Ditch Giant Forms for Multi-Step Onboarding to Increase SaaS Signups & Revenue

Here's the thing... people are lazy.

They are also busy.

Combine the two, and you have a recipe for people dropping out of your signup process.

Imagine this scenario... you are browsing around and find a cool software. You are excited!

Okay, let's sign up!

Oops, the kid is crying - gotta go.

The form looks long, and HN tab is beckoning - gotta go!

It may seem unrealistic, but this is the reality of every day browsing behavior.

People browse while cooking, while riding public transportation, while trying to tune out their significant other, or while on the toilet. Yep... the toilet!

Tiny moments and spare seconds stand between a signup and an eventual further exploration of your SaaS, and forever abandoning the excited state.

We'd all love to imagine that our prospect is sitting in the office with 5 hours to go in the day. Back firmly against the chair, perfect posture, huge screen perfectly lit and plenty of time on the clock. Sitting there... signing up for your awesome product.

These conditions, while true in some cases, are completely absent in others.

Now... imagine this:

You're on your tiny phone screen, outside, with the sun reflecting - making hard to see. You walk down the street or from your car to the store, looking at this SuperNewCoolThing.ai and want to take it for a quick spin.

The ONLY thing that stands between it, and you, is the email field.

10 seconds and you're in. Well, maybe. But... even if you ditch the flow now, I can follow up and get you to come back.

Why Multi-Step Forms Increase Conversions

You should try breaking up your form - at least as an AB test. Here is why:

  1. The first step is perceived as easy. One field, or 10 fields, which are you more likely to start with?
  2. Email capture allows for follow-up. And since most will collect the email first, your list will have more prospects.
  3. Multi-form steps delay hard questions until the prospect enters enough information to be invested in the flow.

Tips for Multi-Step Forms

  1. Keep them short — just because you are breaking up the form doesn't mean you can make it long. People will still get annoyed if the forms are too long.
  2. Collect emails up front so you have a way to follow up with those who abandon.
  3. Start with easy fields and build up the momentum to the more difficult ones. Name, Email, these are things we'll give away without thinking. But asking for a phone will get many to pause and think if they actually want to give you their number. By building up the momentum to the difficult questions, the user is more invested in the flow and is more likely to provide sensitive information.
  4. Consider using a modal or a script that does not reload the page on each step. This may help the form feel snappier and faster.
  5. Let users go back to the previous step and save their answers so they can go back and forth without resetting the steps.
  6. Allow people to preview their passwords to avoid typos (this way you only need to ask for the password once).
  7. If using a modal, try a larger modal. Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that larger models convert slightly better than small ones.

Downsides of Multi-Step Forms

Yes, there are actual downsides of multi-step forms, and they are particularly pronounced in complex B2B fields with a lot of data needing to be specified.

In the B2B space, the top of the funnel is less of an issue because a lot more research goes into selecting the right vendor. When the prospect is ready to make a move, a lot of times they'll use auto-fill to get all of their info into the form.

In short, multi-step makes it harder to fill out forms with autocomplete. This is mostly problematic in technical / engineering related SaaS — where the end user is highly technical and enjoys using shortcuts like autofill.

Personally, I would just test to see what happens, and if you see any adverse effects you can always revert back.