March 01, 2021
Case Study

Web Forms: 3 quick case studies about improving performance without changing form fields


So you’ve read that reducing the amount of form fields is the best and easiest way to increase form conversion.

And then you talk to your counterparts in Sales and…not going to happen. They insist every single field in that form is vital.

What’s a marketer to do?

Take a look at some out-of-the-box ways your peers are improving form performance in this article. Read on for examples from software companies and a music app.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

Web Forms: 3 quick case studies about improving performance without changing form fields

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

The online form is an essential conversion point for many lead generation marketers – and even some CPG brands, nonprofits, and ecommerce companies. So improving form performance can have a significant impact on marketers’ results.

While we’ve published plenty of content about reducing the amount of form fields to increase conversion, we realize sometimes that isn’t an option – Sales wants what it wants and they are not going to budge an inch and remove even a single field.

What then?

Well first, look at the big picture. What is the psychology behind removing a form field? It isn’t the lack of that form field itself that increases conversion, it is the fact that you are reducing the perceived cost to the customer. That cost isn’t monetary. But do realize, everything you ask the customer to do has a cost in their mind.

Reducing cost is one way to improve conversion. Another way is increasing perceived value. You can get ideas for how to do this in Optimizing Forms: How to increase the perceived value for your customers from MarketingExperiments (MarketingSherpa’s sister publication).

After you have optimized your forms to maximize perceive value and minimize perceived costs, read on for three creative ways your peers are getting more people to fill out their forms. Hopefully these quick case studies spark your own creative ideas.

Quick Case Study #1: Change in form placement quadruples email subscriptions for software company

Prior to August 2020, the only way to sign up for Mirabel Technologies’ marketing blog newsletter was via a stagnant form on the main blog page.

The software company decided to change that placement to a pop-up that appears on each individual blog post after a short delay, so visitors have time to read a bit of the content first to determine whether they would like to subscribe to more. The blog pop-up has only one field – email address – for a quick and easy user experience.

After implementing this pop-up, the team immediately saw the number of subscriptions to its blog newsletter quadruple with consistent growth each month thereafter.

“One great thing about the pop-up is that I'm able to see which blog [post] a visitor converted to a subscriber on,” said Rachel Rockwell, Digital Marketing Specialist, Mirabel Technologies.

This data tells the team which content is performing well and what topics visitors find most valuable. They often compare the highest-converting blog posts to those with high traffic and clicks. Sometimes, blogs with high traffic and click rates also have high conversion rates. Other times, blogs with high conversion rates have low traffic and click rates, and vice versa, which helps the team understand how to optimize not only those content pieces, but future content marketing efforts as well.

Quick Case Study #2: Software company reduces CPL from $217.69 to $10 by using incentives instead of paid ads

“Paid advertising can be tremendously expensive...those who use paid ads on say, LinkedIn, are commonly paying over $20 per click to drive someone to a form to download something. And that's not necessarily guaranteeing they actually download it!” said Richie Pusateri, Content Manager,

“We wanted to see if offering people a $10 Amazon gift card (organically via social media and email) for downloading an ebook would be more effective than using paid ads to drive traffic to download the same ebook on the same landing page,” he said.

The only difference between the two landing pages is the CTA and an additional paragraph on the incentive version.

Creative Sample #1: Paid traffic landing page for software company

Creative Sample #1: Paid traffic landing page for software company

Creative Sample #2: Incentive landing page for software company

Creative Sample #2: Incentive landing page for software company

While the software company was still conducting the experiment as of the writing of this article, the preliminary results showed a pretty drastic difference in form performance.

Paid ad version

  • Paid ad budget spent (LinkedIn and Google): $5,877.69
  • Form views: 12,130
  • Form submission rate: 0.22%
  • Leads generated: 27
  • CPL (cost per lead): $217.69 per lead

Gift card version

  • Gift card budget spent: $2,590.00
  • Form views: 429
  • Form submission rate: 60.37%
  • Leads generated: 259
  • CPL (cost per lead): $10 per lead

“For other marketers, this should be pretty eye-opening if they're solely using organic outreach and paid advertising to generate leads,” Pusateri said. “So far we learned that paid traffic will generate far more page views, but won't generate the form submissions that an additional incentive will easy way to increase perceived value of a form!”

Quick Case Study #3: New music app increases form submissions 5,000% with organic Reddit post

“We were needing users to sign up to test our app with a simple sign up form on our website (created and hosted on Wix) and needed to find a way to drive traffic there because we've decided against using any paid marketing at the moment and are just looking for organic growth,” said Vickie Brennan, Co-Founder, Chordly.

“I had the idea that Reddit might be a good place to find intermediate/experienced musicians,” she said. “Knowing that the Reddit crowd is very sensitive and defensive against selling/marketing in their groups I knew I would need a special, more personal angle in order to entice members to be interested in our product – not trigger the moderators to see us as blatantly self-promoting – inform readers about our product/team, and make them seek out our website to sign up.”

The first step was deciding which subreddits’ (a forum dedicated to a specific topic) readers would find the product the most useful.

Next they read the groups’ rules about posting. There were a couple that had very strict rules about self-promotion so they decided against posting in those subreddits.

They settled on a group that did allow offering free things and highlighted in their post that there was no cost. They also included the company's origination story to show that the team behind the app was exactly like the readers which was the impetus for starting the company and developing the music app.

Here is the text of the Reddit post…

[DEV] Looking for Android beta app testers to better solve the problem of learning music theory - new UI using colors - Completely free :)

My friend who's been a self-taught musician for 10 years hit a plateau and realized he needed to understand music theory in order to progress in his ability to make music. After downloading tons of apps and tools he still just couldn't get it. So he basically disappeared into his bedroom for 3 years getting super weird (his words) and going down tons of rabbit holes that led him to Da Vinci's notebooks, the laws of nature, and him regularly consulting a shaman trying to come up with a way to help him learn. He first started by constructing a wooden Circle of Fifths like device to begin working things out in his head and to understand what kind of tool he would need to express everything he was learning.

It was at that stage he came to me and our friend who is an app developer and we started developing the Chordly app combining everything in his head creating a new UI that combines colors, Chords, Progressions, and even the ability to switch between 440hz & 432hz frequencies. Being a musician he has many friends who also play music and for his small group of friends, the app has become indispensable and really improved all their understanding, abilities, and their music.

We finally feel like we have enough initial evidence to see if others find it useful and want to eventually release it on the app store. We will give anyone who volunteers to try it out and provide feedback a lifetime free access to it and any other accompanying apps we create (we also want to do about 7 - 9 other music apps using the basic framework specific to guitar, singing, keeping time, etc.). We will also donate free lifetime access in your honor to a musician who's been negatively affected by COVID this year.

There's absolutely no commitment required beyond just answering some questions for us about your experience using it. If you'd like to volunteer to try it out before we launch you can just sign up on our website and once we are ready to start testing we will provide you all the details.

Thanks for your attention if you made it this far and hopefully we can offer you all something you love! Also, appreciate hearing about your pain points when it comes to chord progressions and music theory.

Stay safe & happy.

PS if this sounds interesting to you an upvote would be dope :)

“Although I hoped it might work, my team and I were in total disbelief when 30 minutes after posting my post our website analytics lit up like a Christmas tree!” Form submission increased 5,000% thanks to the Reddit post – in a matter of 24 hours the app had 344 form signups with emails from the post.

Another part of the Reddit strategy was to personally respond to each and every comment on the Reddit post. It was a valuable exercise because it created a bond between the company and potential users, gave the team a chance to understand their problems better, and made respondents feel like they had ownership in the app’s success.

This responsiveness to the comments encouraged readers on Reddit to comment more and upvote the post. It stayed at the top of the subreddit message board for days and has kept collecting upvotes and sending people to the app’s website since then. The post currently remains one of the highest on the Android Apps subreddit with 161 upvotes.

Related resources

Form Optimization: The importance of communicating value before making the “ask”

Lead Generation: Is your registration form part of the customer journey?

B2B Lead Generation Chart: Business versus personal email addresses in lead forms

Registration Forms: 3 steps to lead form optimization

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