In the summer of 2014 Rent.com's business model relied on users finding their future apartment on the site, signing a lease and then coming back to the site to report their lease and get a $100 Reward Card. When the user got paid, the property paid Rent.com. This pay for performance model meant that collecting user's emails was crucial to track users and remind them via email, to claim their reward. For this reason, user's had to register to view photos and it was one of our biggest customer pain points, yet critical to the business model. But how do you increase registrations when users don't want to sign up to view photos? My team and I cracked the code in an AB test that saw a nearly 30% increase in registrations by simplifying the UI and changing the copy from "Create a free account" to "Log in to view photos".
Before: Property Details Page
When the user got to the old property details page the first thing they would do is begin clicking through the photos. But if they weren't registered with the site they got a nasty surprise.
Before: Create a Free Account Prompt
As the user clicked to the 2nd photo they were required to create a free account to view more photos. A poor user experience yet necessary for Rent.com to make any significant profits. We tried a variety of AB variations, allowing users to see 2 or 3 photos and then prompting them to register. We tried providing a close button out of the overlay; nobody registered. We tried different copy and nothing seemed to work.
Optimizely Conference Sparks Idea
Myself and a few colleagues went to an Optimizely conference in Los Angeles, CA and heard Neil Patel Co-founder of KISSMetrics and CrazyEgg speak about conversion optimization. He made an excellent point in his presentation when he said that if you're trying to get people to register for your product don't tell them to sign up, tell them to sign in. By asking the user to log in it psychologically changes the user's mind frame from "I don't want to sign up" to "Oh this must be an exclusive feature cause I have to log in". Logging in is seen as less of a commitment even though it is nearly the exact same process as signing up.
Sketching and Wireframing
With this new idea in hand, I met with the product and design teams and told them the game plan. Not everybody was sold. "Creating a free account" and "Want a free $100 Reward Card?" seemed far more enticing than "Log in to view photos". I sketched a few different directions on the white board and we would plan on AB testing a few copy variations.
Mockup: Version 1
I greatly simplified the UI of the registration overlay. I wanted less things for the user to think about and making signing up as easy as possible. But several people on the product team were not convinced about the log in language so we tested "Want a free $100 Reward Card?". It sounded kinda scammy and didn't work in testing.
Mockup: Version 2
In the second version, I replaced the white background with a transparent one, this way the user could see their prize under the registration wall. I added an email field so that the user could easily type it in without having to click additional buttons. The new layout worked pretty well. In our AB test we got about a 10% increase in registrations and 13% lift in users sending emails to properties. But what about testing the log in copy?
Because Rent.com is a responsive site the layout also needed to work for mobile web.
Mockup: Error Messaging
I designed error messaging to help guide users that entered an invalid email.
Mockup: Already Registered?
For users that already had registered with Rent.com I created a path for them to easily log in or get a password reminder if they forgot it.
Mockup: Winning Variation
Using the exact same layout as the second version, we changed the header copy to "Log in to view photos" and the button to "View Photos Now". These simple copy changes gave us nearly a 30% increase in registrations and a 16% lift in users sending emails to properties! By simply changing the language from creating an account to logging in we saw about a 20% increase in registrations. It was one of the most successful registration conversion projects I had worked on while at Rent.com.