Marketing August 27, 2015 Last updated August 26th, 2015 1,612 Reads share

10 Tips for Making Online Forms that Convert

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If online forms are an afterthought for you, you’re not alone. However, the reality is that they play a crucial part of any business’s operations, you might just not know it.

Poor performing forms can absolutely sink an otherwise great company because they aren’t getting the information, leads, or even payments that they need to move forward. We’ve learned a thing or two about a thing or two in the form business about what leads to higher conversions and what doesn’t.

#1. Include instructions

Our company recently pulled some data from our users to determine that if you include instructions on your forms, you can expect a 57 percent better response rate, on average. That’s a huge amount, especially taken over a long period of time.

Helpful instructions for users come in all shapes. Either provide them briefly in a block of text at the top of the form, or provide context-specific instructions for more complicated individual questions. This is also a great opportunity to explain why you need the information that you need, adding an element of trust.

#2. Don’t forget the headline

Imagine your form is like a newspaper article. How is your editor going to feel about “Contact Form” emblazoned on the top of the masterpiece below it? Be descriptive, accurate, and warm in your headline so that people will know what they’re getting into and why it matters to them. For example, better options for a contact form might include “Say Hello,” “We Would Love to Hear From You,” and “Submit Your Feedback.”

#3. Customize your submit button

Your online form’s “submit” button is a great opportunity to reinforce why exactly the visitor is filling out the form in the first place. While “submit” is the default for most do-it-yourself form building platforms, it’s far from the best.

Think about this button as acting in unison with the headline; it needs to be descriptive and align closely with the reason they’re filling out the form in the first place. Action words like “register,” “apply now,” “send feedback,” and “get your downloaded copy” might work better with what the user is trying to accomplish.

#4. Resist superfluous fields

While it’s tempting for any company to squeeze as much information as they can from their site’s visitors, it’s a total conversion killer. Hold back on asking for things you don’t need; if you’re just needing their name and email, why ask for their age, address, and favorite craft brew? Just think of it this way: every second you’re asking someone to spend filling out a form exponentially decreases the likelihood of it being filled out to completion. But if you respect someone’s time and make the process easy and fast, conversions will soar.

#5. Consider offering something in return

Let’s admit it: we’re all selfish beings. At the end of the day, we want to know “what’s in it for me?” That’s why it’s a good idea in some cases (particularly lead gen) to give something in return for taking the time to fill out a form. Exclusive discounts, e-books, and downloadable reports can be great offers in return for someone’s contact information.

#6. Add images

The addition of images to forms has been shown to boost response rates by as much as 80 percent. That’s no small number. Most DIY online form building platforms give the option of adding images, so it’s generally takes a simple second, but pays off in a big way.

#7. Make the form clear and visible

For most businesses, forms are important. So it’s imperative it’s highly visible on your page. The general consensus is that with lead generation forms, you should include it above the fold on the web page. This not only boosts the form’s visibility, but creates a transparency for why someone landed on that page in the first place.

#8. Match the aesthetics of your website

Few things look worse than an out-of-place form. So think about ways to integrate the look and feel that you’ve worked hard to establish on your website into your online form — whether you plan on embedding it on the website directly or using it as a standalone link. It could be as simple as matching the precise colors, fonts, and sizes that already exist with your branding. While visitors might not notice that you went the extra mile to match the branding of your form, they’ll notice if you don’t.


They serve a purpose, but CAPTCHAs sure do add a burden for those filling out a form and they tend to be an annoyance that doesn’t yield high conversion rates. But, there are workarounds if you don’t want spam to pile up in your inbox as well. Many online form building platforms have some sort of spam prevention built in, or you can use an unobtrusive way to confirm someone’s humanity, like Google’s reCAPTCHA checkbox system.

#10. Clarity is oh so important

To paraphrase online form expert Caroline Jarrett, author of Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability, online forms are a conversation of sorts. A conversation that doesn’t always allow the opportunity to correct confusions. It’s crucial that your forms make sense to everyone who takes them. From design to word choices, there needs to be logical flow, structure, and crystal clear word choices.

Of course, every company may see different results for their forms, so testing becomes absolutely crucial. Make sure you’re using some sort of form analytics, and you might even consider A/B testing aspects of your forms to optimize performance.

So what about your forms? Do you agree with the advice above? Let us know!

Images: “Author’s Own“


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Chad Reid

Chad Reid

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