Optimizing forms for greater conversions
Great usability centers on conversions. No matter how effective the lead generation campaign, or how advanced the marketing automation software, conversions require forms.
Generally, the online customer experience of the form can make or break the conversion.
Forms are absolutely critical and must be optimized to ensure the greatest conversion rate, highest sales figures, biggest company growth and happiest boss.
Whether it is a contact form, order form, event registration form, subscription signup, survey, or any other kind of form, there are optimizations that can make forms more effective and generate more conversions.
Nine form elements that must be carefully considered, optimized, tested, and then optimized again include:
1. Descriptive Form Name
The title of the form should describe the result of the form and use action verbs.
Test a phrase like “Fill out the form below to view our demo video” against a short and simple “Demo Video” and see which one performs better. Here is how Pardot, Salesforce.com’s marketing automation company does it:
2. Fewer Form Fields
The guiding principle here is simplicity: the fewer the number of fields, the better. Of course, the sales department wants more information but as a marketer, you must insist on displaying fewer fields. In fact, HubSpot’s study of 40,000 landing page forms showed that forms with three fields had almost double the conversions of pages with four fields.
When applied to the Pardot form above, which form field could be reduced? Perhaps, since Pardot and Salesforce are global companies, removing the “Country” field could lead to a much higher conversion rate.
3. Strong Copywriting
Our choice of words makes a big difference on our form conversions. The words we use on our forms must covey value, so focus on the benefits you can offer to your target audience. Remember to always view your forms through the lens of your target persona and ask “what is in it for me?”
Michael Aagaard, Senior Conversion Optimization Consultant at ContentVerve, shows this brilliant example: by changing the copywriting on the lead form for bettingexpert.com, signups increased by 31%.
4. Noticeable CTA Buttons
Your form is typically the last step in the conversion path and your button is typically the last step on the form. Use it wisely! Tests show that buttons with “Submit” or “Send” do not do as well as those with actionable calls to action.
Like the Pardot example, use words such as “Watch Demo Video” or “Download this ebook.”
CTA buttons should always be formatted as a button (not a text link) and be designed to catch the eye.
5. Mobile Compatibility
According to SpeckyBoy, in the US in 2014, 90% of adults had a mobile phone, 58% of them owned smartphones and 42% owned a tablet. Smartphone ownership worldwide in 2014 was 1.75 Billion.
In other words, smartphones and tablets are everywhere you look. While statistics differ based on the type of product you are selling and the audience segment you are targeting, chances are, a good portion of your visitors access your site from a mobile device. Make sure your site and your forms are optimized for mobile.
According to conversioner.com, if your site is not optimized for mobile, 40% of your users will leave your site and click on another search result, 45% will turn to a competitor and 57% won’t recommend your business.
6. Placeholder Text and Labels
There is a trend to replace form labels with placeholder texts. However, in-depth studies show that this is detrimental to conversions for several reasons, such as strain to the users’ short-term memory and less noticeable fields.
Therefore, use field labels instead of placeholder text on your forms, place labels above the fields and align them to the left, like this form used by mixplanel:
7. Inline Form Validation
When errors occur, display the help information with inline validation, which shows the information right next to the field with the error. According to a study, inline validation offers better user experience because users are “faster, more successful, less error-prone, and more satisfied.”
Consider processing errors the way unbounce.com does:
8. Test Dropdown vs. Radio Buttons
When MarketingExperiments.com tested radio buttons against a dropdown to determine which ones created friction, “a psychological resistance to a given element in the sales or signup process,” it turned out that radio buttons outperformed the dropdown option by 15%.
Make sure to test both options on your forms to see which converts better for you.
9. To Captcha or Not to Captcha…
Though captchas were created to solve trust, spam, and robot issues, they seem to have the opposite effect and are often viewed as annoying and tend to decrease conversion rates, leading users to conclude that only sites with spam problems use them.
Video app animoto ran a test with and without a captcha on their form and discovered a 33% uplift in conversions when they removed the captcha.
Increasing Conversions with Form Optimizations
When optimized, these nine elements can greatly affect form conversions. However, there are no guarantees, so test every element you optimize for its online customer experience effects. Test the impact of your optimizations on conversion rates, bounce rates, time-on-page, customer satisfaction, referrals and any other customer experience metrics that are important to you.
About the Author
Maya Nix is the Marketing Content Producer for ClickTale, a technology evangelist in the growing field of digital customer experience. Maya applies her strong background in crafting a variety of content deliverables for the online industry to develop ClickTale’s thought leadership content. Maya holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from Tel-Aviv University and LL.B degree from Dalhousie University in Canada.