Are you optimising the forms on your ecommerce store?

Getting a customer to fill in a form and share their personal details with you is the last thing they’ll do to obtain something from you – whether it be a product or service, or to become a subscriber.

Yet this crucial last step is often overlooked and undervalued. With ecommerce brands instead often focussing their time and resource on getting people to their site with paid advertising. Of course, paid traffic is vital, but as you’ll know if you follow us, we’re all about starting at the purchase stage and working backwards – ensuring the things closer to the point of purchase are fully optimised.

A sobering thought is ‘two-thirds of people who start a form don’t go on and finish it’ (Zuko).

Think then of all the money you’re spending to get people to your site and the reason you’re not converting more of those browsers into customers is simply that the forms on your site are badly designed. A little bit of optimisation work and you’ll see conversions and of course sales, soar.

Another important thing to note is the cookie-less advertising world we’ll soon be entering, and so the importance placed on gaining first-party data. And so again, if you’re losing people in the form-filling process, you’re losing valuable first-party data which by having is going to be crucial for your future success within advertising and marketing.

What then are the things you can do when trying to optimise your forms?

Test your forms. An obvious one, but we’d be willing to wager a fair amount that most ecommerce brands don’t bother testing their forms.

First, up look at your data to identify any possible issues with your form – are there areas within your forms where you’re seeing high drop-off? Then, once you’ve identified some of the problem areas, come up with some ideas on how you think these could be best fixed – also known as hypothesise. Then it’s time to test a hypothesis – well, ideally multiple variants to see which performs best and then to update forms accordingly based on the results.

Ok go on then, we’ll give you some more things to get going with.

  1. Do you have a progress bar in place? People don’t like uncertainty and so not only does a progress bar reduce the uncertainty of how long the form will take for them to complete, but also highlighting progress is a powerful motivator. Showing customers that they are close to completing a desired behaviour will give them the motivation to continue.

  2. Like the above point, borrowing learnings from the behavioural science world is ‘chunking’ – essentially breaking things down into smaller parts so a bigger task is perceived as being easier to complete. And so, it’s simply a case of breaking a form into several different steps, instead of a big full-page form. People can feel overwhelmed by a big form, which can be enough friction to force them to stop and leave.

  3. As well as breaking a form into parts, is there an opportunity to simply remove some fields within your form? Is what you are asking people to submit crucial information? Or could it even be requested and collected another time?

  4. How does your form deal with errors? Does it inform customers of wrongly inputted data during the form-filling process rather than once they’ve submitted all their details? And is the wording in the error messages clear and helpful? Or better still is there clear copy/instructions next to fields (during the form-filling process) telling customers exactly what information they need to input?

  5. Are you testing forms in different scenarios? By that, we mean things such as device type or operating system (is a form optimised properly for mobile or are elements invisible and tricky to click?). And one thing to think about during testing, is the audience. For example, returning customers are probably more likely to make a purchase then first-time buyers and so be sure this is factored into your testing process – as variables like this could be what has led to a sale, not a change you have made to a form.

There you go, there’s enough for you to get cracking with when it comes to improving the performance of your forms. There are plenty more things you can do. And if you want further help with not just optimising your forms, but your whole online store, you know where we are 😉

And don’t forget, by starting at the purchase stage and working backwards you’ll convert more browsers to buyers.

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