Yeah, what about user verification? If you aren’t already convinced, I’ve taken the time to read up and create a list of 13 reasons why adding user verification to your service is a smart move.
To begin with, user verification is nothing abnormal or unexpected anymore. Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Gmail, Outlook, YouTube – everyone is doing it! Though this is close to a “if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?”-kind of argument, it’s got a valid point: Since so many businesses has implemented that “annoying” feature, the mental resistance among users is fading. In fact, there’s a risk that you’ll stand out more not adapting to the standard.
Why did everyone do it in the first place? One big advantage of user verification is the reliability factor: You know that your user base is genuine, and your users know it too. The trust level goes up, and a positive environment fosters.
Verified users means absence (or at least a clarification) of fake accounts and unserious users, which gives a greater clarity to the service in which your users engage.
Because honesty becomes more or less inescapable, users can feel safe when connecting with others. Having gone through the verification process themselves, users keep their integrity intact in both ways: no worries about fakers, and no need for clarifying their own genuineness.
“We need to verify people’s phone numbers. It adds an extra step during app registration, but we’ve found that it’s worth it, in order to guarantee a seamless user experience“, says Ajay Kulkarni at Groupme in a thread on Quora. Yes, related to all above arguments, a recognizable, reliable, clear and safe service with genuine users creates great UX, and it certainly weighs heavier than the burden of that extra registration step.
Having a solid verification process in an early stage is a proactive approach that saves you and your business time and money in real-time monitoring and reparation. Instead of chasing spammers, you can reinforce your focus on genuine users and app development.
Without continuously having to ban and throw people out, you can also lose the whole “gatekeeper attitude”. Being verified and accepted instead creates a sense of intimacy, where the users feels like they’re logging into an account especially made for them. Again, better UX!
Some services has more of an exclusive approach, making verification personal and desirable. One example is Twitter, which claims to “concentrate on highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business and other key interest areas”, and “not accept requests for verification from the general public”. Twitter’s approach has been questioned, but the real takeaway here is to add a dash of exclusivity:
If you still feel worried about the user’s alleged psychological threshold, you can offer special features as a bait for them to feel like they’re getting something “more” out of going through the verification process. Offer additional content, personal account tracking on followers and engagement, or additional privacy settings, to name a few. See for example how Pinterest is doing it.
While speaking of additional features – you can also distinguish verified users from the unverified ones with a small logo on their profiles, to add even more clarity and enable them to actually state their true selves. That’s a win win, both impacting your users reputation and word of mouthing verification as something respectful.
Looking at the core purpose of a service also makes a great argument. When identity is native – when apps rely on them – identities must of course be verified. That makes almost all social apps, networking apps, IM apps indisputably qualified for implementing user verification.
What about other kinds of app though? Some argue that user verification is stupid for non identity based apps, say gaming apps. However, did they consider scalability? If your business plan includes growth, you might want to add in-app communication for engagement and retention. It then makes perfect sense to verify your users in an early stage, to minimize the workload when expanding. Moderators working manually to the keep the user base genuine and the content clean, is not a long-term solution.
If signing up for your service is too lazy, measuring users by sign-ups can become a hard-to-calculate issue and turn out to be misleading. Clicking once and running off isn’t really recruiting and converting new users…
Losing as much as 80% of mobile app users is normal, so maybe don’t put too much focus on getting new users.
Graph borrowed from Andrew Chen
Profit comes with user engagement and retention, so focus on understanding how to make that happen instead. Creating an attractive environment and establishing trust is initial, and verifying your users is a part of that process.
In the long run, that’ll also have a positive impact on your user acquisition, which implies that the most common misconception of user verification blocking signups gets seriously challenged.
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