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'Tasted' Your Forms Lately?'

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
09 August 2010

While ordering some wine recently, I discovered a flaw in the winery's order form. The first field in the form's drop-down menu asks for your membership status with their wine club and gives you these options: "Not a member/Want to Join/I am a member."

I selected the "Want to join" option and proceeded to check out, where I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was given the club member discount with my order.

Upon further reflection, I realized that I might have opted in to an expensive wine club program because the "Want to Join" option gave no indication of how often the company sent shipments, how much an average shipment cost (both wines and shipping) or the kinds of varietals I could expect.

Later, a winery representative called because I wasn't listed as a club member in their database. So  I actually didn't qualify for the discount. Ooops. Chronic Cellars Purple Passion

When I explained what happened with the form at checkout, she realized the winery had a form issue and said she would let the "Web team" know ASAP.

The lesson: Don't wait for your customers or subscribers to tell you they had problems with your opt-in, registration or ecommerce forms or process.

Set a regular reminder on your calendar to check out your forms and order process, at least quarterly if not monthly, and any time you change your database, scripts or other form inputs.

While you are at it, ask a spouse, friend, customer or anyone else not associated with your company to go through your processes, from email opt-in to checkout - and provide feedback on these and other questions:

  • Do our forms have too many fields?
  • Are we asking for logical, necessary information?
  • Do we have too many required fields?
  • Are required fields clearly marked?
  • Can the form be completed on small-screen devices such as netbooks and iPads?
  • Is the layout simple and clean and lead to a high conversion rate?
  • Do we include screenshots, links to samples or descriptions of newsletters, products (e.g., the wine club) or other features intended to increase the form completion rate?
  • Is the progression logical from one field to the next?
  • Does everything work as it is supposed to, such as address validation, links, new windows, drop-down menus, etc.?

Don't wait to find out your forms have turned to vinegar. Start "tasting" and testing them today!

Epilogue: Thanks to a great experience with the winery's order-fulfillment rep, I did end up joining its wine club after all (a testament to the value of investing in and training a call-center staff). And if you like great, yet affordable Zinfandels, you must check out Purple Paradise from Chronic Cellars.


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