A Content Analysis of Registration Processes on Websites: How Advertisers Gather Information to Customize Marketing Communications

Jan Ahrens and James R. Coyle

For advertisers, one of the most significant outcomes of interactivity is that it allows for advertising customization (Bozios et al. 2000). Customized or personalized advertising has the potential to be more cost efficient and effective than mass advertising, because the communications are tailored to individual users (Pavlou and Stewart 2000). The information necessary for this customization often is gathered through web forms. Thus, the proper implementation and design of web forms (e.g., registration, checkout) is a crucial consideration for the development of websites and can have a great impact on business goals (Wroblewski 2008). Efficient registration processes and the forms they consist of are particularly important for two specific reasons: (1) Users often must navigate through them to receive future marketing communications, and (2) advertisers can gain valuable contact information through registration processes that in turn allows them to customize marketing communications. Major online companies such as eBay consider increasing the number of registered users a key financial lever and thus spend a considerable amount of time ensuring that the registration process is as user-friendly as possible (Herman 2004). The factors that may be relevant to the effectiveness of a registration process are many, including its usability, location on the page, and incentives to register.