While many companies place a great emphasis on website optimization, they should have an equal focus on form optimization. After all, what’s the point in acquiring traffic and engaging leads for them to leave your site due to a poorly designed form? A beautiful, concise form that is representative of your brand is key to providing a great customer service experience and ensuring higher conversion rates.
Your online forms are a huge aspect of your website and you’ll need one anytime you need a visitor to enter any kind of data. Accepting payments, placing online orders, running a survey, collecting newsletter or subscription signups and gathering customer feedback are just a few of the many different online forms you can use for your website. Pretty important stuff hey? That’s why if your forms are difficult to navigate, have too much text, are too lengthy or just plain ugly, you’re going to be in some strife and your conversion rates will suffer the consequences.
Don’t have drab online forms that infuriate your customers to try to use, follow these steps to ensure you are building aesthetic forms that are easy to use and that convert the maximum number of visitors into paying customers.
Sounds good? Let’s dive in!
While continually changing and evolving, eCommerce has never been more critical in the world of business and sales today. More and more people are looking to buy their products online than ever before, so it’s especially important that your forms stand out. Those who have already built up stable eCommerce platforms are the few winners of the current disruption in trade, with everyone else falling at the wayside – and you can guarantee that their forms are as strong as the rest of their channels.
Strong eCommerce forms are crucial, not only to stay relevant and improve sales but to also build closer and trustworthy relationships with potential customers. In a time of fierce and brutal competition online, even niche stores are now engaged in a battle to the death. It is vital to stay on top of consumer and trade trends, and well-designed forms are one of the best ways to do this. Not to be overlooked, a well-designed form that stands out and reflects your company and brand will allow you to move your customer down the marketing funnel and convert more leads, whether that’s through a questionnaire, a sign-up, or check-out form. So be sure that your forms display your business logo, company colours and slogan to establish trust amongst responders while adding graphics that stand out.
Poorly designed forms are a significant obstacle between your business and customer action. This is because a form that proves difficult for a customer to use or navigate often causes escalated customer stress levels which very often lead to customers abandoning their online baskets (full of potential business revenue). When implemented correctly into your eCommerce platform, a well-designed form that stands out and is easy to fill out, will leave your customers happy and help you stand out against your competitors.
You can employ several strategies to ensure a seamless form filling out the process for your customers. It’s important to note that all forms should be short and easy to complete in order to gain higher completion rates and subsequent consumer action. Here are some tricks that you can implement in your designs.
Align your labels
Make sure that all of your field labels are top-aligned and in close proximity to the required field that needs filling out. This reduces the distance that your eyes have to jump around the page. If this isn’t an option for you, right-aligned is the best second choice. While left-aligned looks more aesthetically pleasing, it is more likely to create cognitive loads, which could mean the difference between a potential client completing your form straight away or leaving out of frustration.
Use smart defaults
Typing takes up time, and having to fill out a long-form with endless fields is most people’s worst nightmare, especially if you’ve been typing away on the computer all day already at work. Make your forms as easy to fill out as possible and pre-populate information that you already know about the customer, such as a home address, telephone number, and email address. You can also pre-select your visitors country via their IP geolocation so that they don’t have to scroll through a long list to make the selection themselves.
A great way to save customers time and create a better customer experience is by using conditional logic to show or hide question types based on respondents’ previous answers. For example asking, ‘have you shopped with us before?’ and depending on their response, then displaying follow-up questions about where, how long ago etc. This is an excellent tool to utilize while using a form builder such as Paperform, where their conditional logic question types allow you to create a unique and customized experience for every user.
Let people know what stage of the process they are at
Split longer forms, that are often used in the checkout process, over several pages but make sure to highlight precisely what stage your customers are in of the completion process, and how much more they have to go. Label each stage clearly and use visuals where possible to avoid customer frustration and potential abandonment. Be sure to give each section a category or title, to let customers know what is coming up and they can think and prepare for what is needed from them and how they will respond. Make sure the content placed under each title is relevant and fits under the section and that questions are grouped together in the same category to make the process easier for the respondent.
Make your calls-to-action clear
Make sure that each of your call-to-action fields clearly describes what the action will be upon filling it out or clicking on it. For example, don’t just have your checkout steps labeled numerically 1 – 4, instead, have it say 1- Shipping details, 2 – Payment details, so to let the user know the process. This will ensure that they know where they are proceeding to, and what stage of the journey they are on, making it more likely for them to continue. It is always good practice to make your page auto-update according to the new selection.
Format payment data fields
To make payment easier and quicker for your customers, format your card payment using a jQuery plugin to format the fields so that they appear the same as on a customer’s card, allowing for a seamless checkout process.
Include navigation in your forms
Providing a way for respondents to see how much of a form they have completed and how much they have to go until completion, is important in increasing your response rates. The best way to do this is to display a ‘% complete’ bar somewhere easily seen by your customer so they know exactly where they are up to. By doing this, it reduces the likelihood of customers giving up and abandoning their form by knowing how much they have completed and how much is left. It also gives responders motivation to finish if they see they only have a small percentage to go and reduces confusion for them.
eCommerce businesses are dependent on various virtual techniques to build up rapport and personal communication with their customers, unlike traditional brick-and-mortar businesses that have the staff provide this communication and customer service face-to-face.
Therefore, eCommerce has the additional challenge of building meaningful relationships and conveying effective communication while considering the physical barrier. Consequently, it is vital to ensure that your chosen communication methods allow for clear and concise messaging to avoid any misunderstandings and to convert as much of your audience as possible into active consumers.
As mentioned previously, using conditional logic question types on your forms provides a personalized experience for customers while using your forms. Using conditional logic shows your appreciation and care by building custom journeys of questions for each customer based upon their responses.
Consumers are inundated with marketing adverts and are becoming increasingly savvy. They have high expectations and won’t put up with a poor customer experience or they will go elsewhere. Having clear, concise and personal communication is key to making sure customers don’t ditch your form before they complete it. Don’t be afraid to show some personality in your forms so your business portrays a more humanistic quality, which consumers will appreciate and respond to better. Leave out any language or terms that may confuse people and use a relaxed and relatable tone. This ensures that there is no room for miscommunication and makes people feel less intimidated by your forms and makes them feel like they are talking to a real person and not a robot.
As poor communication in eCommerce can often result in damaged reputations, lost business, and as a consequence, lack of growth (which is detrimental to any business owner), this should be a particular area of focus – and not only via your forms but your whole site. Include easy to use websites, maintain a consistent presence on social media channels, and set up customer service chats, phone lines, and quick email responses that deal with any customer concerns or queries to show that you are reputable, trustworthy, and truly care about their needs.
Trust badges are a badge-like symbol used to legitimise businesses and are essential to include on eCommerce platforms and payment forms, helping you increase conversion rates and build trust with your clients.
According to Statista, up to 19% of lost sales in 2017 was due to security concerns, highlighting the importance consumers place on online security. With many scams currently on the internet, it’s difficult to know who you can and can’t trust, particularly when it comes to making purchases. A trust badge serves as a visual reminder to let visitors know that your business is authentic. You can use a few varieties, but it’s essential to make sure that they are in keeping with your visual theme and colour scheme so that customers do not question its validity.
A trust badge or symbol ensures a safe checkout process for your clients, providing them both security and trust that their data is safe and secure. There are five different trust badges you can implement on your site: Safe Checkout Badge, Accepted Payments Badge, Third-Party Endorsements, Money-Back Guarantee, and Free Shipping and Returns. While all five are important, the safe checkout badge is probably the most essential of all, protecting the internet connection and transfer of information during purchases. This is important not only for your customers but for you as a business owner and contributes to higher sales margins and overall growth.
Online forms are a crucial step in the conversion process and can easily cause customers to leave your eCommerce channel frustrated if not optimised well. A/B testing allows you to test your forms to make sure that they are effective for your industry while helping you to avoid any potential conversion process pitfalls and are a great way to improve your response rates. Conversion rates vary on the type of form used, so it is essential to use A/B testing to help you to understand the benchmark data for conversation rates in your field. This information will then help you to determine your targets for eCommerce platform conversion rate optimisation based on evidence from hard data results.
Tools such as Google Analytics will test your forms for free, allowing you to redirect from the consumer’s browser to a different page containing the new form that you want to test without them noticing. This method of testing essentially allows you to check two various forms against each other to see which variant converts the most. You can also use paid A/B testing tools such as Visual Website Optimizer, whose services will change the way your form appears in your customers browser and then tracks and measures your conversations for you – without requiring any knowledge of coding.
Let’s face it, forms aren’t that exciting and your customers will be rarely enthralled while filling one out. The good news is they don’t fill them out for fun, they fill them out for purposes such as to place an order, enter their details to receive a discount, or register for an event. All your job is to do is to make sure they stay until completion by making sure your forms are not just functional and user-friendly, but also simply stunning.
Communicate clearly and concisely, structure your forms well and make filling them out a breeze for your customers. Don’t forget that having a trustworthy-looking form is a large determinant for your completion rates, so be sure to add trust badges to ease any security concerns and always display your brand on your forms to appear trustworthy and legitimate. By following these tips, you’ll be able to build beautiful, easy to use forms that will increase your conversions and help your ecommerce business boom.
Tegan Tedd is a digital marketer and content writer at Paperform. She loves writing about product marketing, technology, and workplace productivity.
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