Does your online form look like something from the Department of Motor Vehicles?
I've spent almost 15 years of my life helping companies to get their visitors to fill out and submit forms online. Forms to request information, to attend events, to sign up for a service, to complete an order, all sorts of forms.
Web forms are a transaction. You need to look at them as an exchange of information for something of value you promise in your offer. When you don't look at it as an exchange, you fail.
Despite all the innovation we have seen online, there's been very little innovation with forms. No one likes filling out forms online or offline. Filling out forms online sucks! And on mobile devices it sucks even more. Even worse, if your online forms look like a form from the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) you are creating even more suckiness.
This week, while I read the "Illustrated History of Web Forms" and then "6 Captcha Alternatives to Improve Conversion," I realized that online form optimization begins with diagnosing the three most common problems:
How to Identify Your Form Issues
How forms fail to reduce fear:
How web forms fail to build trust and credibility:
How forms fail to reinforce benefits:
Once you have identified the problems, you can start testing ways to improve your forms' condition. Start by working through the seven form factors that increase conversions:
For e-commerce checkout, I would certainly look at CafePress.com (example, below). We helped Maheesh Jain and his team redesign their checkout in 2004 and in eight years it has barely changed since it had only a 15 percent abandonment rate.
For a service website, one of my all time favorites is BaseCamp from 37 Signals. See how it shows it cares about the little details, reinforces benefits, and addresses fears and uncertainties. GotoMeeting is another great site to be inspired from (example below).
For lead generation, here are a few that caught my attention recently:
Best of luck with testing your own online forms and optimizing them for improved customer experiences and conversions. Please let me know how it turns out.
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Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
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