Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with fresh links and new content to help with your landing page forms.
Original Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Your landing page form is the last obstacle between a prospect and a lead.
Do your landing page forms lead to conversions? Or are they truly obstacles?
It’s easy to get landing page forms wrong, but it’s also easy to improve your landing page forms and increase your conversions.
We’ve got the do’s and the don’ts, plus plenty of screenshots to guide you.
The Fields Where Bad Landing Page Forms Die (The Fields That Kill Conversions)
A good landing page form lives and dies by the fields you ask your prospects to complete — too many, and they’ll turn away; too few, and they won’t have enough information to trust your company.
How do you strike that perfect balance? Here’s what to do… and what to avoid.
1) WRONG: Assuming that “fewer form fields” equals “better.”
If you thought we were going to advise you to reduce your form fields, you’re wrong; in many cases, adding more form fields improves conversion.
In fact, this blog post has an entire section devoted to the best way to add more fields to your landing page forms—so keep reading.
2) RIGHT: Choosing your fields carefully to gain quality leads.
I reached out to Oli Gardner, co-founder of Unbounce and King of the Landing Pages, to ask how many form fields a good landing page form should have. Here’s his response:
I started with the mentality that most people have, that fewer form fields are better.
From a conversion standpoint this is true, but you’ll be surprised on the impact of adding a few fields.
Sometimes it doesn’t make much difference, and if you’re interested in quality over quantity, the extra friction can be a good thing.
But choose those fields carefully, or the friction will create false data:
I’ve seen a form where the goal of the page (what you’ll get) is a report about new chip and pin payment technology, and there was a radio button field beside the call to action that was completely incongruent (not aligned with the campaign goal).
It asked if you were an employer or a job seeker, neither of which are in any way relevant—and it was a required field.
This will make some people run away, and the rest will simply click randomly to bypass the question, polluting the data and rendering it worthless.
3) WRONG: Just asking users for an email address.
If you think the only thing you need from your prospects is an email address, think again.
ConversionXL found in a case study that just asking for an email address lowers conversions by 13.56% compared to a form with a few additional fields.
ConversionXL hypothesizes that just asking for an email looks spammy.
It’s asking for a piece of very personal information without offering anything in return—and a good landing page form gives back as much as it asks for. (More on landing page form benefits later on!)
4) RIGHT: Using data to determine which fields to include.
If you don’t want to ask for just an email, but you don’t want to ask your prospects to complete eleven different fields, how do you choose what fields to include?
Here’s some wisdom from HubSpot:
Marketers need to review their sales and lead generation goals and balance how much information they absolutely need from their leads vs. how much information those prospects will actually provide on a first form.
In other words: do your research.
Don’t guess at what your landing page fields should be; use the information you already have to choose the fields that meet your business and your prospect’s needs.
Take your sales and your lead generation goals and use them to craft the best possible landing page form fields.
5) WRONG: Making prospects type too much information.
The more work your prospects have to do, the less likely they are to complete your landing page forms.
This includes typing, especially on mobile devices. Nobody wants to write out the reason they need your service, one thumb tap at a time.
6) RIGHT: Using smart forms, radio buttons, and multiple-choice fields.
Use smart forms so that prospects can autofill their name, address, email and phone number.
There are numerous smart form plugins and programs out there if you don’t already have smart form capability.
Use radio buttons, drop-downs, and multiple-choice fields for questions like “what’s the biggest problem with your outbound marketing?”
Multiple choice fields also help potential leads qualify themselves. By showing prospects a number of options, they can easily think “these options apply to me” vs. “these options do not apply to me.”
That way, you don’t waste time with people who aren’t going to be a good match for your services.
Here’s one example: if you’re a pest control company, consider including a drop-down field such as “What kind of bugs are bugging you?”
If a potential lead’s insect is on the list, they know that you can help them solve their problem.
Club W’s six-step landing page form uses simple, multiple-choice questions to build trust and get prospects excited about the idea of wine recommendations customized to their palate. It also includes an option to skip the multiple-choice, so prospects know they can save time.
7) WRONG: Including a “clear fields” button.
You don’t want to make it easy for your users to give up.
You also don’t want them to accidentally click “clear fields” instead of “give me my free quote,” because that’s a really quick way to lose a potential conversion.
8) RIGHT: Testing your landing page fields to make sure they’re in the right order.
Here’s a case study from Peep Laja at ConversionXL, showing what happened when they re-ordered a client’s landing page fields:
Variation #3 with no name field and email as the last field resulted in 44.7% more opt-ins at a 99.9% confidence level.
9) RIGHT: Asking for a professional email address.
Here’s another great piece of advice from Oli Gardner:
Recently I’ve been experimenting with the copy in the field labels and found some surprising results, that by changing the label from “email address” to “work email address” or “business email address” you can dramatically increase the number of professional email addresses you receive—which is really smart because it means that your email marketing initiatives will be more likely to arrive when your prospects are at work making business decisions.
Add More Fields (and Steps) To Your Form
Want to get more conversion out of your landing page form?
Have you considered splitting it into two or more steps?
The first steps qualify the prospect as a lead and help the prospect build trust; the last step secures the conversion.
As Klientboost’s own Johnathan Dane puts it:
If you get somebody to fill out the first step in the landing page form, they are much more likely to commit to continue that process and fill out the last step as well.
Need proof that the multi-step form works?
When Advanced Grass went from a one-step landing page form to a two-step form, they saw a 214% increase in conversion rates and an increase in lead quality.
There are right ways and wrong ways to create a multi-step form, so let’s break them down:
10) RIGHT: Using the first step to build trust with the prospect.
Take a look at that Advanced Grass screenshot again. The first step invites the prospect to describe their project. In return, they’ll receive a $100 coupon and a free quote.
At this point in the multi-step form, the prospect is receiving all of the benefits without having to give up any personal information. It’s a win-win.
Multi-step forms work because the prospect fills out the first step thinking they’ll get the information they want (like the free quote) without having to give up their personal information.
After all, they aren’t sure if they want to do business with you yet; they just want to know how much you cost or whether you’ll be able to solve their problem.
The multi-step form helps prospects understand that you can solve their problem (which also helps to qualify them as a lead). By the time they get to the step that asks for the email address and phone number, they’ll have built trust with the company and will be more likely to provide their contact information.
11) WRONG: Making your form’s early steps meaningless.
Anyone can break landing page forms into multiple parts. The trick is to give prospects a reason to complete each part of the form. Otherwise, why bother?
A good multi-step form gives prospects a reason to complete each section. A great multi-step form gives prospects a benefit for each step they take. (More on benefits later on! Keep reading!)
Squarespace has an incredible multi-step landing page form. The first step promises you a free 14-day trial if you click “get started.”
Squarespace’s second step asks you to choose what type of website you want — again, you’re getting all of the benefits without giving away any personal information.
Squarespace’s third step invites you to imagine what you want your website to look like. Are you thinking “14-day free trial” at this point? Probably not. You’re thinking “this is my new website.”
We’re already up to Step Four, but it doesn’t feel like work —-it feels like fun. Remember that Squarespace hasn’t asked you for any personal information yet; all they’re doing is helping you get started with your new website.
After you’ve decided what kind of site you want and chosen the design, Squarespace finally asks for the contact information and email.
12) RIGHT: Building your first steps around price.
To quote Johnathan Dane again:
Remember, your visitors want to hold hands before they kiss. They want to know that one darn thing you don’t want to give them until you have them on the phone. The price.
Ask your prospects to fill out a few form fields so that you can give them a quote. They’ll do it, and create what Dane calls a “micro-conversion.”
On the next step of your form, ask for their name, email, and phone number—so you can send them the quote, of course.
We’ve all filled out multi-step forms like these; they’re practically ubiquitous in industries like insurance, for example. But your business can use them too—and reap the increased conversion.
Do these Geico multi-step landing page forms look familiar?
There are plenty of other ways to create a multi-step landing page form, too.
Instead of inviting prospects to receive a quote, you could ask prospects to provide a zip code to determine if you provide service in their area. We’ve seen these types of multi-step forms before, too.
Eat24 (now Grubhub) asks for your address to check if they offer food delivery in your area.
Once Eat24 has your address, it shows you the best food you can buy. (Hungry yet?)
13) RIGHT: Adding a progress bar.
Your prospects don’t know if your landing page form has two steps or twenty-two steps. Give them a progress bar so they’ll know how soon they’ll receive their benefit.
FirstRound recently wrote about the benefits of progress indicators in mobile app onboarding forms, noting:
People feel compelled to finish something when they know they’re almost done. Adding a progress bar can increase conversions up to 40%.
14) WRONG: Not immediately following up on multi-step form conversions.
Post-conversion strategy is always important. It’s so important that I wrote an entire post about it — and it’s extra important if your prospects fill out a multi-step form.
As Johnathan Dane explains:
If you use your final step form as a great reason for them to give you their personal contact info (Like, “We’re putting your quote together. Where can we send it?”) then they’ll be expecting your phone call and/or email.
Don’t disappoint them.
15) RIGHT: Responding as soon as possible.
Don’t lose those conversions to a competitor. Contact your leads as soon as you can and use what you’ve learned from the multi-step landing page form to discuss their specific needs and begin closing the sale.
(Instapage has a great guide on converting call-to-action leads into buyers — you can start there.)
16) WRONG: Ignoring the information your prospects provide.
Have you ever been stuck on one of those service calls where you have to repeat your name and account number every time you get passed to a new agent?
It’s even worse when you have to repeat the problem you want to be solved.
If you ask for specific information from your prospects, whether it’s zip code or square footage or number of employees, reference that information when you contact them.
Don’t make them repeat what they’ve already told you.
17) RIGHT: Use the information your prospects provide to qualify leads.
A good multi-step landing page form not only brings in conversions, but it also helps you qualify leads.
If you ask the right questions in the early stages of your form, you’ll know which of your prospects is most likely to benefit from your service, and which of your prospects is most likely to result in a big sale.
The first step of CrazyEgg’s landing page form asks prospects to give them their website URL in exchange for a heatmap—an easy way to build trust without asking for personal data.
The second step asks for personal data, and gives CrazyEgg access to Google Analytics information that will help them decide whether you are a good candidate for their service.
If you want to learn more about this, check out Johnathan Dane’s webinar with Unbounce, 7 PPC Landing Page Hacks Your Competitors Would Kill To Know.
You’ll hear some great tips on how to create multi-step landing page forms, as well as six other landing page hacks that will push you ahead of the competition.
Your Landing Page Form Needs a Call to Action Too
Every landing page needs a call to action. But every landing page form needs a call to action too, and they aren’t necessarily the same thing.
Here’s what you need to know to help your prospects answer the call:
18) RIGHT: Revealing your landing page form after your users click your call-to-action button.
There are two schools of thought here: some companies put their landing page form directly onto their landing page, and others prefer to create a micro-conversion by asking users to click a CTA button first.
Which is better?
If you ignore the tip above and still want your form to appear on your landing page -— not after users click a CTA button -— you want to make it easily visible.
In this case, your form acts as your CTA, with the form’s CTA button as the most important part of all.
19) WRONG: Making a landing page form without a CTA.
Yes, your prospects may have already clicked your CTA button to get the form, but you still need to give them a reason to complete the form.
They need a new call to lead them to a new action.
20) WRONG: Making a landing page form that’s visually different from the landing page.
If a prospect visits your landing page and clicks the CTA button, the landing page form experience should visually match what they’ve already seen.
Don’t make the mistake of investing all of your design into your landing page… and none of your design into your landing page form.
21) RIGHT: Putting as much effort into crafting your landing page form’s CTA as you do on your actual CTA button.
Don’t assume that if a prospect clicks your landing page call-to-action button, they’ve already converted.
They can choose not to convert at any step in the process, including in the middle of filling out your landing page form.
So make sure your landing page form’s CTA is as compelling as your landing page’s CTA.
Pro Tip: Read How To Create The Strongest Call To Action Button to see how we use copy, color, shape, size and position to create call to action buttons that convert.
22) WRONG: Allowing users to scroll away from your landing page form or CTA button.
Out of sight, out of mind—right? To quote ConversionXL:
If the landing page is long enough for scrolling, duplicate the form or button in the very bottom of the page.
Squarespace puts its CTA button in a prominent position on its landing page.
And they add a second CTA button at the bottom of the page, as well as a header button that scrolls with you.
23) RIGHT: Providing directional cues to help your users see the form.
What are directional cues? They’re any type of visual aid that guides the user’s eye toward what you want them to see.
On landing pages, they’re the arrows that point towards the form, the hero shots in which the hero is looking towards the form, or the compelling copy that ends right next to the landing page form.
Show your prospects exactly where to look.
24) WRONG: Turning your CTA into an open-ended question.
Don’t give your users the opportunity to think of multiple reasons why they might not want your service.
25) RIGHT: Using your CTA to ask a yes/no question.
As Unbounce says, “By asking a question, you will immediately gain the attention of anyone who says YES in response.”
I say YES to that!
All About the Bennies
Now that we’ve taken a look at calls to action, it’s time to focus in on that all-important call to action copy—and the benefit your prospects are going to receive if they click.
This can be an informational benefit, like an ebook or access to a webinar.
It can be the type of benefit that guides prospects into a sales funnel, such as a service quote. But you have to have some kind of benefit, and you need to make sure your CTA copy clearly communicates that benefit to your prospects.
26) WRONG: Not focusing your CTA copy on the benefit.
If your landing page form call-to-action copy is “submit,” you’re doing it wrong. Even if it’s something a little more customized, like “get your ebook,” you’re still doing it wrong.
You need to spell out exactly how your users will benefit from completing the form.
Here’s one example: In a CTA study, Michael Aagaard found that changing copy from “Join Betting Experts” to “Get Free Betting Tips” increased conversions by 31.54%.
Notice that BettingExpert also swapped out the generic “sign up” for the compelling “sign up and get the best daily tips.”
27) RIGHT: Keeping your benefit goal-oriented.
What goal will your benefit help users achieve?
Unbounce has a case study that shows how a goal-oriented benefit plus a simple landing page form helped one company go from a 2% to a 27% conversion rate, representing a 1250% lift.
In this case, the company spells out the benefit and the goal: if prospects read the Idea Book, they’ll be able to design a better patient room.
What will your prospects be able to do after they access your benefit? Why don’t you tell them?
ConversionXL tells you exactly how you’ll benefit from reading their ebook: you’ll begin the transition from amateur to expert, and learn to tackle any conversion project on any website.
28) RIGHT: Replacing generic language with value-focused text.
Every part of your copy, including the submit button, should be optimized to show the value a prospect will receive if they complete the landing page form.
Instead of using “submit” or similar generic terms, Unbounce suggests you “describe what will happen when you click the button.”
They advise swapping out a generic phrase like “Try For Free” for more descriptive text like “Ask a nerd why your computer is sick.”
Remember: it’s your job to make every word count. All “submit” does is let people know that you’re just like everyone else.
29) WRONG: Using the word “free.”
Why is “free” even worse than “submit” or “try now?” Oli Gardner explains:
From some data mining we’ve done at Unbounce, we’ve seen that using words like “free” in your form call to action can actually harm conversion rates. My thinking is that people don’t really believe that anything is really free anymore. Giving up your personal information and email is an exchange of social currency and thus not free.
Don’t Forget About Social Share
On the subject of social currency: let’s talk about social share.
Landing page forms are a great way to get people to share your company with their social networks—but there are a few things you need to know first.
30) WRONG: Putting your social share buttons on your landing page.
You absolutely want social share buttons as part of your conversion process—after all, you want the people interested in your product or service to share that interest with their social networks, right?
But too many people put social share buttons on their landing page, instead of on their landing page form confirmation page.
There’s a key difference here — can you spot it?
If you put your social share buttons on your landing page, you’re asking people to share before they’ve decided if they like you.
You’re also asking them to click something that isn’t your call-to-action button, which is a huge no-no for landing pages.
(This is one of the 49 Reasons Users Aren’t Clicking Your Call-To-Action Button, by the way. Make sure you learn the other 48).
31) RIGHT: Adding a social share nudge after a user completes the form and receives the benefit.
Once again, Unbounce explains it well: “People are more inclined to share something right after they actually get it.” So give them their benefit, and then ask them to share.
Closing Thoughts on Landing Page Forms
Are you ready to start righting your landing page form wrongs?
What Landing Page Forms tips did you find most valuable?
We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments 🙂
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