Forms to use on PPC and SEO Landing Pages, how to design web forms that convert

Written by Chris Lucas on May 19, 2009

Posted in Form Optimization, Lead Generation

Today’s post in our “Online Forms That Convert” series is by Joe Kerschbaum, a member of the PPC Hero team. More information about Joe can be found at the bottom of this post.

The contact form on your PPC and SEO landing page can make or break your conversation rate. The messaging on your landing page can be clear, concise and benefit-driven. The design can be attractive, simple and conversion focused. But if the contact form on this beautiful landing page is not strategically crafted to suite your core audience, you’re probably leaving money on the table.

Think about your sales process and how a user will transition from being a mere visitor to a lead to a prospect to a sale – then shape your contact form to launch this process successfully. Begin with the end in mind. In order to construct a contact form that is well suited for your prospective clients, first you need to ask yourself a few questions:

To whom are you speaking?

You need a clear picture of who will be filling out this contact form. Sure, anyone can find your site and fill out the form. But if you could describe your target prospect, who would it be?

What is the minimum amount of information you can ask for?

The objective of your website is to generate leads for your business. Thinking of your answer to question one (who is your perfect prospect?), your contact form needs to ask the right questions so that your sales team have enough information to follow up properly. And this goes hand-in-hand with how many questions your contact form should ask.

The length of your contact form is crucial. In general, the shorter your form is the better. Let’s face it, most internet users guard their personal information closely (as well they should). There is an element of trust that is required when filling out a contact form. And the more questions you ask, the less likely a user is to fill out the form because you’re testing their trust.

What information is mission critical?

If you absolutely need a phone number because getting a lead on the phone doubles your close rate, then ask for a phone number! However, if you plan to follow up via email, then absolutely ask for their email address (and maybe you don’t need the phone number).

Where is this prospect in the buying cycle?

Where the user is in the buying cycle also determines how you should sculpt your contact form. How close should a user be to making a decision when they fill out your contact form? If you are looking for people who are still in the discovery period of their purchase, asking a series of in-depth questions might not be appropriate. If by the time a user hits your site, reads the content, and when they fill out the form they are ready to buy, then it does make sense to ask for more information – and the user would probably expect to provide additional information.

All of this culminates in one client I was working with recently. This client sells custom steel workbenches. For years, they had a contact form on the site and users could request a quote. We decided to test a form on the site where users can actually load the specifications for their workbench (not just their contact information). This significantly enhanced our conversion rate, and the leads were more qualified. We learned that users wanted to give us more information upfront about the workbench they wanted to build. We learned that the users who hit the site are closer to end of the buying cycle; they know what kind of bench they need, they have a good idea of the shape and style, and they even know the size and material they need.

In summary, think about the about following before you create or optimize your contact form:

  • Picture your perfect prospect and create a contact form for them.
  • Ask for the essential questions that will provide your sales team with enough information to follow up.
  • Keep your contact form as short and simple as possible.
  • Ask questions that are appropriate for this user’s stage in the buying process

And with any SEM project, you absolutely need to test! More than likely you are not going to launch the perfect contact form on the first try. You need to tweak your contact form continually in order to increase your conversion rate.


Joe Kerschbaum is a writer for PPC Hero and SEO Boy. Joe is a Senior Search Marketing Consultant for Hanapin Marketing, a Search Engine Marketing/Web Development firm based in Bloomington, Indiana