Mobile is now the most important device type for gambling websites. The device limitations (smaller screen, harder data input), and the change in the environment of the user (in social settings, with time limitations) mean that mobile conversion is more difficult. This is borne out in the lower conversion rates for mobile gambling users.
Registering on a gambling site is generally a time-consuming task, and this is just as true for mobile users.
It takes potential customer an average of 77.2 seconds to complete the signup process, with the user having to enter information into 16 different fields. Gambling forms ask questions that are more personal than a regular form, as most providers need to carry out identity checks. This creates a longer process but also a greater cognitive load for the user, both of which have an impact on the likelihood of conversion.
The optimisation opportunities for long forms are significant as there are a high number of elements and areas that can be improved or removed. New optimisation opportunities become available as technology changes or new UX learnings are created, leading to an optimisation process that is continual rather than project based.
I carried out this analysis in December 2017. I created a persona that was used across all the gaming sites, meaning that the information I entered was standardised across all the registration processes.
In our analysis I counted only the required fields, so optional fields were noted but not included in our numbers.
Finally, when an average number is noted in this report it is a median average unless stated otherwise.
I reviewed the registration forms for almost every major UK and European gaming company
My research is focused on every aspect of the form, from the form elements, to the timing and mobile usability.
I scored each form based on critical factors that will increase user frustration and decrease conversions
Remove password confirmation, and make your registration shorter. 35% of gambling sites have a single input for password, and of the top five sites none of them ask potential customers to confirm their password.
Show customer service information or a livechat link. It's unlikely that your customers will contact you, but showing that information at a critical point in the registration process will increase their confidence in your brand and improve the likelihood that they convert. Getting customers to complete a form isn't just about having a short, perfect form, it's equally about how the customers feel during the process.
Use attributes to show the right mobile keyboard. 33% of sites don't show the most relevant mobile keyboard. This slows the user down as they enter data like phone number, and fixing it is an easy optimisation.
Mobile data input is complex, so allow users to view the password that they're entering. 55.8% of sites don't have a "show password" function. This is especially important on mobile, where passwords may contain numbers, capitals and non-alphabetical characters.
Use an advanced, automatic address lookup and reduce your address fields to a single input. 37.2% of sites use a traditional postcode lookup, where the user enters their house number, postcode and then is given a list of potential addresses. An automatic lookup allows the user to type any element of their address, and uses their IP address to filter the results to show the most likely matches. Reducing five fields, or two fields, to just one, will have a significant impact on conversion rates.
Each step or block in a registration process is a new page or new section for a potential customer to absorb. There's no magic number of steps that will lead to a higher conversion rate but there's likely to be drop off if the process gets too long.
The median number of steps across all gambling companies is 3.
There's a difference between a long process that has many steps, and one that is chunking down all of the questions so that each question is a step in itself. SkyBet has 9 steps, which is the highest number of all providers, but it has a below average number of fields. Sky chunk the process down into bite-sized steps but they don't give clarity to the user on how many steps there are in total, and at what stage the user is. Although Sky's process isn't perfect, it's an interesting move away from a single, long form.
Marathon Bet has the joint third highest number of fields (19) but has a single step registration process. This results in the user seeing a single, very long form. As the user has visibility on the entire process in the first step they are more likely to consider the process too onerous, and abandon at an early stage. Whilst the Sky process has more fields, the user will likely be further into the process before they consider it onerous, and at that stage they may feel committed enough to have to complete the process.
Users hate completing registration forms - they want to start betting as quickly as possible. The fewer fields they have to complete, the more likely they are to get through your registration process.
Betstars have a very short registration process. There was some discussion after my last report about how they are able to use such a short registration process, considering that there are regulations around customer identity. Having been through their registration process I can see that they're backloading a lot of the required questions, to the point that you can register, start to place a bet, and it's only on your first deposit (after entering your credit card details) that the KYC questions are asked (Name, date of birth, address). Backloading is an interesting optimisation test, and one that insurance aggregators use. Betstars are not the only company to backload questions to the depositing process.
My analysis shows that there is a significant difference in the number of fields for mobile users, even for providers that front-load with all questions.
The average number of fields across all gambling forms is 17.
Whereas the relationship between the number of steps (see graph above) and the conversion rate is often indirect, there is a strong relationship between the number of fields and conversion rates. A potential customer who sees a shorter form is more likely to complete it, and the time required to complete a shorter form is less. Aggressively reducing the size of the form, and reducing the effort required to complete it, will have a positive impact on conversion rates.
The majority (37%) of gaming companies have a one or two step mobile process, with 23% of providers having a single step. Comparing this to desktop registration forms (59% had a single step) there's a movement towards having multiple steps when the user is on a mobile device. Should you topload question in step 1, evenly distribute fields, or leave the majority of fields for the last step?
Gaming companies have an average of 16 fields in their registration processes
The majority of providers top-load fields into the first step, with a mean average of 53.7% of fields in Step 1, trailing off towards the later steps. 24.7% of fields occur in Step 2, 18.1% in Step 3, 2.2% in Step 4 and 0.2% in Step 5. 10 providers (out of 43 in total) have all their fields in Step 1.
Sky Bet have the most distributed set of fields, with averages of 16.7%, 8.3%, 8.3%, 8.3% and 8.3% of fields split across steps 1 to 5. 10 providers have a greater percentage of fields in Step 2 than Step 1, easing people into the process with a lighter first step.
The question over top-loading (or not) is an important one. Ask too many questions in the first step and the user will be put off, whilst having too many steps will make the user believe that they're engaging in a virtually endless process. It is important to show to the user how far they are in a process, and how many steps are left.
If you're considering turning your single step process into a multiple step process then a sensible starting point for testing is the average across all gaming companies: top-load half your fields in Step 1, a quarter in Step 2 then trail off.
On average a mobile gambling registration form takes 77.2 seconds to complete. There is a significant difference between the best and worst performing, with Betstars taking just 21.6 seconds and 188Bet taking 97.8 seconds.
The main factor in form completion time is the number of fields, with a general trend of a lower completion time when there are fewer fields. A secondary factor in time to complete is the type of fields used: text inputs take up the most time, followed by drop downs, then radio buttons and finally tick boxes. Radio buttons take an average of 2.8 seconds to complete (from absorbing the question, to selecting the answer) compared to 3.6 seconds for drop downs. Not only does a higher number of fields mean more time required entering data in the field, but also time between the fields, as the user completes one question and moves to the next one.
Comparing the average time per field for Skybet to Vernon Sports shows the importance of choosing the right field type. Both sites have a similar total completion time (77.2s for Skybet, and 77.6s for Vernon Sports) but Skybet has four fewer fields than Vernons. So why isn't Sky significantly faster? Sky split their process into nine steps, with each step adding marginal load time to the process, as well as time to click "Continue" on each step. Over nine steps this marginal load time and click time becomes a much larger time increase.
Radio buttons trump Drop Downs for two reasons. Firstly all of the potential options are visible and readable by the user on a radio button. A drop down requires the user to click and then read the options.
Secondly, the user has less total interaction with a radio button than a drop down, a drop down requires a minimum of two clicks versus the single click for a radio. With a form that has a significant number of fields then saving the user fractions of a second will add up to a good time saving, and a greater likelihood of conversion.
From our aggregated timing data on forms (Formisimo tracks engagement with fields with millisecond accuracy) I can see that the time spent on a radio button (taken from the time of the interaction with the last field to the first engagement with the next field) is 2.8 seconds, whereas a drop down is 3.6 seconds.
Comparing the top five registration forms (ranked using our scoring at the base of the page) and the bottom five forms you can see how the higher performing sites move away from text boxes and use a higher proportion of drop downs and radio buttons. Radio buttons (where the user has a choice between two or more items, presented as items that are clickable) are much easier to complete, they're not ideal for when there's a lot of options but when a user has to make a choice between two to four options it allows them all to be presented to the user without them having to click.
Comparing the UX of a text box (open, requires typing), drop downs (closed list, requires clicking and reviewing) and radio buttons (closed, all options visible) the radio button wins on total interaction required. A radio button requires a single click on the right option, whereas a drop down requires a minimum of two clicks, with an unfurling of the options that will then need to be read and absorbed.
From our research on gambling forms the radio button is easy to restyle, to make it even easier to understand and also fit in with brand guidelines.
Mobile registration forms present new challenges for customers. Beyond the way that a registration form is presented there's a second challenge of how the user enters data, and dealing with the complexity of data entry compared to entering information on a desktop.
77% of mobile registration forms use the email keyboard type, and 79% use the telephone keyboard type
The use of keyboard types on mobile devices makes it easier for potential customers to complete a form as it shows them the most relevant keyboard for the data input. As an example a number or telephone number field should show just the number keypad, rather than the full keyboard. A field that asks for an email address can show a keyboard that makes the "@" symbol visible without having to press the shift key. Adding this functionality to a field is relatively easy, and it generally has a positive impact on conversion rates.
Inline validation is a good way to highlight issues as a user moves through a form, and when you have a long form with complex questions it's a necessity. Showing errors whilst the user is engaging with a question is better than having the user click submit and then they're then presented with a list of all their mistakes.
13.95% of brands have no validation, 41.86% report just when a user has made an error, and 44.19% report on both success and error
The uptake on mobile gambling registration forms is good, with 86% of brands having inline validation of some type. Of those that have inline validation almost 50% validate only on error. This means that for the remaining half of brands they could be reporting back to the user when they successfully complete a field (by marking the field with a tick, or changing the border or background to green).
Validating for both success and failure will give the user the best level of feedback as they move through the form, and it gives you the best opportunity of converting them into customers.
Website visitors have all experienced frustrating forms and when they start to engage with yours they are carrying baggage from the times when a form has been annoying. The length of a gambling registration form suggests that it will be a painful process for them.
A good way to keep users motivated, and to challenge their belief that the experience will be painful, is to use positive validation as they enter data. This is often in the form of a tick box next to a field, and is shown as they exit the field and move to the next one. This positive validation keeps the user happy, and helps them believe that when they click the "submit" or "next" button that they will be successful.
Showing errors in-line is equally important, as the user doesn't have to wait until the end of the step to see if they have made mistakes. A good inline validation process will not only show the user if they have entered incorrect information in a field (and so so as they move out of the field) but it will also explain what they need to do to correct it.
An example of insurer AXA using full inline validation. They highlight when information is correct and also when a user makes a mistake (along with a full explanation of what the mistake is). In the image above I have left the postcode field blank, and then moved to the next field.
Adding customer service information to a form gives users the confidence that if they have an issue then they can contact you directly. They're unlikely to need to contact you, although some may have issues that you can help them with. By displaying phone numbers, or a livechat link, this increases the likelihood that a user will convert.
81.4% of gambling sites show no customer service information during the registration process. 40% of the Top Five sites have live chat, whilst 0% of the bottom five sites have livechat, but 20% (one site) has customer service information visible in the process
Entering passwords can be painful, especially on mobile devices. Sites sometimes require complex password combinations (with capital letters, numbers and even non-alpha-numeric characters). Allowing the user to see the password they have entered means that they don't have to delete the data they have entered and start again.
The functionality behind showing a password is simple. A button next to the field allows the user to click and see their password in plain text. It's usually disabled by default, hiding the password, but having that option will reduce the completion time for some users.
The volume of mobile traffic is increasing, so it's surprising to see that 55.8% of gambling sites have no functionality to show passwords.
Adding mobile keyboard functionality to your forms is an easy, and risk-free, form optimisation that can have a strong impact on the time to complete, and then indirectly the conversion rate of the form.
The password a user sets on your site will allow them to access their account, and more importantly transact. However, asking the user to confirm the password adds another field to the registration process, making it longer. Should you ask the user to confirm their password?
Saving time is important, but making the user confirm their password will help reduce lost password requests. Looking at the market can give you guidance on which way to go.
Of the top five sites 0% of them ask users to confirm their password, whilst 80% of the bottom five sites ask for confirmation.
Reducing the registration process by one field is more important to the top five sites.
Marking which fields a user has to complete will save them time. It guides them to which fields you absolutely have to enter information into, and which fields you can ignore (there's a question over whether you should have any optional fields in your process). A simple asterisk or similar notation will help the user understand how they can fast track the process.
My analysis shows a high proportion of sites do not mark required fields, with just 27.9% marking them.
Customers get used to entering certain information into forms: they frequently enter their name, their email address and their full address. When you ask a user to enter non-standard information this will slow the process down, as the user will think "Why do you need this information, and should I enter it and continue with the process".
Gambling registration forms require more information on the user to complete KYC. This requires the users data of birth, along with their address. In addition almost all sites ask for mobile number, which can confuse users as they often don't want to be called, or receive SMS.
Explaining why you need this information can reduce the confusion that users have. So, for example, saying "We need your mobile number in case we need to verify your account, or we have to contact you about important account issues" will remove the users concerns.
79.1% of sites do not offer an explanation for non-standard fields. 9.3% have a popup that appears with an explanation, whilst 11.6% have an explanation that is inline (shown next to the field) or hidden until the user clicks on an item.
Forms on gambling sites ask personal questions - like your date of birth and mobile phone number. Users are cautious, and sometimes confused, about questions that are highly personal. In your day to day life of completing registration forms this information is rarely asked for, so it can make a user consider why you need that... and potentially decide to abandon the process.
When your process requires this information then offering an explanation as to why you need it, and what you use it for, is an important optimisation.
There are diverse ways that you can explain to the user why you need this information from them. Showing text around a field is an effective way to make sure that your explanation is always visible, but using an inline popup (that displays the message on the current field, as the user moves into it) is a good way to make the message highly visible.
American Express has a popup message on some of their fields, and is currently visible on the email, "Name on Card" and mothers maiden name fields.
The messages are either to confirm why they need that information (in the case of Mothers Maiden Name they explain that this is needed for security and verification) or an explanation of something that may simply confuse the user ("Name on Card" is explained as it can differ from the regular name of the customer).
Entering your address into a form is a painful process for users, especially on mobile. The number of fields that have to be completed, and the combination of letters, and numbers (and the required switches between keyboard elements) mean that this takes up a significant proportion of the total time to complete.
Using a postcode lookup process can reduce the required fields from around five to just two (house number and postcode). This is a significant reduction in fields. Using an advanced, automatic postcode lookup (where the user types any element of their address into a single text box) reduces the form size further.
Just 18.6% of gambling sites use an automatic, advanced postcode lookup. 37.2% use a standard lookup, whilst 37.2% have no address lookup at all. For 7% of sites, where the address entry is backloaded to the depositing process, address lookup is not used within the registration process.
To score each gaming company I generated a ranking out of 84, which took into account the number of steps and fields (related to the median score for each) and scored companies based on the percentage they were above or below this. I also scored gaming companies based on the removal of unnecessary obstacles, and the mobile friendliness of each form based on the usage of mobile keyboard attributes. Having a livechat and postcode lookup was also part of the scoring process, and using inline validation boosted scores further, along with other form features that I considered to be critical to conversion rates.
The aim of our scoring was to take into account attributes of the form rather than the look and feel. Some registration forms were more attractive than others, but as design is subjective I chose not to apply any marks for forms that I felt looked better or worse.
"If you have forms, you need to analyze their performance. Formisimo does a very good job at providing in-depth information that really helps with optimization efforts. Useful data, simple interface. It is form analytics that actually works, especially when compared to some mouse tracking tools that have form analytics as one of the many features."ConversionXL Peep Laja