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What Data From 62,000 Payment Forms Says About Boosting Online Sales

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by Steve Hartert, Chief Marketing Officer at JotForm

Payment forms are e-commerce’s most necessary evil. You know that shoppers don’t enjoy filling out the name, address, and payment boxes ad nauseum. At the same time, you’re probably not sure how many fields are too many, or how your conversion rates stack up against other e-commerce companies. At what point does a shopper look at a form and say, “This inflatable dinosaur Halloween costume isn’t worth it,” and is the problem actually your payment form?

My colleagues and I at JotForm decided to tackle those questions. In April 2017, we reviewed 62,000 random form submissions from 97 different industries to see how form length, device choice, and prices affected conversion rates. We found several patterns that could help improve your e-commerce strategy and boost sales.

1. Fewer Fields = Higher Submission Rate.

A payment form with fewer than five fields will convert users 19.6% of the time on average. Adding fields correlates with a dramatic decrease in the submission rate. Only 15.1% of users submit for five to 10 fields, 11.9% for 10 to 20, and 10.1% for 20 to 30.

So, your first inclination is to cut your payment forms to five fields, right? If only it were that simple. The first time shoppers check out, you need to collect shipping and payment information. First name, last name, street address, city, state, and zip code take you to six fields. Credit card fields up that count to at least 10.

Companies that hit five fields or fewer tend to do two things. First, they allow shoppers to save billing and shipping information in an account profile, and automatically insert that data for future purchases. Second, they can also save information that is specific to the individual shopper.

Imagine a company that sells custom dress shirts. Generally, men need their neck, chest, and waist sizes to order a correct-sized shirt. Saving that information knocks out three extra fields. The takeaway is to autofill or cut as many fields as you can without jeopardizing the quality of an order.

2. Which Device and Why.

Our analysis found that, on average, 11.1% of desktop users who load a payment form submit it. By comparison, only 6.6% of mobile users convert.

These metrics don’t mean you should advertise on desktop rather than mobile. They’re an invitation to benchmark your goods and product categories.

Let’s say you sell smartphone cases. They’re relatively inexpensive, and buyers tend to differentiate cases by style rather than functionality. For the sake of argument, let’s pretend you get 1,000 mobile shoppers per day versus 200 on desktop. Your desktop visitors convert at 11% compared to 5% on mobile.

That data suggests that mobile is the best medium for selling smartphone cases despite the lower conversion rate. Something in the payment form or checkout process might be hindering sales. Or, certain products might be underperforming. Maybe the Game of Thrones iPhone cases weren’t the big hit you expected, and they’re dragoning down the average.

Here’s the point: Data on conversion rates are useful for recognizing problems that you didn’t know you had. If you’re certain of one fact – that your mobile conversion rate is subpar – you can test solutions against that metric. Before you do, consider one more dimension of conversion rates.

3. Higher Price = More Conversions.

My team found that for purchases under $50, users converted 15% of the time. When spending $500 or more, they converted 18.8% of the time.

Why? We hypothesize that less expensive products require less research (in the marketing world, we call these low-involvement purchases) and are usually driven by the lowest price. To illustrate, consider paper towels. I don’t know any paper towel connoisseurs. People like a certain brand or style of paper towel, and they want it for the lowest price. The buyer might add a six-pack of paper towels to a cart, load the payment page, then try another seller because he didn’t get free shipping.

Now compare that to buying health insurance, which could easily cost $500 per month. When you’re shopping a complex product like health insurance, you scrutinize the prices, benefits, and confusing legalese long before reaching the payment page. Insurers know you’re comparing products, not just the final price. After all that research and deliberation, you’re prepared to buy and therefore convert at a higher rate.

Once again, compare your products to the averages. A substandard conversion rate on goods worth less than $500 probably says more about the research experience and less about the payment page.

Starting Points.

Reducing fields is the only ‘hack’ we found for raising conversion rates on your payment forms. Otherwise, the data presented is a starting point for identifying problems and asking the right questions. As long as payment forms remain a necessary evil, use their data to measure and improve your e-commerce experience.

 

Steve Hartert

Steve Hartert is Chief Marketing Officer at JotForm, a San Francisco-based company providing online drag-and-drop form-building tools that require no coding knowledge. He has 25+ years of international B2B and B2C marketing experience.

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