Registration and signup forms often make a burdensome task for website visitors. They also create problems for marketers and their conversion rates. OpenID is a solution that aims to solve this problem by allowing visitors to sign in with a single user ID. This method offers convenience for the web user but is quite useful to marketers as well. Aside from eliminating the tedious registration process, it also prevents new users from having to leave your website just to verify their email address. Sounds like a win-win, but it is still important to know the pros and cons of OpenID as they relate to email marketing before accepting this feature on your website.
More Efficient Data
One significant benefit is that if you accept it on your website, you will have access to valuable data that would traditionally require the user to complete a long registration form to obtain. OpenID providers such as Google, MySpace, and Yahoo collect and share precious demographic data that could greatly benefit your email marketing campaign. This data often includes the users name, gender, location and email address. With such revealing information at your disposal, you can optimize your marketing strategy and fine-tune your website to better suit the needs of your visitors.
Lower Customer Service Costs and Higher Satisfaction
OpenID allows visitors to use an existing online identity to sign into your website. This could be an identity they created on Blogger, Flickr, or other sites that except the service. Being that the user’s identity is already authenticated by an existing provider, there is no need to store usernames and passwords in your system. This essentially means no more pouring valuable resources into time consuming burdens such as password recovery and excess customer care. By accepting OpenID on your site, you will be able to get the maximum use from your web infrastructure while increasing satisfaction among customers who no longer have to worry about forgetting their passwords.
The Trust Issue
The biggest disadvantage relates to trust. Whether it was created with LiveJournal or WordPress, someone with an OpenID had to provide specific information to obtain it. At that point, a profile for that user is created and may be shared with those who accept the service on their site. This includes all the rich user data we mentioned above. So even though a visitor does not have to provide this information to sign in to your site, they still could be providing you with access to it by simply entering their ID. If the user is not comfortable sharing the same information they shared with AOL with you, it could result in a lost conversion you never have a chance to get back.
This option certainly has its drawbacks, but from an email marketing aspect, the positives outweigh the negatives. The access it gives you to such powerful data makes it almost irresistible, while the convenience factor benefits all parties involved. If you think your visitors will welcome something like OpenID, implementing it is probably a good idea.