Forms are a common component of web marketing – contact forms, whitepaper downloads, webinar signups, quote requests, the list goes on. But just because they’re common doesn’t mean they’re straightforward.
To get the most possible form completions (conversions) you can out of your web forms, it’s important to consider how they’re structured. Even small changes can increase your odds of getting a conversion.
Here are some tips for creating more effective forms, culled from our own experience in web marketing here in NJ and from our research:
1. Reduce the Number of Fields
No one really wants to fill out a form – what they want is the result they expect from filling it out, whether that’s an answer to a question or a link to a download. The less work a prospect has to put in to get that result, the more likely they’ll be to fill out the form.
Research from Hubspot shows that forms with only 3 fields converted best at 26%, but adding a 4th field dropped conversions to 18%. You may really want to know what industry or state your prospect is from, but if it’s not critical to sales, consider leaving fields like that off the form.
2. Make Your Fields Simple
Now that you’ve determined the minimum number of fields you need, make sure that those fields are the simplest kind possible. Hubspot also found that short text input boxes were generally accepted by users. But adding longer text areas that imply the need for full sentences, or dropdown selection boxes that require the user to search for the correct answer, negatively affected conversion rates. The implication is that the less users need to think about how they’re answering, the more likely they’ll be to complete the form.
3. Relax the Rules
Most forms validate fields by checking text input against a template – for example, making sure text in an email address field contains an @ sign, or that a phone number has the right amount of digits. Some forms take this a step further, providing three separate boxes for a phone number. But as Aaron Gustafson noted in his Smashing Conference talk I recently attended, The Features of Highly Effective Forms, what if the prospect has an extension or an international number? Instant error or, worse, an abandoned form. It’s best to keep potential traps like these out of your forms whenever possible.
Speaking of errors, two empirical studies published in Interacting with Computers in 2007 found that the ideal time to present error messages is after a prospect has completed the entire form. When presented with immediate feedback while still in the mindset of completing the form, people often simply ignored the error messages and ran into trouble when trying to submit.
4. Motivation = Conversion
Almost every web marketing campaign will include one or more contact forms, but they’re also the lowest converting type of form. According to research done by Formstack, contact form conversion rates sit as low as 1% in some industries, but contest forms convert as high as 35% and surveys convert at a rate of 14% despite typically having a larger number of fields. Informative content like whitepapers and webinars also offer incentive to complete a form. And the more desirable the result, the more likely you’ll be to get a completion.
If you’d like some help with your forms, your website or your marketing goals, just click on over to our own contact form. And please don’t forget to complete it!