How much information do you need to collect from visitors/shoppers on your mailing list form – and is it worth losing sales?

So I’ve just bought an information product to (hopefully) help me improve my ebook formatting skills. I’m a pretty liberal online buyer. I’ll buy something pretty quickly if it looks decent, has good reviews, and costs under $100. If it’ll save me 5 hours of work, it’s worth it.

But on this particular website, after I clicked the “Buy Now” button – I wasn’t taken directly to PayPal as I was expecting.

Instead I arrived at a dreaded form page, which immediately sparked my  ire. They wanted me to waste a whole MINUTE or so, to fill in my full address and phone number, for a digital product that I could then download.

So I stalled.

I looked over the sales page a few more times.

I spotted the typos on the website.

I Facebooked the website owner to see their picture.

And I did all of this stuff, when a minute ago I was ready to buy.

Are you asking for too much information?

I don’t think I’m an atypical case. Why do they need my freaking address? I don’t want to receive any snail mail from them. I don’t want them to keep my address on record so they can solicit me in the future. I just want the one, simple, quick product that promises to solve my immediate problem, and I want it now – without filling out a stupid form.

I’ll admit, not everyone is like me. But I’m guessing at least half of your potential buyers are. So if you have a form on your site before the PayPal link, forcing data entry, you’re losing 50% of your profit.

If you think you’re going to make up that 50% in future sales to the buyers you collected info from, you’re insane.

I’m a helpful person, so I contacted the owner and told her she almost lost my sale (in the end I finally went through with it, but now instead of a happy customer, I’m a chagrined, on the edge customer).

Her response: her mailing list was more important to her, end of story.

My response: are you seriously going to snail mail your customers, ever? If so that’s a huge waste of resources. What she should be doing is building an email list. AND EVEN SO – customers should not be required to join a mailing list when all they want to do is buy a product!

Can you imagine going into 7-11 to buy a drink, and having to fill out a form with your name, address and email? How long do you think it would take for that policy to put 7-11 completely out of business?

How to sell a product online

If you’re selling a product, a package, a painting, a book – your “Buy Now” button should go straight to PayPal (or a similar checkout – but you should always let people know where they’re going once they click the button. In the example above, I had to click “Buy Now” just to see if PayPal was an option – and I got the form page instead; so I would have to fill out all the info just to see if I could pay with PayPal).

Authors, in my opinion you should link straight to your book’s Amazon page, rather than trying to sell it straight yourself. Amazon is more trustworthy, an easier sell. You should have an affiliate link to get you a few more bucks.

After payment, buyers should be directed to a ThankYou page (this would be where you ask them if they’d like to join your list) or a page with the Next Steps (download page, etc).

Name and Email? Or just name?

If you have an email list you’re trying to grow, you should make it as easy as possible for people to subscribe.

There’s a big debate over this, but personally, I only have one form box: email.

That’s the bare minimum I need to contact people who are interested in my stuff.

I know it’s nice and friendly to get their first name, so that you can use some code in your message that you send out to everyone and it will look like a personal letter written to each member. I won’t say that’s not a nice, powerful touch.

But in my experience with forms, I don’t like even giving out my name.

I’m giving a total stranger my email, because I want to learn something, I want some content. I’m not ready yet for a relationship. I’m not ready for a friend. I’m OK giving my email because it still seems kind of anonymous, and I want to be anonymous.

I don’t want to participate. I don’t want to be greeted and sold to. I just want to listen in for awhile.

(I’m an introvert – extroverts probably love giving out their name and seeing letters addressed to them personally).

At any rate, if you’re trying to grow your numbers quickly, that’s my 2 cents.

Do you hate forms or am I overreacting? How much information are you comfortable sharing? What kills a sale for you?

 

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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