Every website has something to gain from sign-up forms.

Yes, you read that correctly. Every website.

Sign-up forms can vary greatly in terms of purpose and design and the route you ultimately choose to take will depend on your business and what you want to achieve.

What exactly can sign-up forms help you to achieve? Well, the options are myriad, so let's quickly look at just a couple...

Some businesses will choose to integrate sign-up forms into their lead generation strategy and use them to collect email addresses. Others will use them to secure additional customers and generate revenue.

Ultimately, sign-up forms are an excellent tool to enhance communication between your business and your customers. In addition to providing you with the opportunity to share more information about your brand, they will also help you gain valuable insights into the people who want to engage with you. Most other customer acquisition strategies can be costly, but creating a sign-up form is a comparatively inexpensive approach.

Additionally, forms can be created and embedded into your site in a matter of minutes, meaning that the benefits can be seen instantly provided that...

You effectively optimise your approach to encourage as many sign-ups as possible. Although this might sound like a challenging prospect, the following sign-up form tips will help you to generate additional leads, boost your conversion rate and increase your revenue.

Sound good? Let’s get started!

Keep form fields to a minimum

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Your audience are busy people and they probably don't have the time to spend filling in endless form fields. Even if they do have time, complex forms are always going to be sufficiently off-putting that a significant percentage of people will skip signing up entirely.

To encourage as many people as possible to convert, your forms need to be as concise as possible. Let’s look at some statistics to illustrate the importance of this point:

Generally, forms that have fewer than five fields will secure a conversion rate of around 20%. This drops to around 15% for forms with between five and ten fields.

Why? Well, as well as being faster to complete, short forms are also far less intrusive.

What do we mean by this?

Think about it: a visitor to your website is likely going to be relatively reluctant to share their postcode with you if all they want to do is sign up to your newsletter. At the very least, they will question why you are asking for this information and at worst, they will leave your site with a negative impression of your business. Personal data is exactly that: personal.

So, make sure that you are only asking for the most relevant information.

Recognise when to use a single or multipage layout

Most sign-up forms should be presented in a single column format. Not only are they easy to read, but people are less likely to accidentally skip fields which can reduce the efficiency of your sign-up process.

Ensuring that your forms are as easy to fill out as possible is essential. If someone finds the process frustrating or confusing, they simply aren’t going to take the time to complete it.

Although it’s true that shorter forms generate the highest conversion rates, your business might genuinely need to share a 20-field form. In this instance, spread your form across more pages. By chunking information into manageable segments you allow the user to focus and not feel overwhelmed, as well as increasing accuracy.

This was the award-winning approach we took for the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan for their Online Donor registration online process - read more

Remember, understanding how to present your sign-up forms is just as important as recognising when you are asking for too much information.

Offer sign-up incentives

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If you’re struggling to secure the number of sign-ups you had hoped to achieve, providing your audience with a reason to spend their time filling in their details will boost your conversion rates.

In fact, most businesses will need to do a bit more than simply ask their visitors to sign up.

But how successful is this approach?

Well, research illustrates that offering an incentive can be up to 15 times more effective at increasing your sign-up conversion rate.

There are a variety of incentives you could choose to offer including:

- Competition entries
- Discount codes
- Exclusive valuable content

The key is to create a tempting value proposition that appeals to your audience and clearly promote this offer on your sign-up form landing page.

Enable autocomplete

As autocomplete functionalities vastly simplify and speed up the sign-up process for many users, why wouldn’t you enable this feature?

After all, you are unlikely to be the first business to request certain pieces of information in return for something.

Once someone begins typing, their browser will recognise the fields and fill in the information they have stored. For this to happen, however, you need to enable the autocomplete feature when programming your form.

Facilitate social sign-ups

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Effectively integrating social platforms into your site will allow users to sign up to your communications with just a couple of clicks.

How? Well…

Rather than having to fill out each individual form field, a user will be signed up in a single click if they are already logged into the corresponding social platform. If they aren’t already signed in, they will simply be redirected to a sign-in page where all they have to do is enter their username and password.

If you think this sounds much easier than filling in a form, you’re correct. It is. So, make sure you enable this feature on every single sign-up form you create.

Don’t use manual CAPTCHAs

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The acronym CAPTCHA stands for ‘completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart.’

Used to avoid spam and verify that you are not a robot, if you’ve come across a CAPTCHA online you would likely have been asked to type out a few words or select a few squares on an image.

Not only can an extra step be off-putting, CAPTCHAs are sometimes frustratingly illegible and require a few attempts to enter the correct information.

Instead Google has an invisible CAPTCHA which can review the users activity to determine whether it is a real person or a robot. This means the software does the work and the human doesn’t have to.

Optimise sign-up form placement

The optimum placement for your sign-up form will depend on what you hope to achieve. If you are an e-commerce business, you might not want to place it in a central position if prioritising sales is at the top of your agenda. Alternatively, however, if your sign-up forms help you to drive revenue, you will almost certainly want to make them a major feature on your primary landing pages.

Did you know that page footers are the most common location for email opt-ins? Critically, however, this doesn’t automatically mean that this is the best position.

Alternative potential positions include:

- the sidebar of your blog
- popup windows when users click on a specific call to action (CTA)

As there is not a single prime placement, you must determine your priorities and your objectives when selecting the ideal location for your sign-up forms.

Run A/B testing on every CTA

Running A/B testing can help you to refine every aspect of your digital presence. The good news is that this type of testing is particularly effective for sign-up form conversion optimisation.

A strong CTA is vital to encourage sign-ups. As you need to ensure that yours is working as hard as possible for your business, there are a range of elements you could choose to test, including:

- placement
- size
- font
- phrasing
- colour palette

Remember, even the smallest refinements can make a significant difference. Unless you have experience in multi variant testing, it is best only testing a single element at a time so that you make the right changes at the right times.

Highlight missed and/or incomplete fields

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As most people don’t want to spend too much time filling in sign-up forms, accidentally missing fields or leaving them incomplete is a very easy thing to do.

To limit frustration and missed opportunities, you need to make sure that these instances are flagged up immediately.

Why? Well, because:

In most cases, if someone hits the sign-up button and nothing happens, they are going to assume that the problem lies with your website if they aren’t made aware of any missing information.

Demonstrate social proof

Showcasing social proof can be an excellent way to increase sign-up form conversions.

How?

Well, if you can actively illustrate how others have directly benefited from what you have to offer, they are going to be much more likely to convert.

From showcasing your most prominent clients to opting to pursue a celebrity-focussed endorsement strategy, there are a variety of ways you can choose to leverage this powerful tool of persuasion.

Importantly, simply integrating customer testimonials into your sign-up form landing pages can be just as effective. You can also choose to display how many other people have signed up to receive your communications.

After all…

If you can show that 100,000 people determined that engaging with your messaging would provide value in some way, others will be encouraged to adopt the same perspective.

In conclusion…

It is important to remember that simply integrating a sign-up form into your website won’t guarantee conversions, regardless as to how prominent its positioning may be.

Thankfully, small refinements will significantly increase your conversion potential. So, don’t be afraid to experiment to ensure that you are capturing as many sign-ups as possible to help you to push your business further towards achieving your core goals and objectives.

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