This a guest post from our friends at Conversion Hut. Their founder Dale shares his advice on “How To Create and Optimise The Perfect Form”
There are few elements on a website that are more influential than a form. This is the section of your site that’s a gateway for users to take the steps to become a customer. Forms play a crucial part in the customer acquisition process.
In this post I’m going to walk through some key points to remember when you are building a form. As well as this, I’ll be covering how you can optimise your form to increase the number of conversions you receive.
Why Are Forms Important?
Your form plays a big part when users first make contact with a company. It isn’t just important for a form to be included on a website. It’s also crucial that any forms are well optimised to encourage as many form conversions as possible.
At Conversion Hut we are constantly working with forms and trying to improve their performance. One thing that we often see is the form not being given the attention it deserves. It is often overlooked as something which doesn’t have any influence on conversions. What I know from my optimisation programs is that the less friction that exists between a user and a form then the higher the conversion rate will be.
Types Of Forms
The most common forms on websites are:
- Lead Generation Forms
This type of form will collect some information from a user and pass it on to your sales team to follow up with. For instance, you could be selling a service and a user will request a quote for you providing them with that service. The user completing the form will usually submit several pieces of inputted data. That person then becomes what is known as a lead.
- Checkout processes
This is the type of form that you will see on an e-commerce store. A checkout form will collect some basic information, including the delivery and billing address of the buyer as well as their payment details. Once a user submits the form, they complete a transaction and become a customer.
- Contact Us
A contact us form is exactly what it sounds like.
It’s the form on a contact us page that a user submits their details and a message through.
This is often used when a user is thinking about becoming a customer, but they may have additional questions which aren’t being answered on the website.
A sign-up form is when a user signs up for something. They may be signing up for a trial of a SAAS product or a maybe a mailing list.
A donation form is similar to a checkout form but with the addition that they are including extra fields which will require user input. So this may include the amount of money that a person is going to donate, as well as whether their donation will be anonymous or if their details will be displayed.
- Event Registration
This may be for an online event like an event like a webinar or an offline event like a meetup.
What’s the difference?
The difference between all of the different ways forms are used is they all require different amounts of data from the person completing them, and the conversion rate will differ significantly. A conversion rate would usually be much higher for a signup form for a webinar as opposed to the purchase a luxury holiday.
The probability then of more users signing up for a webinar from the total users who see the form is far greater.
Average Conversion Rates By Industry
Following on from this, we can use data to back this statement up.
You will be able to see below, the image shows us the conversion rate depending on the type of form. (Source: Marketing Charts)
The 4 Questions to Ask
Before we begin creating a form, we need to answer 4 questions in order to give ourselves a solid foundation to start with:
Question One: Where will your form sit within the page?
Deciding where the form goes on your page is going to depend on what the forms task is. And there’s really only going to be two main places for it to go. That’s above the fold or below the fold.
If it’s for something requiring low consideration (lead generation or contest entry etc) then a form that exists above the fold will usually work best as a users attention can instantly be focused towards it with little or no additional content on the page being required.
Below the fold forms are used when there is more consideration required. Products like enterprise software or an expensive purchase, where a user needs more information before they make a commitment to buy. The form would then be placed at the logical point that you would expect a user to be asked to complete the conversion action.
Question 2: How Is Going To Be Displayed?
Next up, we need to decide how the form is going to be displayed.
First of all, we can decide if we would like to display the form on the page itself like below :
Or if the form is going to be displayed in a popup window :
You may also take users to an external page that’s hosted elsewhere to complete your form. For instance if your form used a 3rd party tool like Typeform or Survey Monkey.
For ecommerce it’s slightly different. It usually wouldn’t make sense to have your checkout process in a popup due to the higher risk of a technical issue.
Question 3: Single Step Or Multi-Step form?
Next up we need to decide whether we’re going to be using a single step form like below :
Or a multi-step form as shown below :
There are advantages and disadvantages when considering single step versus multi-step.
In favour of the multi-step form, it abides to the Sunk Fallacy – “the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it”.
Based on this theory, if users start your form (by beginning with easy low commitment questions) then they will be more likely to complete it.
Multi-step forms really favour situations where quite a lot of information is required from a user before they submit the form.
I’d always recommend testing various options to see which one works best for your website or landing page.
Question 4: Which data will we ask users for?
Deciding what questions to ask on a form should be based on what matters most to your business. The more fields that your form contains, more commitment and motivation is required from your users in order to complete it.
In other words, users will be less likely to abandon forms containing less fields.
Our rule of thumb is to ask just enough questions as to ensure the quality of the lead but not so many questions that it even causes motivated users to abandon the form.
It’s also important not to over complicate the questions that you ask and make them as easily as possible to understand.
You’ll want to group related questions together and save the most sensitive questions for the very end of the form.
How Will Error Messages & Help Text Be Displayed?
When creating your form, you’ll have to also pay close attention to how your help and error messages are displayed.
Your help messages are additional instructions that you give to your users, so they can understand a bit more about why you are asking the question or what’s actually required to complete the answer.
Next up we have error messages. More than likely, a percentage of your users won’t successfully submit the form on the first attempt.
So when an error occurs, it’s important that not only it’s clear that an error has occurred, but also a helpful error message that assists them in being able to correct the mistake and submit the form successfully.
By now we should have the foundation of what it takes to design a high-converting form.
There are things that we can do to optimize the form in order to get the most amount of conversions possible.
That’s where Form Analytics becomes important.
Optimising Your Form Using Form Analytics
A huge part of conversion rate optimization is analysing Quantitative data.
This is means that we’re looking at the numbers to see if we can gain any insights into what we can improve in order to increase conversions.
Form Analytics give us the ability to track what users are doing whilst they are completing a form.
Here’s what CRO Expert Karl Gillis has to say :
Using the Formisimo tool we can set up form analysis, so we can start to see exactly what’s going on with our forms. We can start to gain insights into the following:
- Which Fields Do Most People Drop Off From?
- Which Fields Do Most Errors Occur?
- Which Fields Are Users Spending The Most Of Time On?
- Is this because it’s hard to understand or use?
- How does the analytics data differ between devices and countries?
Once you have these insights you can take them and begin looking at what you can do to improve the experience. They aren’t going to tell you what to do though. Instead they are going to fuel ideas of what needs optimising and where to focus your attention.
So once you have your list of insights of where potential issues are arising, you can put a plan together of how they are going to be addressed to increase your forms conversion rate.
And We’re Done
I really hope that you’ve found my post useful and you are able to take some of these insights to go ahead and create high converting forms or optimise your existing forms to increase their results.
Thanks to Dale from Conversion Hut for sharing his thoughts. If you want to continue reading about conversion rate optimisation, take a look at his guide to What is CRO