Posted on 17 Oct 2021
In their most common form, popup signup forms are typically used in ecommerce to collect contact information from visitors of a website. In the context of ecommerce, the most common example is a popup requesting an email for a discount.
Multi-step popup forms follow the same structure as existing forms but ask follow-up questions to collect data between the subscribing step and providing the discount code step.
Questions are typically asked one at a time with individual answers, no open-ended answers.
This modern practice of collecting multiple data points from a subscriber during signup effectively drives data collection.
The additional steps are made possible by using “live data collection” on a per-step basis. Live data collection eliminates losing data if a visitor drops out during a multi-step signup flow.
This technology is game-changing and has not been widely adopted. However, changes in the world of privacy are likely to lead to an increase in the use of “live data collection forms” over the next year and beyond.
There are four widely used examples of the popups:
Step 1: Provide an email address
Step 2: Get a coupon code.
The single opt-in with radio selection.
Step 1: Provide an email address + style preference
Step 2: Get a coupon code.
The micro opt-in starts with a question, “Would you like a discount?” then goes to the next step to provide contact details in exchange for the discount.
Step 1: Micro Opt-in
Step 2: Email Collection
The double opt-in asks for an email address on the first step and a phone number on the second step.
This one has become the most popular one in light of iOS 15 changes.
Step 1: Email Collection
Step 2: Phone number collection
The privacy shift currently underway requires a change to prioritize zero-party data collection.
Apple’s privacy announcements have spurred a need for the faster adoption of these changes.
What began with GDPR and CCPA now includes Apple as a catalyst.
The fallout has left most ecommerce brands scrambling to compare Facebook Ads data with Google Analytics data and other sources in Google Data Studio to create custom dashboards.
With the reduced browser tracking, though, even those numbers are turning into approximations.
Marketers' ability to rely on previous sources quickly turns into a game of which numbers are correct.
A technology shift is also underway.
Prior technology for forms and data-collection required that a user provide information and click submit at the end of a series of questions. If the “submit” action on a form was not clicked, then all data would be stored locally but not sent anywhere until the “submit” action was clicked.
This is where the debate on how many fields to put on a signup came from, a technical limitation.
If you see a multi-step form that requires you to click a button to go to the next step, likely, their technology is a few old forms linked together.
You’ve experienced this previously first-hand. If you’ve ever taken a survey, the results usually aren’t sent anywhere until “submit” is clicked at the end.
This technology shift, in combination with privacy changes, has increased the need to collect zero-party data, data directly collected from your visitors.
Brands now require this data to increase the relevance of messaging to subscribers, but more importantly, to understand data patterns that lead to finding the best quality audiences, ad creatives, and messaging.
In a world of rising acquisition and advertising costs, data is becoming even more critical.
Not all zero-party data is created equal; savvy marketers are focusing their energy on zero-party intent data.
Zero-party data generally is information provided directly from your customer or visitor.
The common ways that zero-party data are collected are via quizzes, surveys (including post-purchase), progressive profiling (via email and SMS), and other data entry points like a checkout.
These are all examples of zero-party data but not zero-party intent data.
The difference is when the data is collected by what action and which questions are answered.
There are only two intent-based actions for a customer on an ecommerce website: when the visitor types in their contact information in exchange for a discount or when they type in their contact information when checking out. That’s it.
A signup in exchange for a discount or the willingness to be contacted by the company is a major sign of intent.
This is a traditional contract where there is an offer and acceptance by providing data.
These don’t exist across other types of data collection.
Quizzes are pre intent actions. At this stage, someone is in the curious but not usually committed step to making a purchase.
The data collected is often useful for marketers to understand general sentiment about the buying journey but questionable to be used to model larger data sets on because of the early stage of the customer journey.
Surveys and Progressive Profiling happen post-signup, making them examples of post intent data.
Anything that happens after that interaction is the post intent stage, where someone has likely made a decision to try your store out via purchase or keep you on the radar because they want to keep you in the running for later.
Post Purchase Surveys are post-intent. They only fire for people that have already decided to purchase from your store, and the value serves only to clarify their decision-making progress during their journey.
The goal is to understand the advantages of collecting zero-party data during signup as it changes the data to intent-based. Timing and questions are the two main factors to make data “intent” data.
Most marketing teams don’t know how to or have the resources to work with zero-party data.
Traditional zero-party data requires additional work and a strategy to be created. Then the information is integrated into email flows, email campaigns, SMS flows, and SMS campaigns. Additionally, the data can be used to identify trends to update website copy, advertising creative, ad copy, etc.
All of these take resources to create.
The problem is the non-intent data is a mix of different parts of a customer journey so creating based on these elements becomes harder to use in practice or relevance.
Most of these efforts won’t have a massive impact on revenue when leveraged. You may increase relevance, but the gains aren’t likely to be mind-blowing.
People have already shown signs of intent. If the rest of your customer journey is well mapped out and your trust elements exist in your brand, post sign up the rate of conversion is pretty high.
To spend time expending resources to tailor custom journeys at scale is time-consuming work and incredibly tough to keep up consistently without a large dedicated team.
The big push from large players across ecommerce is a focus on asking for more personal details, names, birthdays, or defaulting to quizzes in which long processes aim to provide product suggestions. Most of these questions do not relate to the actual customer journey.
A name, birthday, or other like information is not a buying signal.
By focusing on zero-party intent data, smart marketers are unlocking instant insights that can be applied to future intent signals and apply them to paid ad channels.
Intent data is actionable data when applied to other parts of the business, whereas other zero-party data serve only to augment stages of the customer journey that are typically too early or too late.
In the pre-purchase customer journey, the signup for a discount is the main driver of intent.
It provides the most relevant information about the customer when they have decided to exchange their contact information for a discount. The customer is CHOOSING to exchange their data for a reward. They are showing INTENT of taking a forward action towards a purchase.
This is an amazing time to collect more data from your customer as long as it relates to their customer journey.
When done correctly, we see a 95% completion rate of the entire form. With a staggering 99.96% of people providing at least one data point beyond an email address. (Data taken across Formtoro Clients)
“Show the popup right away!”
“Show the popup after 7-10 seconds!”
“Show the popup after the visitor sees three pages!”
We wish we could say that there was a golden rule with these, there isn’t.
“You should have two popups, one when you hit the website and one if they try to leave, exit intent!”
Again, these best practices have been repeated ad-nauseam for years. What works well for one brand or audience might not work well for another brand or audience.
In testing, we found exit intent to be the worst-performing. Notice the word “intent” being coupled with “exit” if the goal is to leave; the quality of the responses also lagged in comparison to other popup locations.
The intent of the visitor wasn’t to remain on your website.
The vast majority of marketers follow the same advice. It’s why you see company after company follows the blueprints of pretty much everything mentioned above.
The biggest misconception with the popup is the obsession with a conversion rate from someone seeing the popup and signing up.
The root cause of whether or not someone signs up isn’t up to the popup primarily.
It’s the audience quality.
In fact, we see more than 50% of sales coming from people that don’t sign up to use a discount, even when offered multiple times throughout a journey. (Source: Internal Formtoro Data)
It’s a combination of the quality of traffic being driven, the stage they are in on their journey, and the offer that the popup provides.
If you’re driving traffic for a giveaway, you can attract a lot of signups. The problem is they might just be for something free; they may not even be interested in purchasing your products.
Assign up here would be considered low intent, even using the highest intent when and where.
If you want a high signup conversion rate - just throw a competition, people love free stuff. Just don’t complain when no one on that list ends up converting at a rate as high as a simple discount.
Statistically speaking, a 40% discount is usually the breaking point (common around Black Friday) for people to consider making a purchase. After that, most brands offer 10% - 20%.
If your brand offers less than 10%, it doesn’t cover sales tax in many states, but it also depends on your average order value.
So, again, it depends.
What is consistent, though, is if you’re trading a discount for just an email or phone number and not collecting zero-party intent data, you’re missing out on free information.
You don’t need all these to get started, but it’s what we’ve found to work for us.
We have five separate popups:
Any page other than Product, Landing, or Cart
Let people know there is an offer. On average, visitors need to see a form 1+ times before they decide to sign up. Popups have a 100% open rate; take advantage.
Full page forms work particularly well on mobile devices. Again, the idea is to grab attention and not to give someone an option to avoid seeing it.
When you use a full-page form, it moves the “X” to the top right of the screen, which requires people to move their thumb on mobile or their cursor on desktop further on the screen; this provides them more time to actually read your offer and message.
Delay of between 7 - 10 seconds.
Remember: these are built for people that came to your website organically or directly.
They searched for you; they are already warm leads. Let them see a little of your webpage, then hit them with an offer.
Any page containing “product” in the URL
People that come in organically have seen the offer on the front page if they lingered for more than 7 - 10 seconds, but for many, this is too early in the journey to just subscribe, but they know there is an offer.
The purpose of the Product Page Slide Out is the “double-tap”.
It is delayed upwards of 20 - 30 seconds on the page when someone has shown enough interest in the product to warrant showing them the offer now that they are further down their journey towards a purchase.
We use a slide-out. It’s less intrusive than a complete page takeover on desktop but works well on mobile. One form both formats. Because of the delay and the short attention span of most shoppers, it’s not overwhelming and won’t fire for everyone.
Delay of between 20-30 seconds.
There are only two main ways that people make it to a product page - they get there via the home page, or they get there by clicking through on a landing page. Either way, if they have spent enough time on either of those pages, they know that an offer exists.
They are directly embedded on a landing page a little more than halfway down.
This is where we drive all our paid traffic. Make it easy to see an offer while avoiding a popup to disrupt the browsing experience.
The purpose is to build a journey and story so strong that someone is ready to subscribe right on the page.
This format is a simple form embedded into the page.
Load on page load. It loads about 66% down the page.
Always open, always an option.
Any page containing “lp” in the URL
We just said that people don’t like popups on the landing page, and yet we have one, the irony.
We put the embed halfway down the page. Rather than repeat the embed at 90% scroll, we switch to a slide-out.
We use a slide-out. It’s less intrusive than a complete page takeover on desktop but works well on mobile as well. One form both formats.
Because of the scroll, many visitors will never see this popup, but it serves as a catch-all when someone scrolls past your embed.
It is triggered on scroll of 90%.
The only way to hit a landing page is via a paid ad.
They clicked on a product or collection image, so we want to continue telling that story of what they clicked on and build up that journey before promoting an offer via popup.
That is the role of the embed; it functions to let visitors know that there is an offer.
The popup at 90% is just in case someone scrolled past that offer and missed it by the time they got to the end of the page.
Any page containing “cart” in the URL
The worst feeling someone has is when they see a popup, but it is too early for them to want to sign up. So, they waited, browsed, added a few things to the cart, checked out their cart, then decided they wanted to purchase, but in the back of their mind, they knew there was a coupon code out there.
Zero-party intent data is more valuable than any discount you're providing.
The last thing you want to do is give someone a reason to leave your website; this is precisely what’s going to happen if you don’t present a known offer to a customer when reviewing their cart.
We use a slide-out. It’s less intrusive than a complete page takeover on desktop but works well on mobile. One form both formats.
Trigger right away on page load.
The only way to hit the cart page is by actually “viewing cart” with the advent of slide-out carts. This slide-out can’t be triggered without a direct view of the cart.
These are visitors that have added items to the cart and have decided to click on “view cart” in order to see what they’ve added, usually right before making a purchase.
With up to 69.57% of visitors abandoning their carts (Source), a slide-out on the cart for those that view it is an easy way to encourage conversion.
You should block URLs that contain any of your service emails, order emails, welcome series, abandon cart emails, or segments that share a common name.
The funny thing about popups is that if people use a different browser, device or clear their cache, they show up again. With people discovering products on mobile and checking out on desktop, little things like this add to the customer experience.
The most essential part of building your first multi-step form is understanding what you can do with intent data and finding a software partner capable of helping you use the intent data.
Today the most advanced multi-step forms have logic mapping built-in, can recall previous answers, can create unique coupon codes on the fly, collect data live, and send that data to multiple places at the same time.
The even more advanced multi-step form companies take that data and build algorithms that find patterns in the data and can combine it with other sources of data to provide insights and advice on actions to take.
In Formtoro, for example, a specific data combination that is driving revenue can be tied back to the exact campaign, ad set, and ad that it came from and look for patterns to identify which ads are likely to be the most profitable in the future.
Entire businesses are able to optimize their paid advertising channels by taking an intent data approach that allows them to scale without worrying about privacy changes.
Decisions are made using a combination of raw data provided by 3rd party advertising platforms and zero-party intent data provided directly by subscribers in combination with all the 1st party browsing data captured by Formtoro.
Any multi-step form builder can collect zero party data which can help you:
These are the bare minimum requirements.
But all of these require a team of people to customize all those touchpoints, and as was covered above, most of the zero-party data collection isn’t intent-based.
The biggest struggle brands have with zero-party data is knowing how to use it and having the resources available to use it.
For a lot of brands and agencies, zero-party data is nice to have but requires intensive staff resources to create the necessary content, updates, and communications for all the segments that have been created.
Zero-party-based marketing strategies will always lag in adoption because of the manual hours needed to implement them.
Most of the data currently being collected relates only to the person that provided it at times that aren’t related to intent to conduct a purchase.
The real power of zero-party intent data happens when you aim higher.
The largest expense outside of salaries that most ecommerce companies have is their marketing budget; your zero-party intent data should become a brand’s roadmap to revenue.
The intent should influence how you spend your marketing dollars and create your marketing strategy.
Unlock optimized processes, allocate resources to where you need them most, bring accountability to the table by focusing on measurable data.
As marketers and product designers, the goal was always to find patterns in zero-party intent data to automate paid ad optimization and decision making.
There were some basics that we needed from a builder to accomplish the data collection part, the workflow portion, but when combined, it would unlock the ability to combine zero-party intent data with paid advertising.
When we built Formtoro, we focused on a few key parts; then we built it to spec to tackle things that no other company was considering:
The bare minimum requirements for us to create the forms we need when asking the questions required to capture zero-party intent data.
A visitor should be able to fill out a form without clicking “next” or having to “submit” the form at the end. A brand should collect all the data by stepping up to where someone drops off if they do drop off.
Prior forms had been all or nothing, many brands use services like Google Forms or Typeform for surveys, and unless someone completes the survey and hits “submit” at the end, the information isn’t saved.
To create a true frictionless form experience, we needed to change this.
Live data collection removes this requirement.
It’s a win for marketers and brands.
A visitor should be able to provide information before providing an email address.
Prior forms required having an ID to save the data; when you see quizzes, they always ask for an email at the end so they can link the information. However, as we covered above, the quiz usually comes at a time prior to intent. The pre-intent behavior is about discovery.
Separating the data collection journey without asking for an email and instead of asking for an email at a more appropriate time allows you to connect the data in a more customer-centric manner.
To create a truly frictionless customer experience, a visitor should be able to interact with two different forms and have their data combined.
This is now possible with Formtoro.
Not all journeys are linear.
For example, if a visitor answers a question as part of a form, we should point them to a further question or result based on their answer.
A lot of forms, including the examples of signups above, are linear. You go one question at a time. With multi-step forms, not all questions may be relevant; the more questions you ask, the more variations and paths emerge.
To create an actual frictionless customer experience, a visitor should be able to interact with a form and be directed to questions that are most relevant to their journey.
Similar to above, but the result can combine multiple answers when logic mapping.
If someone says their favorite color is red and they like Ferraris, we can show a red Ferrari by combining those data points to present the next step.
Combinations of zero-party intent data are roadways towards personalization, if you can’t use all the elements to navigate the road, your experience becomes impersonal, and one size fits all.
The form is the experience; when it comes to a signup, it should feel tailored.
Everything comes down to how a tool can be incorporated into or improve an existing workflow.
From an operational standpoint, creating multiple forms to accomplish the same thing, as is the case with many signup forms and popup makers is a tall ask, especially if you’re making changes or testing things.
Too many services require you to manually make two different forms for different formats; once you do this, the reporting is done separately, so your results can’t be easily combined.
Formtoro combines these; one builder that lets you create all formats at the same time is fantastic.
There is an ongoing debate about unique coupon codes; everyone would love to have them for every event or offer, but creating them and uploading them into Shopify or your other ecommerce platform is tedious, and you need to ensure that you create them before issuing them.
They are better for attribution and amazing to prevent Honey and other coupon scrapers from leaking them and existing customer bases from double-dipping.
Shopify allows 20,000,000 of them.
We should create a signup and have a code auto-generated to specs or route subscribers to a different offer that can be created on the fly based on answers.
This would open up personalized coupon codes to prevent leaks without the need to manually create them ahead of time in bulk or run them through your email service provider.
Instead, they are only made when they are issued and automatically added to Shopify and your email service provider as a custom property.
Brands chase customers with discounts when they haven’t shopped from them in a while.
Meanwhile, they constantly offer XX% off your first purchase to anyone with a unique email address. The average person has more than a few; we covered earlier how an incognito window would just yield another popup offer.
Being able to create a coupon code that could be used multiple times would allow us to market directly to the person with their specific code without having to issue a new one and/or chase.
It removes bias. If someone has a coupon code they can use multiple times, they tend to buy with confidence and remember they have a code waiting when they are looking to purchase again. It’s built-in loyalty.
Brands currently already chase customers with sales, offers, bundles, and deals to persuade them to come back - a multi-use coupon code allows a brand to nurture the relationship rather than chase.
This is everything.
Where most zero-party data collection methods don’t account for intent-based data, none of them use data patterns and analysis to rank and recommend optimizations within ad accounts.
Formtoro is about zero-party intent data and being able to use that data without having to create new content from day one.
Optimize instead of creating from scratch, create a strategy leveraging data that goes beyond just the data provided but how it relates to your bottom line.
Data combinations that lack intent are not useful in predicting which combinations will result in revenue. Data combinations with intent that can be tied to revenue can inform marketers about which data points are likely to be predictors of future revenue.
This is all done for you in Formtoro. No extra software is needed. No exporting, no spreadsheets, no manual analysis required.
Data on its own isn’t useful.
Data that is combined with other data to tell a story is invaluable. When we look at trends across businesses, we look for patterns in data that can inform direction and decisions.
Knowing the intent data combinations that result in revenue is a fundamental building block when building out a data lead marketing organization.
This informs trends related to subscriber-provided data as it relates to revenue generation.
Smart marketers know how to read data, but their time is more valuable when they have the analysis presented to them automatically.
The power to optimize your ad spend based on intent data. Subscriptions are near guaranteed sales when implemented correctly.
The goal of most brands should be to collect emails with intent data; it’s OK to ask multiple questions, for those that finish the forms, 95% are most likely to purchase.
Not all traffic is equal.
Up until now, the best we could do was look for where subscribers were coming from, a very superficial metric. In fact, it’s hard to get a full view of more than one level at a time in most programs.
Quality traffic is all that matters.
It’s not just about which ads are driving the most traffic. It’s about which campaigns, ad sets, and ads are driving the right traffic. The only way to measure this is by collecting zero-party intent data, identifying combinations that bring in revenue, and isolating which ads are driving them.
Formtoro does this for you automatically.
The quality of campaigns, ad sets, and ads up until now has been determined by KPIs that only show partial intent. We review things like Click Through Rate, Cost Per Click, Cost Per Thousand Impressions, Cost per Action, Cost per Acquisition of a Customer, Return on Advertising spending.
None of these alone can tell you if an ad will be successful in the future or if you have potential in an ad that doesn’t convert right away.
Not everyone purchases within the period that your ads team is looking at ads.
The hardest part is to be able to combine zero-party intent data tied into revenue patterns with raw ad and sales data to score ads with greater accuracy than just comparing sources like Facebook and Google Analytics.
Key Performance Indicators without context are worthless. Media buying has been based on reading numbers and making best guesses with multiple variables in play.
Audience, copy, creative, viewing stats, that’s just the ad side, it doesn’t take into account landing pages, brand authority, product pages, and descriptions, etc.
The need to score ads beyond just conversion and Click Through Rate has never been more critical in this new post iOS privacy world.
The current data set being used isn’t complete enough to drive consistent success.
At Formtoro, we’ve seen brands making decisions based on incomplete data and information for years. Advertising isn’t an exact science, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek to augment your data sets with more relevant data to make better decisions.
It’s the only way to stand out and succeed as markets become more competitive.
A report in plain English that can suggest actions on your ad management by combining all the data points listed previously, KPIs, zero party intent data, intent data combinations resulting in revenue generation, future predictions based on timelines, all in one place.
Formtoro combines all this for you, so you don’t have to.
Digital Ad Spend is expected to hit over $400 billion dollars a year next year.
In the last year, analytics have become less accurate; data sets have remained the same.
All solutions on the market serve to aggregate and compare data rather than combine it, and those that do combine it aren’t able to use the most valuable data set, zero party intent data.
As things become more complicated and require more resources, software like Formtoro redefines value across spaces that have historically needed a data analyst.
Zero-party intent data is the answer to leveling up in this new environment.
Deciding what questions to ask is the most crucial part of creating your forms. It’s what powers your zero-party intent data advertising machine.
Beyond the functionality, the bells and whistles, etc., if you’re not asking the proper questions that relate to intent at a time the form is being used to collect zero-party intent data, the results will be meaningless.
Here’s the exact framework we use when we’re creating questions to ask during signup.
What do you sell? Who do you sell it for?
Interest by product offerings/activities that are for offer
What are you interested in from [store name]?
People come for different reasons, the larger the store, the more options that someone might be interested in.
This one narrows down what kind of products or categories people are interested in, and helps with presenting content to them throughout their journey that is relevant to them.
Is there a preference from question 1?
This one is usually optional, depending on the breath of your inventory and what you stock.
Don’t go into too much detail here. Remember: it’s the customer journey, not the company asking for more information that isn’t relevant to the customer journey.
E.g., Fit, Materials, Cost, Color
What are the elements that you would like to know about how people view your product offerings/activities?
Benefits matter. Every marketer preaches that you should talk about the benefits or results of using your products rather than the product’s features.
It’s a positive way to ask about the customer’s pain points or the problem they are looking to solve.
When we ask what matters to people most in the product, they tend to answer with feature-related.
Once we have the feature mapped out, we can create the corresponding benefits and social proof that highlights the features and their benefits.
It’s a double whammy of knowing exactly what to send someone via email, retargeting, etc.
This is personally one of our best questions that we like seeing the answer to. It helps brands to create great content at scale and provides directions on a marketing strategy.
It also works to redo landing pages, product pages, and other touchpoints on the journey.
What quantity/frequency would give you the best value in an answer?
How many pairs of underwear do you own, how often do you play golf
Life in ecommerce is largely dependent on the repeat customer. If a customer owns a lot of something, a lot of brand of something, or frequently participates in an activity, it tells us the potential assuming a good customer experience of how often or how much of our goods we can sell someone.
It’s their capacity for purchase.
Would you like to know where people are in the funnel?
Because too many marketers assume that everyone is looking to buy today, and the data shows that only half the people that complete this question say today, and of those, only about 40% go on to purchase between days 1 - 12. (Internal conversion data from Formtoro)
It’s not bad, but it means that not everyone is ready to purchase for a few weeks or a few months, but they signed up anyway.
A few weeks usually means days 13 - 35 depending on your product offering, some are shorter some are longer.
We don’t keep data on people that say a few months because a good rule of thumb is if someone doesn’t purchase in the first 45 days, it’s not likely they are going to buy.
The response “In a few months” is statistically super small and you run the risk of someone losing interest.
All brands that have an email list benefit from using multi-step forms, they have a higher completion rate to data ratio of any other form of data collection. They allow brands to ask questions during one of only two intention points throughout the customer journey, an intention point being where a visitor types something in on their keyboard.
As we’ve outlined in great detail, zero-party intent data collection during signup is an absolute no-brainer for anyone looking to optimize their entire ad strategy effortlessly.
Data is worth more than the discount you provide in exchange for it. Marketers and Brands can leverage data across the entire stack; instead, a discount can only be leveraged on a purchase for one person.
When fully baked into your strategy, there are TONS of advantages from both an operational and organizational perspective.
With Formtoro, you can do all this in less than 30 days, just by swapping your existing signup form.