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Should You Delay Form Filling For Better Conversions?

Conversion Rate Optimisation

I often focus solely on how to make your form easier to fill out. Simpler forms are more user-friendly, inclusive, reduce pain points that can cause drop offs and should increase your conversion rate.

However, it doesn’t always go that you should push users to fill out your form as quickly as possible. In this article, I look at several case studies that suggest you’ll get better quality conversions, even a higher conversion rate, by delaying form filling.

Make time to educate

Natasha Wahid has written two articles recently about the damage chasing a high conversion rate can have. The first, The problem with your high conversion rate, and the second, The high cost of conversion-before-education thinking, propose delaying conversions.

Wahid’s point is that some products need explaining. In fact, if you’ve got a unique value proposition that sets you apart (and you should) then you’ll need the time to differentiate yourself from the competition. Pushing prospects to convert as soon as they land on your site could;

  • Put them off altogether so they drop off and never convert.
  • Or, lead to a conversion where the fit isn’t right and the customer will eventually drop your product, driving up churn.

The classic conversion funnel has steps for persuasion and information before conversion.

Conversion funnel diagram Source: Wider Funnel

In tests, where greater emphasis was put on education and the call to action was less urgent, Wahid tells how post-conversion metrics improved:

In setting user expectations from the outset, we were able to weed out visitors who were never going to become customers. We also saw an 11% decrease in refunds and chargebacks! – Natasha Wahid

Lead Generation forms

Lead generation is an important intermediary step for products and services that need a period of education. Without committing to buying, your prospect has a chance to express interest and you have a chance to tailor your sales pitch to their needs.

However, despite the low commitment, there are still advantages to delaying the push for conversion at that point too. Hiding your lead generation form might sound counter-intuitive but data suggests it could increase your conversion rate.

Lightbox forms

A few articles have been published recently about the benefits of housing your form in a lightbox. Probably because Unbounce is now offering this feature in their landing page builder.

I watched an Unbounce webinar with guest Adam Kaiser, from Disruptive Advertising, exploring the question, Do lightbox forms convert? He presented his experiences of testing lightbox forms on five different clients’ sites.

Form in a lightbox Form housed in a lightbox. Source: Disruptive Advertising

Kaiser was vague on the psychology but explained that forms in lightboxes, which by their nature must be user-initiated, create a feeling of reward i.e. getting something in return for the act of clicking. I suspect it also helps users feel in control of their experience. The other benefit is that, by placing the form in a lightbox, you free up space on the page. This space can be used to provide more information to education prospects on your product.

Increased conversions using a lightbox

Kaiser’s first client enjoyed a big uplift in conversions with a lightbox form, compared to a very similar landing page where the form was visible all the time. In an A/B test the variant with lightbox form achieved 28.13% conversion rate. That equalled 37% higher than the original version.

The second client also tested an unchanged form in a lightbox versus a permanent position on the landing page. The lightbox variant produced a 15% uplift in conversions during the test.

Lightbox negatively affected conversions

Housing a form in a lightbox didn’t work for all clients though. In some cases it produced no statistically significant difference in conversions and for one it performed worse.

Kaiser suggests that the results vary by industry. The lightbox didn’t perform well for an online marketing agency, vehicle motor insurance or a company that supplies legal documents.

The industries differed but so did the purpose of the forms. In the case of the legal document supplier, the form was an order from.

Order form in a lightbox Order form in a lightbox. Source: Disruptive Advertising

Thus, I propose that it may have been the form type, rather than the industry that made prospects less inclined to fill out a form in a lightbox. A transactional form needs to appear secure. Housing in a lightbox could have made it seem less secure.

Feedback forms

I’ve explored user-initiated forms before, for the post, How To Make Your Customer Feedback Form More Visible.

Statistics suggest that feedback forms enjoy a higher conversion rate if the company triggers the form to interrupt the users’ browsing experience.

Visitor-initiated feedback garners a significantly lower response rate, averaging 0.1% of website traffic, versus active solutions which boast a 2-5% response rate.” – data from iPerceptions

However, consider that 95-98% of users had to dismiss the feedback form that they didn’t want to fill out. Which is more valuable, getting feedback or your users’ browsing experience? Don’t forget that you can’t guarantee the quality of the feedback, it could be of little value.

Positive feedback tells you what you should be doing more of, negative feedback allows you to address problems with your service.

A brave director of customer experience at La Pain Quotidien, Erin Pepper, said her goal is to triple the number of complaints. Jay Baer, a customer experience expert, applauds Pepper’s strategy saying,

”Every complaint is free market research.” – Jay Baer, @jaybaer

According to the interview with Baer, La Pain Quotidien go out of their way to make sure that customers have the opportunity to tell them every time anything is less than perfect. The lesson from this is to encourage as much feedback as possible.

Still, you need to consider your timing. Have you ever visited a site that immediately asked you to participate in a survey? It could be the first time you’ve visited or a long time since you’ve visited, meaning you have little to give feedback on.

Feedback form

The feedback form above is non-specific, asking for ideas, problems, questions and praise. It’s not clear to me when this would be triggered but, as it doesn’t relate to any specific transaction or product, I don’t think this form is persuasive enough.

So when is a good time to seek feedback?

Preferably after a user has taken some kind of action and very soon after that action, while the customer’s impression is fresh in their mind.

Tim Leighton-Boyce’s article Use feedback surveys: let your customers tell you how to make your site better, gives advice for ecommerce businesses on gathering feedback. Leighton-Boyce links to data and case studies, helping you find optimisations that might work for your site. He updates this resource with fresh data too.