But filling out forms is the way we join in social networks, buy online, register to have our say, and in many cases it’s the way we give marketers permission to talk back to us.
As a marketer, it’s worthwhile to view your form as a ‘transaction’ – an exchange of information for something of value. So consider what you are asking your recipient to provide to you and what you’re offering them in return. Their data is worth a lot to them – what do you have that’s worth even more?
Once you have an equitable ‘transaction’ consider the other potential barriers and issues that exist around online forms.
Optimising your online forms involves overcoming three common failings:
- Failing to reduce fear
- Failing to build trust and credibility
- Failing to reinforce benefits
How can you overcome these Failings?
1 – Considerations for Reducing Fear
- Do you ask for more information than is required initially? It is sometimes best to ask only for the basics– name, email, the most critical data for your relationship with them – region perhaps, or gender, if that means your messages make more sense. You can always ask for more information later, but you can’t guarantee they will give it to you.
- Do you ask for sensitive information before your visitor is comfortable? (Do you really need their date of birth if all they are signing up for is a white paper?)
- Does your form look intimidating or longwinded? (Make it simple!!)
- Does your visitor know how many steps it will take to complete? (Tip : Put visual cues on your form – a simple (1) would do)
- If your visitor fills in a form, do they know what will happen next? (Is the call to action button self-explanatory?)
- Do you handle errors and field validation graciously? (Are the errors easy to understand?)
2 – Considerations for building trust and credibility
- Is your form in line with your other marketing collateral? Is your logo and if appropriate contact details clear to see?
- Is it obvious to your visitor that that they are in a secure browser environment? (Have you checked it in a mobile browser?)
- Do you reinforce your trust messages at the actual point of action?
- Are you clear with your visitors about what you’re going to do with that information? (Remind them at the point of action that their privacy is valued, and let them know when and how you’ll respond to the lead. Studies have shown that leads lose their effectiveness by six times in the first hour of not being responded to.)
3 – Considerations for promoting benefits
- Remind your visitors what value they will get in exchange for the information they provide in the form. Be wary of making too many fields mandatory.
- Do your forms show you value the visitor experience i.e. Are they reflective of your other brand collateral? Does your form show how simple it is to do business with you? Is your form intuitive? Have you shown attention to detail?
- Do you give your visitors options on how to convert further? Can they complete a form online, call, or use any other methods to interact with you beyond the form?
Once you’ve drafted your online form, the next all important step is testing. Review your form on different browsers and devices, and see for yourself just how user friendly it is. Try entering different answers to check field length etc.
Online forms are a vital tool for any savvy marketer and can assist throughout the life cycle of the digital client and prospect. So take some time to optimise your forms and regularly review them to check that they are still delivering for your business.
Don’t miss this previous blog post 5 must-do steps to grow your database – in it there are some great ideas for forms.