How Adding a Step Increased Conversion 25%

Common wisdom would lead us to expect that a one page form would have a higher conversion rate than a two page form. This recent change to one of the websites I managed proves that it’s better to test than assume.

For this website, we wanted people to register for access to free content. The registration was free but the client needed additional information to qualify the registrants as editors of publications. This resulted in a lengthy one page form and a high abandon rate – 53% or more. Here is the original form.
one step registration form with high abandon rate

We decided to split the form into two steps. The first step would ask only for the email address and name of the registering visitor.
registration first step
After submitting this information the user would be taken to a second form to “create their password”. The create password form would request the additional information the client needed for the account.
Second step  of registration

The splitting of the form had the additional benefit of allowing the client to capture email addresses and names of the users who abandoned the registration process after the first step. The client would then have a list of leads to contact personally for possible conversion.

Here’s what we learned:
Changing the form from one step to two steps increased online registrations by 25%

Why?
1. In for a penny… When the users had already committed to giving us their name and email address, they had mentally made the decision to commit to the registration. To back out on the second step would have meant “losing” the effort they had already made…and of course they knew we already had their email address.
2. The first step is the hardest. The original form asked for all the contact and identification information at once, providing a cumulative effect of requiring the user to give up a lot of personal information at once. In the new form, they provided their email address and name first as simple identification and contact that any site would ask for. Providing the rest of the information seemed less intrusive after that.
3. Form length seemed shorter. Though we did get rid of a couple of fields, the form seemed shorter and less daunting when split between two pages.
4. Emphasis on the user. The second step was titled Create Your Password. The other fields were de-emphasized.

And what about the users who abandoned after the first step? As an additional bonus, we learned that most of the users who abandoned after the first step were not qualified leads at all. The second step therefore had the added benefit of helping the client get more qualified conversions.

Author: Terry Matz

Digital media expert with 18 years experience delivering web site strategies and solutions to improve business results through web site user experience, search engine optimization and marketing, and social media. Innovative thought leader with a cross-functional background in technology, communications, design, and marketing.

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