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You're Doing Forms Wrong—Here's How To Fix Them

Let’s talk about form conversions. They’re the golden eggs of B2B marketing, a surefire sign you’ve done something right, right?

With form abandonment rates as high as 68% (WPForms) and successful form conversion rates hovering around 2-5% industry-wide, it’s understandable why forms seem to have lost their luster in the B2B marketing world. 

And even if you do score a form fill, how many of those represent qualified pipeline and ultimately result in closed-won revenue for the business? From traffic to conversion to qualified pipeline, we’re talking about fractions of a percent. 

 

(via Awkward Marketing)

So, what gives? Should you ditch forms altogether and just use a chatbot on your site? Not necessarily. Forms are not dead by any means, but we’ve got to start thinking about them differently. 

Why optimize forms? 

Optimizing forms and other crucial conversion points in your funnel is an important part of conversion rate optimization (CRO). 

CRO is defined as, “the process of enhancing your website and content to boost conversions,” according to HubSpot.

Seems simple enough, but there’s an entire marketing discipline dedicated to CRO and funnel optimization.

Funnel optimization is the process of enhancing your buyer’s experience across the funnel, not just at the point of conversion. 

While chat is becoming increasingly popular, forms are still the most common bottom of funnel lead capture method for B2B, and our hunch is they’re not going anywhere. 

In an article for New Breed, Senior Inbound Strategist Mike Garris said that while things like chatbots are good for top of funnel conversions, traditional forms are still best for bottom of the funnel conversions such as “book a demo” CTAs. 

“With a form, you see the form. You know all the questions that are being asked. It’s less of a mental strain on me to engage with some silly chatbot or even talk to someone live.”

Okay, so form optimization is still important, even as marketing is evolving. But how do you optimize forms on your landing pages? Read on to find out. 

How to optimize forms 

At Chili Piper, we think about form optimization in two ways: What happens before the submission and what comes after. 

Before the form submission, on-page UX optimizations are the name of the game. 

Form UX best practices

AcquireConvert offers an exhaustive guide on form optimization, but here are seven form UX tips that stood out to us: 

  1. Don’t use placeholder text inside a form field (people’s eyes are drawn to blank fields)

  2. Place form field labels above the input box, left-aligned 

  3. Place error messages in-line with input fields

  4. Short forms aren’t necessarily better (some friction is good to ensure your form submissions are coming from qualified leads) 

  5. Benefit-driven form headlines convert better (e.g., “Make meetings happen faster” vs. “The best scheduling and lead routing tool”)

  6. Hyper-specific button text converts better (e.g., “See meetings happen” vs. “Book a demo”)

  7. Address privacy concerns and other hesitations in-line (state exactly how you intend to use their data) 

Post-submission experience 

According to a survey conducted by FullStory, 83% of 1500 consumers surveyed cited, “I can quickly accomplish what I came to do,” as the most important factor in creating a good digital experience, followed by, “I’m able to quickly submit forms without problems.” 

 

(via FullStory

So if accomplishing things quickly and submitting forms without problems is so important to consumers, why are B2B vendor response times still so slow? 

According to the Lead Response Management study, “Your chances of contacting an inbound lead successfully falls 100x if you call them in 30 minutes—versus 5.”

Speed to lead is everything. Salesforce estimates that 78% of consumers buy from the first vendor to respond to them. 

The good news is that tools like Chili Piper’s web form scheduler called Concierge can dramatically increase your lead response time by allowing potential customers to book time with your sales team directly from a form. 

You can even use it to create rules that will automatically disqualify bad-fit leads and route good-fits to reps based on data in your CRM, or information input in the form. 

How to measure form conversions

Improving form conversions is a three-step process. First, you need to observe how your site visitors interact with your forms. 

Then, you need a systematic way to report on these interactions. 

Finally, you need technology that will enable you to test forms in order to improve user experience. 

Observe user behavior

There are two ways to observe users’ interactions with forms on your site: quantitatively and qualitatively. 

Quantitative

Quantitative form data comes from tools like Google Analytics and heatmap providers such as Hotjar

You can use these tools to track quantifiable form metrics such as: 

  • Conversion rates

  • Form abandonment rates

  • Time to completion 

  • Commonly corrected fields

  • Commonly ignored fields

Qualitative

When quantitative data doesn’t paint the full picture, you can implement session replay tools and leverage customer surveys to gain more qualitative insights. 

Session replay tools, such as FullStory, allow you to watch real user sessions to observe how people interact with your forms. This is oftentimes a lot more telling about why users experience friction than traditional quantitative analytics. 

Customer surveys give your customers the ability to tell you in their own words how they felt about their experience. You can do this via software or simply by contacting customers who converted from a form on your website. 

Keep in mind though, customer survey results tend to be skewed either really positive or really negative since people with neutral experiences aren’t as compelled to provide feedback. 

Report on form analytics 

Reporting on form analytics can be tricky, especially in modern marketing organizations where there are many other things to report on.  

We suggest limiting the number of forms on your site to a.) provide a more streamlined experience for site visitors and b.) reduce the reporting burden on your team. 

For an extensive list of form analytics and tracking tools, check out this WPForms article

Test forms

Testing forms is a critical step toward increasing form conversions because it allows you to use real user data to inform decisions on how to execute forms on your site. 

And there are a ton of form elements to test including: 

  • Design 

  • Copy 

  • CTAs

  • Fields

We know from our UX best practices that high-performing forms use left-aligned form labels, adhere to visual hierarchy, use benefit-focused copy, and offer personalized CTAs. 

While these are good tips to get you started, it’s important to test forms so you can make a data-informed decision as opposed to operating on a mere hunch. 

There are a ton of fantastic form testing tools out there, including Optimizely and HubSpot.

Go forth and make great forms 

We hope we’ve armed you with some (if not all 😉) the tools you need to increase form conversions on your site. 

To recap: 

  • Optimizing forms is an integral part of your CRO strategy 

  • Always adhere to UX best practices when designing forms

  • Measure form performance using both qualitative and quantitative data

  • Test the crap out of those puppies and let your user have the final say 

For more insights on inbound conversion strategy from industry experts, check out Demand Gen Chat, a Chili Piper podcast.