Asking for Extra on the Web is Never Free
Honest confession. I don’t like the Title field for online transactions.
Wired magazine featured an interesting article a while back about title field dropdown menus that live online. The article suggests that pre-defined title lists can be restricting and sometimes even offensive; to instead use a free text field. There is a glaring problem with a free text title though; your database code table for title will be filled with stuff like “The Mega Awesome” because, let’s face it – people love to be funny on the internet.
So I have a suggestion – stop asking for title all together (!) for online transactions.
Sure, I get that it can be important for salutations in mailings, especially for the fancy formal messages with your VIP distinguished customers. I also acknowledge that it’s a bit of a generational thing; 30 years ago titles were arguably more relevant than they are in the younger generations. (txt u l8tr) But hear me out.
Deciding what fields to include and make required on the web is easy on the surface; you want to collect as much information about your customers as possible. On the other hand research has taught us that every extra field we include will have an impact on conversion rate. What is a reasonable way to make the call to include a field or not, then to make it required or not? Here are a few things to consider:
- Do you literally have to have this info? Do you have to collect a phone number for some follow up questions about an event they are registering for? If so, try to let the user know why you are asking, it helps. This sounds like a required field.
- Does knowing this data about the customer provide a measurable amount of extra value? This sounds like a field that’s worth including, but probably not required.
Sure, there will be a small handful that *may* be offended that they were unable to specify their fancy title online. I urge you to be aware of the fact that there is also a handful that *may* be offended the title they want isn’t in the list. There is also a handful that will be confused and wonder why you are asking for a title on a transaction, I have seen this first hand during usability tests. Some of these folks will not complete the transaction, this adds up to a lower conversion rate. There is a cost associated with the decision either way; asking for extra isn’t free.
I’m not suggesting there is never an appropriate time to ask for title on the web. A good example could be in some sort of profile update form where people that are really into proper salutations can go let your org know their fancy title. I submit that you don’t worry about it for online transaction forms though, for three reasons.
1. The form will be faster for your customers to fill out. The time between deciding “I want to buy this” and “I’m done” should be as short as possible. Look at the success of Amazon’s one-click shopping. Impulse buys flat out work; from the grocery store checkout line to the web.
2. It won’t stop you from marketing to these new customers effectively. You won’t be sending major donor asks to these new customers anyway, and not knowing a salutation is perfectly reasonable for the “getting to know you” phase of the relationship.
3. If this new customer grows with your organization to be a VIP distinguished customer, you will have found out their preferred salutation anyway. They will have attended events, given gifts through many sales channels, and been involved with your cause. You’ll build this relationship over time regardless.
Still skeptical? Take a look at this case study from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund’s A/B testing. They found an 11 percent (!!!) increase in donations by removing the title field.
What do you think? Those of you who don’t use title, how is that working for you? What about those that are?
Check out the Altru Community to submit ideas, ask questions and network with fellow Altru users.