Are You Sure Fast Sign-ups Will Generate More Paying Customers?

On the surface, it may make sense that if you have a quicker sign-up period that you will convert not only more paying customers, but they will also convert quicker. Unfortunately that doesn’t always ring true. Let’s take a deeper look at when and how fats sign-ups can benefit you as well as hinder your growth.

Check out these numbers from a B2B SaaS company. We will reference them in more detail below and analyze the data as it applies to fast sign-ups and considered sign-ups.

Fast Sign-ups vs. Considered Sign-ups

The question we should ask ourselves is, which of the following is better?

For people to sign up as quickly as possible? Or, to spend more time on your website before signing up?

Looking for an answer to this question is like choosing between if you’d rather win the 100 meter race like Usain Bolt or win the marathon like Haile Gebrselassie. They are both exceptional accomplishments to achieve and both are legends for doing so.

Let me put this bluntly: there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. How could you ever choose between legends?

If you are going for gold, it’s all about what suits you best. Company-wise, it’s about which method works best for you and your business. And it’s up to you to figure it out.

The easiest way to do it is to simulate different sign-up strategies and see which one generates more profit. Make experiments, analyse the results, and then start adjusting and tweaking.

What works for one business may not work exactly the same for you, but you won’t know that without experimenting and testing.

Both methods have advantages and disadvantages. Let me take you through the main ones:

The Fast Sign-up

Pros:

  • Fast sign-ups work best for small businesses who are interested in getting a free trial or signing up right away.
  • They are typically for freemium products such as: Basecamp, Crazy Egg, Mention, and Intercom.
  • Their goal is to bring in as many leads as possible so that there’s a big pool of users to convert into paying customers.
  • Visitors can sign-up for your product or service as soon as they land on your website.
  • They sign-up process is designed to be frictionless for the user. They ask for very few details so that they don’t drive potential customers away.

Cons:

  • The fast sign-up method focuses on quantity rather than quality.
  • By pushing for the sign-up right away and not allowing users to see the prices before signing up, it’s possible that you alienate enterprise users who just want a demo of your product.
  • You will be spending a lot of resources, such as customer support and automation, on low quality sign-ups.
  • You will be losing a lot of people soon after sign-up.

The Considered Sign-up

Pros:

  • The considered sign-up works best for enterprise companies who are more selective with their potential customers.
  • These types of companies don’t want to and can’t afford to waste their time on unqualified sign-ups. ie. Someone not truly interested in their product or for whom the product is a bad fit.
  • This method offers visitors a demo of the product in order for them to make an informed decision about signing up.
  • This process focuses on quality rather than quantity.
  • This method will retain a higher percentage of users out of the initial sign-up pool. These users will be more committed and will convert to paying customers.

Cons:

  • A considered sign-up will undoubtedly have fewer initial sign-ups.
  • Being more selective sometimes means more restrictive which drives potential customers away.
  • This process takes a bit longer than the fast sign-ups.

Crunching The Numbers

Putting the pro’s and con’s for both aside, let’s see what happens when looking at a real life example.

Let’s take a look once again at the initial example of the B2B SaaS company we are collaborating with and analyze the numbers:

As you can see from the table above, the visitors with the highest conversion rate are the ones who spent the longest time on the website before signing up. However, they are also the smallest category of visitors.

The highest efficiency is reached in the mid section where a high conversion rate is coupled with a high number of visitors. To be more specific, in this case it was the visitors who spent between 30 seconds and 5 minutes on the site, reading about the product, who converted best.

At InnerTrends we’ve noticed this behavior time and time again in the companies we are working with.

What does this mean?

Besides the fast sign-up and the considered sign-up, there is always an in-between approach.

It’s actually referred to as the mixed sign-up strategy. It combines the best of two worlds and is adapted more to the customer’s needs.

The Mixed Sign-up

Mixed sign-up strategies are hybrids most often used when targeting both small companies and enterprises. For example Dropbox, Hubspot, 2checkout, Buffer, Evernote, Trello or Slack.

On the one hand, companies who have chosen the mixed sign-up strategy offer visitors enough time to learn about the product, making sure that they are better informed and thus more prone to becoming stable paying customers.

On the other hand, they try not to let their visitors linger too much, as they could lose interest in the product.

How Do You Choose the Best Sign-up Method For You?

Test these methods out until you find the right one. That’s the only way to figure out for sure which one fits your company.

You need to find the right balance between the time it takes visitors to sign-up and the number of visitors who are going through this process.

Ultimately, it’s both timing and volume you should be looking at.

How can you find that balance? Take the example I was talking about earlier on. In this particular case you should find ways to get visitors to spend an extra minute or so on your site to get more knowledge about your product so that you convince them to sign up.

This article was originally published April 2018 and was updated November 2019.

Author: Claudiu Murariu

InnerTrends' founder and lead analyst Claudiu Murariu is also the author of DataDiary, a newsletter about and for companies that use data in their business decision making process. You can follow him on Twitter @cllaudiu.