What Drives Users' Website Registration?

40 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2013 Last revised: 31 Dec 2016

See all articles by Ting Li

Ting Li

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University; Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

Paul A. Pavlou

Temple University - Department of Management Information Systems; Temple University - Department of Strategic Management

Date Written: December 18, 2013


User registration is an important prerequisite for the success of many websites by enabling users to gain access to domain information and personalized content. It is not always desirable for users, however, because they need to disclose personal information. This paper examines what drives user registration using two studies on a website that requires user registration to offer access to a mobile phone directory. In the first study, we collected survey data from more than 300 users who visited the website in order to understand the factors that influence users’ intention to register. The results show that brand awareness is a key determinant of user registration by negatively moderating (attenuating) the negative effect of information privacy concerns on user registration and positively moderating (reinforcing) the positive effect of trust on user registration. In the second study, we conducted a randomized field experiment over a period of 20 weeks and collected data from over 4,000 users to examine if website informedness (credibility and user base) affects actual registration behavior. We manipulated credibility information through word-of-mouth (WOM) information (expert, customer, or none) and popularity information on the user base information (number of visitors, number of registered users, both number of visitors and registered users, or none) directly on the real-life mobile phone directory website in a 3×4 experiment. The results show that displaying popularity information is most effective in enabling user registration. Notably, when both the number of visitors and of registered users were highlighted, together with expert WOM, the website achieved over 12% higher user registration than without showing any information. Interestingly, the results indicate that the mere presence of popularity information can boost registration by itself, but the exact numbers displayed do not really matter. This finding implies that the negative impact of information privacy concerns may outweigh the positive network externalities that arise from the numbers of visitors and registered users that the website displays to prospective users. We discuss the study’s theoretical contributions and implications, and we conclude with a set of managerial implications for commercial websites to increase user registration.

Keywords: brand awareness, information sensitivity, network externalities, information privacy concerns, popularity information, registration, trust, word of mouth

Suggested Citation

Li, Ting and Pavlou, Paul A., What Drives Users' Website Registration? (December 18, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2369444 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2369444

Ting Li (Contact Author)

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3062PA Rotterdam

Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam

Paul A. Pavlou

Temple University - Department of Management Information Systems ( email )

1810 N. 13th Street
Floor 2
Philadelphia, PA 19128
United States

Temple University - Department of Strategic Management ( email )

Fox School of Business and Management
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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