Question: Does a Member Login REALLY cost you sales?

The Big Question

maxxlogin_mmI am seeing a battle brewing in the association market regarding the need for users to log in to a site or service. The big question: If there is a member login, does it cost the organization sales – if the member is presented with a login, will they go away, never to return?

For pure consumer sites – especially for non-essential luxury items – the answer to this question is probably “yes.” It gives the user a chance to sit back and say “Ugh. Do I really need this cute metal rooster for my garden?” So these types of sites are doing all sorts of things to make checking out as fast, easy, and painless as possible.

But what about for membership organizations, whose members have purposefully joined the group presumably because they want to interact, engage, learn, and attend?

In interacting with my clients, I am seeing the following trends:

  • IT and operations teams don’t just want a login, they want to add 2-factor authentication (2FA or TFA) to make it more secure. They do NOT want to risk a breach that must then be explained to the Board and members.
  • Membership teams want the login to stay as it is to ensure a unified member record and experience. i.e., all of their meeting, committee, interaction, transaction and communication history is tied into one record that is searchable, sliceable, studiable
  • Marketing and Communication teams want no barriers and no logins. They want the user to be able to click a link in an email that says “Register Me!” and that’s it. One step. Conversion. Done.

This conversation gets particularly heated about meetings/events, some of which may even be free for members. The crux of it: Are we driving away members who might otherwise attend because they are finding it too onerous to log in?


One membership association embroiled in this discussion wanted to see some numbers to quantify the debate. So we looked into their analytics and pulled out one simple piece of data: how many users exited at the login page that leads to the registration form? This does not necessarily mean that these members didn’t come back and register later, and it doesn’t tell us why they left, but it is a piece of information that can be used in the discussion.

For this one member-based trade association in the last year, there was an 11% average exit rate for those who landed on the meeting registration login page.

Awesome. But what does this mean? How does this compare? Is this normal? Great? Horrible? The MatrixMaxx AMS team researched this rate to get a benchmark on industry ‘norms’. An internet search didn’t reveal too much:

  • A lot of webmasters seem to be reporting exit rates of 40% ( source )
  • Conventional wisdom seems to be saying that for a basic B2C site, an exit rate of 50% seems expected, but for a member-based site it should be ‘much lower’ ( source )
  • One group noted that the average non-profit exit rate was 18%, but that was more than six years ago, and there is a lot more info competing for our attention now ( source )

So the MatrixMaxx AMS team did our own exit-rate research, pulling from a sample of about two dozen of our own member-based association organizations. For our member-based organizations, for the last year, we were seeing a 9-17% exit rate from the meeting registration login page (an average of 12.5%).

So our trade association client with an exit rate of 11% on the meeting registration login is better than average! Now we’re going back to dig even deeper. Why are these people exiting? Do they come back? How can we improve the experience but still maintain a secure, unified member profile?

What experiences and exit rate statistics are others seeing in the membership organization (trade association and professional societies) market? The more bench-marking data we can all share, the better we can make informed decisions.

Tanya Kennedy Luminati

About Tanya Kennedy Luminati

When she is not at Matrix Group managing day-to-day operations of MatrixMaxx, she is at home being a full-time mom to her son, Alexander, playing video games with her husband, or brewing up a pot of soup for family and friends. She makes a killer white bean and sausage soup. Be sure to ask her for the recipe the next time you see her.

One thought on “Question: Does a Member Login REALLY cost you sales?

  1. Great post, Tanya. I have these discussions with my clients frequently. I’m glad to see you’re doing some anecdotal research to see what’s happening. I would agree that associations typically have a different relationship with their customers, and therefore requiring login should not be a huge barrier to sales.

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