Over the years, I’ve done a lot of work with form optimization. In this article, I’ll cover some tried and true form optimization tips. I’ve done most of my testing on the PPC side, but obviously, the information can also be used effectively to improve overall form conversions on websites.
1. Include A Privacy Line
In general, a privacy line below the form helps with overall conversions. Try something like “we respect your privacy” or “we do not provide information to third parties”. Other variables we’ve tested around the lead form do not increase conversions as much as this one does. Here, it’s the trust factor that tends to increase form conversion rates.
2. Go For Fewer Form Elements
Think of gathering information from a client not as an event but as process. The idea is to ease into a relationship with your prospects — you do not want to startle or put buyers on edge by asking too many questions.
For example, with a client who sells windows that block out loud city noises, we obtain basic information like name, email and phone number and follow up with an automated email that requests more information like the size and shape of windows (we provide easy diagrams in a follow up email).
Note: it’s best to send follow up emails sooner rather than later as a hot prospect is better than a cold one. In my testing, the sweet spot is between 3 to 5 fields.
3. Take Up Less Space With Form Fields
Don’t leave a lot of space in between form fields. The game is to have fewer elements on the page (as I mentioned in #2) and to try to incorporate more elements into a smaller space. Here are a couple ideas:
- Try 2 elements per line to take up less space. For example, ask for first/last name in one field rather than asking for the information in two separate fields.
- Reduce the amount of space between each form field.
Take a look at the Criteo.com screenshot below as an example:
4. Use Optional Form Fields
Use optional fields on your form to decrease the amount of information requested from the get-go from prospects. Prospects are able to provide more information if they’d like but they are not forced to.
One of my favorite “formulas” is the five-field form with 3 required fields and 2 optional ones. Take a look at suggestions below for some ideas:
- Name – required
- Email – required
- Phone number – required
- City – optional
- State – optional
5. Try A Two-Page Lead Form
Another great option is to use a two-page strategy. Again, encompasses the idea of not moving too fast.
A good analogy to think of here is dating. If you ask your date 100 questions right off the bat, you’re likely to freak out them out and not get a second date. It’s a far more effective to ask questions over a longer period of time (like over a second or third date) than to pounce all over your poor date the second you meet.
Criteo.com uses this strategy effectively. Take a look at the screenshots below:
Page 1 of form:
Page 2 of form:
Note: Two and even three page forms can convert better than one page ones.
6. Include A Lead Form Above The Fold
In our testing, the best place lead forms convert is in the upper right hand corner of page. I like to include a form at the bottom of the page even if it’s below the fold as it emphasizes the call to action and doesn’t hurt overall conversion figures.
7. Use Compelling Words On Submit Buttons
Specific and benefit-oriented wording like “get a free obligation quote now” and “get a quote now” tends to convert better than “click here” or a “submit” buttons.
Weaving benefits into the buttons is also an excellent way to reiterate benefits. You’ll likely have many wording ideas so the key idea is to test different ones.
8. Design Buttons That Convert
My absolute favorite button colors are orange and blue, as they tend to provide the best conversions. To determine appropriate button size/wording on buttons, step away from your computer and glance at your screen.
If size is appropriate, you should be able to see both buttons and wording on buttons if you’re walking by the computer. Optimizing for a smaller screen is best to ensure both laptop and desktop users can see buttons.
As I was writing this article, I attended a session on Form Optimization session at PubCon Las Vegas 2011. The final two quick form optimization tips are from Brad Geddes’s presentation:
9. Sentence casing is better than phrase casing
10. Don’t ever use CAPTCHA on forms
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.