This is a guestpost from our friends at paperform.co
While traffic figures are still an important metric for measuring the success of a digital marketing strategy, every good business owner appreciates the fact that lead generation is a far more accurate barometer of performance. Several key tools can be used to gain leads and ultimately increase the hopes of increased conversions, and e-commerce forms are undoubtedly a key player.
If your business is ever going to unlock the full potential of this extremely powerful tool, you will need to gain a clear understanding of several key issues, including;
- What is an online form?
- Why do e-commerce sites need web forms?
- How can forms impact conversion rates?
- How to design forms that convert better than average
The best businesses develop comprehensive marketing strategies that cover every angle, yet the main objective always revolves around the concept of establishing strong client relations that can lead to increased conversions and long-term loyalty.
A personal connection is essential in modern marketing, not least because 86% of consumers seek authenticity while trust is another key aspect of the decision-making process. E-commerce forms remain one of the most effective ways to capture visitor data, which subsequently opens the door to meaningful interactions. In an era where the relevance of digital marketing and e-commerce has reached new heights as an upshot of the global pandemic, the benefits of a strong online form can be more influential than ever.
Even if your business is already using online forms, it is very likely that they could be performing 10x better. By the end of this guide, you’ll have the insight needed to maximise their impact.
What is an online form?
An online form is quite simply any digital form that is completed by the user via the internet. Also known as an e-commerce form or HTML form, they function in a very easy way. Once the user has input the appropriate data into the supplied fields and submits the form, the information is captured and sent to the website’s server where the data is stored and collated.
Online forms can be used for various purposes. Some of the common examples are monitoring interest levels in a new product, predicting client behaviours, and building contact lists. E-commerce forms also remain the #1 tool for lead generation. Likewise, they may capture a wide range of data types. This could include a person’s contact details, personal information, interest in a product/service, and anything else that could be useful to the business.
Businesses can incorporate HTML forms at many different stages in the customer journey, which leads to many styles being used. Some of the most popular types include;
- Sales contact forms for visitors who are ready to purchase and want an agent to call or email them about it.
- Newsletter sign-up forms for leads who want to be updated with the latest news relating to your company.
- Account registration forms that visitors complete to become a member who can subsequently complete an online order or interact with the website in other ways.
- Competition entry forms where users share their data to have a chance of winning a prize, and promotion forms where they secure a discount.
- Feedback forms where a customer can tell you about the good, bad, and ugly of the company’s site, products, or services.
Several other popular types may be used too, such as; free audit sign-up forms, donation forms, and online order forms. When the right online forms are used in the correct manner, the results they yield are simply phenomenal.
Meanwhile, the common data field types are text boxes, drop-down lists, check boxes, radio buttons, and submit buttons.
Why do e-commerce sites need web forms?
The fact that most marketers site web forms as their best lead generation tool is telling. In a world where your online platform needs to match and outperform its competitors, missing out on this almost omnipresent feature is simply not an option.
However, the need for e-commerce forms isn’t limited to the fact that everyone else is doing it. More importantly, they serve an important role in facilitating a better consumer experience. After all, they can help customers sign up for emails and newsletter updates, register accounts, and make purchases in a fast, safe, and convenient manner. Not to mention they aid the trustworthiness of the brand.
Still unconvinced? Take the following factors into consideration and the value of e-commerce forms will be clear:
- 73% of people prefer to do business with brands that personalize the shopping experience.
- Almost 7 in 10 consumers abandon their carts. Capturing their data gives you a chance to return.
- It costs 5x as much to gain a new customer than keep an existing client, especially when you enjoy regular interactions.
Whether you want to leave a better first impression, encourage more visitors to return to the site, or increase future customer lifetime value (CLV) rates, web forms are one of the best weapons in your arsenal. In short: you cannot go into battle without them.
How can forms impact conversion rates?
Using e-commerce forms is one thing, but using them well is another together. With more businesses now online than ever before, consumer expectations are at an all-time high. Frankly, if you don’t present the right information in the most effective way, visitors will take their custom elsewhere.
That is the brutal reality. While a good form can increase conversions, a bad form will have the inverse impact that you are trying to achieve.
So, what makes a bad form? Perhaps the most common mistake is to ask for too much information. Research shows that short forms with just 3-5 fields tend to outperform forms with 10 or more fields. This reflects the fact that people have short attention spans – as well as their demand for quick answers.
It’s also important to ensure that the form meets the user expectations. When signing up for a newsletter, visitors will probably only want to leave their name and contact details. Conversely, when requesting an instant quote on selling a car, owners expect to provide more insight. An appreciation of the purpose of the online form is vital.
Another issue could be asking for too much personal info, not least because users are aware that data breaches exposed 36 billion pieces of data in the first half of 2020 alone. If an e-commerce form fails to inspire trust and engagement, conversion rates will be low.
How to design forms that convert better than average
While the power of online forms cannot be ignored, the median conversion rate is just 2.35%. The figure is impacted by the fact that around one-quarter of website forms have conversion rates of under 1%. Even so, if your business is currently seeing rates of 3-5%, it is missing out on huge potential.
Now is the time to build a strategy that will be destined to put your conversion rates among the best in the business. Here are five top tips to make that dream a reality.
Keep forms short and simple
When it comes to lead generation, simplicity is king. It takes a user 2.6 seconds for their attention to drift to the most important part of the webpage. Therefore you need your form to stand out and leave a winning first impression. If the form looks unattractive, it will struggle to convert.
Aside from the general design, the online form should be unintimidating. If it looks confusing or time-consuming, most users will avoid it. After all, if the interaction with a business feels like a chore from the first stage, it hardly sets a winning tone. Keep your forms short and simple by using the following checklist;
- Make sure the design looks new, relevant, and matched to the website as a whole.
- Be sure that the purpose of the form is clear.
- Ensure the form only asks for the information that is actually required.
2. Add auto-format and allow copy and paste
Following on from the concept of simplicity, auto-formatting and auto-filling features can speed up the process and make it feel far less daunting for the visitor. On average, auto-fill can make the process 30% faster. In turn, there is a far less chance of them abandoning the process, which can only encourage far higher conversion rates.
Auto-fill is arguably most beneficial when looking at order forms and payment forms but can also play an important role for other lead generation captures. On a side note, this also prevents typos from standing in the way of gaining accurate information. The following steps should help you get this right;
- Allow an auto-fill feature that uses data stored from the user’s device.
- Allow a copy and paste function to further reduce the time and effort.
- Ensure that all forms start with the easy items, like their name or email address.
3. Place forms on visible pages
By the time a website visitor has arrived on your homepage or landing page, they’ve already shown an interest in your brand, but they won’t want to go searching for a form. 94% of bad reviews are related to design, and an inability to quickly find the required info is a common pain point. Therefore, you should meet them halfway by presenting the form on all visible pages.
Crucially, all forms should be ‘above the fold’, which means that they should be visible as soon as the user opens the page. So, if your newsletter sign-up forms are at the bottom of the page, reposition them. Other steps include;
- Ensure that online forms are used on all landing pages.
- Make HTML forms big, clear, and attention-grabbing.
- Know that the right form is attached to each webpage.
4. Ensure the form is compatible with all devices
The days of surviving through desktop interactions alone have long passed. Studies show that 79% of consumers make purchases on mobile while the vast majority expect websites to look and perform equally well (or better) on mobile browsers. The future is now, and the future is mobile. If your forms fail to reflect this, you will unnecessarily lose conversions.
If the forms aren’t compatible on all smartphone and tablet devices, it’s the equivalent of closing a brick-and-mortar store to a certain demographic. Moreover, many consumers will quickly check your site when out and about. Easy forms are the perfect solution. Remember that;
- A website that takes more than 2 seconds to load will result in abandonment.
- Choose easy data capture fields, such as ticking boxes and dropdown menus.
- You can test out forms from a new device to get the user’s perspective.
5. Include a clear CTA
It’s important to remember that your e-commerce forms are supposed to encourage a certain response. CTAs (call-to-action) are the answer. Up to 70% of small businesses lack a clear CTA on their homepage, which leaves visitors not knowing what steps to take. Your online forms will instantly create a bigger impact by having one.
Again, you want to engage and entice the user. Replace the word “Submit” with something like “Yes, I want 10% off” or “Start my body transformation now!” depending on the type of content. You can make your forms even more attractive by;
- Choosing a colour for the button that’s bold, bright, and relevant to the brand.
- Add personal touches, like their name, on forms sent to existing customers.
- Ensure the message is clear and concise.
If you are going to use e-commerce forms in business (and you really should), it’s imperative that they are designed to achieve the very best conversion rates possible.
To recap, a successful form should be clear on its objective, easy to find, and aesthetically pleasing. A clear CTA, easy data input and fast processing will all aid the cause too. Implement the tips above and it could be the difference between three percent and 30% or more!
Whether it’s buying e-commerce forms or lead generation forms, the increased success of your forms will inevitably boost your bottom line. If that doesn’t motivate you to revisit your online forms, what will?
Rebecca DiCioccio is the marketing manager at Paperform. Outside of work, Rebecca can be found exploring the outdoors, or with a book in hand. Rebecca’s background in copywriting and keen interest in SEO and digital marketing mean she understands the importance of staying up to date with the latest trends in a dynamic and ever changing industry.