If there’s one thing I love, it’s discovering new methods within marketing that do two things:
- Stand the test of time.
- Function effectively across different industries.
But as time keeps going, the rate of innovations for real-life inventions–and even new and novel marketing tactics–continue to decline.
The highest peak of innovation happened during a decade of no wars in 1840, and when Isaac Newton developed calculus in the second half of the 17th century #WaterCoolerTalk (source).
So today, and with no bearing on history or actual real life innovation, we have an innovation that applies to your landing page design and the improvements of your conversion rates.
It’s called “The Breadcrumb Technique” (name borrowed from the dangerous adventures of Hansel and Gretel). And it’s the ultimate landing page test (and framework) we’ve found for lead gen or SaaS marketing.
And the best part?
It’s extremely easy and logical to follow.
A Little Background on Compliance Psychology
Before you start your first landing page test using The Breadcrumb Technique, it’s important to understand why it works.
But even before we do that, we have to look at the why one of the most common conversion rate optimization tactics can fall flat on its face.
You’ve heard the idea of lessening the number of form fields to increase conversion rates, right?
And it makes sense… until you think about it.
When you’re looking to generate leads, trials, or demos, if you keep taking fields away, you’re left with the fields that are the most threatening for a visitor to fill out.
This is their contact information. The information that they hold most precious and would prefer NOT to give out if they can avoid it.
If they give you this information without you giving them the information they want, then they’re no longer anonymous, and that can freak people out.
So how do you get that information from them, in a willing manner, that also leaves you with higher conversion rates?
You add more fields and more steps. The exact opposite advice of what everyone else is preaching.
But here’s the catch.
The order of your fields and the order of your steps are extremely important.
Your goal is to get the visitor to micro-convert on a step with fields/questions that are easy to answer. Once you’ve done that, you unlock some pretty crazy conversion potential:
Here’s How It Works
The Breadcrumb Technique is literally the landing page version of the “Yes Ladder”.
It’s the art of eventually getting to what you want (the conversion) as a marketer, by getting visitors to accept/say yes to much smaller requests first.
Scott Fraser and Jonathan Freedman conducted some interesting research on how to get people to say yes to something they normally would say no to.
The goal was to go door-to-door and get people to put up regularly sized “Drive Carefully” signs up in their front yard, but only 20% of people said yes.
They then did the exact same experiment again, but instead of asking people to put up the regular sized signs, they asked them to put up much smaller signs, which then opened the opportunity to get them to eventually say yes to displaying the regular sized sign (which was the original goal).
Guess how many people complied?
76% compared to the original 20%.
It’s the science of working backward from whatever your big ask (your call to action) is on your landing page.
- Are you a divorce lawyer who wants to drive free consultations? Ask your visitors how long they’ve been married and how many kids they have.
- Are you an online university who wants to drive applications? Ask your visitors when they graduated high school and how many hours they’d like to be in school.
- Are you an interior decorator who wants to drive quote requests? Ask your visitors how many square feet your home is or how many rooms they have.
You get the point 🙂
By asking your visitors questions with fields that are easy to answer and allow them to stay anonymous, you’ll set yourself up for a higher chance of them to finish the entire conversion process.
Why You Can’t Lessen The Amount Of Form Fields
Since we’re a PPC agency that uses platforms like Facebook and Google Ads to drive traffic and conversions, we’ve been able to test The Breadcrumb Technique across hundreds of various industry landing pages.
The more we use it, the more it affirms the reality that less fields don’t always equal more conversions.
Some of the hypotheses we’ve thought of as to why using multi step landing pages work so well have come down to this:
- People are cautious. Only asking for names, emails, and phone numbers makes the visitor believe that they won’t get an answer to their question without having to speak with someone first. This goes against their goal of being able to compare you and your competitors while still being anonymous. (Plenty of Hotjar polls prove this.)
- People are busy. If they find your landing page via a Google ad click, they won’t want to fill out seven different lead gen forms and have seven different companies call them back.
- People are lazy. They want quick answers, and most of their questions revolve around cost. They know they won’t get a quick answer if they have to wait for you to reach out to them.
Does The Breadcrumb Technique Always Work?
Some types of landing pages don’t do as well when The Breadcrumb Technique is applied. Usually landing page forms for eBooks, guides, and whitepapers aren’t as effective with multiple steps.
The severity of your call to action determines whether or not The Breadcrumb Technique will work for you.
If you’re asking for someone to request a free consultation or get a quote (a big ask), then the technique will work. If you’re trying to promote a free eBook, a podcast, or a webinar (small ask), then the technique won’t work that well.
Here’s Some Proof
Now that you know what the technique is all about, let’s take a look at it in action.
We’ve been working with a financial institution that went from asking all info from the visitor with a single landing page and a long form. It combined all the mortgage information fields that were needed, plus the person’s contact information.
We split up the forms and fields and here’s what happened:
- CPA went from $800+ to $35
- Conversion volume went from 6 to 135/mo
- Conversion rate went from 1% to almost 20%
Another example comes from a SaaS company who used a single step popup form before working with us:
We switched things up and asked some preliminary questions that actually didn’t matter to the sales team. It was our goal to get the visitor to micro convert before asking for their contact information.
And the results:
- Conversion rate rose 74%
- CPA dropped 51%
Here’s two more examples.
This artificial grass installer saw a 214% increase in conversion rate by splitting the form into two steps:
And this promo company saw an even more dramatic lift with a four-step landing page:
There’s something about this technique that continues to perform, regardless of the industry.
But be careful…
Your Landing Page Fields Can Make or Break You
The order of your fields is sometimes much more important than the fields themselves.
That’s pretty crazy to think about.
You can actually get away with asking questions that people normally wouldn’t convert on, as long as you consider the timing of the field.
It’s the same thing that happens with the “Yes Ladder” and “Foot-In-The-Door” techniques.
If you go straight for the jugular, you’ll most likely lose. That’s why Scott and Jonathan from earlier in this post were able to increase their “yes’es” from 20% to 76% when they asked for small favors first.
Think about the fields and steps in your form and how they can be rearranged so that the least threatening fields/questions are first, followed by contact information fields as the last step.
How About Some Real-Life Examples?
I’ll give you some real-life examples:
- As a kid, you probably wanted to spend the night at your friend’s house. But out of fear of getting a no from your parents, you ask if you can go to your friend’s house for an hour first, and once there, then ask if you can spend the night.
- If you need to borrow a car for a longer period of time, ask first if you can borrow it for a short drive. It will make the owner feel more at ease knowing that you didn’t crash it on the short drive.
- Remember when you were in school and had due dates for projects? You could ask if you could turn in the paper a few hours later, even though you know you’re eventually going to ask if you can turn it in a few days later.
So how does this translate to your landing page test?
The questions/fields you ask on the first step could be the same questions you ask to qualify a lead. Or you could also make them up to make the visitor believe it’s part of the information you need to give them what they want (a free quote or free consultation as an example).
Take the example test we ran below for another SaaS company. We already used The Breadcrumb Technique but later found that we asked the wrong questions on the first step.
And here were the updated fields:
Here were the results between the two variants:
We found out that even “Company Name” was too threatening to the visitor on the first impression as a visitor might believe it de-anonymizes them.
Over to You…
It’s not often that you find a new landing page test that can make a conversion rate impact like the one here.
We’re working on a 2.0 version of the post as we’re testing between open fields, drop downs, radio buttons and more to see what works best.
Subscribe to the blog because we’ll update all on there when our new findings are released.