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#2.07: The “Creating Great Web Forms” Issue

1 > Provide help right in the form
2 > Reassure customers as they fill out a form
3 > Seven is the magic number
4 > You’ve got to see this: Cross-merchandising works

1 > Provide help right in the form

Make it easy for your visitors to fill out your Web form by providing quick links to the user manual next to each form field. While not all Web forms are complex enough to require help on each field, sometimes it is greatly welcomed. For example, list server company Lyris Technologies provides its customers, who are working through the daunting task of setting up new email lists, with links to a well-written, contextualized section of the user manual beside each form field. When dealing with something as sensitive as setting up a new list, you know your customers want to get it right the first time. Be sure to pop-up a separate browser so that their form information doesn’t get lost. By putting the help where it is needed, marketers have happier customers and fewer tech support calls.

The lesson: Talk your customers through difficult forms in a cost-efficient manner. By making your form easy to fill out, your customers are more likely to get it right without your help.

2 > Reassure customers as they fill out a form

Ever ask yourself why a company requires certain confidential or sensitive information when filling out a form? You’re not the only one. If you’re a company gathering personal data, you can get a better response if you give your users the confidence that the information is safe and that it’s not being gathered extraneously. MSN Money’s bill-paying service does a great job of providing its customers with specific reasons why certain information is necessary with an explanatory link beside each form field. If the reader is given a helpful explanation, he or she is more likely to feel better and to complete the form. For example, MSN adds questions to the form like, “Why do you need my social security number?” with a link to the answer. Imagine their response rate by providing ongoing intuitive reassurance.

The lesson: Instill confidence in your customers when you ask for sensitive information. Give your customers more answers and they’ll give you more information.

More info:
http://www.gaspedal.com/content/enls/msmoney.pdf

3 > Seven is the magic number

Here’s a rule of thumb to stick by: Limit the amount of information you request in a form to the absolute minimum. The magic number is seven; people are willing to answer up to seven pieces of information on a form before they feel overwhelmed and ultimately abandon it. Marketers find that forms with more than seven fields have significantly less completions. The underlying principal in customer relationship management is to acquire pieces of knowledge about your customers over time so that you can build the ultimate knowledge base on each customer. Don’t attempt to do it all at once.

The lesson: Ask only for the information you need. Don’t scare off potential customers with a lengthy form. Once you have the basics, you can go back for more.

4 > You’ve got to see this: Cross-merchandising works

You know you have a good product or service; why not promote it with complimentary products or services. It’s the simple rule of cross-merchandising – corkscrews sold in the wine aisle and shoe care accessories sold at the shoe store. Last week, we promoted our free white paper “Double Your Email Lists For Free” in this newsletter. Hundreds of white papers were downloaded due to the relevancy of the white paper to this newsletter’s audience (and not to mention the right price tag).

More info: http://www.gaspedal.com/double

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