Seeing as we are all consumers, it’s safe to assume that we have all been there before; you’re on a website and in order to get what you want, you need to complete a form. It’s hard to navigate through the web without the need to enter your details or share information with the company whose website you’re on.
So what is form abandonment: Put simply, form abandonment happens when a customer begins filling out fields in a form or checkout, but for some reason, they decide to leave before completing.
Even if there isn’t a fault with your form and everything is honky-dory, do you really have a good understanding of how many customers rock up to your forms, to only be put off by the way it looks or lack of trust, or worse start completing it, and then leave due to the complexity of questions?
There have been many studies in recent years, all seeking to build a greater knowledge around form drop off rates and abandonment basket statistics. Some studies place cart abandonment as high as 80%, while other studies challenge this and claim it to be as low as 55%.
In Barilliance’s study, they claim that the average cart abandonment rate between 2016 and 2020 has been slowly but steadily rising. In 2020 they found that over 3/4 of shoppers chose to leave the site without completing a purchase. But what is driving this gradual increase?
One of the reasons most frequently cited for forms being abandoned is forms have become too complicated, which may come as a surprise when you consider that the GDPR requires businesses to only collect essential information, thus naturally reducing the volume of fields and complexity level.
WP Forms reports that 67% of site visitors will abandon a form forever if they encounter any complications, with just 20% following up with the company in some way. But let’s not be so quick to wave goodbye to the remaining 47% of visitors who don’t convert, we discover what can be done to convert them.
Users frequently report that they don’t know if the effort to complete a form is worthwhile, with 30% of users suggesting they will only return to complete a form if there’s something in it for them, such as a free tool or incentive.
Demographics also play a role, with retailers identifying millennial shoppers (aged 25-34) as the most indecisive online, followed by 18-24 year-olds. Of those retailers who capture demographic data, two in five (39%) say women are more likely to abandon their online shopping basket, versus one in five (19%) who say that it is men who are more likely.
There’s also the crucial question about the intention of the user. In fact, a lot of shoppers who abandon items online do so because they are actually ‘window shopping’ with no intention to buy or are placing items in an online basket to hold on to them so they can easily complete the purchase when ready to buy.
Sometimes users find unexpected surprises as they make their way through forms or checkout processes. Delivery costs or requests for information users don’t know or believe to be superfluous is an issue. When users need to know their car registration to get a valid insurance quote or find themselves being asked how long they have lived in their current address in order to download a brochure, you begin to see users voting with their feet.
According to a Barclaycard survey, British shoppers abandon online baskets worth almost £30 a month, which when compounded potentially results in more than £18bn in lost sales every year.
But when we begin to look under the hood, you get an impression of how an environment can contribute to an abandoned form. For example, 41% of shoppers have abandoned a transaction during a digital checkout in the past year, however, when we compare this to those that have walked away from a purchase in a physical store, this drops to 24%.
Abandoned basket emails are emails which are sent to shoppers who leave a checkout process prior to completing it. Often the email offers a reminder of the items added to the cart, therefore, tempting them to return to complete a purchase, sometimes a voucher or offer is used to encourage the user to revisit and complete the purchase.
These emails work best when they are sent as close as possible, from a time perspective, to when the basket was last used. Emails sent a week after a visit to your website carry very little weight when looking at reconversion metrics.
The open rates of basket abandonment emails can vary significantly, with industry, timing, type of email and even the value of items in the basket all having an impact. For these emails to be successful in bringing users back they need catchy, non-sales based titles and they must contain clear instructions for returning to the process with a compelling reason to complete the purchase.
The first step in refining the design of forms in order to get more users to successfully complete the journey is to remove any unnecessary fields, or even distractions – such as unnecessary upsells or display ads which are poorly positioned.
Asking for address data can feel long-winded to users. Using address validation software can greatly reduce the amount of data a user is required to enter and can take a frustrating five field process down to one.
We call this a single line address lookup. The layout can simplify address forms by using type-ahead technology to enable a user to find their address using just one field. Typing any part of the address on a single line is a more efficient and user-friendly approach to implementing an address look-up, and our UX research shows that users are twice as likely to find an address and complete using single line versus multi-line.
Another tool you can employ to simplify forms is by using logic to ask different questions to different users.
If your users are a mixed bag, each with different characteristics, then certain questions are not relevant or required for everyone. Using conditional logic to remove questions based on previous answers allows you to shorten the length of your forms without compromising on the data quality.
Simple tweaks to the layout is another opportunity to up the rate of form completion – for example, you could consider using only one column as opposed to two. Research by ConversionXL found survey participants completed the linear, single-column in an average of 15.4 seconds faster than the multi-column form.
Most importantly, you should never see a form design as complete. Customers’ behaviour when using forms must be subject to ongoing analysis and evaluation. The evolution of user testing is important and a users opinion and behaviour might change over time. It’s down to each business to ensure they evolve to meet demand while using the latest tech and best practice learnings.
Most UX experts and marketers agree that you can improve form conversions by only asking for information that’s absolutely necessary and ditching the rest. Once you have started engaging with a customer, you can collect more data through a data enrichment strategy, appending the enriched data to the contact each time more is provided. At the offset though, collect just what you need and focus on getting that right.
Also, remember whatever data you are collecting, you can make it even more straightforward by being clear about which fields are required and those that are optional. In addition, ensuring fields are clearly labelled – our resident UX expert, Elke Bretz recommends that field labels should not be continued within the field, and then disappear as a user clicks into the field. This proves messy for users who tab between fields. Instead, fields should be clearly labelled above and aligned to the left.
Let’s consider asking for an email address for a second – it’s one of the two fields (with passwords being the other) that we are asked to enter twice. But this is an old-school practice, there are ways to eliminate this need, starting with the integration of a simple but highly effective email validation tool.
Email validation tools work hard in the background to quickly check and validate any email address by sending a silent ping to the domain to check it’s active. This shaves seconds off the total form completion time, which when added up with other improvements can make for significant time savings.
For many websites, users on mobile devices represent a major segment and can be easily overlooked. It’s important to check changes across phone and tablet, in both portrait and landscape orientation.
Given the nature of how we use mobile devices, you need to ensure your forms are highly responsive, even better they would be shorter on mobile and potentially use more tap-based user experience elements such as checkboxes and dropdown menus.
Managing users expectations is another important component in form design, especially if your form needs to collect a large amount of information. The simple mechanics of a progress bar shows a customer what to expect throughout the process of completing their form and helps them understand the stages of the process. You could even go a step further and give the option to jump back to previous sections if you wish.
However well designed a form or checkout process is, we must accept that people often need some guidance through the process. This could be through hover over icons (known as tooltips) which provide more detail on form stages or perhaps online FAQ’s.
Some users will always prefer one-to-one help to complete forms so making sure either online chat or offline contact points are visible at key stages will help get these users over the finish line.
It’s clear that a host of options exist which can improve user experience and form completion. What user experience professionals and website developers must keep in mind is the importance of continuous monitoring and improvement. This is a job that is never finished. As users change, technology evolves and needs of consumers diverge, ongoing improvements and changes are necessary.
Some forms and baskets will always go abandoned but, with quality user insight and ongoing development, it is possible to minimise the inevitable financial and service consequences of lost transactions.
Quick wins like installing address validation technology or email verification will contribute to significantly reducing the form fill time which in turn will contribute to your overall form conversion rates.
Check out what the technology from Loqate can do for you or contact us to speak to an expert today.