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Optional FieldsLead generation marketers are remarkably lucky. If your peers in ecommerce run a series of utterly brilliant A/B or multivariate tests for conversion optimization (CRO), the most they can expect is a 20-something sales lift. (Heavy testers like Dell are thrilled when a test wins single-digit additional sales.) But, lead generation marketers can expect a much higher impact.

In fact, the average lead generation CRO campaign results in a 40-something conversion lift.  As in 40% or more leads generated from the exact same traffic.   

You can optimize every aspect of your lead generation pages – however, we’ve noticed the highest response lift often comes when you tweak your form.

Forms aren’t sexy.Most marketers would prefer to focus on creative things like images or copy. Testing creative does help of course; but your form is where the real action is. 

Don’t let your IT team slap up a routine form on your lead generation landing pages, optimize it. 

Here are three Case Studies to give you ideas to get started:       

Case study #1. How many form fields can you have?

Best practices, and common sense, state that fewer form fields equal more conversions.After all, the less work your prospects have to do, the higher the response rate. 

But, if you care about lead quality, or your sales team is screaming for tons of data on leads, you need as many form fields as possible to help weed prospects out.

Juggling higher conversions versus higher quality can be nightmarish.That’s why we love this A/B test from Kindercare, a national chain of 1,700 child care centers in the US. 

They (rather daringly) tested adding a field to their lead generation form:

Version A: The Shorter form           Version B: The Longer Form

Kindercare No Comments KinderCare Comments
Images from WhichTestWon, copyright protected.

Both forms had the same offer and questions, except version B added a ‘Comments or Questions’ field. 

To their utter surprise, conversions remained stable. There was no reduction in leads generated from the longer form! Plus, the sales team reported that the quality of the leads increased. 

So, perhaps the best practice is not ‘fewer form fields’ but ‘more form fields with higher perceived value to the prospect.’

Case study #2. Should you require prospects to fill out all form fields?

“We need all this information for our database,” we often hear from marketers who are reluctant to make form fields optional.

However, we’ve seen several tests over the years that appear to prove that you’ll get better data, and prospects, by not requiring fields.Here’s a real-life example:

Version A: With required fields

Required Fields
Image from WhichTestWon, copyright protected.

Version B: No required fields

Optional Fields
Image from WhichTestWon, copyright protected.

You probably guessed the winner from our introduction. Yes, the non-required form not only converted 31% more visitors into submitted leads, but the leads themselves were more qualified buyers.

Perhaps your prospects respect you more when you trust them?

Case study #3. Which is best, one-page vs multi-step forms?

It’s a toughie. If you have a form immediately on your landing page, it might scare some prospects away.On the other hand, if you break your lead generation process into multiple pages, you’ll inevitably lose some prospects at each step. 

There is no best practice you can count on.However, A/B testing  can reveal which option is right for your company.  Here’s an example:

Version A: Landing page click button leading to a form   Version B: Form on landing page

2-Step1-Step
Images from WhichTestWon, copyright protected.

In this case, the two-step process lead to a 59% increase in form fills. Both forms were identical, but the winning version had a page of sales copy prior to the form.

Worth noting: we’ve also seen many tests where marketers broke the forms themselves into two pages, with several form fields on the first page and the remainder on the second. Again, there’s no clear best practice that all lead generation marketers should follow – except to try both and see which converts better for you.

Justin Rondeau is the producer of WhichTestWon’s The Live Event, an intensive two-day conference held each May featuring Case Studies and Workshops on how to optimize for better conversions.  Econsultancy readers can get $50.00 off their tickets by using the coupon code Econsultancy at http://whichtestwon.com/TLE

Justin Rondeau

Published 28 March, 2013 by Justin Rondeau

Justin Rondeau is Producer at WhichTestWon's The Live Event and a contributor to Econsultancy.

3 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

Lenka Istvanova

Lenka Istvanova, Marketing Project Manager at Freestak

Very useful post Justin! I've never actually thought of adding a 'Comments or Questions’ field into form as they've done it in the first case study. Great spot on required vs not required fields, earning trust amongst your prospect is the first step, especially when there are so many spammy websites with 'too-long' forms that look really dodgy.
I think that when you're creating forms you should always apply the golden rule - try, test & measure as what works for other may not work for you.

Great post again, thank you.

over 3 years ago

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Plexure

It's a great post! The lead generation is the most things for each business through promoting online. The A/B testing should be helping for the user behaviors. Those 3 case studies are really informative.

about 3 years ago

Justin Rondeau

Justin Rondeau, Producer at WhichTestWon's The Live Event

I'm glad you both got a lot out of the case studies!

about 3 years ago

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Akshita Ramamurthy, Writer at Self

This is a great article. Descriptive and lucid. I'm entirely on-board with paying more attention to lead generation tactics such as registration forms. Brands don't realize how much more their signups can improve with friction-free registration forms. This post http://bit.ly/1i2zM8r debates the importance of good web forms

over 2 years ago

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Hannah Jones, Advertising Executive at Ginger Nut Media

about 1 year ago

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