Web Form Optimisation : The Guide You’ll Wish You Always Had
Let’s talk about web form optimisation.
As we all know, forms are the life and soul of the internet.
Whether it’s submitting an enquiry, logging into a website or placing an order. Nearly every website uses them in one way or another.
And If it wasn’t for them, there would be no enquiries or sales online.
That’s how important they are.
Without them, any transactions would need to be done by telephone. Which would be kinda rubbish.
Quick fact – did you know that 50% of marketers say inbound marketing strategies, such as onsite forms, are their primary source of leads?
This guide is for you if any of the following are true :
- You don’t yet understand how much opportunity there is by optimising your forms..
- You know your forms could be converting better and want to know how to do it..
- You’ve heard of web form optimisation but don’t know where to start…
- You are looking for relatively straightforward ways to increase your conversion rate…
If any of the above sound familiar then you should read on….
The problem with the majority of online forms is that it’s usually all about ME ME ME.
Not literally, but i’m sure you knew that.
I’m talking about when companies are creating forms for their websites, they are only thinking about themselves.
They only care about what information THEY want because it’s how THEY do things.
Well my friends, that’s not how you SHOULD do things.
And if you go ahead and create forms with no thought process behind it, then you run the risk of damaging your websites results.
Think about this, forms are probably going to be your users first interaction with your company.
We all know that first impressions count and if your form reminds them more of the migraine they had last week rather than a relaxing summer evening walk, things probably aren’t going to end well.
As a CRO Agency we really see the impact that web form optimisation can have on the conversion rate of a website. So today, i’m going to walkthrough how you can improve your forms which will hopefully lead to a higher conversion rate.
You are going to walk away with some straight up form-eezy knowledge, ready to go get those extra conversions.
You’ll have enough know-how to go ahead and optimise your existing forms or create a magnificent one from scratch.
Are you ready?
Different Types Of Web Forms
Not all forms are the same, there’s various different types :
- Lead Generation
- Contact Us
- Event Registration
- Lead Magnet Download
How many forms out of the list above does your company use?
If you took them out of your site completely, what would happen?
Yeah you’ve got it.
There would be no more sales.
No more enquiries for big deals.
Are you starting to see where I’m going with this?
It isn’t just about actually having a form either, it needs to be created where the users experience is the number one priority.
Unless you are one of the top 5 companies on the planet, it’s safe to say most people won’t put up with a lousy form.
Did you know that more than 67% of site visitors will abandon your form forever if they encounter any obstacles?
When people get to the point that they begin completing your form, they’re ready to go.
They’ve committed to engaging with your company.
So by fixing anything which is causing users to abandon your form once starting to complete it, will be some seriously low hanging fruit to pick from the conversion tree.
How it feels when you get alllll-those extra conversions
Web Form Optimisation Mistakes
As I mentioned earlier, the people that create forms are usually just thinking about one thing. Themselves.
It may sound blunt, but it’s true.
One of the biggest web form optimisation no-no’s is having too many fields.
Hubspot found that most forms in 2019 have an average of 5 fields, which also led to having the highest conversion rates.
Is all of the information you are asking for on your forms 100% necessary?
Do you really need to know their date of birth, shoe size and favourite football team all before letting them download your ebook?
I think we all know the answer to that.
Sometimes the blame isn’t actually down to the form creators, but the departments that handle what happens with the lead once it comes in. More often than not, they’ll want more information to make things a bit easier for them.
The intent of the user based on their position in your sales funnel should be reflected in the amount of fields that a form contains.
What this means is that if the user is expressing a low level of intent (i.e signing up to a newsletter) then less information should be asked for. But, if a user is requesting more information about a complex product or service, then a user would still be likely to complete a form that’s requesting more in-depth information.
The Fine Line
One reason to avoid asking for too little information is for lead qualification purposes. The less fields that there are on a form will usually lead to more conversions, but with that will come a lower quality of enquiry.
So rather than just the people enquiring that are interested in your service, you may find that you are also dealing with a lot of tyre kickers too.
Web Form Conversion Rate Statistics
Here’s some interesting form statistics :
- 76.9% of shoppers will abandon checkout forms.
- Multi-step forms can lead to a 300% increase in conversions.
- Form abandonment will usually be higher when captcha is being used.
How To Optimise a Form
I’ve broken down the steps to take to optimise a form into 7 parts. Get this right and you are on a one way train to more conversions and less abandonment.
But as with everything we do at Hello Clicks, any big changes that are made to a website should be tested. Take a look at What Is CRO? for more information on getting started with testing.
1.) Where To Place a Web Form
The best place to start is by deciding where on the page are you going to place your form.
And this answer as always is, it depends.
If you are asking a user to sign up to a webinar, then they are not going to need a lot of information in order to persuade them to sign up. The goal here should be to get the form in front of them as quickly as possible.
However, if your users are deciding on a new SAAS product to manage a 10,000 person company, then they will require much more information. Therefore if the user requires lots of information before deciding to progress to the next step, then your form would probably work best being further down the page.
That’s not to say that you can’t have a call-to-action button above the fold which takes them to the form, if they are ready to interact.
You may also decide to place your form in a popup, which you can open with various calls to action on the same page. Just remember if you implement a popup form, then you will need to optimise the user experience for EVERY device.
We all know how easy it is to go ahead and just ignore mobile users *sad-face* whilst we are sat on our lovely desktop computers.
2.) How Many Fields Should a Form Have?
As I mentioned earlier, when we’re designing forms here at HelloClicks, the amount of questions we use depends on the intent of the user and their current position in your sales funnel.
If the user is at an early stage in your funnel and they are downloading an ebook, it’s going to be a tough-sell to get them to submit anything more than their email address.
Formstack found that more fields doesn’t necessarily mean a lower conversion rate.
However, if a user has instead made a commitment by attending a webinar, reading a white-paper and are now ready to try your SAAS product, then their intent will be much higher. Therefore they will be much more likely to complete a higher number of fields.
As a rule of thumb, you should only be asking for details that you can’t do with out in order for the user to get what they are looking for.
Case Study : Imagescape were able to use web form optimisation to increase their conversion rate by 120%. They did this by removing 8 form fields and taking the total down to just 4.
3.) How To Phrase Your Questions
The questions that you ask on your form should be that simple, a ten year old should be able to understand them.
You should be clear about what you are asking for, without requiring any thinking from the user.
Here’s an example of the form on our website, it’s pretty clear what we are asking for right?
4.) Single Step Vs Multi-Step
This is probably one of the most common questions when it comes to creating forms is if they should be single step or a multi-step?
The answer is the same as i’ve said already and that is everything when it comes to optimising a form and conversion rate optimisation should be tested.
If you are asking more than just a few of questions, then it could be worthwhile testing splitting them out into multiple steps, where similar questions are grouped together, starting with the less sensitive questions first.
boohoo make it clear that their form is multi-step
5.) Progress Bars
As with the example above, progress bars allow your form-fillers to know exactly what they are letting themselves in for and should almost always be used on multi-step forms.
If a user can see where they currently are and how much is left to complete, it will remove the uncertainty of thinking the form requires much more commitment than they are willing to give.
6.) How To Display Help Text
Sometimes, users may need a bit of a helping hand to understand what you are asking for when completing a certain field.
There are a few different ways that you can display help text to users to help them out.
First of all, you can display a question mark which when clicked or hovered over, displays instructions on what information is needed :
Alternatively, you can display inline help messages whilst a user is completing the form :
The point here is that you should make it obvious to the user what it is and most importantly, you should actually do it.
7.) How To Display Error Messages
In my opinion, this is what makes or breaks a form. I can’t tell you how many forms i’ve submitted and there is absolutely no way on earth of deciphering why the form hasn’t successfully submitted.
Inline validation is one of the best ways to help a user out that is completing the form.
As a user completes each step, either a tick or a cross is displayed to show if they have completed the field correctly or not.
If they haven’t, some guidance can be displayed to help them correct the issue.
This also makes the user good as it gives them a feeling of achievement and potentially motivation to continue completing the form.
Your error messages should explain how to resolve the issue and not that they have done something wrong. Try to be of assistance rather than telling them that they have made a mistake.
Form Analytics Tools
There are a few tools available to you at the moment to help improve your forms success rate by finding out how users are currently interacting with them.
Formisimo is our goto when it comes to form tracking, it really helps with web form optimisation. This product allows you to see all of the data points related to form completions. Things like the most frequent field that forms were abandoned on or how different devices interact with your form. There’s a wealth of data available there.
Zuko is a more recent release from the company behind Formisimo. The reporting for this is a few levels up from Formisimo and much more insightful. This is ideal for larger websites.
Hotjar also offer a form analytics tool. Their tool allows you to track on a fairly basic level the progress users make through each form field and where drop-offs occur and the time that it takes to complete each field. This is ideal if you are just starting out with form optimisation.
Form Quick Fixes
Here’s a few quick fixes that you could try to increase your forms conversion rates.
Make sure that your labels are clear and easily understood. As well as this, it should be easy for someone to tell which field the label belongs to. Labelling should also be outside of the box – explain the reasons why.
There’s no reason for you to put your form labels in caps lock. Most people tend to associate this with shouting.
Make it clear to the user which fields are required and which of them aren’t. And if they aren’t required, should they really be on the form at all?
Start With Easy Questions
If your form asks for lots of high-commitment questions, it may make sense to use some easier questions initially so they don’t appear as daunting to them.
If you are going to use placeholders. Make sure that they are deleted as a user clicks into the field. It should also be clear that they are placeholders visually and the form should not be able to be submitted with them as values.
I really hope that you have found this post informative and are able to start taking steps to increasing your conversion rates straight away.
Please feel free to reach out in the comments section below with any questions or feedback.
Have you had any major wins when improving a form that you have been working with?