Registration Forms: 3 steps to lead form optimization


Registration forms can be both the easiest and most difficult elements of your website to optimize.

They can be easy because in certain cases, making a few simple changes to what you require from your potential customers can produce impressive results. However, the inherent difficulty comes from the political turf war that can arise in many organizations from attempting to reduce form fields.

At a very high level, here are three basic steps to help you improve the performance of your registration forms, along with a further resource to give you more of the knowledge you need to make it happen.

Step #1: Get internal buy-in

Most marketers, before they are able to optimize their registration forms, will need buy-in from someone. It may be your boss in the marketing department. Or, it may be a sales leader who simply insists that a lead is not a lead unless the company gathers countless pieces of information about that person.

In the blog post “Form Optimization: 3 case studies to help convince your boss (and Sales) to reduce form fields,” Paul Cheney, Editorial Analyst, MECLABS, generous chap that he is, gives you a 23-slide presentation you can use to make the internal sale before you engage in your external marketing optimization.

In this blog post, you’ll find:

  • 56% of marketers consider optimizing form logic to have a very significant impact on website performance, and 46% of marketers consider optimizing form layout to have a very significant impact, accord to MarketingSherpa’s 2011 Landing Page Optimization Benchmark Report (free excerpt)
  • An experiment in which a luxury home builder drove a 166% increase in leads with an A/B test of a new form design
  • An experiment in which a business hosting services company drove a 188% increase in lead rate with an A/B test of a new form design
  • An experiment in which SmartBrief achieved an 816% growth in subscriptions with an A/B test of an optimized form page


Step #2: Use A/B testing to learn about your potential customers

Now that you’ve gained the approval to proceed, don’t just make changes for the sake of it. Instead, employ a regimented approach:

  • Form a hypothesis about which changes will improve your form response
  • Craft research questions that will enable you to learn if this hypothesis is true
  • Launch an A/B test to see how your potential customers actually respond
  • Learn about your customers from this test
  • Use this new knowledge to make further changes and inform more tests.

You shouldn’t expect to get an automatic lift just by copying what someone else has done, or so-called “best practices.” You have to find what works best for your company’s specific situation, and A/B testing is an effective way to do that.

In the Web clinic replay “Negative Lifts: How a 24% loss produced a 141% increase in conversion,” Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS, explains how you can learn from every test you run to improve your future efforts.

Specifically, you’ll see:

  • An experiment in which reducing the amount of form fields (among other changes) let to a 24% decrease in conversion
  • A follow-up experiment, in which using what the team learned from the first test led to an 89% increase in conversion
  • How to write a research question for a form element test
  • Live optimization of audience-submitted pages, some of which include registration forms


Step #3: Do no harm

If you have used the two resources I mentioned above, you can see that to really wring increased conversion from your registration forms, you have to optimize more than the form – you have to optimize the page itself.

In the Web clinic replay “SEO Landing Pages: How we achieved 548% more conversions without damaging organic rankings,” Dr. McGlaughlin shows marketers how to optimize to convince a human to take an action, such as fill out a lead from, while minimizing the chance that these changes will adversely affect your search engine results page (SERP) ranking.

Specifically, you’ll see:

  • An experiment on a registration form landing page that increased total leads 548%
  • Basic steps to take to minimize damage to search rankings

Related Resources:

Lead Generation: Testing form field length reduces cost-per-lead by $10.66

Form Optimization: 3 case studies to help convince your boss (and Sales) to reduce form fields

Common Landing Page Mistakes: Form fields that stop selling value

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