You have a killer business idea and are literally bubbling over with ideas for your new website: logos, marketing, types of services you are going to provide. You've got great traffic according to your analytics: high unique visitors, low bounce rate, good percentage of returning visitors. However, when you compare the number of visitors to the number of completed forms, the success buzz starts to wane. You know people are finding the form, but then they disappear off the flow path. How do you get your visitors to become customers if your forms keep killing off the visit?
Using forms to create conversions on websites has been around forever, but so has low conversion rates. Often they are seen as a necessary but ineffective element in a companies online marketing. It's kind of like the way we view having a land line... if you live out in the country... where there is bad cell reception. In that situation you might choose a land line so that you have a way to avoid being completely cut off from the world. It's not great, fun to use, nor does it fit in your pocket. Forms are not fun, but a very common tool in the marketing toolbox.
Hubspot's Dan Zarrella wrote a post showing the percentage of forms completed among various formats among Hubspot businesses. It's a great source of data and while a lot of it isn't much of a surprise, there are a few insights that are unexpected.
Asking For Too Much Info
This is not new but still needed because companies are still ignoring this. Keep your form fields to a minimum - the completion rate generally starts dropping off after 5. I worked for a company that had a lead form which was 3 pages long. It took users an average of 15-20 minutes to complete and less than 5% completed it. Rather than viewing your contact form as a sales closer, view it as an invitation to a discussion. It's more like a courtship at this point than a marriage proposal. Ask for just the basics rather than everything. Can you imagine if you started a conversation with someone by giving them a list 20 questions? [Glazed stare followed by slowly backing away from you...]
No End In Sight
Sometimes you can't get around having a contact form that requires for a lot of information (i.e. financial application). In this case, including a progress indicator like a 'percentage complete' bar (or the like) can make a big difference. Ever watch a video on a website that didn't show you how long it was or how far through it you were? #frustrating
In Zarrella's post he shows that the most discouraging form format to users were 'select boxes'. Apparently too many drop down boxes can kill the process quickly. Surprisingly, rate of completion was higher (though not by much) when drop down boxes were replaced with text boxes. Translation: if people are asked to fill out a form they want to feel like they are sharing real information rather than identifying which target market group they are a part of.
Those were the biggest takeaways I saw from the Hubspot data, but wait - there's more data out there than just Hubspot:
Required vs. Optional
Ideally, we want all the information we can get from a user to help make the 'sale', but in reality we probably don't need as much as we think we do. Identify what truly is 'required' vs. 'optional' information you need to start the courting process. According to Quicksprout's infographic, Expedia almost doubled their rate of conversion by making phone numbers optional on their contact form.
'Submit' Or 'Go'
According to Unbounce naming your button 'Submit' results in a 3% decrease of people actually submitting. Using "Go", "Register", "Send" as your CTA can increase your conversion. Maybe 'submit' just comes off to strong... remember, this is a courtship that is just beginning. Asking for a phone number by telling them to 'submit' is going to be a killer IRL and it's the case virtually as well.
Make It a Game
Gamification has hit the internet by storm and companies are starting to get very creative in how they apply its principles to their business strategy. Taking the boring and making it interesting and unexpected.
Take the company Are You a Human, for example, who are replacing the boring 'captcha' with games. What if you integrate badges that users earn as they complete the form? Better yet, they get badges for completing certain actions on the site that fall in line with your ideal users.
Give a Carrot That Solves a Problem
I see a lot of forms linked to receiving a white paper as an incentive. Offering incentives in exchange for information is great... if the incentive is truly worth it. If you have a low form completion with an incentive, you may need to rethink your incentive. A lot of white papers start with making a product more compelling to buy rather than offering what is the greatest need of the users visiting. A good white paper is going to solve a problem for a user... not just tell them more about the problem they are already aware of.
*Best way to 'rethink' is testing. You could send 1 question survey to your current client list and have them choose what option is most interesting to them.
Whatever direction you take with your forms, be sure to keep them up to date and analyze their effectiveness. Change it up and see what improvements you find and then keep improving. Form presence should not negate form improvement.
And remember, forms don't kill people. People kill people. Or rather, bad-UI-decisions-from people kill people.
Photo credit to Tom.