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11 massively doable ways to increase conversions with better forms

Authors: Jay Baer Jay Baer
Posted Under: Digital Marketing
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I recently collaborated on my friends at Formstack (a very nifty system for creating and managing smart, online forms) on a free Webinar to help marketers see all the ways they could be improving their results with form tweaks.

We spend a lot of time, energy and money to get people to visit our websites and landing pages, but it many cases we then undercut those efforts with forms that are at best “sub-optimal” and at worst “total crap and impossible to use.” In general, we don’t spend enough time thinking about conversion rate optimization and the impact of forms on that critical metric.

Marketers worry too much eyeballs and not enough about actions. (click to tweet)

11 Massively Doable Ways to Increase Conversions with Better Forms

1. Optimize your layout
Just glancing at a long, overly-complicated form is enough to make many people (including me) seek the solace of the back button. Even something simple like running your fields horizontally instead of vertically can make your form “feel” a lot less daunting.

2. Boost trust
Submitting ANY form is a vote of confidence. Simple steps like providing a prominent link to a privacy policy or including third-party credibility boosters like security badges can increase trust and correspondingly, conversions.

3. Let them know what they are getting into
What exactly am I signing up for? That sentiment – all too common – is a conversion rate crusher. Clearly describe what will happen when the form is submitted, and if you are asking for subscriptions to an email publication or similar, the best practice is to provide a link to a sample issue.


4. Give your users one clear reason to submit
It’s easy to fall into the trap of providing 6 rationales for taking action. Don’t. Test your messaging and once you know what works keep it simple, and keep it consistent. If your form pages include many instances of the words “also” and “plus” you are probably violating this principle and diminishing your form completion rates.

5. Don’t make prospects switch environments
If someone is on Facebook, there’s a reason for that. They WANT to be on Facebook. If you’re trying to get form completions on your Facebook page (and you should) allow that process to take place within Facebook.

6. Don’t settle for “submit”
Long ago, some very literal programmer decided that the default text for the complete the form and send action should be “submit” and we’ve all been yoked to that ox ever since. Formstack and other solutions allow you to test alternate wording, color, button size, button placement and other variable. Do this. It can have a huge impact on your response rates.

7. Only ask relevant questions
The more you ask, the fewer completions you’ll get. Keeping forms as short as possible is a best practice, but sometimes you really need extra data in particular circumstances. That’s where conditional form logic is very handy. Formstack and others let you build “living” forms that serve up different questions based on answers given. This is the same as skip logic on surveys, but used in forms.

8. Make your forms mobile-friendly
This is huge. If your forms don’t work on a phone or tablet, you’re shooting yourself in the foot, period. Consider using technology that makes all forms responsive and fully functional on all mobile platforms.

9. Use social log-in to save visitors time
Research from Janrain (a Convince & Convert sponsor) did a test with the New Zealand Herald and found a 500% increase in user registrations once they allowed visitors to the site to create profiles using social log-in. Most form technology companies can provide basic functionality in this area, and Janrain and other can give you the full-scale functionality and back-end database of social information gleaned from participants on your site.

10. Make your forms visually consistent with the rest of your site
In some instances – especially e-commerce or event RSVP – forms are hosted on third party platforms with restrictive design templates. Visitors to your site click links to those forms and it feels like they took a one-way trip to a 1998 Web design symposium. Consider using form solutions that work via iframes, allowing you to maintain visual consistency while enjoying the mobile accessibility and testing options mentioned above.

11. Make your forms accessible by all
Do your forms work for the visually impaired and other visitor populations that may employ alternate technology to use the Web? Perhaps not. Perform a form audit on what you have today, and make sure you’re not inadvertently making functionality impossible to use for some visitors to your site.

Thanks to Formstack for the opportunity to work together on this Webinar. (they also provide me a free account that powers our Contact Us form and the forms on

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