Marketers are a nosy bunch. We want to know your name, age, gender, location, occupation, hobbies and pretty much anything else you are willing to tell us. And for the most part, we have good reason. We have been trained since Marketing 101 that the more information that we can gather about our consumers and prospects, the better.
If we know certain key facts about people, we can put relevant products and offers in front of them, increasing the likelihood of a sale. However, sometimes the tactics we use gather information, such as requiring users to create accounts or fill out lengthy contact forms, actually lower our ability to make a sale.
It's rare for someone to get excited about filling out an online form. And the people who do get excited by this probably aren't the people you'd want to be affiliated with anyway.
Take the example given in Luke Wroblewski’s book, Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks (Amazon affiliate link) about an ecommerce site that required users to register or login to make a purchase. The company surveyed their customers and found that both first time purchasers and returning users were frustrated by this seemingly unnecessary process. In an experiment, the company changed the wording on their site to read: “You do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click Continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout.”
The results were an astonishing 45% lift in consumer purchases, which translates to $15 million in additional revenue in just the first month and $300 million over the first year.
And this does not appear to be an isolated example. Research conducted by Janrain and eMarketer reported that when encountered with a registration form, a mere 25% of respondents say they complete it and even worse, 17% are driven to competitors’ sites. And, in case you missed the irony, this is drawing from a pool of people who agreed to answer a survey about how willing they are to answer questions. Just imagine the responses of all those who blew off the survey!
Unfortunately, registration forms aren’t the only culprit of driving away prospects by being too invasive. Lengthy, over the top “Contact Us” forms can be just as dangerous. Imaginary Landscape, a web technology company, performed a study in which their website featured a contact us page with 11 questions and a contact page that had only 4 questions. In the 2 month study, the number of forms submitted on the 4-question contact us page increased 160% and the conversion rate increased 120% over the 11 question page.
This example highlights the simple fact that less is more. Once a prospect has gone to your contact page, they are already looking to engage with your brand, so don’t get greedy. In initial contact, ask only the necessary information to contact them again in the future, and leave the follow up questions for a later time.
The bottom line is that purpose of your site is to get customers to interact with your brand and make purchases, so don’t make them jump through hoops to do so. With online privacy concerns reaching a fever pitch and consumers’ demands for convenience at an all time high, asking too many questions can cause customers to put their credit cards back in their wallets and your competitors sites back on their screens.
Information is nice, but don’t let your love for statistics, Excel spreadsheets and pie charts get in the way of the main goal. The next time you are tempted to ask for your consumers’ favorite Beach Boys song before you allow them to purchase a beach towel, ask yourself if the information is worth the risk of alienating your consumers. It may not be.
Posted by Nicole Hall, Account Manager with Mobilize Worldwide. Mobilize Worldwide develops mobile apps, mobile ad campaigns, mobile websites and just about anything else related to mobile marketing for brands interested in growing their sales and revenue using this new and emerging medium.