Think about it. You put so much work into ensuring that your website ranks well. Then optimize its content to engage visitors. Also, see to it that it loads for them right away.
However, you never think about improving the contact form, right?
A lead capture form is the last element standing between you and the lead. Once someone’s read all your content and made up his or her mind about hiring you, their next step is to get in touch.
And that’s where things can go wrong, both for you and the lead.
Too long form, one asking for unnecessary or confidential information will scare a person from filling it in. A too generic one, on the other hand, might result in too many low-quality leads for your business.
So, in this article, we’ll show you how to optimize lead capture forms to ensure high conversions but also, relevant leads.
Typical Problems with Lead Capture Forms
In their 2016 State of Lead Capture report, Formstack uncovered a challenge most businesses face – the quality of their leads.
67% of their respondents, for example, named “better quality leads” as their primary goal. “Greater volume of leads” ranked second.
Now, I admit, many factors contribute to those two objectives. Quality of traffic will inevitably affect what leads you get. Similarly, its volume might directly correspond with the number of new prospects you attract.
But let’s face it unless those visitors fill in the form, their volume or quality means hardly a thing.
And here’s the kicker. As Formstack discovered in another research project, a typical contact form converts at 3% only.
Of course, there are various factors at play here too. For one, as Formstack notes, contact forms are passive. As not every visitor will be ready to engage with your company, they’d have no desire to complete the form.
This is opposite to active forms, like popups. With them, you present the form to a person, along with an offer to entice them to take action. It comes as no surprise that those forms convert at a higher rate. An exit popup, for example, could convert at up to 7%.
But there is another reason – confidence in filling in a contact form. And this goes beyond simply not wanting to share a certain information with a company.
For example, many visitors feel more positive knowing that their inquiry goes to a relevant department, rather than a generic inbox.
This MSP company, for example, presents a generic form that hardly instills confidence. True, it’s simple to complete. But anyone doing so might wonder, who actually picks up their message on the other end.
One way to overcome it is by communicating clearly who receives the form. For example (note the “contact sales” button):
This MSP takes this even further, letting a person choose the recipient.
This form, on the other hand, includes pre-qualifying questions making it more sales-oriented. Filling it in feels almost like interacting with a sales department already.
This brings us to the other lead capture challenge – poor lead quality.
A generic form does little to prequalify prospects. In turn, there’s nothing stopping people who could never become clients from taking up your time with their inquiries.
Responding and processing inquiries is part and parcel of running an IT business. But it can also be one of the most time-consuming ones. Asking even a single prequalifying question, for example, about the company or a person’s role, can reveal whether they match your ideal client description.
Contact Form Myths
Before we show you how to optimize your form to attract more leads, let’s talk about some things many people believe are true but aren’t.
Myth #1. Shorter Forms Convert Better
It’s true that a long form can feel intimidating. However, as I’ve also shown you already, making the form too short might have a negative effect on your conversions.
For one, it makes your contact page look unprofessional.
Similarly, it forces visitors to figure out how to describe their problem on their own in the “Message” box. Many might feel they’ve forgotten something or even struggle to provide the necessary information.
Here’s one example. This is an actual lead inquiry sent through a form with 3 fields. Note that the person completed the first two right. However, when asked to describe the project, they only spoke about their business, rendering the inquiry meaningless from a sales perspective.
More fields in the form provide context and structure a person could use to provide the necessary information to process their inquiry.
Myth #2. Form Must Be Visible Above the Fold
The placement myth might be true for landing pages, aiming to convert visitors to an email list, for example. But it rarely applies on a typical contact page. Here’s why.
Such pages contain little information, to begin with. Even if the form is lower on a page, there isn’t anything distracting users from completing it above. After all, a call to action, the address or contact information has the same purpose – to generate an inquiry.
For that reason, a form could easily reside further down the page, without any effect on its conversions.
Myth #3. You Must Have Social Proof Close to the Form
Many studies confirm social proof isn’t a requirement on a form. In fact, as DIY Themes discovered, removing it increased conversions.
But for the most part, having some form of social proof – a testimonial or a number of happy customers could have some positive effect on your lead capture rate.
With all this in mind, let’s see how to optimize a contact form to generate more inquiries.
Optimizing a Contact Form for Performance
#1. Use the Form to Prequalify Your Leads
A contact form should be simple to complete. At the same time, it must give you some insight into who is reaching out.
Thelead form is your first opportunity to screen prospects, and assess which inquiries are worth your time and effort.
Most companies do this by adding some pre-qualifying questions in the form. The most common are:
- Type of work required
- Information about the person reaching out, or
- Their level of interest.
#2. Keep the Layout Simple
A visitor should never wonder how to complete the form. At the same time, many companies break their forms into separate pages or use layouts that make prospects miss a field.
The result? Frustration and irritation that might affect what a person thinks of the company.
Keep your form in a single column, ideally. This way, a prospect can navigate through it field by field, never missing providing an important information.
#3. Use Checkboxes Instead of Dropdowns, If Possible
Dropdown menus prevail on lead forms, and for a reason. They reduce the size of the form but still allow to ask for more in-depth information.
But, as research proves, they can reduce conversion rates significantly.
The reason? They keep the information hidden. A person must take action to reveal their choice first, then select the appropriate response.
Checkboxes or radio buttons, on the other hand, make it all visible right away. In turn, they reduce the anxiety associated with having to select yet unknown information.
#4. Use a Clear Call to Action
“Send” or “Submit” is among the most common contact page calls to action. But as it turns out, forms using the latter, experience almost 3% lower conversion rate.
On the other hand, calls to action like “Go” or “Click Here” increase form completions by up to 30%.
Ideally, use a call to action that best describes the outcome of sending the email in a non-intimidating way.
“Contact Sales” from the screenshot above is a good example. The call to action immediately reveals what’s going to happen after a person hits the button – their inquiry will go to the sales department.
#5. Describe What Happens Next
We rarely see this on contact forms. Yet, this one simple element can overcome a person’s anxiety about reaching out to you.
Because, let’s face it, no one knows what happens to their email after they hit send. At least, not until they receive a reply.
Describing the next steps can alleviate their worry.
Here’s an example of a contact form explaining in detail what happens after a person uses it.
All MSPs put incredible effort into attracting visitors to their sites. Only a handful, however, focus on building lead capture forms that can convert the right prospects into leads.
Hopefully, after reading this post, you know how to improve your forms to achieve similar results.