Forms are how a website generates leads that result in increased subscriptions and sales. If the conversion rate is low then even the best designed website can suffer from the lack of leads. Poorly designed forms can cause visitors to give up filling in the necessary fields in frustration and even move on to a competitor’s website. To help you boost your form conversion rate and generate the leads that a website needs to be profitable here are 20 tips to help you get started.
20 Tips to Help Increase Form Conversion Rates
1. Number of fields – does that make a difference?
One of the most common questions asked concerns the number of fields on the form. In most cases you will have a higher conversion rate if you limit the number of fields visitors have to fill out, but there are exceptions.
A recent poll conducted by a research group found that forms pertaining to contact information or ordering had the highest conversion rate if there were only 4 fields to fill out.
While this is often not enough fields to garner all of the information you need, the research shows that you really do not want to add many more. On average it was found that only 6 percent of website visitors were willing to fill out a form with 19 fields simply to subscribe or place an order.
Where there are exceptions lies in the type of form used with contests and surveys and these are the ones users are willing to spend the most time filling out numerous fields and even multiple pages.
2. Your conversion rate will vary by industry.
It might be surprising to learn that conversion rates can and do vary by industry, but like everything else this can and does frequently change. Who is filling in the form can also affect the conversion rate regardless of the industry, but there are some base numbers though that can help give you a general idea of what to expect.
Sports, nonprofit, small business and technology websites should expect to see a form conversion rate generally between 19 and 13 percent. Government, education, media, and marketing and consulting typically have rates around 7 to 8 percent, while religious websites have the lowest at 4 percent.
If your conversion rate is slightly lower than you might need to “tweak” your form a little, and if it is higher than you are using the right one for your industry. It is also important to remember not to change your form every time conversion rates drop a little. While making occasional changes can have positive results if they are made to often you could run the risk of frustrating returning visitors. Once someone is used to a set form they can be easily frustrated if the fields keep changing.
3. Peak submission times.
There really are peak submission times for forms and finding the right one can have a significant effect on your conversion rate. Research has been extensively done by various organizations in order to find the best time users are willing to fill out and submit the various types of forms.
In general users are willing to spend time in the late morning filling out lengthy surveys and contact information is generally submitted in the late afternoon. Donation forms have a peak submission time around noon, while contests are frequently filled out during the evening. The best form conversion rate for registrations typically occurs in the afternoon.
Knowing when the peak submission times are for your type of forms can help you reach more users, which in turn will have a positive effect on your conversion rates.
It is also important to remember that these times are averages and that they can vary depending on your target audience.
4. Smart Forms – Do you have them ?
When you use form logic it determines what fields appear next to be filled in. Often referred to as “smart forms” they are quickly gaining in popularity with users, which means website developers should also be paying attention. These forms only display the fields that are relevant to that particular user, and are a great way to cut down on user frustration.
Smart forms are also faster and easier to fill out which always has a positive effect on your conversion rate.
For example if a user was only interested in electric lawn mowers the form wouldn’t include information on gas powered models. This not only wastes the consumers time, it can also cause a website to appear less than professional. One of the main advantages of online markets is that they are supposed to be easier and more convenient than physically going to the actual store or office, but if the form requires information that isn’t relevant to the user than there is a high chance that they could go elsewhere.
Smart forms are not only for businesses and marketing but they can have a positive effect in other industries as well.
5. Just pick a call to action that is meaningful.
Research has shown that even though users prefer everything to be simple, this doesn’t always apply to the “submit” button. While opinions vary on why this easy to understand word doesn’t always equal a high conversion rate, they are all in agreement that making it a little more interesting can help entice reluctant users to make the final step of submitting the form.
Some suggestions that have helped improve form conversion rates across all industries can include,
- adding the words “registration or application” after “submit” to help reassure users that they are filling out the correct form.
- Other words and phrases that also help increase conversions include “register now” and using “envoyer” instead of “send”.
While these changes might seem insignificant to you it can help entice users to finish filing out and send in the form.
6. Consider offering rewards.
As previously discussed studies have shown that if there is a reward offered users will happily fill out numerous fields and pages, which ensures that you get the information you need and benefit from a high conversion rate.
It is important to make sure that the reward being offered is worth the users time or else it won’t make much of a difference in your rates.
The reward can be anything from a free trial period for a useful too or access to pertinent information. Free downloads for e-books are always popular, though you do want to make sure that it is relevant to your niche. Small businesses can offer discounts to consumers that take the time to properly subscribe or fill out an order form, and many nonprofits find offering a small gift is an excellent way to increase donations.
Feel free to use your imagination and when visitors feel appreciated and are rewarded the chances of them returning can also increase, along with form conversion rates.
7. Consider using contest forms.
One of the easiest ways to boost conversion rates is to use contest forms. These forms are easy to promote on social media sites, and research has shown that users don’t mind filling out multiple fields if there is a chance that they could win a prize. Contest forms can generate new leads, engage users, and best of all they are easy to implement on your website.
Any industry can create or find a template for a contest form that is perfect for them. The same studies also report that if the form is placed on a Facebook page conversion rates could actually double.
8. Make a lengthy form stand out.
If there is no way around the fact that you need to use a long form, you can still have a great conversion rate simply by being creative. Some ideas that work in all niches include turning one long form into several smaller ones and presenting it as multiple steps to users. This helps to break up the monotony so users don’t become bored or feel overwhelmed.
Other ways to make your lengthy form stand out includes using a horizontal layout on some of the fields. This will help users stay engaged, and can also prevent eye strain. Another benefit to changing the layout is that it can make a long form appear just a little bit shorter. Allowing users to save the form and come back to it at a later time is another way to increase your conversion rate.
9. Test the layout of the form.
The layout of the form is important and it will have a direct impact on your conversion rates. How the form is laid out determines how easy it is to scan and fill out, and you want it to be as simple as possible. There are several layouts to choose from, and the right one for you may not be suitable for another website. Your industry and target audience will help you decide which layout is right for your website.
When you are testing the form layout it should be easy to scan and understand.
In some industries having a general message already in place can improve conversion rates, but it is important to remember that this same format might not be appropriate in others. Taking the time to choose the right form layout can help your conversion rates to increase significantly.
10. Remember to test the form CTA copy.
Even though the importance of the wording on the “submit” button has already been discussed, it also needs to be tested to ensure that you got it right. If it is not specific enough users can become easily confused, and if they press the wrong tab by mistake it could cause them to become frustrated and leave the website.
When you are testing the CTA copy be sure to keep an eye on your conversion rate and if it stays the same or decreases you probably need to make a few changes. If you still aren’t convinced that this is truly important consider the fact that one website increased their form conversion rate by 9 percent simply by tweaking the CTA copy.
11. Place the form above the fold.
You want to make sure that the form is located on the landing page and that it is placed above the fold. This ensures that it is easy for users to find so they can fill in the appropriate fields and send it in. If visitors to the website have to scroll down to the bottom of the page they could become confused at what the next step is or worse become frustrated and leave the website.
It only takes a few seconds to format your landing page so the form is clearly displayed, and the increase in your conversion rate will make you glad that you did.
12. The form headline should be a “call to action”.
Sometimes visitors to a website need a little prompting to take the final step and fill out the form, and this is when you need a headline that “calls them to action”. It doesn’t take a lot of thought or creativity to come up with an attention grabbing phrase, especially since you want to keep it short and to the point. Some of the headlines that have generated new leads, orders and subscriptions include,
- Sign up now for…
- Get your free…
- Register now for…
- Claim your…now
- Download your…
- Yes, I’m interested
- Save the date… or save your seat at…
These are just a few examples of catchy headlines that can entice visitors to take a few minutes and fill out the form.
13. Let users see how many form fields are required.
It is important to remember that online visitors can become impatient, especially when they are filling out a form. This is especially a problem for websites that have to use a longer form.
One innovative way to keep visitors engaged is to clearly mark which fields are required in order to successfully submit the form.
The most common and effective way is to denote an asterisk (*) in the required fields. This reassures visitors that the form is not as long as they think. If the field is optional simply leave it blank to cut down on confusion, and once you are satisfied with the format simply sit back and watch your form conversion rates increase.
14. Hide all previously complete fields.
This underused trick can help make long forms appear shorter when users are filling them out. It can also help entice visitors to return to the sight. Another advantage of using a “smart form” is that it can be set to save previously filled out information so returning visitors do not have to go through the entire process again.
This tip is especially helpful in increasing form conversion rates when the offers frequently change. Small businesses, marketing and nonprofits often see the best results when they implement this type of form on their landing page.
15. Take care to protect users’ privacy.
When your visitors are confident that their information won’t be shared with a third party they will be more likely to fill out the form which will increase conversion rates.
This is especially important for small businesses when the form also calls for users to enter their personal payment information.
16. Minimize any friction around the form.
The last thing you want is for there to be friction around or worse in the form. Friction can occur when a landing page of the form appears to “busy”, which can lead to confusion and frustration. If the area around the form is cluttered with graphs, charts and a lot of other information it can be easy for users to miss the actual form. Even the best worded “call to action” button can be overlooked if there is too much friction on the landing page. This is also true for the actual form.
Some tips to help you minimize friction include making use of “white spaces”. This helps to direct users attention to the form or the next field that needs to be filled out. Adding a bold colored “call to action” button will make it easier to encourage visitors to take the final step and submit the form, especially when it stands out against the white background.
17. Promote email sign-ups.
Sometimes it can be a little tricky to get people to give you their email, even if there are only a few fields to fill out. This is why it is important to promote email signups, and there are a few easy ways you can accomplish this.
As stated previously offering a reward is one quick and easy way to raise conversion rates, but you also want to give visitors a reason to sign-up in the first place. A few ideas that have brought positive results for other websites include,
- Limiting the number of required fields.
- Ensuring that there is a clear reason users want to provide their email addresses.
18. Don’t underestimate the power of social proof.
Most online users don’t want to be the only one filling out a form, and if they feel like no one else is doing it chances are they won’t either. Adding a simple phrase stating how many other users have taken the time to submit the form can have a dramatic impact on your conversion rates.
It is important to keep this information clear and concise. You don’t want to add friction in an attempt to show users that they are not alone. A small blurb that states the average number of users can help reassure visitors that they are in good company. You can also choose to use icons from guests or sponsors if it applies to your website, along with one or two brief testimonials from satisfied customers.
When users feel like they are not alone it is easier to convince them to fill out a form.
19. Avoid using “captchas”.
If you aren’t sure what “captchas” are this refers to the small confirmation code that was popular several years ago.
Some websites still use them and research has shown this can cause conversion rates to drop by as much as 30 percent in some cases. The problem with this seemingly random jumble of letters and numbers is that it can be difficult to read, and if each character is not entered in exactly it will continue to reset frustrating the user.
An easier and more effective way to reassure visitors that you won’t use their inform for spam is to simple use a double opt-in. This way users are still protected and you can enjoy the benefits from a higher form conversion rate.
20. Only ask for a password once.
Even though you can find hundreds of websites that require users to enter their passwords in twice, this does not necessarily mean that it is an effective way to entice visitors to enter in their information. Requiring the password to be entered twice is time consuming for the user since it adds an extra field, and the goal is to keep your form as short and simple as possible.
Allowing users to see their password as it is entered will help eliminate any mistakes, and also make your form appear shorter and easier to fill out.