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8 Lead Gen Form Best Practices

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Consumer Experience, Featured

Whether it’s a plane ticket to go home for the holidays, or a new pair of shoes, we are constantly being cautioned about the risk of giving our personal information over the web. All marketers are also consumers, which means they should be able to understand most users’ hesitation. Requiring a visitor to give personal information before delivering what they came to your site for can increase friction and anxiety for the user and thus cause them to bounce.

This presents a problem if you are a direct response or lead-generation business that relies on form completions. But not to worry, having run hundreds of tests for similar clients, we see which form practices and combination of practices work and which don’t. Below are what we have found works for the majority of clients.


Basic Best Practices:

1)      Positioning – Form location above the fold of the page, make sure visitor doesn’t have to scroll down to see it.

2)      Length – Shorter forms usually result in more leads, while longer forms will result in fewer, but higher quality leads. Find a good balance between collecting enough information, but not asking for more than users are willing to give.

3)      Vertical vs. Horizontal –  Single Column Vertical Forms are typically best. Scanning DOWN the form has been shown to be preferable to left to right as it reduces the number of eye movements needed to fill out the form.

4)      Fields – Begin by determining the minimum amount of information needed to capture, and include only these fields for the initial step of the process. Any non-essential information you want can be requested during the thank you process (post-confirmation). It might mean your sales team has to work harder but there will be more leads. Collect just enough information through your form to enable you to both contact and qualify the lead.

A good rule of thumb is to only ask for the essential information to qualify the lead since in general you can lose 30% of conversions for each field over the standard 3.  In addition:

  1. Use inline validation.
  2. Top Aligned field labels are best for reducing completion times and when asking for familiar data input.
  3. Use consistent field length for similar fields.
  4. Keep the path to completion clear by arranging fields and field descriptions in a way that the eye is led down the screen to the call to action button.

5)      Privacy Policy –  Always include a link to privacy policy when information is required, and place the privacy policy link next to the CTA to minimize friction.

6)      Call to Action (CTA) – Always test your landing pages for the most effective CTA message.  But for most demographics, the CTA should remind the user what it is they are doing and echo the CTA of the ad.

After you have optimized your form position, layout, design and messaging, take it one step further and use the HMTL programming options below to make subtle changes help further improve user experience and increase conversion rates!

Lead-Generation Form HTML Best Practices:

7)      Auto-fill Form Cursor –By automatically programming the cursor into the first field (autofocus) you can avoid friction and increase conversion rate. Enable by adding autofocus=”autofocus” /> after the field you want to automatically get the cursor to land in when the page loads. It might seem insignificant, but it has yielded substantial lift in conversion rates.

8)      Auto-fill Form Input  –For forms with fields that require commonly input info, test programming to allow the browser to automatically complete values based on values that the user has entered before. Enable by adding autocomplete=”on”>  for  applicable <form> and <input>.

Follow these 8 tips and you are bound to have more conversions, more customers, and more revenue!

About Amy Oliver

Amy leads the Consumer Experience (landing page/funnel conversion optimization and testing) and Feed Services (Comparison Shopping Engine Feeds) practice at TSA. Since 2006, she has worked in the online marketing space most recently before TSA she worked at Experian Interactive, and previous to that she has worked for Southern Wine & Spirits, Leo Burnett, Paramount Pictures, Hallmark Channel. She holds a BA in History and Kinesiology and is Google Adwords and Analytics certified, she is also working towards a certification in user experience and online testing certification from MarketingExperiments. On weekends, Amy enjoys teaching Pilates, going to the beach with her dog and learning to cook.

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9 Responses to “8 Lead Gen Form Best Practices”

  1. Jon says:

    Great article. Ill need to try and do some tests on our site maybe split testing our current order page with a condensed version just collecting minimum data.

  2. Bri says:

    Interesting article…what I found even more interesting is that you are not following all of the best practices listed on your own website.

  3. Rob Trube says:

    Even though this article is almost a year old – it is still highly relevant. In fact, I just referenced it in a blog post on our site.

    In regards to the comment about not utilizing the best practices on their own site – you cannot implement every best practice, every time. Be cognizant of the situation, and implement the practices when you can.

    Lead generation is part science, part art. The utilization of forms is the one piece that has to be done to even start, and therein lies the challenge – most sites only have a single form, buried in their site – and it says “Contact Us”.

    The vast majority of visitors don’t want to contact you quite yet, they want to gain access to the information you have – they want the “candy”. Use your forms the right way and offer the right candy, and you will get plenty of leads. And, it all starts by implementing and following best practices like these.

  4. Rowena says:

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