Why Less is More on Website Forms

As a business owner or marketer, it is easy to become obsessed with conversions. For all the time, effort, and money it takes to bring targeted buyers to your website, you want to turn as many of them as possible into real sales opportunities – and that means gathering as much solid information from them as you can. The more specifics you are armed with, the easier it is to turn a website visitor into an actual buyer. That’s probably why we are seeing so many long forms attached to downloadable reports and other lead-generation mechanisms.

But, could this be a “forests and trees” type of situation? Is it possible that the long forms businesses put on their websites are doing more damage than good?

We think so. In fact, when it comes to online lead generation forms, we take the view that less is more. That may run contrary to some pieces of conventional wisdom, but we think we can probably convince you we are right. Here are some of the reasons why…

By Pushing for Too Much Information with Long Forms, You Could Lose the Opportunity to Gain a Lead

When searchers see a form on your website, they have an instant decision to make: give up lots and lots of (potentially sensitive) data, or simply move on and try to find what they’re looking for elsewhere. The more they have to give up to get what you’re offering, the easier that calculation becomes. Would you rather have more leads, or marginally better ones?

You Probably Don’t Need All the Information You’re Asking for

What do you really need to follow up with a potential customer? Usually, and name and a phone number or email address will suffice. Sometimes, having additional data is nice, but it’s certainly not necessary. In fact, if you know enough about your core base of customers, there is probably quite a bit you can guess or assume about someone who fills out a form on your website. So, why ask for things you either already know or don’t need to move the relationship forward?

Big Sales Are Usually Built in Steps

In situations where you do want or need lots of information from prospects, you don’t have to get it all at once. In fact, it can be a good idea to stagger your forms – perhaps through a drip marketing campaign – so that you take on new pieces of information from the prospect in successive interactions. So, you might start with a contact name and email for an initial ebook, require a company name for the next report or webinar, add some background profile data before you let them use an online tool, and so on. By moving in steps, you get what you need at a pace that’s more comfortable to buyers.

Longer Forms Are Annoying for Mobile Web Users

Let’s not forget there is a technical element to consider. Entering information into long forms is cumbersome when you’re using a smart phone or tablet. So, the longer yours is, the fewer conversions you’re going to get from these types of searchers. They make up more than half of all web traffic, so that’s not a small consideration.

When it comes down to it, there are lots of reasons not to include long forms on your websites, and few compelling arguments for keeping them. If asking for too much information is hurting conversions and sales, instead of encouraging them, then how much are those forms really helping?


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