Actionable Insight from Form Completion Rates

By Jennifer Veesenmeyer
Chief Operating Officer, Stratigent

Stratigent was recently engaged by a global company to analyze lead generation forms across more than two dozen company websites and microsites. Although many of our findings were specific to that client, several key learnings would be valuable to any marketer looking to optimize their lead generation forms. In particular, we found that analyzing Form Completion Rate was a good source of actionable insight.

Our Approach

Our analysis went down three paths: (1) Establishing benchmarks that could be applied across the company’s business units; (2) Identifying best practices for lead generation forms; and (3) Identifying high impact opportunities for improving a few of the key lead generation forms.

Establishing Benchmarks

Our client had established form-level benchmarks by comparing to the previous period, but wanted benchmarks that could be applied across lines of business. In the process of establishing the portfolio wide benchmarks, we made two important discoveries:

  • Although Conversion Rate was valuable when analyzing an individual form, it wasn’t a good benchmark because the definition of Conversion Rate varied widely across business units. In order to facilitate apples-to-apples comparisons, we limited the scope to Form Completion Rate which proved to be a more insightful benchmarking metric.
  • Even though all the forms we analyzed were specific to lead generation, our analysis showed what everyone suspected – that determining a one-size-fits-all, portfolio average benchmark wasn’t very useful.  Instead, we established a benchmark for each type of form. Listed in order of highest form completion rate, they were: (1) Request a Coupon or Sample; (2) Request Information; (3) Subscribe to our Newsletter; and (4) Join our Community.

Identifying Best Practices

Having data and making recommendations is not the same as making recommendations based on your analysis of the data. There are many sources of information about how to build good forms based on usability best practices, but our objective was to go beyond generic recommendations and compile best practices for creating lead generation forms that were supported by our client’s data.

We began by documenting all the lead generation forms sorted by type of form (see above). From there we listed form attributes that are commonly associated with form conversion rate, such as the number of form fields, the number of pages, page load time, and the extent of imagery incorporated into the form.

We were surprised to find that there was very little correlation with those attributes and form completion rate. The best predictor of form completion rate was the type of form. For example, although it is generally recommended to keep forms short to improve completion rates, shorter forms didn’t automatically result in higher completion rates. For our client, Request a Coupon or Sample forms consistently had the highest form completion rates even though the form lengths varied between 1 and 28 fields. Prior to this finding, our client assumed that shorter was better, so to increase form completion rate, they would test shorter versions of the forms. Now they have begun testing some longer versions of the forms as well.

Identifying High Impact Optimization Opportunities

In our deep dive analysis of some of the key forms, we looked at all the typical segmentations, such as Referring Channel, Campaign, New vs Returning Visitors, Search Objective and more. There were two areas where we gained actionable insight.

  • When analyzing Form Completion Rate by Referring Channel, we compared Most Recent to Original. We found that an average of 20-30% of Conversions from Direct traffic were originally referred to the site by Paid Search. Since most web analytics tools default to attributing conversions to the Most Recent referrer, the client had been underestimating the impact of Paid Search.
  • Testing a hypothesis that mobile visitors to the www site were having difficulty with a particular form, we compared the OS of visitors who viewed the first page of the form with the OS of visitors who viewed the confirmation page. We discovered that Android users were having difficulty with the form because they accounted for approximately 30% of the mobile visits to the first page of the form, but 0% viewed the confirmation page. Armed with this knowledge, the development team was able to identify and fix the issue.

The Bottom Line

Form Completion Rate isn’t the most important metric for optimizing conversions, but it is a good source of actionable insights. If you’re not analyzing Form Completion Rate periodically, you’re leaving money on the table.

About the Author

Jennifer Veesenmeyer, Chief Operating Officer, StratigentJennifer is VP, of Analytics at Stratigent, where she specializes in assisting enterprise-level organizations overcome the communication challenges of web analytics, such as gaining executive buy-in, building consensus and facilitating cultural change. She is highly regarded as an industry thought leader and is frequently asked to conduct educational presentations on the topic of meaningful reports. Not to mention one of the top rated speakers in seven years of eMetrics Summits.

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