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In your endeavors to increase the conversion rate of your web forms, you will eventually come across the quandary of form length. The prevalent view is that reducing the form length will make it easy for the visitor to fill the form and will result in an increase in conversion rate. While this is generally true in that you should always try to reduce friction that can cause your visitor to abandon the forms, the theory that reducing form length will increase conversion 100% of the time is highly debatable.

Like most best practices, reducing form length will work for some businesses and it can have the opposite effect for other people. For example, if you eliminate the fields that people actually want to interact with, your conversion rate is bound to go down. This is exactly what happened when Unbounce reduced the form length for one of their clients and it resulted in a 14% drop in conversions. 

“I removed all the fields that people actually want to interact with and only left the crappy ones they don’t want to interact with. Kinda stupid.”

– Michael Aagard, speaking at CTA Conference

What are the fields people want to interact with, you might ask? Let’s say you want to sell your house and you are looking for property rates in your area. The fields you might want to interact with will include postcode, city, or address. You wouldn’t want to submit a form that has just the email and phone number fields in it.

1. Why do Longer Forms Convert Better?

Form length generally correlates with the lead quality. More leads can be generated by shorter forms since people are more likely to complete them. Visitors who fill out more fields and share more pertinent information about themselves and what they’re looking for will yield you better quality leads. If having more information means higher quality prospects for a business, it makes sense to have a form with more fields. Choosing the length of your form should depend on whether you need more leads or better leads, and input from your sales team is critical to making the right decision.

It’s worth noting that longer forms don’t have to be messy and ugly. Many things can be done to make larger forms more palatable, including clustering dropdown menus, checkboxes, and radio buttons as the last items on the form. Thus, the user can type and tab through the text fields, then click on the elements at the end with the mouse.

You can also make the form appear smaller by using clever design features such as multi-page forms or by placing some form fields on the same line.

Incentivizing users to complete the form is another way to increase the conversion rate despite having a longer form, however, you have to keep in mind the value proposition. You can ask for more information if you’re offering something more valuable (eBook, webinar, or other digital files). Give away a small physical item, like a sticker or a sample item, if you want a lot of information from new subscribers.

Regardless, the best way to find the sweet spot that works for your business is usually A/B testing.

2. How to identify the right form fields to eliminate?

Optimizing your forms can feel like shooting in the dark sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Rather than blindly A/B testing all possible options, marketers can make informed decisions about which form fields to change using data & analytics. Identifying and eliminating the friction points in your forms is the best way to increase conversions. 

With Insiteful’s smart insights, you can skip the hours of session replay thanks to Confused Field and Hesitation Field alerts, which automatically identify problem form fields. Based on input from your sales & marketing team, you may choose to optimize or remove these fields and thereby boost conversions.

3. How can I boost conversions without reducing form length?

Conversion rates are definitely affected by the form length, but that is far from the entire picture. Marketing professionals should understand, however, that people are not motivated solely by the length of a form. There are other factors that influence conversion rate — to name a few:

3.1. Clear Copy: Improving the copy of the form itself and the Call to action is of paramount importance. It is important that the text of your call-to-action and form match your page copy.

It’s also not good to leave people in the dark. When they click the submit button, they want to know exactly what will happen. The copy has to be relevant, useful, and in synergy with the form. By improving the copy of your call-to-action button, you can greatly enhance your conversion rates.

3.2. Multi-step Forms: Researchers found that multi-page forms convert at a rate of 13.9%, compared to the 4.5% for single-page forms. At the heart of the Multi-step form is the effort to make the users do fewer actions and fill less information. Instead of making visitors type or fill a field, Empire Flippers created a visually-engaging form where users can click and choose.

These buttons allow users to identify their business in a more engaging way than selecting from a dropdown list. This saw a 51.6% increase in conversions in just 47 days. Bonus tip: you may notice the social proof metrics (# of businesses and total $ sold) included at the bottom of the Empire Flippers to help encourage users to continue filling out the form.  

3.3. Track Partial Entries: No matter how great your copy is or how well polished the design is, some people are going to abandon the forms. It’s possible they get distracted by your competitors or just aren’t ready to buy/convert yet. Different studies show following up with such leads is important as 30% of people come back to fill the form if the business contacts them and offers something in return. Conversion optimization tools such as Insiteful are a great way to capture partial entries and automatically retarget these leads.

3.4. Automated Remarketing: According to studies, more than 97% of site visitors leave without doing business on the first visit. But this doesn’t mean this traffic is a lost cause. Instead, it gives you the opportunity to target these leads that are interested in your product/service. Remarketing, or retargeting, is a type of online advertising that can help you retain your brand’s attention after bounced traffic leaves your website. Once more, leveraging a solution such as Insiteful can help you recover leads by automatically following up via email and generating audiences for remarketing ads.


4. When Should I Use Longer Forms?

Although longer forms have their benefits, they should only be used in specific cases. As mentioned earlier, if your business is hungry for quality leads instead of a lot of leads — or your specific business situation requires higher form fields, then you shouldn’t cut fields just to reach a specific count. Nevertheless, the above best practices should be kept in mind to mitigate the challenges that come with having longer forms.

Learn how automagically solves form abandonment and optimizes your existing forms to convert more leads.


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