How To Optimise Forms for Better Lead Generation

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By Brad Harris - March 09, 2016

If you’ve been following the principles of inbound marketing for a while, you’ll be familiar with the concept of the conversion path. An appealing call-to-action button that leads to a landing page that allows you to capture visitor’s contact details before you deliver their exclusive content on the thank you page. 3 critical elements, right?

Well, yes, but let’s hone in on that landing page for a moment. It is after all the place where what I call ‘the marketing magic’ happens. And there is a very important step on that page.

It’s your form.

While your naturally brilliant call-to-action and landing page copy may have primed your visitor for conversion, your form can often be the key to your lead generation problems. The form is the last ‘hurdle’ for your visitor to accept your offer and therefore it needs to work hard to eliminate any remaining friction.

4 Reasons Your Forms Are Failing

1. Too many fields 

No one likes a time-consuming form. In fact, the reason we would usually take time to fill out an online form is because it’s easier and quicker than writing an email, or won't take too much time out of our day.

When you list loads of required fields in a form, it can become tiresome to use. This quickly drives people away, so focus on requesting the minimum amount of information in order to help you gather information about your visitor. Remember, forms aren’t only easy data collecting tools for you, they’re also an easier contact tool for your visitors.

2. Poor design

Just as much as no one likes a time-consuming form, no one enjoys a confusing form. Design can make or break a form in this regard.As mentioned above, a form is meant to be a simple and quick contact tool for your visitors, which means you want a design that guides them through the process in the shortest amount of time possible. You don’t want distractions, but simplicity, and you don’t want confusion, but clarity.

It doesn’t need to be difficult: Keep it easy to understand, with clear text and fields, distraction free and make sure that your “Submit” button is highlighted and easy to notice. Don’t overcomplicate it.

3. Poor placement

Continuing to address the confusion that arises around the design of forms, it’s only right to talk about placement. When thinking about your content and conversion process, you want to be effective in placing your form on a page. This means that you’ll almost always want to place your form at the end of a piece of content.

As the content is usually what drives your visitors to submit their details into the form, you don’t want to break up content with poor form placement, nor do you want to put it at the beginning of your content. This will force your visitors to search around on the page after reading the content in order to find the form again. Most will probably lose interest during the search and exit the page. So, track your visitors’ conversion process and place your form in the most efficient position. And if in doubt, place it at the end of your content.

4. Broken links

We’ve all experienced it. You click “Submit” and nothing happens. You wait a while and click it again, but still nothing. Frustrated at having to possibly reload the page and re-enter all your information, you rather exit the page altogether and get on with something else. Broken links are loyalty killers. 

Let’s have a look at everything you can do to optimise your conversion forms.

5 Simple Ways To Optimise Your Conversion Form

Location, Location, Location

A common mantra in real estate marketing – and equally valid in terms of form placement! Ensure that your form is not hidden below the fold (meaning that your visitor would have to scroll to see it).

Another tip is to give your form a little ‘breathing room’, using white space effectively, to help it stand out from other page content.

Unbounce.com, conversion rate optimisation experts, report that the upper right hand corner of a webpage is the conversion sweet spot for a form.

Creative, Clear and Compelling Copy

There are 3 areas to focus on here:

  • Your headline
  • Your field labels
  • Your call-to-action button

Use your headline to support your call-to-action. Replace dull, default ‘Complete This Form’ type headlines with more action-orientated text. Examples include:

  • Sign Up For XYZ Now
  • Download Your XYZ
  • Yes, I want  XYZ
  • Get Your Free XYZ

Use clear field labels. Formisimo, a form field tracking application, claims that up to 67% of your potential leads who start filling out a form don’t complete it. Reduce abandonment by clearly labeling your form fields. Use terms that your reader will understand and be able to respond to easily.

In your labels indicate which fields are required - usually with an asterisk (*) - as opposed to optional. Determine which fields you absolutely have to have in in order to establish meaningful communication versus those that are a nice-to-have, or that can be collected at a later stage. (I’ll get to this in a bit.)

Swap out ‘submit’. If you think about the word’s meaning, it isn’t very pleasant isn’t it? Who would want to ‘submit’ to anything? It feels very forced. Opt for more enticing copy that specifically outlines the action the reader is about to take. You can include a shortened version of your newly revised call-to-action headline such as, ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Register’. Anything but ‘Submit’!

Use Dynamic Fields

If you already have certain information about a lead it is possible – using HubSpot’s SMART fields – to show new fields to a known lead when re-converting.

This will allow you to build up a contact profile, collecting information and insight over time as opposed to asking for everything all at once, which may discourage an initial conversion.

Address Privacy Concerns

No one likes spam. As a result people are wary of parting with their personal details online. They may question what you are going to do with their information. Are they going to receive 564 unsolicited emails now?

Of course not! You’d never give anyone’s details away, right? So let them know that upfront. Include a link to your privacy policy in the form (usually found by the email address field) to prove that their information is safe with you - and be sure to stick to the GDPR rules.

Evaluate Your Form Length

While ‘shorter is better’ is the usual advice here, this isn’t necessarily valid for all of your forms. Long forms asking you everything from your name and address to what you ate for breakfast may deter any potential leads. Ask only for an email address and you may inadvertently be devaluing your offer in their mind. Your ideal form length will depend entirely on the type of offer in question.

People will consume different types of offers throughout their buying cycle (and beyond, as customers). For early research type offers such as checklists or infographics, you might only want to collect the person’s name and email address. For in-depth content offers relevant at later stages in the buying cycle, you can increase the amount of information requested.

The layout of form fields can also impact on the visual ‘length’ of the form. Labels placed alongside a field may help to ‘shorten’ the form while labels above the fields create a ‘longer’ looking form. This obviously doesn’t change the actual number of fields, however it can impact the length perception in the mind of the reader.

So those are a number of ways to optimise your forms. But remember that audiences differ from industry to industry and from landing page to landing page. The golden rule is to always be testing, tweaking and optimising not only your form, but also any element or aspect of your marketing that could lead to higher conversion and revenue! And if you're doing that, you're half way to a Growth Driven Design methodology - check it out if you're considering a website redeisgn.

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...my two cents worth

Teamwork.

It's a lot more rewarding when you work with like-minded individuals who keep you in-the-loop, are keen to share knowledge and who are passionate about turning-out a kick-ass product.

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