Imagine that a potential student clicks on one of your ads. They read your relevant, persuasive landing page and think your school may be a good fit, so they start to fill out an inquiry form. You’re seconds away from getting a new lead, right?
Not so fast. More than 80% of web users admit to abandoning forms once they’ve started filling them out. In other words – you’re probably losing out on converting a significant number of potential students because they never make it to the end of your form.
The good news is there are several, often overlooked, Conversion Rate Optimization best practices for higher education forms. And by simply making a few adjustments to the structure of your existing forms, you can likely make a noticeable impact on your pages’ inquiry rates.
Here’s a list of seven steps for improving the conversion rate for your inquiry generation form:
1. Break the form into multiple parts
Giving your prospects a long list of form fields at once risks driving them away. Instead, consider breaking up your forms into 2-3 parts to make the process of completing the form more manageable. Multi-part forms can also increase the percentage of visitors that begin to fill out your form, because the higher friction fields (like email and phone) typically aren’t visible until the second page.
2. Keep it to a minimum of fields
Your prospects are busy and don’t want to take the time to fill out lengthy forms. This is especially true when they’re in the beginning stages of higher ed research and are comparing multiple schools. Our CRO optimization research shows that a lower number of fields can increase the form completion rate. So if possible, only include the most essential contact information your admissions teams need.
3. Don’t distract from the form
In general, we want to provide as much helpful information as possible to the user. But when it comes to your form page, that’s not necessarily the case. Additional text next to the form can distract prospective students and drive them away to another section of your site. And with all the apps competing for your prospect’s attention, there’s no guarantee they’ll be back. To focus your reader’s attention toward conversion, consider placing your form on a standalone page with no other content or navigation options.
4. Clarify your copy
Higher ed forms usually require personal information like email and phone. Since people are often reluctant to share these, there tends to be a lot of friction and abandonment from these fields. One of the best ways to overcome this friction is a promise that they are going to get something of value in exchange for their information. That’s why being specific with your form headline and CTA button copy is so important – it’s painting a clear picture of what information lies beyond the button. Instead of the typical ‘Submit’ copy we see on the CTA button, try more specific copy such as ‘Download Brochure’.
5. Communicate errors clearly
Users will inevitably make mistakes on your forms, especially on mobile. And if they don’t know how to fix them, they’re more likely to get frustrated and abandon your form. So be sure to label errors clearly and give instructions on what the user did wrong and how to fix it – don’t just label them “ERROR.”
6. Start with the lowest friction fields first
When someone starts something, their invested time often compels them to finish. So start with the things that people are not resistant to sharing, like First Name, and end with more personal fields like Phone Number and Email.
7. Always be testing
Never assume that a certain best practice will be right for your site and prospects. Depending on your school and its goals, sometimes a one step form or a high number of fields could drive more conversions. So use these suggestions as a starting point for form optimization, and not a list of firm requirements.
Are you looking for a custom solution for your school? Let’s talk about your goals, and how CRO can help you reach them.