Web form best practices: quality or conversion?
Today’s post was provided by Ashley McAlpin, FormAssembly’s Demand Marketing Manager, as part of our series on form solutions and best practices.
Jumping into the world of web forms and data collection can be intimidating. With everything from conversion optimization to user experience to consider when you’re building them out, many of us are thrown into designing or implementing forms without any previous experience.
Quality or Conversion
If you don’t follow best practices, you can end up with a form that converts but delivers an awful user experience, or a beautiful form that no one fills out. Neither option is good. Someone once told me, “As long as the page drives a conversion, no one will care what it took to get there,” and I completely disagree.
With web forms, the end goal is conversion. Obviously, we all want our forms to convert—that’s the whole reason we use them! But that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice the trust and loyalty of our customers or donors to do so. At FormAssembly, our goal is to not only inform our consumers on the best way to drive conversion, but also to help educate them on the best way to create quality forms that will elevate their users' experience. So, when faced with the choice of quality over conversion, here’s what we recommend you choose:
Don’t overdo the CTA: Calls To Action (CTAs) are exactly what they sound like - the driving force behind your customer or donor taking action on your website. What does that look like in the context or forms? They’re the button your audience clicks to move to the form or to submit it. They’re the final step in compelling your audience to offer up their coveted email addresses, phone numbers, and donation information.
Action steps: It's nearly impossible to read an entire post, scroll an entire page, or navigate from one page to another without being asked to complete an action online. That doesn’t necessarily mean these “asks” are detrimental, but you should use them with care. By using your CTAs sparingly, you're adding more emphasis. Our best advice is to use one (or maybe two) CTAs per page as a lead-in to your form—but no more.
Ask what matters up front (don’t bury the lead): Filling out forms can be tiring. Even though it’s nothing to the old fashioned (medieval?) practice of filling out forms on paper, our consumers still have to take valuable time and effort to complete the forms we’ve crafted. We’re tempted to keep forms super short in favor of a quicker conversion. That's great, but only if that data you collected sparingly is all the data you need. Asking for an email address may be a good start; it’s often the top level of your funnel. But if what you really need to help move a prospect through your funnel is a phone number, that email address won’t get you very far.
Action steps: Take the time to honestly evaluate your forms before publishing. Are you asking for the data you really need? Are you going to have ask for even more of your prospect’s time because you didn’t collect what you needed up front? Creating a quality web form that drives conversion means crafting your forms intentionally.
Make it easy: In many cases, web forms require complexity—but that doesn’t mean they need to be confusing. With tools like Salesforce pre-filling, smart processing, and conditional logic, you can create complex forms that are still easy for your consumers to complete.
Action steps: Simplify your users' burden by allowing them to see data already contained within your system, processing their data using formulas, and using conditional logic or progressive profiling to collect only pertinent data.
Stay ethical, folks: Do the ends always justify the means when it comes to creating forms? Dan Ariely talked about this conflict in his TED Talk, “Are we in control of our own decisions?” If you're looking for $10 donations and you have a form created to gather new prospect information, does including a checkbox with microscopic print stating, “check here to OPT OUT of the $10 pledge,” equate to an ethically crafted form? No.
Action steps: Be a straight shooter. Ask clear, concise questions that elicit real, genuine responses. Even though using sneaky tactics may work in the short term, the detriment to your organization will be felt in the long run.
When faced with the choice between quality and conversion, the answer is both! Follow these simple tips, and you'll be well on your way to crafting quality forms that also drive conversions.
Check out our whitepaper on even more tips for implementing forms that will help you reach conversion and quality benchmarks!