagement

:: Bill Piwonka ::

Think about a time when you've been really engaged in a social setting. What made that experience stand out? Most likely, whatever you were doing had personal meaning. The people you were sharing the experience with probably held a common interest or passion, knew some, or a lot, of your personal characteristics and perhaps had insight into your past. These combined into a situation in which you were able to laugh, argue, share, emote, and derive meaning and satisfaction.

A prevailing theme over the past few years with regard to online success has been to "engage" with clients and prospects. But as you likely know, you can't just manufacture authentic, personalized and meaningful engagement.

This type of interaction has been difficult to achieve online, primarily because it's been a challenge for marketers to really know their online visitors. It has been possible to infer certain things based on page views, past purchase history, IP addresses and the like, but these techniques all suffer from significant hurdles (e.g. deleted cookies, access from multiple devices, gift purchases, etc.).

One way marketers have attempted to overcome these obstacles is through forms (registration and site login). These elements have been used as a way to both identify online consumers and learn more about them. However, a recent study commissioned by Janrain ( confirms that consumers have become weary of this approach. No one wants to fill in a bunch of fields or have to create and remember yet another unique username and password combination. The study found that the use of registration forms may be costing companies, as 92 percent of respondents reported leaving a website during sign-on versus taking the steps to reset or recover their password information.

As such, it is more important than ever for websites to utilize social login. An alternative to the traditional registration and sign-in process, social login allows website visitors to use an existing ID from a social network such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc., to log in or register on their favorite sites. Social login technology enables users to securely and easily sign-up on a site often in two clicks or less. During this process, consumers can choose to share information (e.g. verified email address, marital status, birthday, location, interests, work history and more) from their social profile data with a brand site. This data is highly accurate, as it is declared, first-person data, meaning marketers don't have to infer anything about the user, they just have to ask their permission to collect it.

The data can then be used to pre-populate sign-up forms if additional data fields are needed, which eliminates the need for users to enter redundant information, improves data quality and increases registration conversion rates. And once the data has been collected, it can then be leveraged to help drive engagement through personalization and recommendation engines, loyalty and rewards (game mechanics) and other applications.

Samsung is a great example of social login success. The company deployed social login to simplify the account creation process that customers utilize to register products, which helps Samsung identify and learn more about their customers. The company was also able to use the social profile data to maximize their email marketing, a key element in its broader digital plan. Emails drive recipients to a "Shop Now" link that helps them find a retailer to make a purchase. After five months, it became apparent that customers who chose social login to create or access an account were high-value customers; approximately 34 percent more likely to open email, 63 percent more likely to click through a link in an email and, perhaps most interesting, 506 percent more likely to leave a product review.

Another leading online brand, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, also recognized the opportunity to better interact with their consumers by streamlining the very process that initiates engagement: registration.

The first deployment of social login for the company was on Dr Pepper Snapple Group's "Every Bottle Wins!" campaign, which is a popular, ongoing engagement promotion on Facebook. Using their social login ID, consumers could redeem codes and deposit credits for brand drinks. More than 90 percent of new fans participated, enabling the brand to earn permission- based access to social profile data to improve future marketing initiatives. 

The kicker here is that your customers and prospects build more brand preference when social login is offered. Sixty-five percent of consumers, according to Janrain's study, agreed they are more likely to return to a website that offers social login, and 60 percent agreed that companies offering social login are more up-to-date and innovative than companies that don't.

About the Author: By Bill Piwonka, VP of Marketing at Janrain