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Getting the Completed Request

Okay, you were successful in getting a site visitor or email recipient to visit your site and fill out a form to join your mailing list. How many actually complete the form? You might be surprised to know that the abandon rate—that is, the number of people who don't go through the entire process of finishing the request form—can be as high as 90%.

To a large extent, reducing the abandon rate rests with your IT department. Make sure that your forms follow these simple rules:

  • Tell the user what to expect. How long will it take to complete the form? Tell the user in advance. (Rule: The process should take less than a minute.)

  • Flash a light at the end of the tunnel. If your form is long, it should show the user where he or she is in the process, and how many more steps are yet to come.

  • Don't get too nosy. Limit the requested information to 5–7 questions, such as email address, first name, last name, and ZIP/postal code. You might include a password field if users are required to log in later to access or change their information.

    CAUTION

    Avoid questions about political affiliation, race, and religion unless they're relevant to your offer (and even then, be careful).

    If the user is subscribing to an email newsletter or email promotion list, don't ask for a U.S. Postal Service address and/or telephone number. Obviously, the subscriber has given permission to be contacted through email—but not by any other means. Asking for any other kind of contact information raises a red flag in the subscriber's mind.

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