Preventing my customers' customers signing up

I’m having some trouble separating my customers and my customers’ customers.

I’m building a lesson tracking app and my customers are schools and private teachers. In turn their customers are their students and the parents of their students. I will have no direct dealings with their customers (students and parents).

When a school signs up for the app they create accounts for all of their teachers and students. For each school there will be an owner account, ~20 teacher accounts and ~200 student accounts.

Teachers make and store lessons and their students access them from home.

I have a landing page for the product and this page describes the product to school owners and private teachers. The problem I’m having is that some students and parents are hitting the page and trying to sign up for an account under the mistaken assumption that they need to create their own account when, in fact, this is done for them by their school.

Does anyone have any advice on how to handle this?

I could make the text on the landing page more explicitly B2B. I could add more descriptive text to the sign up form. I could separate the marketing pages and the web-app, possibly run them on two different domains.

I have a feeling the mistake we’re making is that we have our product branding visible to the students and parents within the app. We’ve thought long and hard about whether this is the right thing to do. We decided having our product name known by parents will provide us with some extra word-of-mouth marketing that we would miss if we white-labeled the app or branded it with the student’s school logo etc.

The more I write here, the less I feel like there’s a good answer to this.

Any opinions or advice would be most appreciated.

I’m wondering: what problem(s) does it create when a parent signs up like that?

How about in the sign in have two vertical boxes. One side says school \institution and the other says student \etc

What you do after that will depend on your database design and domain model. If everything is a multitenant database then login the user to the appropriate subdomain.

Students and parents should not be creating accounts as they are managed by school administrator(s).

@cpytel is spot on.

If this IS a problem more explicit langauge may help. Is the average student / parent going to know / care enough about the app to actually promote it? Why are they creating accounts in the first place?

I wish I could think of popular real-world example of my app to compare it to. I’m not saying it’s unique (at all) but I feel like I haven’t explained the setup properly.

Only schools should be signing up for our app. The students accounts are then created en-masse by the school, not by each student individually.

The sign up form has fields for School Name, Your Name, Your email and Password. This all goes fine when an actual school signs up but when a random parent or student hits the landing page and decides to sign up they fill out the form with the their details plus the name of the school that they attend, not the name of the school that they own.

@cpytel The problem it causes is that it creates an invalid account that trigger off an ‘welcome’ email and a whole user on-boarding process which is all for school owners only. If the school they attend has already signed up and the parent happens to type the name of the school exactly as it was entered by the owner previously then the form won’t validate but that’s unlikely to happen for various reasons. So for every new sign up I have to figure out if it’s a real account or one created in error by a random student or parent.

@Austin It’s only schools that should be signing up for our app. The school would then create accounts for all of their students and inform them.

@mrlee Exactly - student and parent accounts are managed by the school. See above for why this is a problem/ It’s a potentially huge problem as we grow since for every school owner there at least 200 students. It could get really out of hand.

This would solve the problem on the sign up form:


But who wants to see something like that on a sign up form? That kind of things really shows that you’ve got something wrong with the design somewhere.

@mrlee Regarding the promotion - I do think it will help for parents/students to see the branding. Parents talk to each other about their kids’ progress and when one says to another ‘oh, your school doesn’t use Fantastic Lesson Tracker?’ then we get a little bit of exposure :smile:

Wow. My wife just had a great idea. It’s elegant and simple.

On the sign up form I could have two checkboxes (operating as radio buttons) for:

[ ] I am a school owner
[ ] I am a private teacher

This ensures the visitor has to make a decision between the two. If they don’t check either of the boxes I can show an error saying something like:

“Please choose from the options below. If you are a student or a parent your school will create an account for for you.”

I like it. I’m going to present it to our designer and see what he thinks.

@weavermedia thanks for the info about what problem it causes. How many schools do you have signing up each week and how many times has a parent or student signed up incorrectly?

Your wife’s ide is good and along the lines of what I was thinking in my head, but I’m curious about exploring the details of the problem further.

@cpytel We’ve only done a soft launch to a couple of schools we know personally so far, just to get some initial feedback. (Those first few users can tell you a lot about your app that you never thought of!)

We’ve had a couple of sign up issues so far and they were fairly easily dealt with because we know the schools and teachers involved but once we market this to more schools in the wild I’m afraid the problem will increase exponentially.

I think we need to be more explicit on the landing page that this is a business-to-business product.

The only example I can think of as a comparison is something like Basecamp. It’s quite contrived but imagine Acme Co. starts to use Basecamp for all project coordination. Some of the employees take it upon themselves to create their own Basecamp accounts under the name Acme Co. and wonder why all the company messages aren’t showing up.

The problem is that Acme Co. needs to invite their employees to their own account, the employees can’t just create their own Acme Co. projects and expect everything to magically work.

Acme Co. is Basecamp’s customer. Acme Co.'s employees are also Basecamp users but not exactly customers. Do that make any sense?

You need to find out what need these students / parents are trying to fulfill by signing up.

Is the invite process clearly communicated to users? Is it too slow? Etc.

Yes, I certainly understand the problem, I’m just asking questions to help formulate an opinion based on actual data and goals of the users.