Why your CAPTCHA is killing conversions

We are not a fan of CAPTCHAs; plain and simple. More often than not, they confuse users and hurt conversion rates. Sifting through SPAM is irritating and time-consuming, but it’s better to get more SPAM and conversions than not to. It’s also worth mentioning that spambots have figured out how to bypass CAPTCHAs. Of course it’s not 100%, so the CAPTCHA is somewhat effective, but it’s also effective at discouraging your real live human users from completing your forms, signing up, or buying something.

We’ve been particularly interested in this subject as of late with some of the Web development projects we’ve been doing, and as such we’ve spent considerable time researching CAPTCHAs and their impact on conversions. The short story is that CAPTCHAs kill conversions. Below are some additional articles and studies that further illustrate this case.


CAPTCHAs’ Effect on Conversion Rates
Source: http://moz.com/blog/captchas-affect-on-conversion-rates

  • 2,134 total conversions were entered while the CAPTCHA was off.
  • 91 total SPAM conversions while the CAPTCHA was off.
  • 0 total failed conversions while the CAPTCHA was off.
  • 2,156 total conversions were entered while the CAPTCHA was on.
  • 11 total SPAM conversions while the CAPTCHA was on.
  • 159 total failed conversions while the CAPTCHA was on.

Results:

From the data you can see that with CAPTCHA on, there was an 88% reduction in SPAM but there were 159 failed conversions. Those failed conversions could be SPAM, but they could also be people who couldn’t figure out the CAPTCHA and finally just gave up. With CAPTCHA’s on, SPAM and failed conversions accounted for 7.3% of all the conversions for the 3 month period. With CAPTCHA’s off, SPAM conversions accounted for 4.1% of all the conversions for the 3 month period. That possibly means when CAPTCHA’s are on, the company could lose out on 3.2% of all their conversions!

Having a CAPTCHA is Killing Your Conversion Rate
Source: http://moz.com/blog/having-a-captcha-is-killing-your-conversion-rate

CAPTCHAs are designed to be easy for humans but hard for machines

…according to a study carried out by Stanford University into the use of CAPTCHA by humans. Yet, by testing more than 1,100 people, gathering 11,800 completed surveys, and studying 14,000,000 samples from a week’s worth of data from eBay, they revealed just how difficult CAPTCHA has become for humans.

The study showed that, on average:

  • Visual CAPTCHAs take 9.8 seconds to complete
  • Audio CAPTCHAs take much longer (28.4 seconds) to hear and solve
  • Audio CAPTCHA has a 50% give-up rate
  • Only 71% of the time will 3 users agree on the translation of a CAPTCHA
  • Only 31.2% of the time will 3 users agree on the translation of an audio CAPTCHA

With around 1% of the audience currently using audio CAPTCHA, this is potentially a huge market to lose.


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