Improve Website Conversions: Online Forms

How to Generate Online Leads From Existing Website Visitors

website geotargeting

We spend a lot of time thinking about forms. Hmmm. It sounds funny saying it out loud. But it’s the truth! In the world of online conversions and website performance, forms are the gateway from discovery and awareness to genuine interest. This article focuses on forms: how to improve them and the impact it can make on website performance. We're not terribly concerned right now about APIs, linking CRMs or "talking" with third party applications. Reading this article and doing a quick website audit can take as little as 20 minutes and could be the most valuable 20 minutes of your week!

User Experience 101: What Is The Goal of The Page?

Step One: Ask yourself, what is the goal of this page. Not what is the goal of the entire website, but what is the goal of this specific page. Perhaps it’s to get prospective students to enter their email so you can trigger your automation campaign. Perhaps it’s to alert an alumni of an upcoming event in their area and fill seats at the regional reception. Or maybe it’s to get users to the correct place from a navigation standpoint quickly and efficiently.

 
 

Is Your Website Goal Clear?

The largest percentage of your visitors are bouncing (leaving) within 0-8 seconds after briefly viewing your landing page
— InteractiveMarketing.com

Now that you have a website goal in place, do a quick audit. Grab five people walking by and ask them what they think the goal of the website is. Is it clear? You don’t need a focus group, a national survey or a six month brand study. You’ll know pretty quick if your website message is getting across.

Tip: The clearer the goal. The closer to one.

Through the websites we've helped audit, roughly 95 percent of users are not ready to complete your website conversion. How does that number improve? Use this formula: total number of links on a page divided by conversion links should be close to one. Here is an example from the University of Nebraska:

 
admissions website
 

Notice three navigational goals specific to prospective students: Apply. Visit. Tuition Info. Ten total links on the page (at least above the fold) bringing the total to 3.3 links per website goal. Pretty close to our goal of one.

Website Goal Completion Structure: Goal, Strategy, Objective. 

Website Goal: Convert students from interest and discovery to admissions lead.

Strategy: Limit the total number of links on the website to one. Create a simple form completion lead and create a seamless automation to help qualify interest between one and five stars.

Objective: Track goal conversion completion: what percentage of website visitors complete the desired action? Five percent? Eight percent? How do we improve that number?

Improving Form Completions: Removing Uncertainty:

If you have one week’s worth of website analytics, you have enough metrics to start making data driven decisions. One of the first screens to consider is the online behavior of your website visitors. What sites are they visiting? Where are they clicking? Here’s a good example from the GeoFli homepage.

 
website personalization
 

Notice that less than 10 percent of all website clicks are below the fold, while only 1.7 percent of visitors are clicking on the goal of this page, which is to get in touch with our team to see if there’s a mutual fit: Contact Sales. Are the rest of the links on the site distracting? Can we use the 80/20 rule (80 percent of website visitors clicking on 20% of links) to reduce the number of distractions on the site?

Yes. Let’s move some of the less critical links to the bottom footer and start tracking goal completions.  

Website Performance Audit:

The second largest percentage of visitors bail when they decide your landing page does not prove compelling or relevant to what they’re looking for.
— Interactivemarketinginc.com

You’ve completed the audit, removed some low-visited links to make way for a clear call-to-action and goal completion. Now it’s live and you have a form. Don’t celebrate publishing! You're not done yet. Now is the time to track. Before looking at the top content replacement tools, understand how your website is performing today. 

The Thank You Page:

In a perfect world, forms would exist elegantly on your website and send users to a /thankyou page. On the thank you page exists a conversion tag pinging you every time a form is completed. For information on how to set that up, check out our article on setting up Google Goals.

What if it’s not that easy?

If you’re using a third party CRM where form completions take place outside of your existing URL, there are measures you can take: event tracking, custom javascript and hidden form fields. This will likely require some advanced technical knowledge. We can help take a look.

How Many Fields Should My Form Have?

To answer this question, it helps to work through your prospective student lead flow or a customer journey. What is the minimum entry to be considered a lead? Check out this video by the CEO and founder of Thumbtack.

 
 
By building out questionnaires, we were building confidence with the customer that we knew what we were talking about.
— Marco Zappacosta

Conventional wisdom certainly points to less form fields for higher conversion rates, but it’s tough to argue with Thumbtack's 27 percent conversion rate. It’s important to note that each of those fields are likely to be meaningful. Here’s an example of the welcome screen on their form making it crystal clear why you’re providing information.

 
Welcome question for Thumbtack.com

Welcome question for Thumbtack.com

 

Online Form Audit:

Are there form fields you can eliminate? How can you tell? Answer the question: do we use this information in the next step of our recruitment or sales process? Do we use the information to inform our marketing? How does it impact form conversion rates? Notice the difference in conversation rates below: by simply removing “Phone Number” as a form field, conversion rates increased from 13 percent to 19 percent.

 
website performance improving
 

Pro Tip: Explain to your customer why they are completing the form.

Example: Area of Interest: We’ll use this answer to put you in touch with current students, faculty and information about this program.

Trust what your customers are telling you. Customer’s laziness is like gravity, it will flow to the easiest solution to solve their need.
— Thumbtack CEO Marco Zappacosta

 Use data to figure out where that river flows.

How To Follow Up With Online Leads:

Books, seminars, and fortune 500 companies have been created covering this topic. Following up with form submissions is everything. In our experience, starting with the lowest barrier to entry and building on that information provides the right combination of steady leads combined with the ability to quickly qualify folks genuinely interested. Spend time-money and resources recruiting the folks that are genuinely interested. Not all leads are created equal. 

Quality Versus Quantity: How to Lead Score:

You will receive more leads with a pared down form. There will be some pushback from sales based on negative interactions with these new leads. "but remember, you’re filling the top of the funnel and as a result, there will be more qualified leads lower in the funnel than existed before. A lower barrier to entry requires a more thought out and deliberate qualifying step.

Gather Name and Email First. Complete Additional Fields During Future Conversations:

Maybe a contact form only includes name, email and phone. How do you know what they want to study? Ask! How do you know if they are graduating in 2019 or 2020? Ask! For the price of a phone-call, you can learn more about a prospective student or sales prospect than any form field can ever reveal. Have the contact’s information open when making the call, and then fill in the gaps. Take notes, schedule the next convo or close the lead. A small team of coachable interns, student workes and a couple phone-lines make this pretty easy to tackle.

SUBMIT! Don't Be Boring:

The call-to-action button is the middle-child of form and website conversions. Design is born first. It gets all the attention. Committees, resources, compliments. Then the middle child: the nuts and bolts of website performance. Personalized website content, Next comes the actual content, and while it’s exciting for copywriters and website personalization analysts, most gloss over this step, or assign it to the closest intern. The last born is the youngest, the Instagram story, the Snapchat influencers and the newest marketing trends. Time spent here can be valuable, but should only come after your website (the most influential source for customer information) is dialed in. This was a test GeoFli ran for a local Montana lifestyle brand: UPTOP Clothing. 

 
call_to_action_geofli
 

We hope you enjoyed this article on completing forms. While the topic isn't the most exciting you'll come across, it could have the most impact on the performance of your website. Combine an elegant form with a personalized website experience and a one-on-one follow up. You'll be well on your way to building an online recruitment machine. 

Other Articles To Make Your Website Fire on All Cylinders

The "Contact Us" Page: Win More Opportunities

Trigger Emails Based on Website Activity

Advanced Geotageting

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GeoFli allows users to create website content based on visitor location.