September 29, 2020

Are you in bad form? 10 ways to boost sales by improving your lead capture forms

What would your business be like if you were to get 10% or even 20% more leads? What if you were to able to do this without actually paying for more traffic to your site?

We often see businesses investing a significant amount of time, effort and budget into attracting visitors to their site, only to lose them at the final hurdle – the contact form.

The point is, getting people to visit your site is an expensive exercise. And the more engaged your visitors are with your website the more valuable they are to you. Think about it this way – a first time visitor who has just landed on your website is worth the cost of the click – what’s that, between $3 – $30? But what about the visitor who has spent 5 minutes on your site, read all about your services, and decided to get in contact – what are they worth now – $30 – $300? So, it’s safe to assume you are actively engaging your time and energy to ensure your forms are performing at their peak, right? …

Well this article will challenge you to put aside your “get more traffic” mantra and instead help you to create more leads with the traffic you already have.

There are three main components to consider when improving the power of your lead generation form.

  1. Fix the layout of your forms – make them simple and easy to use.
  2. Cut the fat – get rid of stuff you don’t need!
  3. Finally, reduce confusion and anticipate any concerns your visitors have.

Here’s 10 easy tips you can implement today to improve the performance of your contact form.

Fix the layout of your forms

1. Remove anything that has the potential to distract the user

Up until this point, you will have tried to make the user’s journey to this destination as attractive and accessible as possible – simple copy, creative design, clear messaging, easy click-through, low commitment actions… so it’s important at this critical stage to KISS (KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID). Remove anything that has the potential to distract or detract from your call-to-action. Things like banners, icons, links or product messages are all distractions from the main goal.

SimCity saw phenomenal results after A/B testing removing product banner at point of purchase. After removing the banner, which communicated a special offer, the conversion rate spiked by 43% as result of the simplified layout and clear CTA. And when you think about it, it makes sense, giving users less choice to click, means more chance to convert to a lead.

2. Avoid horizontal form layouts at all cost

Research shows that users are far more accustomed to scrolling vertically to fill out fields, as opposed to tracking across the page. A horizontal form layout will present a higher barrier to completion so keep it simple – avoid horizontal forms, or at least A/B test them!, a leading hotel booking and resort chain in Croatia, A/B tested this theory and found their conversion rate was 52% higher with a vertical form layout.

3. Keep multi-column layouts to a minimum

It’s also best to keep your form to just one column. Why? Research shows that multi-column layouts significantly increase the completion time of the form, which in turn can lead to a higher drop-off rate. This increased completion time is as a result of users inconsistently interpreting the layout of the fields; if you think about it, this makes perfect sense! It is far easier to simply navigate down the page, rather than taking the time to connect the fields with corresponding information. Again, it’s all about making the contact form as simple as possible to ensure we are maximising our conversion rate.

Get rid of stuff you don’t need

4. Keep your required fields to a minimum

Well this is an obvious one, but often overlooked! The less amount of information you require on your contact form makes it easier and less invasive for your user to complete. Essentially, you are removing barriers to completion with every field you exclude from your contact form. Consider including only the critical information you need in order to achieve the objective of the form itself.

An airport carpark service in Edinburgh, Flying Scot, did just that and the results spoke for themselves – 45.45% increase in users moving to the next stage of the booking process, and a staggering 35% increase in overall conversions.

These results make it clear that not only was the business requesting unnecessary information that was not actively contributing to the objective of the form (securing a booking), but in fact these required fields were creating a significant barrier to completion and hindering sales.

So ask yourself, do you really need all the fields on your lead capture form? Can any of this information be moved off the form, and captured by your sales staff?

5. Consider changing standard form elements to visual

Remember, users are time poor and filling out a lengthy contact form is often a challenging step to overcome. If something is unclear or not easily understood within seconds, a higher drop-off is likely to occur. Put simply, your form is moved to the visitors “‘too hard basket” within milli-seconds.

The good news is, humans typically find it a lot easier to comprehend visual communication. Well “a picture can say a thousand words” – quite literally, the human brain can comprehend an image, icon or button, quicker than they can read, digest and action a body of text.

Soccerloco put this theory to the test, replacing text and radio buttons with visual button icons. After split testing, they confirmed a 26% increase in conversions using a more visual contact form.

6. No CAPTCHA’s, ever!

Do you really want to make it harder for your customers to get in contact with you? While it’s easy to see the value in a CAPTCHA from a business point of view, it’s also important to consider the disadvantage of this field from a consumer’s point of view. A CAPTCHA can imply a risk of software viruses, creating an immediate barrier to completion for the user.

And they’re actually hard to complete! In one study 38% of people failed to complete a CAPTCHA first time. And from there things get even worse. 80% of second attempts fail!

There is plenty of evidence that removing CAPTCHAs increases conversions.

  • When Reddit removed CAPTCHA from its signup process they saw an 8% increase in sign-ups.
  • Animoto – a video creation app, A/B tested removing the CAPTCHA and saw a 33% increase in conversion rate.

So unless you have a sign-up service where SPAM is a seriouis problem, it’s best to avoid using CAPTCHAs. Or at the very least, taking the time to evaluate the risk vs. gain ratio, and consider alternative methods for spam reduction.

Reduce confusion and anticipate concerns

7. Use micro-copy to alleviate concerns and reduce risk

A great way to alleviate concerns for your user is to use micro-copy. Micro-copy is small instructions, or notes next to your form fields to help explain certain elements to users. It’s a simple process of anticipating your users’ concerns and alleviating them with a pre-empted explanation that resolves the issue. This is a great way to reduce the concern associated with providing personal information on the contact form, allowing the site to explain why it is required and how it will be used. Providing the user with this sense of security at point of conversion is a powerful tool to getting them over that final hurdle.

And interestingly, even explanations that “state the obvious” can increase conversions. For example a Harvard University experiment showed that people are more compliant when given a “reason” even if the reasons are self-evident. In that experiment, psychologist Ellen Langer asked three different variations of a single request to people using a photocopier. First, she asked “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” 60% allowed her to go ahead of them. When Langer was more specific and asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” the rate of compliance jumped up to 94%. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. What may is the third request: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”

The take-home, don’t be afraid to state the obvious when asking people for information!

8. Avoid using ‘Text in field’

While this is a great idea from a design point-of-view, and certainly a means of keeping the form ‘clear and clutter-free’ (best intentions assumed), this is actually creating more of a barrier than most of us realise. The problem is the text normally disappears from the moment you put your cursor in the field, leaving the user trying to remember what information they were supposed to input here. This can easily create confusion and deter the user from completing the field.

9. Make your form validation work for you (not against you)

To make the final stages of your conversion funnel work harder, it is best practice to validate the data in line with the fields and in real-time, as soon as the user tabs or clicks out of the field. Ultimately, this will mean a quick and easy process for the user to comply with formatting and mandatory information requests.

Think about it, there is nothing worse than having to re-input information over and over again as result of data entry errors. Remember to be clear when communicating the error to make it as easy as possible to user to amend and submit.

And think carefully about what validation formats you are using. One common error is validating phone numbers, requiring people to only insert numbers and no dashes or spaces.

What a pain for your customers!

10. Check mobile compatibility

Last but not least – make your form mobile responsive! Check your own Google Analytics and you’ll find that 40-60% of your traffic is mobile! So consider the small-screen experience for your user, allowing for touch-screen compatibility means an improved customer experience for those on the go!

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