Within a nanosecond of arriving at a form—less than the time it takes to blink—you decide whether you’re going to complete it or dump out. Each of your prospects and customers does exactly the same, multiple times each day.
So what are you doing to help them commit and convert? Or, equally important, what are you doing that’s pushing them away?
Whether you’re optimizing a B2B landing page or retail checkout, scour your forms and fix these 7 common mistakes, pronto!
Colleagues will say, “It can’t hurt to ask.” But it absolutely can. While there are exceptions to the shorter-is-better rule, you’re likely to see a lift with every question you remove.
1. Asking too many questions. Long forms turn people off. This isn’t a survey and it isn’t the time to onboard. While you absolutely must ask everything that will allow you to deliver on what you’re offering, fight the “marketing may need this someday” urge and remove:
- Extra email addresses
- Email confirmation (instead, make the email field bigger, so people can see what they’ve entered—upwards of 60% of people just cut and paste what they entered the first time anyway)
- Phone number (if you insist, make it optional)
- Date of birth (even if you’re selling spirits—use a checkbox instead)
- Gender (reconsider why you think you need this)
- Title (unless you need to identify physicians and even then, make it optional)
- Anything optional—if you don’t need it, you don’t need it
What else can you delete? Colleagues will say, “It can’t hurt to ask.” But it absolutely can. While there are exceptions to the shorter-is-better rule, you’re likely to see a lift with every question you remove.
2. Throwing up a red flag when you’re just trying to get attention. Red may be the color of your best-performing button, but it’s also the color of danger and aggression. Red error messages, red warnings, even red asterisks on required fields can leave a user feeling chastised or may make the form appear complicated. Try a friendlier color instead.
3. Including links and buttons you don’t want clicked. If a prospect accidentally clears a form, leaves to see another product or goes to your Twitter feed, they may be gone for good. Once a user is in transaction mode, remove all distractions including the main nav, promotions, social links, all of it. Colleagues will say, “What if they change their mind? We don’t want to lose them,” as a rationale for adding items that only help users change their minds. Irony.
4. Being picky about number formats. Parentheses, slashes, hyphens, spaces? Nobody wants to play “guess the format” as they’re entering a phone number or date. Use an input mask that lets them just key in the numbers, rather than telling them they were wrong (great way to insult a customer, by the way) because they used a perfectly acceptable convention that doesn’t match your back-end.
5. Letting the dev team write error messages. When a user triggers an error, tell them exactly what went awry and how to fix it. Display the proper format. And do it nicely.
6. Asking people to submit. No one came to your site to bow down to your brand. While the form may technically be submitting data to you, customers are buying, ordering, signing up, requesting information, starting a trial, etc. Your friendly, user-focused button should clearly invite them to do whatever it is they intend.
7. Making it hard for users to prove they’re human. Granted, we have a bot problem. However, when AI gets captchas right three times more often than humans do, there’s an even bigger issue. Nobody came to your site to inspect tiny photos for crosswalks. Take a look at your audience and if they’re older (so their eyes are going) or impatient, you may just want to leave anything but the simplest human verification checkbox off the site.
From multi-step forms to A/B testing headlines, offers and colors, there are countless tweaks you can deploy to boost conversions—but these are low-effort/high-impact fixes you can make today without worrying about breaking your site.