Recently Jo Roberts and Anne Yastremski from MarketingProfs wrote a post with 14 ways to improve conversion of online forms. A worthwhile theme as it is firstly often forgotten and secondly very important.

Apart from all tools that we have to trace the preferences and demands of people, online forms play a crucial role in the entire customer life cycle of the digital client and prospect. From email marketing, to customer service, lead management & nurturing and even social media: online forms are essential.

Maybe one day I will include the 14 tips in a broader post with more advice but in this post I would like to look at the role of online forms in a cross-channel and customer-driven view of interaction and conversion. To improve the conversion of online forms one should obviously take a look at the total process that all the web forms are part of. A form to subscribe for a newsletter is not the same as the one used for a survey or an e-commerce transaction, to provide just a few evident examples. The layout, location and content of the form are also very important. Just as the words that you use when describing the fields, the call to action, the ‘submit’ button etc.

Web forms in scenario and lifecycle based marketing processes

An online form also often forms part of a chain of consecutive scenarios with several web forms. A typical example is the e-commerce transaction, but it’s certainly not the only one. The way in which you store data and complete the fields of your forms with earlier acquired information is just as important. There is nothing more annoying than downloading a white paper from a company (often during one visit) and then having to enter the same details over and over again. So, if you can avoid it, please do.

The progressive acquisition of data during the lead nurturing processes or the further development of relations and interactions with people (think of email marketing) is important. And it should therefore also translate into the online forms. If someone subscribed to your email newsletter and clicks on a link wherein you offer a white paper the online form on the landing page should ideally only request information of details that were not previously known.

In short: integration between various data sources and applications from a cross-channel perspective are essential in the optimization of online forms and their conversion.

Online forms are not an arbitrary element of a particular activity but part of a cycle where the user experience of the customer (in the broadest sense) is central. They play an important role in the development of the relationship with the client.

As I wrote once before on one of my blogs: online forms are like ‘dating’. If the ‘love’ between your client and your company grows depends entirely on the relevance and a careful sequence of interactions, including the use of forms.

Love is obviously the proverbial conversion. And now that the word conversion is mentioned, here is another word (it should actually be natural to associate this word with conversion): test! Your online forms as well!