The Conversion Chronicles, resources for improving your online conversion rates

10 Elements to Test to Improve Form Submissions

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Encouraging visitors to fill out a form, whether they´re applying for a mortgage or subscribing to a newsletter, generates valuable leads. Improve your form and you improve your form submissions, resulting in more leads and more business -- without an increase in your marketing budget.

While a tremendous number of variables exist in every form, the impact of most are negligible. Chances are, when you're selling a big ticket item like a home theater system, the color of your headline or your font style won't make a huge difference. So where do you begin?

Here are the 10 variables we have found to make the most dramatic differences
in form completion. Try testing:

1) Field instructions
A word here or there can make a surprising difference. Play with combinations of words. For example:
-"create account" vs. "start here"
-"enter new password" vs. "type password"

2) Number of fields
Intuition may tell you that fewer fields means better completion rates, so you end up combining fields (last name, first name) to make your form shorter.
On the other hand, cramming too much information into less space can make the form complicated. And for some products and services, longer forms make users feel they have invested more in the process, so they are ultimately more likely to complete it. You can't tell until you test.

3) Multi-page vs. single page
Again, single-page forms may seem intuitively preferable to multi-page forms. But a recent MarketingSherpa case study showed that a three-step registration process worked far better than a two-step process for Citrix Online.

4) Links
Do you want links to allow visitors to open a new window for more products or pricing information, for example, or do you want to keep them in the narrowest of sales funnels?

5) Photos and illustrations
Will pictures help completions or distract users? Test whether a picture helps your case, and the type of picture that works best. You might try testing:
-People in photos vs. no people
-Color vs. black and white
-Illustrations vs. photos

6) Placement of offer
You already know you should be testing your offer. In your form, test the placement of your offer. Try it in the headline, as a call-out, in a starburst -- or all three.

7) Drop-down lists
Do your visitors prefer to manually type in dates, state names, country, etc., or is it better to have them choose from a drop-down list?

8) Confirmation/activation emails
When visitors are signing up for a newsletter, test whether you should require users to reply to a confirmation email. Will it reassure them or cause them to balk at the extra step? Will they open the confirmation email or just assume it´s a thank you for subscribing and delete it?

9) Call to action
Again, finding the right wording can be tremendously effective. Does "Click here" work better than "Sign up" or "Get started now"?

10) Button style
Do stylized buttons or plain gray systems buttons encourage more clicks?

Play around with some of these elements on your submission form and see if you can't double your form completions. If you do, be sure to let us know what worked and what didn't, and we'll include a success story next month.
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Matthew RocheAuthor: Matthew Roche, CEO and Co-President - Offermatica

Matthew Roche is Co-President and CEO of Offermatica. Offermatica provide a scientific testing platform for applying A/B, multivariate and Taguchi testing to increase online sales.