Best Practices for Opt-In Web Forms

Written by  on Apr 29, 2015

The success of your opt-in form is not only vital for the achievement of your lead generation goals, but also plays a part in the overall success of your website or online business.

What’s the Deal with Email Lists?

Building an email list can significantly contribute to the growth of your online business. Emails lists aren’t subject to the whims of Google and don’t suddenly lose value after an algorithm update. An email list provides the opportunity to offer your services or products to the same customer multiple times. 

An email list isn’t just for pitching prospective customers. It also acts as a safety net in the event that something unfortunate was to happen to your website, specifically its organic search ranking. 

If your site falls victim to a sudden drop in organic search rank, you still have a captive audience to market to, even if you aren’t being found in organic searches. After all, the people who opted-in to your list have expressed interest in your product or service - they wouldn’t have opted-in if they weren’t interested in what you had to offer. 

Niching Down Your Target Customer

Building your email list also allows you to get to know your customer better. You can ask new registrants specific questions when they opt-in, and use that data to separate prospects into various marketing campaigns. The more information you have about the individuals on your list, the more targeted your marketing can be, which ultimately leads to a higher conversion rate. 

You’ve probably been on the receiving end of a lengthy lead capture form before, and have experienced firsthand the frustration of a long-winded form. Getting the balance between brevity and gathering all the information you need is an artform. With that in mind, here are some guidelines to follow when creating lead generation forms.

Best Practice for Forms

1. Remove Distractions

If your primary objective is getting a visitor to sign-up, don’t distract the user with colorful and/or attention grabbing content around this conversion point. Keep this opt-in form clean and avoid anything that will lead to confusion or cause a visitor to leave the page without completing the opt-in process. 

Distracting banner ads, related blog articles, and calls-to-action that lead you elsewhere are all distractions - do away with them when convincing a user to opt-in. 

2. Minimize Fields

Although your lead generation or contact form may ideally call for more information, try to reduce the amount of required fields to the bare minimum. Studies have shown that 5-10 fields is the ideal range, with 7 being the optimal. 

You may say "but I need to know the address if I'm going to send my sales rep out to their location for a free-consultation". Asking for someone's physical address in the first exchange of infomration may be jumping the gun a bit, so try and weigh the 'neccessity' against the possibility of capturing that information once they're speaking to your representative. Would you rather have to ask them later, or not get the lead at all because you asked too much, too early.  

There may be times when you want to qualify those leads, and sometime having a longer form may weed-out the window-shoppers. Although extra questions can be a barrier to getting a conversion, it can sometimes validate the process in the mind of the user i.e. “how can I get a quote if they're not asking for this specific thing?”.

3. Needs vs Wants 

Put a lot of thought into deciding what is essential information that must be captured against what would be nice to have. If building a list is your primary objective, ask only for the ‘needs’. If vetting prospects is part of your strategy, ask for more ‘wants’.

Consider the value of the content you’re offering for opting-in against how much information your user has to give up. If you were a user, would you be happy to answer the twenty field form you’ve created for a 5000 word eBook? Make sure your offer has greater perceived value than your prospects personal details.

What does it all mean?

In the end, nothing is set in concrete when it comes to what to include on a lead generation form. Marketers need to decide on what information is a must, against what is merely desirable. To create a win-win situation, the user has to feel the trade was a fair transaction and they received something valuable in exchange for their details.

What do you think? 

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