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Should I Use a CAPTCHA?
At Blue Corona, we always recommend using Web forms as opposed to email addresses on our clients’ websites. First of all, we find that most clients don’t get a lot of leads through email addresses on their sites anyway. In addition, using a Web form as opposed to an email address allows us to track which marketing source the lead came from—for example, through organic search, a pay per click ad, or as part of the clients’ direct traffic.
When it comes to Web forms, you have a lot of options to choose from. While websites for various industries definitely differ, it’s not hard to find best practices for designing a Web form to maximize the number of conversions—or rather, the number of people who fill out that Web form. And now that I think about it, I’ve definitely blogged about this exact topic in the past.
To summarize, the most highly converting Web forms do the following:
- Minimize friction: In this context (as opposed to the context of your son or daughter’s eighth grade physics class), friction refers to a psychological resistance to a given element in the sales process. The greater the friction experienced by visitors, the lower the probability of conversions.
- Reduce the number of form fields: The fewer form fields you require, the better. According to Neil Patel, optimum conversion rate for a form with three fields is 25 percent; 20 percent for forms with 3-5 fields; and 15 percent for forms with six or more fields.
- Have a simple layout: When it comes to designing your contact form, we recommend (and studies confirm) you keep your layout as simple as possible—this ensures that the user does not get distracted and abandon the form.
- Pre-fill information: Pre-filling contact form registration fields with information you already have from your returning website customers is a great way to increase website conversions and even collect additional information.
And finally—the point of this blog post: should you use a CAPTCHA on your Web form?
What Is a CAPTCHA?
I’d consider myself good at acronyms, but I’ll admit I didn’t even see this one coming; CAPTCHA stands for “completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart.” Essentially, a CAPTCHA is an anti-spam tool which works by requiring commenters to prove they’re a human and not spam software.
CAPTCHAs are designed in various ways—some require you to solve a simple math problem (although I know plenty of humans that can’t solve simple math problems) while others ask you to type a series of letters and numbers from a given image.
According to Google, “A CAPTCHA is a program that can generate and grade tests that humans can pass but current computer programs cannot. For example, humans can read distorted text as the one shown below, but current computer programs can’t:”
Fun fact: Google’s reCAPTCHA service helps reduce spam while also digitizing books, newspapers, and old time radio shows. “reCAPTCHA improves the process of digitizing books by sending words that cannot be read by computers to the Web in the form of CAPTCHAs for humans to decipher.”
Cool, right? K back to work now.
Do CAPTCHAs Actually Reduce Web Spam?
CAPTCHAs are somewhat effective at reducing Web spam. But as Web spammers become more evolved, they’re becoming increasingly capable of blocking and circumventing CAPTCHAs. According to Blue Corona’s Master of Web Ceremonies, Chase Wolf, “There are some really advanced robot programs that have been specially coded to bypass image-based CAPTCHAs now. So it is hard to say that even those are 100 percent effective.”
CAPTCHAs Reduce Web Conversions
Because CAPTCHAs are not 100 percent effective at reducing Web spam, we generally don’t recommend our clients use them on their Web forms—mostly because they also reduce conversions.
The extra step of deciphering a CAPTCHA can often be too much for some of your site users—potentially reducing your conversion rate. In a blog post on Moz.com, one writer reports an estimated 3.2 percent loss in conversions.
If you’re interested in increasing conversions, it’s important to minimize friction and obstacles that might prevent your customers from filling out a form. And if you do have spam problems on your site and have to use a CAPTCHA, make sure it’s one that’s easy to read.
Increase Your Website Conversions with Blue Corona
If you’d like to get more website conversions, we can help. Improving your website’s visit-to-lead conversion rate by just a few percentage points can have a huge impact on future leads and dramatically increase the value of each new website visitor. We’ve helped companies from a variety of industries double, triple, and even quadruple their website conversion rates.
Contact us today for conversion rate optimization services.
About The Author: Blue Corona's Editorial Staff is determined to help you increase your leads and sales, optimize your marketing costs, and differentiate your brand by passing on our tribal knowledge. The team vigilantly stays on top of the latest in digital marketing, bringing you the top insights with expert commentary. Want to see something on our blog you haven't seen yet? Shoot us an email and our marketing team will get to work.
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