Lead generation and conversion optimization go hand in hand. However, while both of these processes sound straightforward in theory, when it comes to tackling them in practice, a lot of websites make similar mistakes. One of the more prominent mistakes is not investing enough time, thought, and research to create high-converting forms.
Forms are an incredible way to collect leads and acquire conversions, yet some of the ones we come across online are too basic and difficult to decipher. They often take up too much space, too much time, and end up giving us nothing at all for our effort.
Let’s explore how you can avoid these blunders, and look at how you can create high-converting forms instead.
In this article
1. Consider The Fields You Need
Forms can serve different purposes: they can be used as a way to get in touch with your business, sign up for a service, sign up for a newsletter, provide feedback or complain about a product, and so much more.
No matter the purpose of your form, make sure you carefully consider the fields you’re going to ask your visitors to fill out. The general rule of thumb is: the fewer fields there are, the better, but this doesn’t mean you can just have two of them and be done with it.
First, consider the information you will need for each offer. For example, if someone is signing up for a newsletter, will a name and an email address suffice? If it’s a business inquiry, do you also need their website, brand name, business size, etc.?
You will always be tempted to add more fields and gather as much information as possible. However, consider the matter from the point of view of your visitor: how likely are they to share all kinds of information about themselves or their company with you, especially if this is your first contact? Do you really need to know how they heard about you at this stage of your communication?
Limit your fields to the absolutely necessary ones – and after you have entered into some kind of relationship with your visitor, you can always ask them something else. Also make sure you carefully consider which fields are the required ones – the more you demand from a user at the outset, the less likely they are to convert.
2. Split Into Multiple Steps to Create High-Converting Forms
If you do decide that you need to have a lot of fields for whatever reason (for example, a user is booking a facial treatment at your salon, and you need their personal details as well as details about the appointment itself), consider using a multi-step form.
These forms work well because they provide the illusion of a shorter form, making the process seem less demanding and time-consuming. This is an instant boost to user experience, and it is also a smart way to reduce form abandonment. Some users will simply not want to be bothered with a long form and give up as soon as they see one, while they may be perfectly happy to fill in a form of the same length if it’s in a multi-step format.
When designing multi-step forms, you should:
- Include the lowest-friction questions first, and save any more sensitive ones for later. That way, users will be more likely to answer them then, having already provided so much other information.
- Show a progress bar. It will help users get a sense of how much more filling in they have to do, and they will respond better and be more likely to get to the end of the form.
- Don’t ask too many questions at each step. Try to group similar questions together.
Splitting the process into steps will help you create high-converting forms for making purchases and filling out orders, but you can use this method for all kinds of other purposes as well, as long as splitting your form into more than one part makes sense for both yourself and the visitor.
3. Consider Your Copy
The words you use in your forms are incredibly important. They need to be more than just simple placeholders.
First of all, think about the introduction to your form: is there some text above the form that explains why a user should fill it out? Or in case of a short and sweet newsletter signup form, what text are you using to entice someone to convert?
Make sure you consider your target audience very carefully when crafting this copy. It needs to be prominent and eye-catching, and although users will spot the fields prior to the copy itself, most of them will still be reading what you have to say. So, you want to word your message in a way that will resonate with your specific audience.
If you end up saying nothing other than “Sign up to our newsletter,” some people will sign up, certainly. But if you choose to provide some encouragement (what the newsletter is about, how it will help them, what they will learn, and so on) and explain why it will be worth their while, you’ll notice a conversion boost.
You’ll also need to provide a clear description for each form field, without leaving room for doubt. You can reach for generic terms here (like “Question” or “Message” in a contact form), or you can be a bit creative and more brand-specific (for example, “Tell us how we can help you,” or something even more elaborate).
Finally, don’t forget how important your CTA is. Most websites will make it very generic with a simple “click here” or “sign up,” but the more creative you are here, the better your chances of getting a high-converting form. You want the CTA to provide value, be short and to the point, yet also stand out in a crowd.
- Try to use actionable words that are specific to your business and industry, but that will also be familiar to your users. Something like “book your blowout” for a hairdresser, for example.
- Emphasize the solution you provide and how it will help your visitor enjoy their life or work more.
- Try to inspire emotion when applicable, and emphasize the positive feelings they’ll get from clicking on that button.
- Keep your CTA between 90 and 150 characters long. Make it as clear and as succinct as you possibly can.
Make sure the person providing the information is aware of the next step and what happens after they complete the form. Will you contact them, and if yes, how? Should they expect to receive a confirmation email, a dispatch email, or none of the above? Knowing what to expect next will also boost your conversion rates and help inspire trust between your visitors and your brand.
4. Consider Your Design
To create high-converting forms, you’ll need to make sure they are as well designed as the rest of your website, so slapping one on simply won’t do.
When choosing the colors, fonts, and general appearance of your forms, make sure you start by considering your website’s overall design, and then design a form that matches it. You don’t want a form that is not one bit like the website it is placed on. Also, don’t forget that the form needs to stand out in some way, so you might want to think in terms of complementary or contrasting colors, white versus black, black versus white, and so on.
In terms of size, the purpose of your form should be your guide. If it’s an important conversion you’re trying to inspire, make the form larger. On the other hand, if it’s a form that has been reached via another conversion tool (i.e., the contact form on your contact page that has already been reached by someone ready to make contact), you can keep it less prominent and more subtle. In general, you want prominent and important forms to be placed above the fold, while forms of lesser importance can comfortably be located below it.
All of the elements of your form design are subject to A/B testing, so remember that you can always alter the details, including your colors, fonts, and sizes. Design one form you like and take it from there.
5. Emphasize Safety
Some users will be hesitant to share any information with you simply because they are afraid of how you’re going to use it, or that it might end up in the hands of someone they did not intend to share it with.
Not only that, but you should also actively ensure that the data you collect is kept safe from malicious individuals and third parties that have no right to view it. Implement clear rules within your own organization as to how this data will be treated. An SSL certificate is always a smart first step in ensuring data safety, but you can, of course, take further than that to make sure all the information you store is protected.
Speaking of security, you might also want to (re)consider your use of captcha, as they have a negative effect on conversion rates. As you certainly don’t want to forgo security altogether, try to find an alternative that ensures your website is spam-free, but without taking up too much of your user’s time when filling out a form.
6. Don’t Forget Mobile Optimization
Another common mistake often made when designing forms is not making them mobile-friendly or responsive.
No matter how prevalent (or not) your desktop audience is, you still need to ensure your form works impeccably on a mobile device. This is not only good for user experience (which should be reason enough), but it is also good SEO practice.
Your forms need to load well on a smaller screen – fit well on any screen size, be just as easy to fill out as they are on a desktop, and load fast. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Suffice to say you will need to devote just as much time and consideration to create high-converting forms for mobile as you did for desktop.
To do this right, you can utilize software specifically designed to create mobile forms to ensure you’re getting everything right and that there are no unpleasant surprises down the line.
7. A/B Test Whatever You Can
A/B testing is a term a lot of marketers throw around, and it sounds really complex, yet what it means is testing one element (in this case, a form) against another in order to measure their individual effectiveness.
However, the key is not to design three completely different forms and test them against each other. You need to be much more specific and measure one thing at a time.
Build one form you are happy with and then change just one part of it: the copy, the font, the color, the number of fields, the layout, and so on. Once you find a solution that works, move on to testing the next element, and repeat the process until you get a form that statistically has the best chance of working.
This process will certainly be time-consuming, but it’s worth all the effort as it gives you the highest chances of getting things right. If you are looking for the highest-converting form, A/B testing it is the way to go.
The use of forms is, in itself, an incredible way to boost your conversion rates. However, poorly designed and executed forms will simply not provide the results you’re after, and they may even prove to be a dissuading factor.
There are plenty of useful tools and apps to help you build your forms, but the shots are still yours to call. The steps and considerations outlined above will help you ensure your form is the best it can possibly be, and that it inspires plenty of targeted and relevant conversions that will take your business to the next level.