Regardless of what you’re trying to achieve with your sign-up forms, you’re wasting your time if they’re not converting.
Here’s the problem: a lot of companies don’t pay enough attention to their sign-up forms.
Which is crazy when you consider that your sign-up forms are where the conversion happens: you get your customer’s details, they get the access to content or service. For SaaS companies, sign-up forms enable further conversions, especially for those that offer free trials.
But a poorly designed sign-up form is also costing you money. You got that right – not only are you needlessly missing out on sales but you’re also losing money. In 2010, travel company Expedia found out (using analytics) that a single extra line in their registration form had costed them over 12M$ per year, as measured after correction.
A painful mistake to make.
If this is something you want to avoid (of course you do!), read on to learn how to optimise your signup forms for more conversions and exceptional user experience.
1. Limit the number of fields
86% of visitors click off your form if it’s too long. Understand that with every field you’re asking your potential customers to fill out, their frustration grows.
You can see if for yourself on the graph below that forms with fewer than five fields convert at a rate of nearly 20%:
Data source: JotForm
Remove anything unnecessary; do you really need to know their Title, their gender or age? Some businesses do, and this is fine, but a lot of businesses want this information for demographic analysis that they will never actually do. Ditch anything that is not business critical.
2. If you need a lot of information, create multi-step forms
If you get it right, split forms can be very effective. 2 or 3 smaller forms with clear goals are less daunting to a prospect than one large form that requires their life story. Try capturing basic login details such as name, email, password first.
If prospects drop off, then you have exactly what you need to run lead nurturing campaigns.
Then add in payment details on a separate page and company details if appropriate. A lot of SaaS tools require company information such as website URL, company name, social media accounts etc, so instead of putting this on the first page, you can try extending the signup process into a ‘setup’ process as well, so you’re capturing the data, but also getting prospects to take the first steps in setting up their dashboards as well.
Sprout Social designed this multi-step form for their prospects to complete:
3. Account setup, not creation
Instead of going straight to the signup, try gradually engaging your prospects by asking them to add their website URL or pick their brand colours. Encourage users to set up their dashboard while adding necessary account details through the process.
More often than not, users fill out your form with a specific task in mind – which usually is to gain access to your lead magnet or service. Asking them for irrelevant information that could be added in the future is plain annoying.
Look at LinkedIn (or any other social media platform for that matter):
Users do provide further details at their convenience – you’ve probably done it yourself!
4. Use opt-ins, not opt-outs
We know the world is moving more towards opt-in, especially the EU. So, you can’t pre-tick that box anymore and hope customers ignore it.
However, you can ask them to make a decision. Provide both checkboxes for opting in and opting out, so the customer must make the choice instead of just being able to ignore the checkbox entirely. Alternatively, re-consider how you present opt-ins entirely. Simply having an unchecked box by default will only damage your business. Now that you need people to take action, you need to make it far more obvious (and valuable).
MainstreetHost’s “How to Conquer Social Media” lead generation signup nailed it: they’re not just giving customers a choice, they’re also killing it with persuasive copy.
5. Address lookups
It seems so insignificant and yet… it’s so powerful. It might only mean a few seconds less spent on filling out the form but trust me – it means a world to your customers. Just ask for your their postcode/zip code and all they have to do is select their home address.
6. Pre-fill forms
Wherever possible, pre-fill forms for people with details you’ve already captured.
If you capture first name and email on a landing page, pass it through to your actual sign up form. If you’re asking an existing subscriber to download an eBook, don’t ask again for their details – either leave them out entirely or ask for new data.
Take a look at Fluix checkout form:
7. Use Inline validation
Verify forms on the go. Don’t wait for users to click ‘submit’ only to then pull up a list of errors. If someone’s username isn’t valid, tell them immediately; the same goes for any field filled out incorrectly.
If you don’t, chances are they won’t bother going through the entire form again.
Meetup does this well:
8. Be flexible with inputs
Don’t be too strict with the rules you put in place for validation. If someone wants to enter their phone number as 01234 567 890 instead of 0044 or +44 just let them. If someone wants to put www.website.com instead of http://www.website.com that’s fine as well. Don’t complicate the process with unnecessary requirements.
9. Try progressive disclosure
As customers fill out forms or surveys, add each next step as they complete the previous one. This helps reduce the feeling of overwhelm by seeing a huge questionnaire laid out. However, note that if this goes on for too long, your customers may get fed up if it feels like there’s no end in sight.
10. Explain things
You know what the CVC code is. Chances are, your users do too but why risk losing them over something that requires so little effort on your part?
Explain everything. Tell them why you need their telephone number. Tell them what format their web URL should be in.
At least 74% of companies online are using forms for lead generation, and almost 50% cite online forms as the highest converting lead gen tool in their marketing arsenal – that in itself should tell you enough about the importance of an effective signup form.
And whether you’re designing a brand new form or optimising an existing one, these tips can help you make the most of them.
It’s just a beginning though – never stop testing how all changes you implement affect the overall customer experience. And remember:
Better customer experience = better conversion rates
What are your most effective tips for optimising signup forms? Share them in the comments below!