How Long Should Your Landing Page Forms Be?

    by Pamela Vaughan

    Date

    March 27, 2012 at 5:00 PM

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    Aaah, the elusive lead-capture form . Such a seemingly simple element of inbound marketing, yet also the subject of frequent debate, particularly when it comes to deciding just how many fields to include on that bad boy. How many is too many? How many just isn't enough?

    As marketers everywhere struggle to strike the right balance between requiring too much and too little information, many are left thinking, what's the magical form field sweet spot? Most experts will tell you to ask only for the information you need to effectively contact and qualify a lead, but surely it's not that simple. Let's dive into how you should make the decision about what is the right form length for your business.

    Form Length Isn't the Only Factor

    First things first. While form length is definitely a factor, marketers must realize that a person's willingness to complete a form isn't only dependent on the length of the form. There are a number of factors contributing to your landing page's conversion rate, and form length is only one of them. It's important to recognize this, because you shouldn't just assume that adjusting the length of your form will always have a major influence on your page's conversion rate or the types of leads it generates. Note some of these other major factors that contribute to whether a landing page visitor will complete the form:

    • The value of the offer to be redeemed. (Is it valuable enough to the visitor to be worth the form completion?)
    • The types of information requested on the form. (Does the form ask for too-sensitive information that dissuades visitors from completing the form?)
    • Website credibility and visitors' perceived sense of privacy/security. (Does the visitor trust the website enough to feel secure in providing their personal information?)

    Marketers must understand that all of the factors above -- not just form length -- can contribute to landing page friction and, thus, impact conversion. Now that we've gotten that understanding out of the way, let's hone in on form length and how to decide what length is best for you.

    Do You Need More New Leads, or More High Quality Leads?

    This is the single most important question you need to ask yourself when deciding on form length. In a nutshell, the length of your form inevitably leads to a tradeoff between the quantity and quality of the leads you generate. A shorter form usually means more people will be willing to fill it out, so you’ll generate more leads . But the quality of the leads will be higher when visitors are willing to complete more forms fields and provide you with more information about themselves and what they’re looking for.

    Therefore, shorter forms usually result in more overall leads, while longer forms will result in fewer, but higher quality leads . So when deciding on the length of your forms, make sure to involve your sales team in the discussion. Your decision on form length should hinge on whether you need more leads, or whether you need better leads, and input from your sales organization should be critical to that decision-making process. Let's examine each scenario in more detail.

    Scenario 1: You Need More Leads

    If your sales team is suffering from an overall deficiency in leads and could benefit from more leads to work in general, this is an indication that your forms should be short and simple to eliminate as much friction as possible. The key here is to ask for enough information that allows you to contact your leads (i.e. name, email address, phone number), but to limit unnecessary form fields that only help to qualify leads and, thus, increase the likelihood potential leads will abandon your landing page without converting.

    You may want to ask for more than just your leads' contact information to give your sales team more background on leads upfront, but remember, you can always ask for more information later in the sales process. Too often, companies request all kinds of contact information, neglecting to realize that their 15-field forms are significantly lowering conversion rates.

    Scenario 2: You Need Higher Quality Leads

    If raw, overall number of net new leads isn't a problem for your sales team, but rather they're wasting time trying to sift through lots of leads to separate the bad ones from the quality ones, this means you'd probably benefit from using your forms to better qualify your leads and help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

    To help achieve this, longer forms will do the trick . They'll deter people who aren't legitimately interested in your business from completing multiple fields, but they'll capture people who are interested enough to complete the longer form. Additionally, longer forms will collect more information that helps sales people learn more about and further qualify leads before deciding whether to pursue them. Longer forms will save salespeople the trouble of contacting leads who they know aren't typically a good fit for the products/services your business offers.

    So if lead quality, not quantity, is a bigger issue for your business, what types of form fields should you be adding to your forms? In short, any field that would collect information to allow you to determine whether a lead is high quality or not. Obviously, this will vary from business to business, and it will greatly depend on the buyer personas you've identified as your ideal target customers. If you have a clear understanding of the details that make up your buyer personas, you can start to understand which types of information you should ask for on your form to decide whether or not your new leads fit those personas and how strong those leads are -- in other words, how likely they are to become a customer. The questions on your form could reveal background information such as demographics, location, industry, company name/website, role, etc. For example, if you're a local plumber serving only home or building owners in a specific geographic location, you might ask prospective leads to include their location. Doing so would allow you to weed out any bad leads who are outside of the locations you service.

    You might also want to add in a question or two that would allow you to gauge their need for your product, their likelihood to purchase your service, or their fit with your company. For example, HubSpot sells marketing software , and all of the forms on our landing pages include an optional field that asks the visitor to describe their biggest marketing challenge. We use this information to learn more about and qualify our leads before putting them into our sales funnel.

    Information gathered in these fields could also serve as helpful data for more advanced lead scoring and lead management processes if that's something your business would benefit from.

    Test to Determine Your Form Field Sweet Spot

    abtestperformable Once you've fit yourself into one of the two scenarios above -- or if you think you might fall somewhere in the middle -- the best thing to do to determine your ideal form length is to do some A/B testing. If you're a HubSpot customer using HubSpot Enterprise, our Advanced Landing Pages tool makes it very easy to A/B test your landing pages, and you could specifically use it to test form lengths to determine your form field sweet spot. Here's how to test for each scenario discussed above:

    Scenario A (You Need More Leads): Test a landing page using a longer form against the same landing page using a shorter form (or test multiple form length variations). When analyzing your A/B test, you should be looking to see how the various forms affect conversion rates. The hypothesis is that you will be able to gather more leads from your shorter forms, but if not, another landing page factor may having a bigger impact on your landing page's conversion rate (remember -- form length isn't the only factor). If this is the case, spend some time optimizing other elements of your landing page such as copy, layout, and offer, and see if those changes positively impact your page's conversion rate.

    Scenario B (You Need Higher Quality Leads): Run an A/B test on a landing page that tests longer forms but puts more of a focus on the different types of fields you include. When analyzing your A/B test, you should be looking for indicators of lead quality . The hypothesis is that your conversion rate will likely go down, but that you'll notice leads that are higher in quality and easier to qualify right off the bat. You'll likely need to consult with your sales team about their perception of the quality of the leads you produced from specific landing page variations to help you settle on the right number -- and types -- of form fields.

    For more detailed information about A/B testing, download our free Introduction to Using A/B Testing for Marketing Optimization ebook .

    How many form fields do you include on your lead-capture forms? Have you conducted A/B testing to determine your form field sweet spot?

    Image Credit: Victor1558

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