Love your online form - 6. tracking

Tracking how people use your form is often an afterthought, but without tracking in place how will you know if it’s really hitting the mark after it’s launched?

To measure long-term success, you need to set clear objectives and track user interactions.

The amount of data you can capture these days is almost overwhelming. So it’s important to customise tracking to your business and website processes in order to be meaningful.

Luckily web technology offers a raft of customisable tracking methods. They just need some thoughtful planning to get the most from them.

Set Clear Objectives

First things first. What is the purpose of your form in a business sense? This needs to be understood by everyone and then distilled into clear online objectives.

It seems obvious, but getting concrete clarity on what you’re setting out to achieve will guide decisions and keep everyone focused on the end game.

With digital technology, it’s easy to get distracted by what could be done, but if it’s not contributing to the objectives then why do it?

Make Them Measurable

Making objectives measurable keeps things honest and on-track. If there’s a reluctance to set targets because you might fall short, ask yourself what’s better: to fail early and improve fast, or sit with something oblivious to how it’s performing? The latter is the state of many forms today.

Start with a realistic target that you can measure. Even a ballpark is better than not having one.

Examples of clear and measurable objectives for forms:

  • Generate 20 enquiries every month
  • Keep checkout time under 3 minutes for 90%+ of customers
  • Get 5 new signups to the newsletter each week

These objectives would typically be aligned with higher-level business goals (e.g. increase revenue, or improve efficiency).

What can you track?

Out of the box, most tracking tools will tell you what pages on the website users are visiting, how they arrived, and some other basic stats. This standard tracking won’t show you the interactions unique to your form, yet that’s where the real insights come.

With a bit of custom setup, it’s possible to lift the lid on exactly what’s happening. Here are just a few examples:

Validation errors encountered
Track the number of validation errors people are encountering when using the form. If these are high, your design may be confusing in places.

Time spent on each step
How long are people spending to complete the form? Too much time might indicate that people are getting stuck. Tracking time spent on each individual step would help to identify exactly where that’s happening.

Quite often, standard tracking does not record the action of submitting the form. Putting in place tracking for this is essential given it’s usually the ultimate goal.

Example: ABC Rental Cars

ABC want to boost annual revenue by $200k and they’ve identified the quickest way to get there is by increasing the number of repeat customers. Feedback from customers told them the form is confusing and causes too many validation errors. So ABC have worked out if they can redesign the form to be simpler, they’ll be able to keep more of the customers and should hit that $200k target easily.

Business goals
Increase repeat rentals and improve customer satisfaction

A measurable objective:
Reduce the incidence of validation errors by 75% when filling in the rental form

What to track:
The number of validation errors encountered per user during the form process

Review and Refine

Based on the tracking data that comes in, it’s a process of continual review and improvement.

Forms are usually there to complete a goal. So be clear what that is, make sure you can measure it, and get those tracking measures in place before it’s launched to the world.

Read more articles in this series;

Online Forms - a business game changer?

Love your online form – 1. validation design is critical

Love your online form – 2. affordance is everything

Love your online form – 3. make it mobile

Love your online form – 4. user experience

Love your online form – 5. integration

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