Master lead gen form optimization

1. Use as-it-happens error messages to cut down user frustration with incorrect input.

Your visitor’s expectation when clicking Save is that they’re done with the form. If you then bring them back to the form, you’re creating friction. As each field is completed, note whether it was done successfully or with an error. A simple green check or red x will do.

2. Make your field labels concise and descriptive, and don't place labels inside the fields.

Eliminate confusing questions and provide reasons why you need a particular piece of information or how you’ll use it. This can decrease user frustration and get more forms filled out. When you put labels inside fields, as soon as you click on a field, the label disappears. Your visitors are mostly busy and distracted, and they’re likely to forget what information they’re supposed to be entering. For example, while HootSuite has as-it-happens error messages, they create friction by placing the labels within the fields:

3. Keep stop words like spam away from your call to action to avoid creating friction.

Stop words have negative sentiments attached to them, and visitors tend to see them, then stop and think. Instant friction. While phrases like no spam, we promise might be designed to build trust, they’re actually more likely to do the opposite. If your landing page is well-crafted, your visitors weren’t even considering the idea that you might spam them… until now.

4. Use descriptive button copy that clearly indicates what will happen next.

It’s difficult to find any near absolutes, but here are some button testing ideas: My vs. Your Now Free Click Making the button larger. Moving the button above the fold. The button text should give a visitor a good idea of where they’ll navigate to and what they’ll be doing if they click on it. For example, replace Submit with Submit survey. Don’t be lazy. A red button probably won’t dramatically increase revenue, and using Free isn’t always a silver bullet. You have to test these best practices for yourself.

5. Don’t use CAPTCHA unless you absolutely need to; and even then, look into more accessible alternatives.

In 2013, Gian Wild wrote about how inaccessible CAPTCHA can be. “Not only are CAPTCHAs difficult for anyone to use, they are notoriously inaccessible to people with some types of disabilities,” she wrote. If you absolutely must use CAPTCHA, at least look into alternatives like honeypots, verified or social sign-ins, or timestamps. For a more in-depth look at the alternatives, read’s Think Your Site Needs CAPTCHA? Try These User-Friendly Alternatives. Image Source

6. Remember and store data whatever you can, to avoid asking for the same data twice.

Whenever possible, remove the burden from your visitors and place it on yourself. The easier it is for them to do something, the more likely it is that they will do it. Use scripts to convert all entries into a specific format for you or build it into your design like Air Canada:

7. If you have 2-6 list options, use radio buttons; 7-15, use a dropdown list; 16+, use an auto-fill field.

Where you can, fill dropdown menu fields with the most frequent or likely response. For example, guess location based on their IP or where your usual leads are from. An auto-fill field allows visitors to begin typing the country, timezone, state, event type, car model, etc. that they’re looking for and then auto-fills relevant options. It’s much easier for a visitor to do this than to search through a huge list of options, even if that list is alphabetical.