Forms are the underrated champions of customer acquisition. Regardless of your industry, product, or service, you undoubtedly have forms throughout your website that allow customers and clients to take actions that grow your business. This might be subscribing to a newsletter, buying a product, or starting a trial.
However, users are notorious for abandoning forms before they click the “submit” button that helps grow your business. A 2018 survey indicated that 81% of respondents have recently abandoned a form, and 67% of those respondents will never return after abandonment. Cart abandonment, a specific type of form abandonment, has also been steadily increasing between 2016 and 2020.
Why is this happening? There are several major and notable causes of form abandonment that your company must be aware of. The top reasons why users abandon forms are security concerns, length, too much upselling, and unnecessary questions. Each of these reasons is well within your company’s power to fix, leading to more form completions that in turn lead to increased revenue.
Today, we’re going to take a deep look at form abandonment. We’ll discuss the true cost of this problem and provide actionable advice to help you reduce the number of users that leave your forms behind.
What Is Form Abandonment?
Form abandonment describes any situation in which a customer begins any type of form but does not complete it and fails to become a full lead. Cart abandonment is a specific type of form abandonment that receives most of the attention, but any abandoned form on your website contributes to your overall form abandonment rate.
There are plenty of reasons why someone might abandon a form. In some cases, users begin filling out the form without ever having the intent of completing it, such as “window shopping” on an online store. They might just want to see the total price after taxes and shipping but had no intent to buy. This type of form abandonment is usually unpreventable, but almost every other cause of form abandonment can be controlled. Considering that 76.9% of online shoppers abandon their cart at checkout, you can certainly enact meaningful changes that will encourage genuine shoppers to complete the transaction.
What Is the Real Cost of Form Abandonment?
How much money is your company missing out on because of high form abandonment rates? A recent survey discovered that abandoned online carts cost British businesses £18 billion in lost sales every year. This statistic sheds light on the real cost of having customers leave your site before completing a meaningful transaction.
What is your actual cost of form abandonment? This will depend on how many forms you have on your site, the business value of a lead generated by these forms, and other metrics such as average order size.
In addition to considering eCommerce cart abandonment, your company will need to assign a dollar value to completed forms that don’t directly generate revenue.
Forms are the underrated champions of customer acquisition.
For example, building the subscriber base for your newsletter might be one of your main business goals, but a successful subscribe does not directly generate revenue. You will have to determine how much revenue an average subscriber typically generates, and then apply that value to a generic subscriber. At this point, you’ll have a much clearer image of what form abandonment is costing you on forms that don’t directly create income.
You may need to dig deeper into your customer data to fully grasp the cost of form abandonment, but it’s a task that’s well worth doing. It will help shed light on the approximate value that your company might gain if form abandonment issues are corrected.
How to Decrease Form Abandonment
Decreasing form abandonment can significantly impact the growth of your business. A similar way of looking at decreasing form abandonment rates is to view it as a challenge solved by improving your form conversions. While this is absolutely true, viewing it from the more specific lens of the problem of users leaving your form brings about more directly helpful techniques.
Before getting into the exact steps you can take, it’s important to focus on what is motivating someone to complete your form. Your task is to keep this motivation alive and even feed into it. Sometimes users are motivated by the absolute necessity to submit your form, which is why forms on government websites usually provide a terrible user experience - people need to fill them out, even if they’re bad.
Chances are that users do not have the burning necessity to complete your form, so you need to keep their motivation for completing the form in mind at all times. With user motivation in mind, let’s discuss specific steps you can take to decrease form abandonment.
Prioritize Short Forms
Long forms are universally off putting as they give the impression that it’s going to take too long to complete them. A general rule of thumb is to prioritize short forms, but it’s not always that simple.
Your form should strive to be short, but it should also ask for all the information that you require to take the next step. You should ask for exactly as much information as is necessary for the next phase - no more, no less. Asking for too much information is not only off-putting because of the time it takes, but it can often seem like an invasion of privacy. You never want a user to ask something like, “why does this boxing gym need to know my home address just to ask a question?”
Brevity is powerful, but short forms won’t help if you have to still reach out to the customer for more information in order to proceed. Sure, you may generate more raw leads, but the number of leads that become revenue-generating customers will suffer.
Add a Form Progress Bar
Progress bars are an excellent way to lead users through longer forms. If you’re asking for three pieces of information, there’s no need for a progress bar. However, longer forms and processes, such as applying for a loan or buying something online, will certainly benefit from creating a sense of progression.
This sense of progression feeds into the motivation dynamic. Users will directly see how far they’ve already come and how far they have left to go. If their motivation starts to wane, seeing that they have already completed 70% of the form will likely compel them to continue, instead of abandoning the entire process.
Capture Partial Leads & Check Lead Cycle
In the past, someone only became a lead if they clicked the final “submit” button on a form. If they didn’t, businesses didn’t even know about them.
You can also use lead management and recovery platforms like Responser to capture partial leads that only complete a portion of the form, but do not click the final button. With Responser, businesses can track the entire lead journey, validate emails and phone numbers, and automatically send follow-up emails to these users to encourage them to return to your site and complete the process.
Even though the user did technically already abandon your form, a service that captures partial leads prevents them from being an entirely lost cause. Partial leads typically are not as promising as leads who are fully converted by completing your form, but they are still valuable to your business and provide you with a powerful remarketing opportunity.
It’s worth noting that Responser and other services will not capture any sensitive information, such as credit card information or passwords. Contact information is the primary goal.
Provide Plenty of Guidance
A confused user is a user that’s about to abandon your form. Anything that might be confusing or create questions should be directly answered on your form. This can be done with a few small words near the field, information that’s pre-filled within the field, or a tooltip that provides guidance.
You might already know a few confusing questions that should be addressed. You should also be aware of any issues that users bring to your attention via contact forms or live chat. If you repeatedly receive the same question about a spot on your form, it’s time to answer that question directly on the form.
Another technique to provide guidance is to have an easily identifiable option to directly contact a live chat agent on the same page as the form. If someone has a question about your form or the entire process, they know exactly how to find answers, instead of abandoning your form. An added benefit to this technique is that if any technical issues with the forms arise, live chat is already there to help.
Use In-Line Validation
This final technique is short and sweet: validate form data in-line. If a user is only told that their email address is missing .com or that their phone number is one digit too short when they hit submit, it’s quite likely that they’ll become frustrated and give up. They might try one more time, but if they get another error, they might be gone.
Correct this issue by having your forms validate data types in-line before the form is submitted. Users will know immediately if they’ve made a mistake, rather than thinking they’re done and becoming frustrated when they’re not.
Form Optimization & Lead Capture With Responser
Using any of the above tips will help prevent users from abandoning your form in the first place. However, if they do, having a system in place to capture partial leads will prevent it from being a complete loss.
Your business will still have contact information available and can automatically reach out to encourage them to complete the form.
Are you interested in reducing form abandonment and gaining valuable data from those who do abandon your forms? Start your free trial of Responser today and see how our lead capture software can turn lost leads into new opportunities.