RBFF fishing license study shows opportunities

Today, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) announced the findings of a new fishing license mystery shopper study, which shows promising gains made by states in their online license purchase process. Each year, more and more consumers are purchasing a broader range of goods and services online, as well as from mobile devices. The Online Fishing License Assessment was conducted to gain a better understanding of the current digital licensing landscape and track improvement and progress over time since the last research study in 2012.

In the seven years since RBFF first conducted a study in the realm of online fishing license transactions, significant progress has been made, most notably:

  • Mobile Friendly – All licenses were purchased successfully from a mobile device in 2019.
    • Only five states offered a mobile experience in 2012 (10x growth). 
  • Email Collection – 40 states require email collection at the point of purchase.
    • Up from 25 states in 2012. 

However, while the community has taken giant leaps forward in some areas, opportunity exists to create a more streamlined experience for customers:

  • Number of Steps – The license purchase process takes 10+ clicks/steps to complete in 17 states.
    • Minimizing these steps could lead to less abandonment and more licensed anglers.
    • Consider the internet greats with 1-2 clicks to purchase an item. 
  • Language – Only four states offered Spanish translation for license purchase pages in 2019.
    • With 4.4 million Hispanics currently participating in fishing – a historic high for this population segment - there’s a tremendous opportunity to foster relationships with this audience.
  • Auto-Renew – 13 states offered the option of auto-renewing licenses in 2019.
    • Auto-renewing licenses can be a win-win for customers and agencies alike. Auto-renew can provide convenience and ease for both the customer and agency, and helps agencies gain loyal customers and annual revenue.
  • Thank You & Follow-Up – Only eight states did not provide a follow-up message to customers upon completing the license purchase process in 2019, down from 25 states in 2012.
    • Personalized thank you messages are standard procedure in today’s digital marketplace, leading to a more connected experience for shoppers, and provides a bridge towards a continued positive relationship.

“Over the last decade, RBFF has been advising state agencies on the future of e-commerce in a world that’s becoming more digital by the day,” said RBFF President & CEO Frank Peterson. “We are pleased to see so many of our recommendations implemented, however there is still more work to be done. And, RBFF will be here to help support states as they continue to improve the customer experience and reap the rewards along the way.”

The RBFF Online Fishing License Assessment was conducted with MarketViewpoint, a mystery shopping company and is a follow-up to the original Online Fishing License Assessment, which was carried out in 2012. MarketViewpoint directed mystery shoppers to search for and purchase an annual fishing license in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia via a mobile device. The full report, including comparisons to the original assessment, are available in the RBFF Resource Center.

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