How to A/B Test Your Forms for Maximum Conversion

We'll show you how to A/B test your online forms and improve your website conversion rate.

ab test

Forms are a very important part of the conversion process. They can easily frustrate users if they're not well optimized. They can also earn you more customers if they are. Let's explore some ways to A/B test your forms, and make sure you're avoiding pitfalls in the conversion process.

Conversion Rate Benchmarks

When form users look at their statistics, they often wonder, What is a good conversion rate for my forms? Say you have a contact form converting at 5% and a contest form converting at 29%. Is there something wrong with your contact form, since the rate is lower? Probably not.

Formstack recently released a benchmark Form Conversion Report that studied the conversion rates of over 400,000 users across several industries. From that data, we can see that conversion rates vary based on the type of form you use.

industry conversion rates

Additionally, the data reveals a wide variance of conversion rates based on industry. If you are a media company with a 10% conversion rate, you’re doing pretty well. However, if you are in sports, a 10% rate doesn’t really stack up against the competition.

Once you understand conversion rate benchmark data, you can determine your own goals for website conversion rate optimization.

Elements of Form Optimization

Even though there is no magic formula to improve website conversion rates, A/B testing helps you build a stronger online form. A/B testing is a statistical method of testing certain variations in a group of subjects and measuring their effects on a given result. So for digital marketing, this can be testing one landing page - or form! - against another (or 2. or 3.), and then measuring their effectiveness in getting signups.

First, decide what you want to test. To be honest, it can be tempting to test everything. Would more users convert if your form was orange? Would online form completion increase if you changed the font? Before you get overwhelmed with options, come up with a list of the top elements that you think could impact your form conversion rate.

  1. Length - Not sure where to start? A few form elements are worth testing first. For example, shortening your form can be a game-changer. Do you know how many users abandon your form because it’s too much trouble? Find out by creating a shorter version for your A/B test. Even though you might sacrifice some data collection, an increase in successful submissions might be worth it.
  2. Submit Button Copy - The submit button is often overlooked in form-building. Small changes to the text can have surprising results. Recent data shows that changing the wording on your submit button could increase submissions by 250%. It’s a small swap that can lead to big improvements to your conversion rate.
  3. Field Bottlenecks - Field bottlenecks track where users exit the form without submitting. For example, you might require users to enter their phone numbers, but that field has a high bottleneck rate. You might want to eliminate that field or make it optional.

How to Improve Conversion Rates with A/B Testing

Once you’ve decided on the most important elements for you to test, you need to be sure to set a goal. It’s simple to do but important to articulate. How will you know if your test is successful? For instance, let’s say you want to test your submit button copy. Your goal is to increase conversions. You’ll know which button is successful by which one receives a higher conversion rate. Easy!

  1. One Test at a Time - Remember science class? You learned to test only one variable so you could draw the correct conclusions. The same concept applies to A/B testing. Choose the most important form element to test and be patient. (Warning: the waiting part is the hardest step in A/B testing.)
  2. Be Patient - Depending on your web traffic, you might have to wait a while. Don’t pull the plug after a handful of responses; the more visits you track, the more accurate your test will be. The rule of thumb is to get at least one hundred visitors to each version.
  3. Analyze Your Findings - Once you have your test results, evaluate them carefully. Just because a shorter form gets more conversions doesn’t mean it is the best choice. For example, you might discover that the short form results in fewer qualified leads. In that case, a little friction might work to your benefit. You might find that you actually need the data a longer form provides, even at the expense of higher conversions. Go back to your goal and be sure that your test results support it.

A/B Testing Tools

There are two ways to test your forms. First, you can use a tool like Google Analytics. It lets you redirect your form visitor’s browser to a new page that contains the new form you’d like to test. These are near-instant redirects that the user will probably not notice. With a redirect, you are testing two different forms head-to-head.

Another option is to use a paid service like an A/B testing tool. Some good paid A/B testing tools to try are Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer. These services dynamically change the way a form appears in the user’s browser. An advantage to the A/B testing tool is that it will track and measure your conversions, and most don’t require any coding knowledge.

Testing can be fun and you might be surprised by the results. Best of all, your marketing team will have hard data to inform decisions—not hunches.

Get more submissions with optimized forms

Formstack's simple online form builder can help you streamline your data and build your online brand. Formstack offers all of the above features and even more functionality to help you engage with your digital audience and capture more responses.

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