What can you learn from the $2 billion button

Can one button on your website make a $2.4 billion difference? Almost certainly not. But it did for Amazon.com, one of the world’s largest online retailers. The multi-billion-dollar figure is the estimated annual value assigned to Amazon’s patented* “Buy It Now” button. In the late 1990’s, when shoppers were given the option to bypass the checkout form process (with some restrictions, of course), the virtual megastore added a lot of zeroes to their bottom line. Estimates assign a five-percent yearly revenue bumpopens in a new window directly to the Buy It Now button, hence the $2.4 billion figure. The button was so valuable, in fact, that when other retailers tried to copy it, Amazon sued. Brands like Barnes & Noble had seen the financial impact of the quick checkout process and wanted a piece of the action. However, they were thwarted by legal action. As a result, web-based sellers either had to do without or pay licensing fees to Amazon. It wasn’t until late 2017, when the patent expired, that other online retailers were able to legally add the feature to their sites without paying to do so.

This online retail anecdote raises a couple of questions. Are all online forms bad? How many form fields are too many?

The answers? Of course not all forms are bad. In fact, they are the very backbone of e-commerce websites and can be important pieces of the marketing funnel. As for how many fields to include on your forms? That is much harder to quantify. There are hundreds of articles and blogs asking that very question. What is the perfect number of fields to increase conversions? For the hundreds of times the question is posed, it seems there are as many different answers offered. Here’s our answer: the right number of fields is as many – or as few – as it takes. Let me explain.

At uncommn, we’ve found that giving website visitors a quick option to express their interest has generated tremendous results for our clients.


We do this on our websites through quick interest forms. At their most basic, these simple forms require only a visitor’s name, email address, phone number, and their preferred method of contact. Dependent on our client’s wishes, some have opted to include a text box where visitors can request specific information or ask a question; others have a drop-down menu of topics to learn more about. Forms are linked to specific product or topic pages. Users’ submitted information is routed to the proper department and responsible staff members. The entire process takes the user approximately 60 seconds to complete, and it puts the ball in the seller’s court so that they can follow up with answers. Having an established follow-up plan and a team to respond in a timely manner is a crucial element of the forms’ success.

These brief forms have understandably resulted in a substantially higher number of submissions than any full-length applications or contact forms. We’ve also observed a significant number of the submissions coming from users viewing sites on mobile devices. We attribute that to the ease and speed of the mobile-optimized forms and how daunting some online applications can be. Of course, if a consumer has made his or her decision and wants to complete a full online application or complete a purchase, that option is also available.

We work with small business and not-for-profits, so the likelihood of this alternative form option adding billions to the bottom line is low. However, the theory is sound, and the application is clear. Let potential customers reach you in the method that works best for them. Giving them a choice in how they interact with your site shows that you value their time and understand how they think. While we are firm believers in the power of putting data to work in your marketing efforts, you don’t need and shouldn’t try to collect all that information at one time, from the initial touch. Keep the user’s time and their willingness to offer so much personal data in mind when deciding what to ask and when to ask it.

Want to learn more about online forms, digital strategy, responsive web design, or how to make your brand uncommn? Get in touch with us now!

June 19, 2018

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