It’s a nuisance filling in an online form on the web. People just don’t like doing it, and not everyone has an automated form filler/password manager anchored to their web browser. But, as we all know, the “lead” leads to the sales. We want people to fill out the forms on our web sites, but we have to make it easy for them. This is for more than just the standard name and email optin form or squeeze page, this is also for full address details for eCommerce purchases, and more. People abandon carts and web pages because they don’t feel like filling out forms. It happens all the time.
Geo targeting a web form
Many forms ask for the users location. This can be done in an automated way, by prefilling information such as city, region, country and other data. This approach is widely used on the country level but can also be used all the way up to the postal code level. There are several ways to do this.
Plugins and scripts exist that determine a visitors IP address and then lookup the assumed location details against a database, based on the IP. This has upwards of 85%+ accuracy depending on country. Other ways involve determing the location based on GPS to determine latitude and longitude (the permission-based HTML5 GEO API is one way), offering near pin-point accuracy of location information.
Smartening up the autocomplete form feature
More than just geo location data, it would be beneficial to the visitor (and your bottom line in the long run) to leverage autocompletion of form fields. This involves the visitor clicking on a text field for example, and providing autocompletion was not manually turned off by the web site owner, they select the appropriate value for that field based on previous entries on similar forms. The web browser software then does its best to determine the values of the rest of the fields. It makes its best guess based on the names of the fields (within the HTML).
Now, webmasters don’t always name the fields in a meaningful way because that information is largely hidden, so this autocompletion approach could be assisted for even more accuracy. Adding a new attribute, proposed early last year, (x-autocompletetype for autocomplete) to the HTML input element can give the web browser (Chrome at a minimum) a clear indication of the data to be expected in that form. Find the full text and tokens here.
Video: Matt Cutts discussing auto complete for HTML forms
Using Facebook registration for your web forms
Some newsletter or autoresponder providers, like AWeber, support the use of Facebook optins, where a person can optin with a click of a button using their Facebook details when they are logged into Facebook (most people are even when it’s closed). Test the implementation of this feature to see if there is an
increase in optin rates given the same amount of traffic. You might be surprised how many people did not fill even just a name and email before using this technique, not for privacy sake but for other reasons (i.e. too much work), regardless of how enticing the free offer is. Besides the lower barrier of entry by allowing the visitor to fill a form without touching the keyboard, which is the point of this article, leveraging Facebook registration almost guarantees the accuracy of the email and it removes any chance of a typos.