Whether you need to gather information from a customer, generate a lead, or build your email list, you are likely turning to one common tool – the form.
But how much thought have you really given those forms? Do you just plop a pre-made form on your site? Or have you really thought through the thought process of the (real human being) customer on the other side of that form.
A topic we explore – complete with examples to get your creative juices flowing – in this article.
Read on for examples from a mattress company, filter subscription company, and news syndication company.
René Magritte has a very famous painting of a pipe with the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” If you don’t speak French, that translates to “this is not a pipe.” The painting is known as The Treachery of Images.
Magritte’s point is that the painting itself is not a pipe, it is the representation of a pipe.
Are the forms on your website any different? It’s all too easy for us marketers to overlook the complex psychology going on in the mind of the customer when they are confronted by one of our forms. We may give them short shrift, pop a few fields of information we want into a tool, and embed them into our website without a second thought.
But a form isn’t just a form. It is a representation of a demand you’re making from the customer. You are expecting the customer to give to your company. And for what? The payoff for them isn’t entirely clear. What happens to their information after they fill it out and hit that button? How will this action affect their lives? Will they get inundated with sales calls? Will their info be sold? Will they get something of value in return?
As the marketer, we can overlook these questions during the daily hub-bub of activity in our departments. Besides, we are so familiar with our own forms. We may see them every day, every week on our site. We may constantly peruse our marketing automation or CRM platforms to see the responses and make sure they are followed up by Sales or Customer Service.
But the customer experiences that form for just a moment. It is new to them. “We are trying to help the customer manage the unknown,” said Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute in Form Optimization: The importance of communicating value before making the “ask” (MECLABS is the parent organization of MECLABS).
So take another look at your forms. How can you best help the customer understand the cost and value of completing them? Here are a few examples of effective forms to spark your ideas for improving your own forms.
A large news syndication company asked MECLABS Institute to help it increase the overall number of leads on a “Request More Information” form.
The original form featured 11 fields in total and 10 were required. The page also had left sidebar navigation followed by three additional calls-to-action at the bottom.
Creative Sample #1: Original (control) page for news syndication company (has been anonymized)
The MECLABS team split tested the original (control) against two new versions (treatments) in an experiment.
Treatment A added four more form fields for a total of 15 fields (nine of which were required) and eliminated both the navigation and additional calls to action (CTAs) at the bottom of the page. It also added a customer testimonial on the right.
Creative Sample #2: Treatment A (new) page for news syndication company (has been anonymized)
Treatment B had all the same layout changes, except the testimonial was removed. Also, the form fields were reduced to 10 fields (all required).
Creative Sample #3: Treatment B (new) page for news syndication company (has been anonymized)
Treatment A outperformed both the control and Treatment B, increasing the lead rate 109% as compared to the control form.
By eliminating the navigation elements and additional CTAs on the page, both treatments were able to outperform the control. Both treatments also guided the visitor through the form by better communicating a process-level value proposition, counterbalancing the additional friction in the form and capturing higher-quality leads without sacrificing quantity.
“When we considered the objective of the page, our analysts hypothesized that by helping the customer through the form, we could set the expectation for a productive in-person conversation,” said Austin McCraw, Senior Director of Research Partnerships, MECLABS Institute.
The call-to-action (CTA) for the contact from on the Nolah Mattress website was probably one you’ve seen on many other forms – “Submit.”
When the team changed the CTA to “Send Message,” the number of form submissions increased by roughly 20 percent.
Creative Sample #4: Contact form on mattress company website
“Customers became more open with sharing their thoughts when they read a prompt that has a text akin to what a human would use,” said Stephen Light, co-owner and CMO, Nolah Mattress. “The term ‘Submit’ has a negative weight to it that makes it seem like the message isn’t well-received—your consumers might think that their concern gets snubbed along with other submissions.”
The form also has a dropdown button to categorize messages. Doing so makes the customer service team’s job easier since messages are all sorted according to their nature.
Filter King originally built its email database entirely from customers who purchased from the website. By adding a pop-up form to the site for first-time visitors, it was able to grow its email database by 5.6% and add potential customers it could nurture until they were ready to buy.
Creative Sample #5: Pop-up form on filter subscription site
The form says, “Place you E-mail below to get $5 dollars off your first order. Get notified with new updates specials for your next order.” “We discovered that outlining exactly what it is the subscriber will receive builds trust,” said Rick Hoskins, Founder, Filter King.
Below that, visitors are told to “Enter Your Email.” “It may be obvious for many people that their email goes in the box but our target audience are mainly homeowners who are older and not so used to the internet,” Hoskins said.
At the bottom of the form it says “SKIP - I'm Too Rich for Discounts” underlined and in very small type. “This allows the subscriber to remove the pop up from their screen. If a web window is not fully open it can be difficult to spot the ‘x’ in the top right-hand corner. We also wanted to be witty in a way, to try to encourage the user that they want the discount, or at least have them feeling confident about their finances if they click it,” Hoskins said.
“Pop up forms are delicate. Too many and too often annoys the customer,” Hoskins said.
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