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When your business relies on visitors coming to your website and completing a lead form, you should be using your analytics application to help you figure out where your forms are failing you. Once you have identified areas of weakness, you will create an improvement hypothesis. Finally, you test the alternative versions of the form with an A/B test.

If you are using a paid analytics application such as Omniture’s SiteCatalyst, I would suggest following an analysis process such as the one below.

  • Make sure you have the form analysis plug in set up/configured for all forms you will be optimizing.
  • Create a baseline, by calculating the form’s current conversion rate (the ratio of visitors who view the form versus the number of completed forms).
  • Review the reporting from the form analysis in the ‘Paths’ section of SiteCatalyst
    • I find a great report to start with is the 'PathFinder' report, and select the ‘book end’ pattern and the form you want to analyze.
    • From this report you will be able to see how visitors arrived at the form, where they went if they didn’t complete the form, and what form field they had their cursor in when they exited the process.
    • We make the assumption (and it is an assumption) that visitors will navigate through the form in a linear manner. That means that if they left the form with their cursor in the third field, that they had filled information into the first two fields. By understanding what field they last had the cursor, in we can try to understand what might be causing them to abandon the form. For example, is the information in the current or next field too personal, or not relevant to the request being made?
    • You will also want to look at data from the ‘Conversion’ section of SiteCatalyst to examine what patterns there may be between the ratio of completed forms and the source of the traffic.
      • This information will give you some insights into the quality of the traffic you are acquiring and their willingness to provide their Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in exchange for something (whitepaper, newsletter, call-back from sales associate…
    • There are a number of other great reports in Omniture’s SiteCatalyst to dig into as well when you have time.
  • Once you have identified where the problem and opportunities may exist for improving your forms, it is time to hypothesize ways to improve them.
  • When trying to get more people to fill out a form, bear the following in mind:
    • The less PII you ask for, the more visitors you will get filling out your forms.
    • The more value you offer in exchange for a visitor’s PII, the more forms you will get completed. You might think your value proposition is clear, but is it clear and compelling to your visitors?
    • Keep as much information as possible above the fold.
    • If you have a multi-step form, be sure to make the visitor aware of how much time they should budget to complete the form. Also, provide a progress indicator as they go through the form.
      • If you form has multiple step/pages, you will need to repeat the above analysis steps for each page
  • After you have formulated an improvement hypothesis, it is time to test the alternative versions of your forms. This can be done with a tool such as Omniture’s Offermatica.
  • After the test is complete, implement the winning version and repeat the process all over again.

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