Website forms can serve many important purposes, from simple contact forms and blog or newsletter subscriptions sign-up forms, to customer feedback and landing page forms.
Among the most valuable uses for forms to support any inbound program is lead conversion. When designed and deployed effectively, web forms serve as key lead generation tools.
The overarching goal of lead gen forms is to convert an unknown website visitor into a contact, creating a new prospect for marketing and sales efforts. Conversion form optimization can help ensure your forms deliver those leads.
So, how do you know if your forms are working to their best potential? And what are the most effective form conversion rate optimization (CRO) steps you can take to improve performance?
Here, we’ll break down some basic approaches for assessing CRO opportunities for your website forms, as well as proven conversion rate optimization best practices to improve their contribution to your inbound growth strategy.
How to Tell If Forms Are Generating Inbound Leads
The forms throughout your website should consistently garner submissions from new contacts and returning website visitors. Make a regular practice of checking on form submission rates. This shows you when forms need to be revisited and optimized to make sure they deliver as many high-quality leads as possible.
Pay attention to bounce rates and exit rates of landing pages; they can help you see whether a form on a page could actually be deterring visitors from converting, rather than convincing them.
A number of conversion rate optimization tools can help you assess performance of many different website elements to see what’s really contributing to successful lead conversion for your inbound program. But when it comes to website form CRO, the following approaches can help you make substantial improvements.
7 CRO Steps for Better Web Form Performance
1. Make Sure Your Messaging Hits the Mark
Take a look at your landing page and form, and ask yourself the following questions:
Can a visitor to your website easily understand how they stand to benefit from filling out your form?
Is it easy to predict what happens next — for example, will they get access to a PDF download, or will an email be sent to the address they provide?
Should they expect a contact attempt from someone on your team? If so, will it come in hours or days?
Without a doubt, you’ve already put effort into making this information clear on your landing page, but visitors often merely skim landing page content, so they could miss those details.
That’s why it’s essential to make wise use of your form headline copy. Rather than an old standby like “Fill out the form below,” use more benefit-focused, engaging language like, “Claim Your Guide Now,” or “Request Your Free Consultation.”
2. Reconsider Form Placement on Your Landing Page
It can be easy to fall into a landing page design rut, especially if you’re relying on a practice of cloning an existing page or using a template to get started creating a new landing page. Your form location is likely pre-built into your template, so you might feel bound to the design.
But you can modify the template and experiment by moving the form’s placement around, to see if another location on the page attracts more eyes — and more conversions as a result. In general, forms perform better when they’re above the fold on your page.
If you really can’t get your form to land above the fold, an anchor link placed higher on the landing page may help direct users by making it easier to drop down into the form section. This is especially useful on web pages such as your Contact Us page, or very specific, targeted landing pages that house bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu) offers.
Heat map tools like Lucky Orange and Hotjar can show you where most users scroll and track on your web pages. This can be incredibly useful information when deciding on where to relocate a web form on a landing page.
3. Reduce the Number of Form Fields
If a form is underperforming, it’s possible that you’re simply asking for too much information from visitors. This can feel intrusive, especially for first-time visitors to your website. Ask yourself whether you really need to collect all the data you’re asking for at one time and in one place.
Consider shortening your form to include just a first name, email address, and company name. Remember, you can continue to nurture leads with follow-up email communications to encourage subsequent form conversions once a new contact has been added to your CRM database — so keep an open mind about saving the deeper qualifying questions for later interactions.
HubSpot’s progressive form fields and smart content make it easier to show contacts specific form fields based on what they’ve already provided in previous form conversions.
4. Offer Your Form Users Visual Cues
Consider how you can help your form user better anticipate the form completion process. Your options might include:
A progress bar
“Percent complete” information
Headings like “Question 2 of 4”
Providing this information demonstrates respect and empathy for your user. You want them to feel confident that they can quickly and easily get to the end of the process, so they don’t begin to feel uneasy about giving you their personal information and abandon your form prematurely. Here’s a nifty example from HubSpot’s State of Marketing page:
5. Don’t Forget Mobile Device Users
With the growing use of mobile devices for accessing B2B websites, it’s essential to keep in mind mobile form design strategies. Keep in mind these basics:
Small screens offer less space, so single-column forms are likely your best bet
With less room for information and explanatory copy, simpler may be better
Mobile users may be rushed or multitasking, so keep required fields to a minimum
Not all users are great with their thumbs, so mobile users may have higher rates of input errors
With HubSpot, it’s easy to preview content on different devices, so there’s really no excuse for a poor mobile user experience.
6. Build a Better ‘Submit’ Button
How many forms on your website use terms like “Submit” or “Download” for your buttons? This can be an easy content rut to fall into — and fortunately, it’s easy to get out, too. Consider more human-sounding, inviting language, including:
Send Me My PDF
Claim Your eBook
Show Me How
Calculate My Results
This is a simple way to make interacting with your form a unique and even memorable experience. Just make sure your button language suits both your offer and your intended buyer persona.
7. Ditch the Form Altogether
I’m not suggesting you get rid of all your conversion forms. But take a look at each specific form on your website and ask yourself, is a traditional form the best way to gather this information? After all, you have other tools to consider, such as a pop-up form or even a chatflow.
By experimenting with other ways to collect visitor information, you may land on a more effective tool for a specific scenario.
Document Changes and CRO Impacts
There’s no shortage of available tactics and tools you can employ to help optimize conversion rates of the various forms on your website. But when you do choose to revise a form, be sure to keep records of what you’ve changed, when the change was implemented, and baseline performance metrics before you implemented the change. That way you can measure which tactics and tools work best.
Remember to startsmall and limit variables to help you better understand exactly which changes have the greatest effect on lead generation results. You won’t get useful information by modifying every element of every form at once.
Conversion forms are an essential part of an effective B2B website that attracts, engages, and delights visitors, and converts them into leads — but they’re just one aspect you need to consider. Our checklist, 10 Key Elements of an Inbound Website, can help you take a systematic look at improving the most important components of your online presence to support inbound success and business growth. Click the link below to get your copy.
Posted by Laura Sheptoski Laura is a detail-oriented consultant and project manager, with a background in public relations, social media engagement, and client content creation. Prior to her time at Weidert Group, Laura managed PR for an industrial services company, and maintains a strong focus on earned media within our inbound marketing programs.