• June 1, 2018
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Most Consumers Don’t Finish Online Forms

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Businesses rely on online forms to help them survey customers, sell products, gather leads, collect email newsletter signups, and even fill vacant job slots, but customers often abandon forms instead of completing them, new data from Clutch Research revealed. 

Eighty-one percent of people surveyed by Clutch said they abandoned at least one online form recently, with nearly a third (29 percent) citing security concerns and more than a quarter (27 percent) quitting forms that are too long. Other reasons cited included companies hitting them with advertisements or upsells (11 percent) and asking unnecessary questions (10 percent). The research also found that consumers are likely to abandon online forms that aren’t mobile-friendly. 

“Frequent news of security breaches has made consumers more wary of brands. These events range from credit card identity theft at major retailers, such as Target and DSW, to privacy breaches by trusted companies such as Facebook,” says Michelle Delgado, a content developer and marketer at Clutch. “Additionally, many consumers have been inundated by spam emails and phone calls after sharing their information with companies, and it can be difficult to identify the source in these instances.”

Regardless of why, the survey found that when consumers abandon online forms, they are unlikely to return. A full 67 percent abandon the process entirely, and only 13 percent come back to complete the forms later. Ten percent choose another company, and 7 percent contact customer service.

The survey suggests a major challenge for businesses that rely on online forms.

“I think it’s more than just losing the conversion,” says Stu Collett, founding partner and principal design director at Super User Studio, a digital product and service design consultancy. “It’s [someone] losing connection with your brand.”

Because security is such a major concern, Delgado notes that companies can increase form completions by improving security. 

“To help build trust with consumers, companies should be as transparent as possible about why they are collecting information and how they plan to keep it secure,” she says. “Simple steps such as adding a disclaimer that an email address will never be shared with a third party can go a long way toward building trust, as long as it’s true. Additionally, companies should invest in encryption and use email verification to help protect consumers from security issues.”

Another way businesses can improve their online forms is by eliminating extraneous questions, according to Delgado, who notes that the chance that consumers will complete online forms diminishes with each question added.

Companies will also do well to consider online forms as an extension of their overall customer service efforts. A key part of that is following up. Clutch’s research found that nearly one in five people (19 percent) will complete an online form if the company contacts them through email (12 percent) or a phone call (7 percent). Despite this opportunity to win conversions, 11 percent receive no follow-up contact after filling out an online form, suggesting yet another missed opportunity for businesses.

“I was personally very surprised to learn just how effective follow-up messages can be,” Delgado says. “These findings suggest that consumers appreciate and respond to personal outreach from a company, even if they had to quit an online form.”

With that in mind, Delgado recommends that companies collect email addresses early in the online form so they can reach out to customers who fail to complete it. 

When people do return to previously abandoned online forms on their own, it’s typically because they need access to resources they can’t obtain any other way (30 percent). An additional 20 percent are willing to return in exchange for an incentive, such as entry into a contest.

As part of implementing best practices in online form design, businesses should also test changes to their online forms with target audiences. Over time, testing can yield higher conversions by revealing audience preferences for online form design. 

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