A reader asks, “How do I get more people through my online giving process to complete a donation?”
Laurence answers, “Remove seemingly unnecessary steps!”
Oftentimes, staff with no training in web usability gets involved in decisions about what to include on a donation page. For example, your development director may want to collect a lot of information about online donors during the giving process to put to use at a later time. The result is often “form field creep,” i.e. you get greedy and ask for too much information up front.
Unnecessary steps lengthen the giving process and risk irritating your potential donors, causing them to abandon the page without giving and lowering conversion.
Here are examples of unnecessary steps I see required on many donation pages (along with the reason each can harm conversion).
- Telephone number. People fear marketing calls, so it’s a deal breaker for some if their phone number is required.
- Program designation. This assumes the donor is already familiar enough with your programs to easily make a choice, which isn’t usually true. The question unintentionally introduces difficulty into the giving process—and encourages the visitor to leave the page to figure out which program to select.
- How did you hear about us? It requires the donor to stop and think (something you absolutely want to avoid on a donation page). Your aim is to make the process ridiculously easy and painless.
- Comments. The user has no idea what you’re fishing for, but people feel compelled to enter something into a blank field—and may get hung up trying to figure out what to enter.
- Tribute/honor gift fields displayed by default. At first glance few will notice that these fields are optional (because web users skim pages, they don’t read every word). As a result, lots of fields create the perception of a longer form and a more difficult process.
- CAPTCHA puzzle. These are pure pain for the web user. Even thinking, breathing humans stumble when attempting to decipher those distorted number and letter combinations. If spam is a major problem on your website, find a skilled developer who can help you implement a solution that does not require your donors to perform difficult tasks. This article describes five front and back-end alternatives to CAPTCHA.
- Multiple email list opt-ins. They require the donor to expend cognitive energy in studying and choosing between offers (another type of difficulty), and distract from the priority conversion goal of the page—giving.
Are you guilty of asking for too much? If any of the items above are included on your donation pages, stop and ask yourself if the information is valuable enough to sacrifice donations in order to get it. These techniques are all easy to apply on your web donation pages. (Insights described here are adapted from research conducted by the Baymard Institute).
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