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7 best ways to decrease your form abandonment rate

Conversion Rate Optimisation

What makes a person abandon a form when they’re close to completing it?

Form abandonment is often accepted as an annoying but natural state of affairs. We’ve spoken to ecommerce businesses who say they assume visitors who leave the checkout simply aren’t ready to complete their purchase. In fact, engaging with a form or proceeding to the checkout is a good indication that the visitor is primed to convert. Abandonment at this point should highlight to you a potential issue with your form.

Here are 7 best ways to decrease your form abandonment rate:

  1. Make your form visually appealing

  2. A cluttered or long form will appear difficult or arduous to complete. Visual design changes can have a direct impact on the rate of conversions.

    We know that only around 49% of visitors who view a checkout or form begin filling in their details. This is based on our study of 12.5m pieces of data from 1.5m form visits. You can read more about this in our review of global checkout statistics.

    Below you’ll see a form that appears on southern-electric.co.uk. The form is incomprehensibly long. I’ve shrunk the screenshot to save space in this blog post.

    Social Media contact form

    Get a better look at the form by visiting it at https://www.southern-electric.co.uk/onlineform/socialmediacontact

    Forms with too many questions bore and irritate your users. A form like this is off-putting. I might assume from seeing this example that Southern Electric don’t want anyone to contact them.

    Some people may start a long form only to drop off part-way through, simply due to the length and time commitment of filling it out. With form analytics data you may be able to identify this issue, represented as a steady stream of drop-offs throughout the form.

    So cut down on questions that could be asked at a later stage to reduce the bounce rate.

  3. Find and fix technical issues

  4. A form that doesn’t work properly is going to put users off. If a visitor has to fight to fill out a form they will eventually ask themselves “Is this worth it?” If the answer is “No” or if the form is so broken it is impossible to complete then you will lose out on conversions.

    Browser and device compatibility should be considered under this topic. As mobile device usage continues to increase, incompatible websites (and their forms) become more noticeable and our tolerance decreases.

    Be aware that if your form behaves differently than your users expect then it could appear broken. User testing and screen tracking are good ways to highlight areas of your form where users act differently than you intended them to. Try observing someone unfamiliar with your form trying to fill it out without directing them in any way.

  5. Avoid ‘halt’ words

  6. Copy can encourage or discourage users. ‘Halt’ words are words that cause the reader to slow or stop their flow to check it out. As I’ve discussed previously, anything that slows users down increases the likelihood of abandonment. Halt words, even used to convey something positive, can cause abandonment.

    Giles Thomas mentioned halt words in his recent guest post Three Hacks To Increase Conversion Rate On Your Blog. In the example shown below, the new form promises “100% privacy- we will never spam you!”

    Two signup forms

    Thomas theorised that this additional text was the reason for a decrease in conversions on  the form. Although this is an assurance that users should be happy about, the word ‘spam’ could have introduced a seed of doubt.

  7. Don’t force shoppers to register an account before buying

  8. We refer to asking shoppers to sign up for an account before reaching the checkout a ‘login wall’. This is specific to ecommerce sites but a similar wall can sometimes block users from content on non-ecommerce sites.

    Nielsen Norman Group have identified five types of ecommerce shoppers, one of which is the One Time Shopper. This persona in particular isn’t interested in signing up to a website because they’re unlikely to use it regularly.

    In fact 23% of online shoppers said they’d wouldn’t buy if they have to create a new user account. This is the second biggest cause of cart abandonment amongst online shoppers, only coming in behind unexpected shipping costs (discussed below).

  9. Be as transparent as possible

  10. This means avoiding hidden charges at the checkout i.e. high delivery costs, making your privacy policy easily available, clear direction on refunds and returns etc.

    Unexpected costs were cited as the number one reason for abandoning the checkout according to Visual Website Optimizer’s Ecommerce Survey 2014. 28% of online shoppers will abandon their cart if confronted with unexpected shipping costs.

    Bar chart: reasons for cart abandonment
  11. Have a good reason for asking that question

  12. Having to answer lots of questions is off-putting but sometimes a single question can cause abandonment. Southern Electric’s contact form is a good example of a long form that also asks intrusive questions such as home address.

    If you have a good reason for requiring sensitive information such as address, date of birth or salary then explain why it is required. Although you’ll lose out on that data now you can collect it later.

    A client of ours, Knowlarity, increased the conversion rate on a signup form by 11%, just by removing ‘Company Name’ as a field. The tracking data from this form showed that this field had an 18% drop off rate.

    18% dropoff at Company Name field

    By removing the field Knowlarity had more sign ups on the form. They could then collect company information as the user progressed with the service.

  13. Add Trust Badges

The fourth biggest reason for abandoning an online shopping cart is doubts about payment security. It accounts for 12% of drop-offs in online checkouts. The solution is to add trust badges to your site. 48% of shoppers trust websites more when there’s a trust badge or seal.

Trust badges and trust seals, also known as SSL certificates, prove that your server is secure.

Baymard Institute report that the Norton Secured badge is the most trusted of eight seals in a test.

Bar chart showing consumer trust in SSL

Decrease Abandonment & Make The Most of Site Traffic

Decreasing abandonment on your forms supports your SEO efforts, making the most of the traffic that visits your site. The smallest changes to your form or checkout can have a big effect on the conversion rate. Get cracking!