How much simpler would life be with no forms?
Hospital visits (which are already a pain) would take half the time.
Signing up for your favorite newsletters could be done at the click of a button.
And online product purchases could be completed with almost zero effort.
Forms are a pain, and getting rid of them could greatly reduce the friction users experience on your Commerce store.
No forms means less friction, less friction means more form completions, and more form completions means more sales for your store.
But a world with zero forms is, unfortunately, a pipe dream.
Forms are a necessary evil. We need them to gain consent for email marketing, to understand who we’re selling to, and to get the details needed to process a transaction.
And that’s a real pain in the ass for eCommerce store owners.
There’s already a ton of competition out there trying to steal your customers. A complicated form could be the straw to break the camel’s back. It could be the final piece of friction that drives users from your site and directly to one of your competitors.
If you’ve spent any time researching conversion rate optimization for the eCommerce sector (or any digital marketing discipline) you’ll know this is a big issue.
Form optimization can mean big bucks. The more people completing forms means more subscribers, customers, and sales. You need to do whatever you can to reduce form friction and increase the number of form completions.
Generally speaking, the advice on how to increase form conversions is pretty much uniform.
Reducing Form Fields is Good, Right?
A good 80% of the advice on form completions states that reducing the number of fields in a form will increase conversions. Most of that information draws on studies like the below from Neil Patel.
There’s plenty of studies to corroborate Neil’s findings. Like this one from the University of Wisconsin which saw a 52% drop in conversions when including extra form fields.
But where does field reduction end?
Does continually reducing form fields continually increase conversions? If you only ask for the most basic of information, an email address, will you see close to 100% of your visitors taking the action you want them to?
Unlikely, and you have to question the value of those leads.
When all you have is email@example.com, you’re going to have a really tough time pushing relevant offers and promos to the users.
That’s not a problem for top of funnel users. They’re not yet ready to buy. You can build out their user profiles with email and on-site tracking.
But not everyone fits into the top of funnel category. Some people enter the funnel at later stages. They’re closer to making a purchase and you need to hit them with more relevant offers. To do that, you need to collect more information.
And that information is collected with a more complicated form.
The complexity of forms comes to a head at the final stage. It’s here you need to collect details on the product (size, color, etc) along with customer details including contacts preferences, billing address, delivery address etc.
You can’t cut these fields because they’re necessary to complete the purchase. But at the same time, you can’t just slap every single field on a single page and hope that your user is going to be motivated enough to persevere.
So What’s the Solution for Long Forms?
Long forms are intimidating.
Modern users are busy. They’re pressed for time and will leave at the first sign of a time intensive task. A form that takes more than a few clicks to complete is too much effort for all but the most interested users.
Huge forms, like this god awful example featured on the Unbounce blog, are guaranteed conversion killers. In the below, users are directed to this page after clicking the buy now button.
WTF is that?!
Your users have clicked buy now expressing an incredible intent to purchase and you serve them with this monstrosity of a form. A form who’s seemingly only purpose is to help you find your local retailer.
Why couldn’t geolocation be used to automatically determine their location? Why is there not a simpler, user-friendly UX to quickly discover where you are? Why is it such a mess!?
It’s awful. It is the perfect example of how to turn someone who wants to buy into someone who’s desperate to leave.
But we get it. Complicated forms are sometimes necessary.
If it’s a user’s first time to your site and the first purchase they’ve made, they’re a stranger to you. If they’re there to purchase you need to discover:
- Their personal details
- Their card details
- Their address details
- Their delivery preference
- Anything else that they may need as a personal request
This is just the basic stuff needed to get the product from your warehouse to their door. If you have sizes, colors etc to choose from then add another step.
Throwing all that on one page is enough to turn anyone off.
So what’s the solution?
Multi-step forms are something that increased in popularity in recent years. The psychology behind them is simple.
You break down the checkout process into easily completed sections.
This plays on two triggers. First, it makes the form seem more manageable. Users aren’t greeted with more than a dozen fields to fill out. The process feels more manageable and looks like it’ll take less time.
The sequential process also leads to a desire to complete subsequent stages.
If they’ve already completed one, two, or three stages, they’re less likely to abandon their form for fear of losing what they’ve already filled in.
This multi-step approach has been adapted and used successfully across multiple industries.
KlientBoost managed to increase form submissions by 214% for an artificial grass brand after splitting their opt-in form across two successive steps. The same fields were used in both the control and variant, the only difference being how the information was presented.
The original saw all fields being presented in one form. But, in splitting the fields KlientBoost achieved a huge increase. Here’s what the final two-step process looked like.
There are similar stories in the eCommerce world. In a study of furniture retailers with an AOV of over $2000, Invesp achieved a 38% increase in conversion when switching to a multi-stage checkout.
There is, unfortunately, no example images of the multi-stage checkout Invesp used, so to give an example I’ve pulled another image from Acquire Convert for a multi-stage checkout that increased conversions by 13.39%.
The question you need to ask yourself is whether reducing form fields or splitting existing forms over multiple steps is the way to go.
However, the way we see it, neither is the perfect answer for every store.
Find What’s Right for Your Users
I could tell you that reducing form fields will increase submissions and revenue.
And, from experience, I know a good number of the people reading this would take my word for it. They’d believe me simply because I’m passing my opinion across via a website that focuses on increasing eCommerce store’s revenue.
But, my word is not to be trusted. Neither is the word of any other eCommerce, marketing, or CRO expert out there.
Why? Because we don’t know your store. The advice we give in articles like this are meant as a guideline. It’s meant to get you thinking about your own store and how you can improve usability and experience for your users.
So, instead of simply reducing form fields or splitting forms, examine what’s already happening and how you can improve upon it.
Run experiments, track results, and adapt accordingly. And do it often. This study from the guys over at UserTesting shows that the online businesses who regularly inspect and improve usability see faster revenue growth.
Reducing form fields can increase form conversions. So can splitting long forms across various stages.
However, you’ve got to discover which one will work well for your store and increase not only the form’s conversion rate, but overall revenue generation.
If you simplify your forms and see an increase in conversions, but notice that the leads generated are pure crap, what have you achieved?
Always tie everything back to revenue.
The Real Way to Increase Form Conversions
There’s no single method to increase conversions across your site.
Some studies see an increase through reducing form fields, others keep all fields and present them in a different manner.
Increasing conversions is something that needs to be tested with your audience.
But the general rule in any area of conversion rate optimization is to make the journey as seamless and friction-free as possible.
If you can streamline that journey and make a long, laborious task seem effortless or, dare I say it, enjoyable, you should see your abandonment rate reduce.
But, as I mentioned just above, focus on revenue. Form submissions are pointless alone. They’re a part of the wider customer journey and you need to know how each micro-conversion like a form fill impacts overall revenue.
If you’re thinking about running some tests with your forms and don’t yet have the ability to track overall conversion rates, sign up for a free Recart account.
We’ll show you exactly how your actions in areas including form styles are impacting not only your conversions at that point, but also how it impacts your revenue.