Do you remember that rom com How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey’s abs? Marketers are like Kate Hudson’s character—or at least the girl she’s pretending to be—they’re too aggressive with leads they’ve just met, which drives them away. For Kate, it was an overbearing manner and a very emasculating nickname for…never mind. For marketers, it’s web forms that ask too much too soon, thus negatively impacting form conversion.

A lead, who has never interacted with you but wants a piece of your content, should not have to be put through the third degree to get it. I know, you want all of their details right away so you can market to them. I even understand your desire to learn more in order to deliver the right kind of experience with your brand. But would you feel comfortable giving up all of your information to a company you’re not even sure you’re interested in? ‘Course not.

In the spirit of this crappy-in-the-best-way movie, here are 10 ways to improve your web form conversion.

1. Match form length to content type.

Requesting a product demo or sales person to call? Ask away—this lead is ready to engage and probably okay giving you lots of details about themselves. Downloading a white paper? Not so much.

2. Decide on quantity versus quality.

Shorter forms will increase the number of leads you get, but they won’t be very qualified. Longer forms draw higher quality leads (although fewer in number) that are interested enough to fill out all the fields.

3. Make it easy.

Don’t make your lead work hard to complete the form. Streamline the layout, use inline validation, provide sample text, clearly identify which fields are required, and so on.

4. Don’t have more than one open-ended question.

This isn’t a survey. Kinda goes hand in hand with the above point, but your lead is under no obligation to expound on the things you’d like to know. Plus, you may get some answers that you don’t like (or are NSFW even).

These top four pieces of advice are proven by science. Trust Hubspot on that.

5. Be consistent

Just because you can design a new form for every need doesn’t mean you should. And you pretty much shouldn’t. Keep field names, fonts, capitalization and button colors consistent.

6. Have a link to your privacy policy.

Would you tell your most intimate secrets to a date who won’t tell you anything about themselves? Of course not. Leads need to feel they can trust you with their personal information.

7. Get testy.

Not angry-testy. Like, A-B testy. Try different lengths and see how they perform.

8. Try gradual engagement.

Here’s an example: A lead is interested in your upcoming webinar. As a good marketer, you ask for just the minimal contact info. But, on the confirmation/thank you page, you add a few additional—and optional—follow-up questions.

9. If it has to be long, make it manageable

When it’s appropriate to have a longer form, think about ways you can break it into chunks or steps to make it more manageable for the lead.

10. Maybe you don’t need a form at all?

There’s a lot of dialogue (mostly driven by Drift) about whether forms are archaic enough to retire altogether. We’ve found our audience, modern marketers, still like to fill out the form vs. engaging to book a meeting with our team via chat. Still, I debated this topic with a few friends in Databox’s podcast, take a listen if you want to hear more: https://www.leadmd.com/best-practices/podcast/podcast-debate-web-forms/

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