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Why people do not complete your online sign up form

Although each website in each industry is different, there are common truths as to why people do not fill out sign up forms online, and knowing these pain points can go a long way toward maximizing your sign ups.

The top 8 reasons users aren’t filling out your form

Web interface designer, Anthony T of the recently published a list of 8 reasons users do not fill out sign up forms1, primarily focusing on the fears and insecurity of web users, which is no surprise given the frequent headlines about security breaches and identity theft. He lists the top 8 reasons as:

  1. Fear of getting spammed
  2. Fear that a Facebook/Twitter sign up will spam followers and friends
  3. No option to delete account
  4. Feeling insecure with personal information handling
  5. Too much work to fill out compared to value gained
  6. Asking for information users don’t think you need
  7. Asking for their credit card number for a free trial
  8. Product/service is not clear or appealing

Another reason: the what happens next question

Marc Davison, Founding Partner at 1000watt Consulting tells AGBeat, “Users will hesitate to fill out a form when there isn’t a clear sense of what happens next and or that their personal info is protected. While the writer of this article [Anthony] mentions this, he left out how to provide assurance typically offered by a simple line of copy assuring the user that their privacy is respected. That they will never be spammed or have their data sold to a third party.”

Davison added, “In the case of a request for info form, users will be more apt to fill it out if there are clear instructions as to what happens next once the site receives their information. Offering that to a user is basic common sense often omitted by site developers.”

There must be trust

Constant Contact Senior Regional Development Director, Julie Neihoff said, “Joining the list – the act of signing up – is really an interruption, a break from the flow of seeing something you want and getting it. It can be a smooth process with few hurdles or it can be the reason that someone chooses not to join.”

“It must be quick,” Niehoff added, “don’t ask more than a couple of questions. It must be easy – don’t make me look for the button or click twelve times to get in. And above all else, there must be trust. I have to know that I can get off the list on my own, at any time. Groups using a respected, recognized third-party – like a Constant Contact – are more likely to grow their list because it will be quick, easy and trusted.”

What to start with?

Marc Lefton, Founder of the Half Fiction agency expounded on #6 above, adding that “If gathering a lot of information is still important to the functionality of your website, try starting with just the email and password. Once signed up, create opportunities to add the information little by little, even putting a question somewhere in a sidebar that’s easy to answer, like ‘how old are you.’ Using a profile completedness percentage can also encourage users to enter more information over time.”

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Niehoff said, “The sign-up moment is almost invisible when it is managed correctly. A small speed bump, rather than a stop sign. It is a big factor in successful list growth. Not to mention, much easier for the business owner to manage – why bother with online forms and spreadsheets and manual data management when there are extremely low cost options that will do it for you without getting in the way?”

Experimenting with forms

SEO expert Larry Chase notes that common wisdom is that you lose 30 percent of your respondents for each registration field. He suggests that there are different “schools of thought” on what to do in this situation, in Chase’s words:

  1. Just get an email address so you can start as many new relationships as possible and get more registration info down the road.
  2. Get a few fields of data so you can more easily qualify your A leads from your B leads and C leads, etc.
  3. A good rule of thumb I find is ask for only the data the user thinks you’ll need to go about your business. If someone downloads a PDF white paper on industry trends, the visitor typically is sophisticated enough to know you’re considering her as a prospect. So a phone number, title, company, and maybe time frame of purchase seems reasonable. But income level is not.

While there is a science to converting on websites, each site and each industry differs, so experimentation (at least A/B testing) is advisable, but some common truths remain about why people refuse to complete a sign up form and the most common reasons revolve around fear, so you must do everything possible to establish trust in that split second that they see the sign up form.

1 8 reasons user don’t fill out forms
2 Landing page tips

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.


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