This is a well-known best practice for improving opt-in rates and form conversion rates. Every field you add to a form is probably cutting your conversion rate anywhere from 8% to 50%.
Here are just two case studies of how reducing the number of fields in a form increased conversions:
1) HP saw an increase of 186% in email opt-ins when it trimmed form fields.
2) Neil Patel removed the “revenue” field from one form on his site and saw a 26% increase in conversions.
How many opt-in form fields is too many?
There’s no perfect answer. It depends entirely on your business model. However, most marketers tend to ask for far more information than they actually use. Basically, the best way to answer the “how many fields” question is to ask, “how little information can you ask for in order to continue to engage the customer (or client)?”
When I was studying 300 retailers, I found that a few retailers ask for far more than is needed to begin a relationship with a subscribers, but most don’t.
Compare these stats to ExactTarget’s infographic, How Retailers are Using Their Websites for Customer Acquisition. A segment from that infographic is shown here. Larger retailers appear to require far more information than the smaller retailers of the 300.
Here’s a chart showing exactly what the 300 retailers I studied asked for in their opt-in forms.
One thing is conspicuously absent from the list of required information: Frequency. None of the smaller retailers asked how often subscribers wanted to get emails (once a week? once a month?), and only 2% of the Hot 100% Retailers asked for frequency preferences. This is a major missed opportunity given that receiving too many emails is the number one reason people unsubscribe from email lists.
So if it’s best to ask for as little information as possible in the opt-in form, how do you get any information after signup?
Good question. You use progressive profiling.
The best way to ask for anything beyond the email address (and maybe their first name) is through something called progressive profiling. Typically is required a fairly sophisticated email management software, like Bronto or Infusionsoft. But there are simplified ways to capture the visitor’s email first, and then get secondary information.
If you’re using Aweber, Constant Contact or MailChimp, the only way to do progressive profiling is to get people to sign up first, and then put a link in the emails asking them to edit their profile. It may take some finesse to get people to take that step, but I’m sure you’ll come up with an idea.
A nicer, and perhaps easier way – for the subscriber, at least – is to follow the example of 80sTees.com, which has a very nice two-step signup.
Here’s their signup box. It’s about halfway down every page on the site, in the left navigation column:
This is a simple one-click, single opt-in signup. Once the email address is entered, the visitor clicks “sign me up” – and they’re subscribed. But just in case that visitor is willing to give more information, 80sTees.com brings them to a second page where they ask for more information.
The smartest part of this is that none of the fields on the second page are required, 80s Tees already has the email address. So if the new subscriber decides to skip all those fields on the second page, 80s Tees still has at least their email address – they can still continue the conversation. But if someone is willing to tell them more, they are at the ready.