The New Shocking Study on Conversion Optimization
Here’s an important dictum for conversion optimization on your ecommerce website: Your forms determine how you function as an e-business. Forms and function.
You probably heard the ecommerce tip that, for conversion optimization, you want to minimize the size of your forms. The quicker it is for your potential customer to convert, the more likely they are to do complete the process. That’s important, but this blog isn’t about that. This blog is about a study with much more shocking result.
According to a recent study by the Baymard Institute, ecommerce websites convert more when their checkout forms mark both which fields are optional and which fields are required. Yes, both. Optional and required. Most ecommerce sites (63%) of the top 100 ecommerce checkouts only marked one or the other (either optional or required). To maximize your conversion optimization, this study shows that best practices dictate that you actually mark both.
At first, noting both required and optional entry fields may seem excessive or unnecessary. After all, you don’t want a cluttered form. According to this rather shocking study, however, sites that do not clearly mark both the required and the optional suffered lower conversions as a result of form errors and confusion. This is especially true for mobile sites, where 75% of mobile users experience problems and validation errors when both fields are not clearly marked.
Although this practice may seem counterintuitive, you do have options in how you mark your fields. Light text that is easily overwritten may be placed in the box itself where users enter text. Pre-entering “required” or “optional” in these fields and then having those words vanish when the user puts their cursor in the text box is one option for noting which boxes are required and which are not. Other options include simply putting the text above each box or using a clear and easy system with asterisks. We also recommend, for the text option, using a color (such as red) to mark the required field.
The study notes that only 9% of ecommerce checkouts actually mark both types of fields. If you begin this practice, that number indicates a potentially huge competitive advantage you would have with your conversion optimization. And if you aren’t sure about the practice, why not using A/B testing? Take one form with both fields marked as optional and required and A/B test that with another form with only one field marked. And see which one converts more.
This study certainly shakes up conventional wisdom regarding conversion optimization. Fortunately, A/B testing provides an excellent tool if you want to explore these results with your own ecommerce website. According to the Baymard Institute’s research, your users will have less usability errors and more conversions. And there’s always value in results like that!