Testing Form Fields

If you have a website, chances are it has at least one form. Forms are ubiquitous, and can be used for a number of purposes:

  • General Contact Forms
  • Questions/Support
  • Lead Generation – free downloads, product demos, etc.
  • Email List Subscription
  • Checkout

The goal of these forms is to get submissions. You would not have a form on your website if you did not want people to use it.

The problem is, most companies do not spend much time thinking about their forms. They create them, post them, and monitor the information submitted through them. But otherwise, they are ignored.

Why? Just a little time and energy can make them better.

The biggest thing we should be doing, or at least thinking about doing, is testing form fields. By that I mean, modifying the fields in an attempt to get more people to use and submit the forms.

More submissions = better*

Here are a number of ways you can test form fields:

  1. Test the number of fields. Usually, the shorter a form, the more likely people will be to submit it. Eliminate fields that are superfluous or unnecessary.
  2. Test the look of the fields. Colors, field size, and fonts can all impact the general attractiveness of your forms. You can use web design to make your form stand out and look easy to navigate.
  3. Test the way your fields function. Consider how your form functions on a phone, since nearly half of all traffic to your site will be mobile. Can I tab from one field to the next? Is it clear what information is required? Does it automatically recognize numbers vs. text, phone numbers vs. email addresses, etc.?
  4. Test the way you name your fields. Simply changing the titles or descriptions of fields on your form may make them easier for your visitors to navigate and understand.

*With lead generation forms, sometimes more submissions does not lead to more sales. Why? Because it all depends on the quality of the lead. If we ask for fewer pieces of information on the initial form, we may get more people to submit the form, but they may be less qualified than a lead who fills out a longer form. So beware.

Small Changes Can Have Big Impacts

Yesterday’s post about website testing brought in a number of questions about website changes and testing in general. It seems that there is a general consensus, at least among my readers, that testing is important for marketers. But what to test is a point of debate.

Big or small?

Many marketers tell me that testing small changes is not good enough. They are looking for, or their bosses are looking for big impacts. They want results that matter – double digit increases in sales, twice the amount of conversions, more visits, more money, more everything.

I understand that. We all have goals to hit. We all have bosses to answer to.

But the truth about testing is that small changes can have big impacts. Changing the copy on a button can increase clicks by 10%. Simplifying a form can lead to a 20% increase in the number of people that submit it. Something as simple as swapping out an image has led to increases of up 50% in landing page conversions.

On a large enough scale, any increase is a big one. Think about going from 20 sales per day to 22. That’s a 10% increase. But if each sale is worth $100, that’s $200. Over the course of a year that’s an additional $73,000.

Make a few small changes that each have a 10% increase and you’re talking about a really big transformation for your business.

So the key with testing is, nothing is too small. You don’t know what will have the biggest impacts until you start.

5 Changes to Test on Your Website

Website testing, or optimization testing, is a great way to improve your website over time based on real-life user feedback. A/B testing, favored by most marketers as the best way to improve landing page effectiveness, makes it easy to find out which changes work and which don’t.

A/B testing using a tool like Optimizely (which I myself use and recommend) is simple and straightforward. It allows you to change a piece of content on your site, show some subset of your visitors the new version, and the others the original, and measure which one performs best.

For those out there thinking about testing on your website, here are five changes I recommend testing to start:

  1. Simpler Checkout Experience. When it’s easier for someone to buy from your site, sales should go up. Go through the checkout experience as a customer and write down every single action you take. When you’re done, come up with a way to get rid of half those actions. Then test it side by side and measure the percentage of people who complete the process.
  2. Buttons. The buttons on your site are calls to action. They take people from one page to the next and get them to perform desired actions, such as signing up, subscribing, or checking out. Sometimes, the simplest of changes to your buttons can get them a lot more clicks. Test different colors, different designs, and different wording on the buttons themselves until you find the right combination.
  3. Navigation Titles. The navigation of your site is there to orient people, to tell them where to go next, and make it simple for them to maneuver your website. Perhaps the navigation makes sense to you, but that’s because you know your site inside-out. What about new customers? Is it as easy for them? Test simplifying the navigation, being more clear about what pages are and where to do next. A better navigation can lead to more engagement on your site, which often leads to more conversions.
  4. Page Headings. Beyond the navigation, each page on your site likely has one big headline. It’s either the name of the page or product they’re looking at, a category heading, the headline of an article or blog post, etc. The heading’s job is to get someone to continue down the page. By testing different headings, you may find that people are staying on your site longer.
  5. Product Photos. Whether they’re photos of your products or images used on the site to help illustrate who you are and what you sell, they can have a major impact on how users engage with your site. Testing different photos that better tell your story, or give your prospective customers more information on your products, can provide a major lift to sales, especially if what your currently using is classic stock photography.

The bottom line is, your website should not be static. It can always be improved. And testing can help you determine what improvements to make next.

Testing with Heat Maps

What’s a heat map?

In testing terms it’s a tool that tells you where people are looking. It measures where on a page a viewer’s eyes are focusing. Lots of attention will lead to a dark red coloring (hot). No attention will show up as a deep blue (cold).

What can you learn from these heat maps?

In short, you can learn what people are looking at when they visit a page on your site or see an ad of yours online. When designing a web page, it’s best to design with a goal in mind. What do you want a visitor to do? What do you want them to see?

The heat map will tell you if the goals are actually being achieved. You can tell if people are looking at the elements on a page that you want them to. And if they are not, the heat map will give you clues on where to make adjustments.

For example, you may learn that people are missing a key call to action, because it’s buried in a corner of the page that is getting skipped over. A skilled designer can redesign the page so that the most important elements are centered in the “hot” areas.

Heat maps are a great tool for marketers, designers, and developers to use in order to create more affective web pages. But they can be expensive to create.

Online tools from CrazyEgg, Heatmap.me, and ClickHeat can help you get started.

Before Your Spend Your First Advertising Dollar


Wait! Even though I posted yesterday about how to spend your first advertising dollar, it’s not time to spend it yet.

First, you have to make sure that money is not going to be wasted because you were not prepared. Here are three things you absolutely must do before you run your first ad campaign.

  1. Make sure you can track the results. Send people to a URL or page on your site that is specific to the campaign so you can see how many visits it drives. Or use an offer code so you can see how many sales it drives. Whether or not your ad campaign succeeds, the key is knowing how it performed so you can establish a baseline and learn from it before moving forward.
  2. Make sure everything is functioning properly. Make sure you test ads, links, forms, and phone numbers. Don’t leave anything to chance. You don’t want to find out that you spent your entire budget on an ad campaign that was broken for one reason or another. Take the extra time to be certain.
  3. Make sure you’re optimized for conversions. You need to be ready to make the most out of any potential customers that take action. That means sending them to the right page on your site, and making sure that page is optimized with a clear call to action. If there is any follow up needed, like emails or retargeting ads, make sure that is ready to go from the very beginning. The last thing you want is to minimize your potential returns because you were not ready for the traffic.

The goal is to make your first ad campaign effective. And the more you prepare, the more effective it will be. Best of luck!