5 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Conversion Forms

Web forms aren’t sexy. Most designers don’t doodle forms in their spare time or dream of creating the perfect submit button. But forms are the workhorse of your website. They are the filter between casual browsers and converting, paying customers.

Pretend you’re going for a walk. The sidewalk is smooth and the air is warm. Then the path starts to get a little bumpy. There are small cracks and rocks and you have to watch where you’re stepping. After a while, you find yourself hopping over large roots and around boulders, and eventually you discover a huge sinkhole blocking your way. You could find your way around it, but it’s too much work, so you give up and go home.

This is what happens when someone tries to fill out a poorly designed web form. If your form is too frustrating, your customer will eventually give up and go home.

According to the Baymard Institute, there is an average 69% abandonment rate in the shopping cart checkout process. In the financial sector, various case studies have reported a similar 60-70% abandonment rate! Customers expect simple, intuitive experiences, and clearly, many sites aren’t giving this to them.

Identifying pain points on your forms can be challenging, but not impossible. At Exclamation Labs, 20 years of experience in site optimization has taught us a few simple no-fail techniques that we use to help our clients improve web form conversion rates.

Mobile First

77% of Americans own a smart device. Just over 1-in-10 Americans are smartphone only internet users, using their mobile device as their primary means of accessing the internet. Mobile optimization is not an option anymore.

To make sure your form is finger friendly, use standard touch target sizes for fields and buttons. Allow adequate padding around targets to avoid unintentional clicks or selections.

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Pay attention to form length. Your form may seem reasonable on desktop, but could be overwhelming on smaller mobile devices. Consider reducing the number of fields overall, or add logic to hide unnecessary fields on mobile devices.

Use smart defaults where possible. If you need to know your user’s location, prompt the phone’s GPS to give you that information and populate the data field for them. If you want to know their language, use their browser’s default language. If analytics tells you that 75% of your audience is female and you’re asking the user to select their gender, consider pre-selecting “female” to save most of your users a click (this tip is good for desktop too).

Benefits Minded

Customers don’t complete forms out of the goodness of their heart. Customers want to know that handing over their personal information will benefit them in some way.

Be clear. Use the headline or some brief instructional copy to explain why they should fill out your form. Ask them to create an account so they can check out faster or get an exclusive coupon. Offer access to new information or services if they sign-up for your newsletter. Tell them that getting an insurance quote is easy and will help them protect their family.

Whatever the reason, make it feel approachable and appealing.

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Get Rid of “Submit”

A button saying “submit” doesn’t give customers the warm fuzzies. All they know is they’re sending their personal information to a database to be used for who-knows-what. Sometimes, after filling out an especially long form, they’ve even forgotten what the form was for.

The CTA (call-to-action) should mirror the rest of your form content. Be clear and specific. If you’re offering a free insurance quote, entice them by saying “Show Me My Quote”. Even using “Continue” to indicate a multiple step process helps to set appropriate expectations. Altering your CTA to reflect your content reminds users why they’re filling out your form, and encourages them “onward and upward!”

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Less Is More

What sounds more appealing: filling out three fields or filling out five? Three, of course. Studies have shown that reducing your form by just 1 or 2 fields can produce a dramatic increase in conversions. Expedia increased their site profit by $12M in one year just by dropping the “Company name” field from their user registration form!

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Before and After of Expedia’s registration form.

Get to know your form content. What information do you need? What can you let go of for a higher conversion percentage? Start by studying your analytics data to find out what fields customers get hung up on.

Optimize Your Copy

No one likes filling out a form, much less a lengthy one like an application for a loan or insurance. People associate long forms with feelings of negativity.

You can combat those negative feelings by using positive language. Avoid negative words like “purchase” “payment” or “order” and use positive terms like “approved” or “completed”. You could even remind them of your form’s security measures to give them peace of mind.

Get to the point, quickly. Customers don’t want to read through instructional copy telling them to fill out the form below. Keep your field labels short and simple. Instead of saying “Please fill out your First and Last Name” just say “First Name” and “Last Name”.

Even knowing where to put your field labels is important. Placing them above the field, aligned to the left makes it easier for customers to scan.

Optimizing your copy is an ongoing experiment. We recommend testing iteratively to find the best combination of text and elements on your web form. This process has allowed us to provide users with rich customer experiences, and clients like Gerber Life Insurance with high conversion rates. Check out some of our case studies for more details.

What next?

Of course, there are many techniques you can use to optimize your forms. Because every site is unique, it can be a daunting task to figure out why your forms aren’t converting well, or even what you should do about it. That's where we can help!

Exclamation Labs focuses on results-driven experiences for our clients. Have a question about how to improve your digital strategy? Let’s chat about it!

Erin Fike
Graphic Designer
or drop us a note and say hello!