March 3rd, 2015 | 3 MIN READ

Is Social Login Better than Guest Checkout?

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

If guest checkout is so important to conversion, why would ASOS remove it from its mobile experience?

The answer is: it's redesigned its mobile flow to support social log-in.


According to 2014 research by BlueResearch, 42% of online shoppers would make more purchases online using their mobile phone or tablet if a retailer uses social login, and 51% use it when it's an option.

While social log-in does reduce some of the registration (and even guest checkout) form-filling pain, and promises "no brain fail" (64% are more likely to return to a site that remembers them without a password) - there's an added bonus to encouraging social login instead of guest checkout.


45% of customers who use social login indicate they are likely to buy more from a site that personalizes their experience. Social log in allows a site to tap into contextual information about a customer such as email address, age and birthdate, gender, marital status, interests and social graph - details that are overkill in registration forms, but useful for merchandising, promotions and personalization strategies.

While you have many options for social login including Yahoo, LinkedIn, OpenID, PayPal, SalesForce, Foursquare, Tumblr and even AOL, it's best to stick with the big players (for the reasons below).

Social log in tips

1. Stick to sites customers are likely to have active on their phone or in their browser browser. Social login requires authentication, and the easiest authentications are from apps that are used frequently (they require a password!) OpenID is arguably the most difficult.

2. Avoid the paradox of choice. Never offer too many options of any call to action. Steer customers to no more than 3 sign up options, ideally 1 or 2.

3. Niche social sites are risky. MySpace has a social log-in option. Would you want to touch that? What if AOL is bought by Yahoo next year? What if Foursquare folds in 6 months? Your customer will need to select something else down the road.

4. Stick to options that pull the information you want. It's harder to personalize with Twitter than it is with Facebook, there's much less profile data to glean from. Twitter, LinkedIn and PayPal won't tell you gender, for example.

The more diversified your account mix, the tougher it is to create segments to personalize, so Facebook is your best option for social personalization. There's a good case for offering Facebook as the sole social option. You may decide to offer a second option like Twitter or PayPal for customers that may not trust Facebook because of privacy reasons.

5. Customers fake it. Understand that users may provide fake birth dates, names, and other details for social sites like Yahoo, Twitter and Tumblr more often than Facebook, PayPal or LinkedIn.

6. Keep Guest Checkout. Though ASOS decided to remove the Guest Checkout button, it still offers "guest checkout" via email. The envelope icon is easily understood, but may not be noticed among the social options. Consider keeping the Guest Checkout button, and if you decide to present it in any other way than a button (customers look for it), don't skip the A/B test.

While marketers wonder how to leverage Big Data to extract useful social information, the low-hanging fruit is in social log in.

For tips on using Facebook login specifically, check out Why, Why Not and How to Use Facebook Log In.

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