You want qualified leads, but here is how to tell if you have too many fields on your form

A bad lead capture form will kill your conversion rates. Asking for too big of a commitment upfront will cause visitors to bounce without filling out your form. And that’s wasting a lot of traffic that might’ve converted down the road.

It’s not as simple as making sure the entire form fits “above the fold,” so that the whole thing is visible when someone gets to your landing page. That certainly helps, but it doesn’t mean your form is the best length it can be.

Here are three questions to help you decide if your forms have too many fields.

1. Is the information you’re asking for reasonable?

When someone wants to download your lead magnet, create an account, or book an event, they aren’t going to be shocked when you ask for their contact information. How else are you going to send them the ebook, confirm their account, or make their reservation? But it’s easy for organizations to get carried away with collecting information upfront.

When people fill out your forms, you don’t want them to think, Wait, why do they need to know what I do for a living? Or where I live? What’s going on here?

Those kinds of questions will hurt your conversion rates. But if you really need that information, you can address any concerns upfront. Tell people what you need to know and why, so there are no surprises when they start filling out your form. This messaging could come before or after the form itself or in the tooltip that appears when people hover over the field.

As much as possible, frame each field as a benefit: “We need to know ___ so that we can help you ___.” 

2. Does your form look like a quiz?

At some point, even if the specific fields you’re asking for are reasonable, the sheer number and complexity of them can feel unreasonable. When your form starts to look like a standardized test or a housing application, it’s probably time to cut back a few fields.

As you add and subtract fields, pay attention to your conversion rates, and look for other opportunities (such as a drip campaign) to collect the information you lose.

Keep in mind: asking for less information upfront should increase your conversion rate, but you’ll also know less about your leads. It’s a tradeoff. So with every field on your form, you’ll want to consider the value of that tradeoff. 

How badly do you need to know someone’s city or church size? Will that be important to know later? Are there certain cities or church sizes that you can’t serve? You should approach each field with these types of questions.

If it’s all essential, you might also consider changing the format of your form. You can make it feel like there are fewer fields by creating multiple tabs, with each tab having just a handful of fields. This reduces the initial “ask” so people feel like it’s less work, and as they progress through the form they start to feel invested because they’ve already put effort into it.

3. Did you A/B test your form?

Until you’ve tested two versions of your form, you can’t say for sure what will have the best conversion rate. Maybe the longer form does work better, and your energy would be better spent on optimizing those fields and clearly articulating their benefits.

The only way to prove one form is better than another is to run an A/B test. Without that data, you’re guessing. As you test variations of your form, you can also learn which fields have the biggest impact on your conversion rate. 

Just be sure that you’re only testing one variable at a time, so you know which variable is really having an impact. If you test your current form against one with fewer fields and different fields, you can’t say for sure which change actually led to a different result (whether that result is better or worse).

Your form might not be the problem . . .

There are ways to boost your conversion rates that don’t involve adjusting your form: send more relevant traffic, or make a more relevant offer. If your audience isn’t responding to your offer and filling out your form, it might not be your form’s fault.

It’s really a question of motivation: Is your audience motivated enough to overcome the barrier (the form) to receive the reward (your offer)? You can adjust the height of the barrier all you want, but if you’re talking to the wrong people, they’re not going to care how short your form is–they’re just not interested. And if you’re talking to the right people, but your incentive isn’t big enough or relevant enough, same deal.

So as you test your forms and try to boost your conversion rate, you’ll also want to explore ways to make your pitch more relevant and send more of the right people to your form.