Email marketing truths are not eternal. Circumstances change in response to outside forces as well and internal ones, and you should change with them. Let’s face it, if you don’t, your competitors will and you will fall behind.
Take forms; everyone, including me, has said that the shorter the forms the more people will complete them, and not only those for subscribing to an email marketing list. This has been borne out by any number of A/B trials. But that was then. As we keep telling you, over 50% of emails are read on mobile devices and this percentage is increasing year on year. Does this change things?
Form filling on mobile devices is not the easiest of tasks and there is little doubt that a form not designed expressly for mobiles will fare badly. Surely all companies know this yet so many are frustrating to complete. I wish I’d kept a record of the number I’ve abandoned. Hence the advice, stricture really, that you should keep forms as simple as possible.
However, you might want more than just name and email address. Don’t we all. So it is nice to know that others have investigated the options.
I’ve read research that astounded me. Its conclusions are counter-intuative but one was that multi page forms have a three times higher completion rate than longer single page ones. To suggest that it surprised me, and I would suggest most of you, is hardly a surprise. So why the change?
The generally accepted reason is that it is more mobile friendly. Instead of multiple questions crammed onto the screen, all the person sees is perhaps two or three. It looks much easier to complete.
I’d suggest that you should not deceive the person completing the form. I find it reassuring to see a time line at the top or bottom of the form showing how many stages remain. Knowing there are only two pages to go is a bit like starting work on a Thursday. There is a big difference in a person’s perception of 10 questions and seeing them listed on one page in front of them.
Don’t go too far though. There is no optimum number of pages, but here the old norms are resurrected. Only ask as many questions as you feel are essential, and then go over them again in order to cut some more. Remember that form completion results respond to a reward for those who finish them.
For a number of years the received wisdom has been that all forms should be tested on mobiles. I’d now go further. All marketing emails, forms and such should be designed for mobiles in the first instance. No one thinks twice about having a responsive website and even here they should be aimed at mobile devices initially and the version for laptops and desktops should be of secondary concern.
The research highlights the one undeniable fact about email marketing: things change and the old established ideas that we accept without thought are the ones we should be testing as a matter of course.