19 Jul 2011

Online Forms – How Long Is Too Long?

July 19, 2011PPC Advertising

Your site has finally started generating click-through traffic! It’s evident that people are reading and responding to your AdWords campaign, and they are seeking more information. They’re landing on the page, but how can you turn that click into a lead? How can you keep that person coming back for more?
First, the AdWords user needs to develop a strong enough value proposition, or reason for a customer to be invested in their offer. Once the customer has clicked-through to the landing page, they need to be interested enough to provide personal information via an online form. It is essential that this form is simple and streamlined. It should gather only the most pertinent information about the customer, without being too invasive or too lengthy. This is the AdWords user’s chance to snag a lead, and acquire the contact information that is needed to promote products and offers to these customers in the future.
The length of an online form can make or break the acquisition of a lead. The only thing keeping that customer interested enough to fill out the text boxes, is the offer promised to them on the other end. Naturally, the owner of the landing page would want to get as much information about the potential lead as possibly, but they need to do this with finesse and without driving that person away.
A recent study performed by Marketo showed that asking for less ultimately provides AdWords users with more. By using a series of three forms of different lengths (five, seven and nine questions), they were able to generate the estimated price-per-lead based on the final number of conversions, or customers who completed registration, for each of the forms. The five question form asked the most basic questions: first name, last name, work email, job function (drop-down) and company. The seven question form added number of employees and industry, and the nine question form added those plus work phone and CRM system.
The study showed that shorter forms resulted in higher level of conversions, and thus a lower cost per lead. Longer online forms resulted in fewer customer conversions, and increased cost per lead overall. Marketo’s research showed that the five question form produced an average conversion rate of 13.4 percent.  The seven question form converted at 12 percent, and the nine question form converted only 10 percent of visitors. The differences in the cost per lead was significant, as well, with a 16.6 percent relative difference between the seven field form and the nine field form and 25.4 percent relative difference between the five field form and the seven.
The studies show that asking less of your customer up front shows the potential of receiving more from them later on. Converting customers is one of the most important goals for pay-per-click advertisers; this opens the opportunity to have working relationships with those people. Once they are in the AdWords user’s database, they are invested and connected. They can be reached whenever new products or offers hit the market. Using shorter online forms means that more of those relationships can be formed, and more sales can be made down the road. Try to overcome the urge to gather too much personal data up front; it’s likely that once you acquire that lead, you will likely be openly given that information during the next transaction. Keep it simple, and use common sense when optimizing online forms to gain more leads.