When Is the Lead Form Optimization Needed?

How to increase lead form conversions and prevent abandoned carts

Rick Mess       |       April 11, 2021

Often, a landing page, website, or online store that doesn’t look bad at first glance has low conversion rates of the application form. Does the problem always reside in the lead form and will its optimization help to improve conversions?

The correct answer is: not always. Let’s see why.

A good interface is the cornerstone of success no. 1

A lead form is an organic part of the design, just like an arm is part of the body. If the body is sick and weak, then the hand is the same. If users don’t like the interface, don’t expect them to be drawn to the form like bees to honey. A friendly, thought-out interface is a guarantee that the form will fulfill its purpose.

Trust in the company — cornerstone of success no. 2

Distrust in the company and its website is behind most abandonments. Distrust is evoked by:

- hiding information (about delivery, returns, costs);

- lack of confidentiality;

- unjustified questioning (for data collection);

- unfriendly interface;

- low-quality content;

- excess of animation and banner ads;

- bad design.

If on the way to the lead form, the user’s trust in the company isn’t established for one of these reasons, nothing will force them to perform the targeted action, and no optimization of the order form will help here.

As early as the conceptual stage of the project, you should consider how to evoke a feeling of trust and security in users. A designer, for their part, can do a lot if they examine the company, users, and product well. User-centered design inspires trust and a positive attitude towards the company.

More on this topic: Personality-Oriented Design

Users need confidentiality and security. Assure them that their data is in safe hands. A good way is to put a link to the privacy policy in the form.

Interaction with users — the cornerstone of success no. 3

Lack of help and micro-interactions with users is a major reason people stop filling out forms and leave goods gathering dust in their shopping cart. Try to make the life of your clients easier by using autofill form, hint labels, and placeholders.

Hints help make questions clear, as long as they are short and precise:

Inline validation is the most user-friendly way to fill out forms. Besides that, it creates a feeling of contact. It’s important that error messages are always friendly.

Personalized approach — the cornerstone of success no. 4

Designers often follow general guidelines. For example, they place a form at the top of the page so that it hits the eye immediately, and visitors don’t have to scroll. Such an approach saves time but can lead to problems.

The placement of the lead form should depend on the sales proposal and the target audience, on the special aspects of the proposal, and its perception by users.

Of course, it’s easier to stick a form to a standard place than to delve into any kind of special aspect. You can create a landing page using a constructor with the same result. But we’re talking about a unique design. And this is, first of all, an individual approach to the proposal and to the users. There is no universal conversion lead form!

— Into the place!

You offer goods or services that need no explanation. The user immediately sees an impressive product photo. Its features are also noted here (what makes this proposal better than others). The buyer has no questions, no hesitation — they understand everything. This is the case when the order form can be placed almost anywhere. It will work not because you put it where it should be, but because the product is visually good, it doesn’t need an explanation, and the buyer doesn’t need a lot of time to get ready. Pages with simple sentences are usually short and the form is easy to see. This is why it works, not because you put it into a special place.

That’s where the lovers of universal designs will face challenges. A complex proposal is one that’s accompanied by descriptions and explanations. The product is not familiar to users, its advantages and characteristics are incomprehensible at first glance. People need to first figure out what they are being offered.

There are two common design mistakes in this case. The first is that the form comes into the users’ sight before they have time to form an opinion about the proposal. The second one — the form logically appears after the description, but since it is voluminous, the path to the form lies through a bunch of elements (videos, photos, diagrams, instructions, and reviews). The client isn’t always ready to cut down the content, considering it necessary to give buyers maximum information. As a result, the user comes to the form with a feeling of complexity, overload, and has time to be filled with doubts.

An easy path to the goal — the cornerstone of success no. 5

— Could you tell me, is it far from the form?

— Go right, then straight and left, and then ask someone.

The users need not just get to the form, but also not to lose interest in their goal on their way. What to do if the material is voluminous?

There is a solution — a simple, minimalistic design with a clear content hierarchy and visual guides. Such design helps the user to intuitively understand where what is located, regardless of the amount of content. Throughout the page, their attention is captured by mini-triggers, such as offering help with pop-ups and visual emphases. Emphases keep the user interested and lead them to a lead form wherever it is.

Heighten the visual interest of users on the way to a lead form.

Pop-ups are good triggers and helpers if they don’t flicker in front of the eyes, distracting from the goal. Their job is to help users get to their destination.

Reasons for abandoned carts

It’s helpful to know the reasons why users don’t complete the purchase process. To understand the extent of the problem — almost 70% of users abandon carts! (Statistics of the Baymard Institute). The reasons are different, but we’re interested in those related to interface problems, and there are many of them:

- too high additional costs (delivery) — 60%;

- requirement to create an account — 37%;

- a long or complicated process of filling out fields and verification — 28%;

- inability to see or calculate the total cost of the order — 23%;

- errors on the site — 20%;

- requirement to fill credit card details — 19%;

- too long delivery period — 18%;

- unacceptable return policy — 11%;

- preferred payment method not found — 8%.

Awareness of these problems helps prevent them. A good interface and well-thought-out lead forms always minimize the number of abandonments.

Don’t hide information

As we can see, not all troubles are caused by a bad interface. Additional payments that are only discovered at the time of purchase are 60% of abandoned carts. Hiding information causes distrust. This cannot be fixed by design, but it’s useful for designers to know about the existence of such a problem. It’s better to warn users about expenses in advance, and not when they trustingly went to the shopping cart. Alternatively, you can include shipping in the price of the item. To not scare away the users with the high price, you can use a smart banner (pop-up). It will appear only for those users who are going to leave and offer them more favorable terms. A good designer can discuss this problem with the client and come up with a solution.

Don’t complicate unless necessary

The requirement to create a personal account when there is no need for it is a common reason for leaving the page. People don’t understand why they need an account if they plan to make a purchase once. Force them into the account — and they won’t make even one. Don’t complicate things for them, and they’ll come back for the second and third purchases.

Registration often requires long forms with personal information and a bunch of steps:

Such forms tire and annoy users. Only a few will reach the finish. Interacting with the form should be quick, enjoyable, and easy. If we’re talking about a landing page, then a simple form and a minimum of requested information usually work great. In this case, two or three fields are sufficient, and sometimes one is enough. Better to do some work and extract additional information about customers from social media than to lose your audience.

However, is a short form always good?

Don’t simplify unless necessary

Many designers are convinced that the fewer fill-out fields, the higher conversions. However, this isn’t always true. Some companies have increased the number of leads up to 50% thanks to the long forms! In certain cases, longer forms are more credible. They help to clarify the parameters of the order, to take into account all the wishes of the client. The user perceives the long form as a responsible approach, the company’s concern to fulfill their order precisely. But then a designer, lover of minimalistic forms appears, and deprives buyers of both care and trust light-heartedly.

What works for one company isn’t necessarily good for another. Each proposal has its own characteristics and requires careful examination.

The length of the form, the number of fields to fill out, the need to specify personal data is determined using market research and split testing of options.

Keep the users heightened

This is what often happens when interacting with long forms unless you use a simple visual marketing technique. If, when filling out the form, the buyer continues to see the product or the promised benefit out of the corner of their eye, their motivation doesn’t diminish. Don’t leave the user alone with dull fields for filling, don’t let them visually “forget” about the reason why they sacrifice their time and their data!

Let’s summarize

If you break the basic principles on which high conversions are based, you need to start not with improving your form. Lead form design doesn’t affect conversions as markedly as the following issues:

- distrust of the company (this includes bad design);

- a generalized approach without taking into account the features of the audience, company, and product;

- unnecessary difficulties on the way to the goal;

- loss of motivation by users (poorly thought-out content and design).

If all these issues are resolved, the user trusts the company, they like the product, they’re satisfied with the interactions on the site — you can be sure that they’ll fill in as many fields as required and leave any necessary information, even if the form to fill out looks like a cuttlefish.

It makes sense to optimize a lead form when the split testing has proven that it is the problem.