The power of forms, especially in marketing, is often the exchange of information for something else of value: we’ll give someone our email address in order to get a response from an inquiry, and we’ll give an address in order to have something shipped. And, in order to encourage visitors to fill out a form, we’ve got some go-to tactics, like limiting form fields.
The appeal of filling out a form is related to that value that happens after it’s filled out. Making a form easy to complete is really just playing defense; playing offense means making the end result clear to the visitor. We can do that by making context clear! Visitors should know what they’ll see after submission and what they’ll get for giving you information.
Focus on Outcomes
Setting up this context often starts before a form is even displayed. You can increase your conversions in many cases by simply making the call to action that leads to the form more descriptive and outcome-focused. For instance, one company increased conversions by 35% after talking with their customers and testing language that was oriented towards the users’ goals. If you’re sharing a white paper that focuses on getting more Twitter followers, ‘Learn How to Increase Followers’ might be a better call to action for you than ‘Download White Paper’.
Personalization on copy related to forms can increase engagement as well. In this case study on the Romney 2012 campaign, simply adding a state name to some form copy led to an increase in conversions. In this case, we don’t know for a fact what caused that increase, but we can guess: since people often associate political movements with community, using terms that relate to community help shape a visitors’ expectations. Since geographic information was certainly used to deliver news related to local events, this helped align expectations with reality without having to explain so much explicitly.
Geographic information is just one example of how you can personalize your form, but anything that gives a visitor more context (without overwhelming them) can help! The more information you can concisely get across, the better.
Show Small Forms Earlier
In that same case study, you can see how they were able to increase signups by 632% (you read that right) by simply showing the signup form one step earlier. When it fits into your design, go ahead and show forms with only a few fields directly instead of requiring a click to go to the form. You see this principle in practice often when signing up for a newsletter or blog posts by email in the sidebar of a blog.
Letting a user know how long a form might take to complete and what information they might need can be helpful, especially with long forms or unusual requests. Forms with conditional fields (progressive disclosure) or multiple pages can frustrate a user if they look deceptively quick and easy—your transparency will be appreciated! If you’re going to require a specific document, let a user know at the top of the form, instead of creating frustration for them once they’re almost done. You might be worried about scaring visitors away from a long form this way, but you’ll end up making them happier in the long run.
Don’t you like to know “what you’re getting into” before you spend your time and money on something? Treat your users the same, and you’ll get better leads. You can increase conversions when you can make your form’s context more clear. Remember, filling out a form is a value exchange at its core, so optimizing your copy and forms to display value is a great way to spend your time.