The increasingly common option of providing Social Login for web sites can help satisfy consumer demand for more relevant, personalised and targeted online experiences, putting an era of true one-to-one marketing within marketers' grasp, according to Russell Loarridge, managing director (Europe) for Janrain. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

As consumer use of digital channels continues to grow, businesses are increasingly seeking to optimise their online and mobile platforms to attract, engage and retain customers. But achieving cut-through and maintaining brand awareness amid a sea of online noise is a perpetual challenge. With 'relevance' now regarded as a critical success factor in engaging customers, marketers are under renewed pressure to deliver online experiences that are targeted, personalised and meaningful.

But recent research showed that businesses in both the US and the UK could do more to develop relevant and authentic dialogue with customers - not least by capitalising on the personalisation capabilities provided by user management solutions such as Social Login. In fact, studies indicate a growing appetite for social login, with widespread recognition that its ability to support the delivery of a more individualised user experience and eliminate mistargeted communications - as well as simplifying users' login process - is a major attraction for online consumers.

A recent independent study of US consumers that are active on social media revealed that 98% of people that receive promotions from companies admitted to having been mistargeted in the past. It is a similar picture in the UK, where 96% of consumers say they commonly receive mistargeted communications. It's a familiar problem - and at its root is companies' continued reliance on dated methodology to gather users' personal data. Historically, companies have used standard online registration forms to acquire new customers and capture information about them. But over time, this has proved to be an inefficient and inadequate approach.

Information captured at the registration stage is, of course, typically stored in electronic databases and used to deliver targeted communications following robust customer segmentation. But the primitive nature of the registration approach, and users' desire to gain speedy site access that limits the information they are prepared to share, often means that data is prone to being misleading or inaccurate. In the US, almost four in five people admit to giving false or incomplete information to create a new user account. Such falsified information makes it difficult for businesses to tailor the online experience to suit the individual, and is a key contributory factor in the high percentage of users receiving promotions that are not aligned with their personal interests or demographics.

Moreover, as digital media consumption has increased, consumers have grown tired of traditional registration processes and burdened by the need to remember countless username and password combinations. More than half the people surveyed - 53% in the US and 50% in the UK - report having more than five username/password combinations, with many struggling to remember them all.

The all too familiar phenomenon of 'password fatigue' is undoubtedly proving costly for business, as 92% of US respondents reported that, for sites where they have forgotten their login details, they are more likely to quit during the sign-in process than attempt to reset or recover their password. Again, the UK reflects a similar trend.

To combat this, proactive businesses are increasingly turning to Social Login to simplify the sign-on processes for users and, in the process, better enable them to understand and adapt to individual consumer preferences. Social Login gives users the ability to log into or register with sites using an existing ID from a social network site such as Facebook, Google or Twitter, and most recently Amazon. In turn, online marketers can seek permission to use a consumer's social profile data to help them personalise content based on information such as their location, hobbies and preferences.

And consumer awareness of Social Login is growing. Research shows that 88% of UK survey respondents have encountered Social Login - an increase from 78% in 2012. In the US too there are similar levels of awareness (87%). Such awareness is steadily translating into consumer use; in the UK, almost two in three respondents (64%) report using Social Login when it is offered as an option, whilst in the States, more than half (52%) have started to use it. Moreover, as consumers increasingly recognise its benefits, it's clear that Social Login is presenting businesses with a powerful opportunity to mitigate the risk of users quitting websites during the sign-on process; 64% of US users who frequently leave sites due to forgotten login credentials say that social login is an option that companies should consider. In the UK, this figure rises to 72%.

Beyond the obvious site accessibility benefits that Social Login enables, its subsequent ability to drive improvements in personalisation not only has mutual benefit for both companies and consumers, it also aligns with a recognised customer need. Some 75% of UK respondents (67% in the US) say that the ability for brands to personalise their experience based on data collected via social login is highly attractive. Further, in the US, 65% of consumers say they are more likely to return to a website that automatically welcomes them through Social Login.

The growing consumer appetite for Social Login promises major commercial and reputational benefits for online businesses. 71% of UK consumers (59% in the US) say that they find a company's ability to suggest products based on their social information 'appealing', while 69% say that websites that are able to suggest targeted content such as articles and topics are 'very useful'. The knock-on benefits for brand loyalty and reputation are significant; 75% of UK respondents - and 60% of US respondents - think that companies who offer Social Login are more innovative than those that don't.

In a fast-paced online world where social media has become such a powerful platform for communication, the creation and delivery of a personalised experience can ultimately help companies increase revenues and profitability. Word of mouth is all-important. Research shows that 78% of people in the US (81% in the UK) will navigate to a website if it has been mentioned positively on social media - this, in turn, will undoubtedly help brands deliver commercial success. To underline the point, 74% of people in the UK (72% in the US) consider buying based on positive recommendations from social networks.

The proliferation of social media channels is changing the paradigm of global communications and presenting new and innovative ways of engaging with consumers. As this trend gathers pace, it's clear that online businesses can do more to harness the power of social media to optimise the customer experience. As consumer demand for relevant and personalised online experiences intensifies - and their willingness to share social information grows - retailers and publishers are increasingly recognising that Social Login can unlock the door to comprehensive customer insight, more effective targeting and more productive user engagement. As businesses strive for to develop increased customer understanding and the chance to undertake true one-to-one marketing, Social Login is the simplest and most obvious solution. It's time to get up close and personal.