Here’s Why Your Opt-Ins are Unsubscribing (And How to Fix It)

Email marketing is a hugely valuable tool.

In fact, according to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing brings in around $40 for every $1 you spend, making it one of the highest ROIs for any time of marketing out there.

It can be reasonably assumed that the whole point in capturing emails and having subscribers is to convert those emails into loyal customers who either buy your product or service or tell their friends to buy your product or service (or both).

list-segmentation-results

Even if you’re just running a blog or a content site, those emails are everything. So what happens if all of a sudden you’re not getting as many subscribers as you once did?

Or worse yet, what happens when people that have already subscribed start to opt-out of receiving your emails?

Here are a few of the most common reasons people are opting-out of your email lists, plus what you can do to stop that from happening.

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They’re Not In a List

The biggest problem when it comes to opt-ins is not having opt-ins (or opt-outs) because all of your emails go to all of your subscribers.

Not having any form of segmentation is a one-way ticket to unsubscribers, but if you’re running your email campaigns yourself, it can be tricky to manage all of those lists. That’s where third-party email marketing services can help.

Where to Send Your Form Submissions

If you’re using WordPress, you can use plugins like MailPoet or Newsletter to create real email system that allow you to create newsletters, automated emails, post notifications and more directly from WordPress while allowing you to segment your lists (to some degree, anyway).

If you really want to segment your lists, you can use a email service like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or AWeber (etc.) and integrate them with your CMS of choice using Zapier to create targeted emails to certain lists.

Whichever method you choose isn’t really as important as having some plan in place for your emails once they’ve been submitted on your site.
They’re In the Wrong List

Once you’ve warmed up to the idea of segmenting your lists, then comes the hard part. You have to figure out exactly which emails belong in which list.

The whole point of segmentation is to provide relevant content to the recipients, so if someone opted in to get your monthly newsletter but you send them promotional emails about events instead, your likelihood of unsubscribing is high.

So how do you segment your lists for better results?

How to Segment Your List

Welcome emails should, for example, go to your new subscribers or users. But you can also send a version of a welcome email – either a “we miss you” or “are you still there?” email – to those who haven’t been actively opening your emails.

Keeping track of those lists may be a little trickier, but if you’re using a third-party email marketing service like MailChimp (or similar), they often keep track of those lists for you.

But there are other ways to segment your lists that you may not have considered, including:

  • Demographics – Age, gender, company, position, etc.
  • Sending frequency – Some people want emails more frequently than others
  • Location – Knowing something as simple as a location can help you gauge send times and even personalize subject lines for better open-rates
  • Weather Patterns – Skymosity is a company that can track weather patterns and create automated email campaigns that are deployed by weather-based email triggers, which can be helpful for certain industries (fitness gear, outdoor living, etc.)
  • Email activity – Some people stop opening emails after a certain point, which can be helpful to know in order to send a “we miss you” email to reactivate their interest

brooks_weather_segmentation

Source: Skymosity

There are many different ways to segment a list, but the most important part of that segmentation is not just getting them into a list, but also getting them the right content for that list to keep them engaged.
They’re Getting the Wrong Content

The average email user sends and receives around 105 emails per day, with 81% of those emails containing valid content (as in, not spam). This means that while sending out emails is a great way to capture your audience’s attention, it’s also ground zero for competition.

One of the biggest factors when it comes to people unsubscribing from your lists is that they’re simply being overwhelmed with content that doesn’t relate to them. Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to fix that by targeting your content more dynamically.

Types of Content to Send to Each List

Newsletters often go out to anyone in your email list, but some do a good job of separating their newsletter lists from their general email lists, so only the people who want the newsletter actually get it. But you can take this a step further by actually creating targeted newsletters based on niche topics and segmenting your list further.

One way to implement this strategy is to include separate opt-in messages in your welcome email, also known as an opt-in bribe.

WelcomeEmailOptIns

Each link in your welcome email could lead to a different list so your subscribers are essentially telling you exactly what they want from your emails. Here are a few different types of content you can send to varying lists:

  • Welcome Email
  • Expectation Email
  • Tools and Resources Email
  • How-To Email
  • Getting to Know You Email
  • Unexpected Freebie Email
  • Exclusive Content Email
  • Basic Content Email
  • Archive Email
  • Curated Email
  • Newsletter
  • Buzz-Building Email
  • Testimonial Emails
  • Favorite Things Email

The truly important thing to remember is that the type of content you send out should reflect the list it’s being sent to. You wouldn’t send a welcome email to someone who’s been a subscriber for years.

Likewise, you shouldn’t send a newsletter to someone who just wants to know about events (unless your newsletter is all about your events).

Sometimes targeting certain content to different groups is a matter of trial and error, so it’s important to keep track of open-rates and watch your demographics (and other factors) closely to see what works and what doesn’t work.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to improving your conversion rates, there’s really no better tool than email marketing. But what you do with your content and your segmented lists makes all the difference between effective and ineffective marketing.

First, if you’re not segmenting your lists, get on it ASAP.

Second, once your lists are segmented, make sure that every email is where it’s suppose to be and every one who has opted in to your lists wants to be there.

Finally, make sure that the content you send to each list is relevant to the interests of those lists. If you’re not sure if it’s engaging enough, try targeting your email opt-in links in your welcome emails (or any email) to narrow down the field.

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Which CRM Works Best for Generating Leads?

CRM software is a marketer’s best friend.

Sure, email marketing is a great tool to generate new leads to bring in potential customers, but a CRM goes above and beyond, thanks in part to the R in its acronym – Relationships.

CRMs are designed to help you build relationships with potential (and current) customers, and do so by connecting someone from your team to each customer. When someone receives an email from your company, they’re slowly building rapport.

But not every piece of CRM software works the same way, and while they’re all designed to help you in your ultimate goal to understand and relate to your customers, each one will approach that goal differently. Some use certain methods for lead generation, which may be more effective for your company, while others may not actually help you all that much.

So how do you know which CRM is right for you? Well, first you have to identify the lead generation methods that will be the most effective for your company and your consumer base.

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Best Methods for Lead Generation

business-relationship

When you boil it down, lead generation is all about relationships, but relationships between customers and businesses don’t always happen naturally. Visitors need to be pointed to information (or team members) that can help turn them into customers.

But what exactly is the best way to do that? There are a few different approaches that may work, depending on your industry and customer base.

  1. Relationship building through regular emails. Email marketing is no doubt a highly effective tool, and many customers love (or at least tolerate) receiving emails from companies on a daily or weekly basis, whether it be links to articles and blogs or specific promotions or discounts.
  1. A hard sell via a member from a sales team. This can happen through emails, phone calls, chats, or really any method of communication, but the purpose is to connect each customer with a real live member of the team to answer their questions and help them move from visitor to customer.
  1. A tailored marketing experience through varied channels. This includes tracking the visitor or customer’s interactions while they’re on your site, gathering personal information about their interests and disinterests, and implementing marketing strategies to target their “wish list.” For example, Google Ads reads your browsers cookies, so they know what you’ve been searching for on sites like Amazon and Facebook and can target ads specifically to your searches.

So how do CRMs fit into this? Again, while each CRM will help you generate leads, each has a different function best designed for one or more of these approaches.

What to Look for in a CRM

Generally speaking, there are three types of CRMs: ones that work conversationally, ones that focus on leads and deals, and those that utilize contacts.

  1. A conversational CRM is centered on interactions between your customers and your business, and will group different interactions by categories so you can see exactly what your customers are doing, or where you need to follow up. It essentially helps you keep in contact with the customers that matter most to you.
  2. A leads and deals CRM – often the most common form – tracks potential customer leads and adds information as you work to convince those leads to become “deals.” These CRMS help you trace visitors from their first interactions until they become full-fledged customers. These CRMs are most utilized by sales teams.
  3. A contacts-based CRM is similar to a conversational CRM in that it helps you interact with customers, but this type focuses more on remembering important information about a customer – like birthdays, current company position, etc. – in order to help you send promotions that might relate to them. In some ways, it’s the best of the other types and can be used for both sales generation and building relationships. That is, as long as you have a process in place for targeted promotions.

The key to using a CRM is to make sure it’s genuinely productive for your team, and not a burden to those using it. When you’re looking to select a CRM, it’s best to know the method most likely to help visitors turn into customers, and also which CRM type fits best with that method.

CRM Top Picks for Leads

Once you’ve matched the method with the type, you’ll then need to choose a specific CRM software, which will be dependent on factors like overall cost and ease of use for your team. Let’s take a look at a couple of the top CRMs in each category. Keep in mind that some of these may cross categories, and that’s okay!

Conversational
salesforceiqcrm

SalesforceIQ – Salesforce has a unique user interface, making it stand out a little from the crowd. Rather than including customized database fields, it focuses almost entirely on conversations. Your team adds your email accounts, selects the conversations you’d like to hear about, and then works on them collaboratively to help accomplish tasks. It will also pull conversations from all of your contacts, so you’ll have an overview of the whole company’s relationships. It’s priced at $69 per user per month.

Streak – This CRM uses your email along with a few powerful Gmail features to help share conversations with your colleagues. It organizes your messages into a pipeline, adds notes to conversations, and is fully customizable. There’s also a notification tool to remind you to send emails to customers, too. It’s free for up to five users, with each additional user priced at $19 per user per month.

Lead Generation

hubspotcrm

HubSpot CRM – HubSpot CRM is known for being an automation tool, and you can either use it alongside other marketing tools or on its own. It allows you to add contact’s names and emails, and it will search out any relevant information to include based on those data fields. One of the biggest benefits is its flexibility, as it allows you to drag and drop fields and rearrange lists as needed. The best news? It’s free (though Premium features through HubSpot marketing suite may cost a little extra).

Zoho CRM – This CRM is fairly robust. You can capture leads from Facebook pages, automate workflows into a sales funnel, and integrate it with other marketing tools. It also allows you to merge mail documents from your contacts, start a video conference, and more. It’s free for up to three users, with each additional user priced at $12 per user per month.

Contacts

highrisecrm

Highrise – Similar to the project management app Basecamp, Highrise helps you gather as much information about your contacts as possible, allowing you to track deals in progress as well. The best part is that it’s relatively inexpensive, and dare we say free. You can include up to two users at no charge, and it only costs $4 for each additional user (after two) per month.

Insightly – This software uses a similar interface to Gmail, and also features excellent integration with Google apps. One of its primary features is to find your contact’s social network profiles and show it alongside additional information gathered from your team. There are also interfaces for task management and advanced reporting. It’s free for up to three users, with each additional user coming in at $9 per user per month.

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Final Thoughts

Choosing a CRM is about helping you build the right type of relationships with your customers. If they’re the sort who love social media interaction and want to connect with real people on your team if they have questions, a conversational or lead generating CRM like SalesforceIQ or Zoho will do the trick.

If they really just want to be able to contact you and have you contact them (with important birthday discounts, of course) then a contact CRM like Highrise will work well enough.

Just be sure that the CRM fits your team’s working style, as some have different layouts and workflows. You may want to try out a few of the free ones before committing to get a better idea of which one works best for you.

Should You Use Single-Step or Multi-Step Forms?

When it comes to conversions, most marketers hold to the age-old adage that “less is more.” But is that always true?

Well, yes and no. When it comes to forms in particular, simpler is usually better, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only option for engaging customers.

There are actually a couple ways you can approach creating forms to maximize conversions. The first way is considered the “simple” way, and it involves creating single-step forms with only a few questions and one “Submit” button. The other way is, of course, the “complicated” way, and involves creating multi-step forms that have several pages worth of questions and multiple “Next” and “Submit” buttons.

Initially, it may seem like the simple way is the clear winner when it comes to boosting conversion rates. After all, the less work a customer has to do to get what they want, the better, right? Well, not necessarily.

When the folks over at Conversion Fanatics did an A/B of single-step forms versus multi-step forms, they found that the conversion rates were fairly similar. In one case, they found that the multi-step form actually performed better.

So which choice is truly the best for conversions? Well, the answer depends on the goal of your form.

To simplify the process, we’re taking a look at both options to help you figure out which form type is best to get you the leads you want.

Let’s dig in…

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Simple, Single-Step Forms

Single-step forms are the most common type of form. They can include basic contact forms, subscription forms, and any form that gathers general information. For the most part, single-step forms are a great choice for conversions, especially when all you need is basic information. There’s no need to inundate your users with pages of form fields if all you want them to do is sign up for an email newsletter. But are they always the best choice? Well, it depends.

Single-Step Forms Work When…

In his research on optimizing contact forms, Neil Patel found that having only three form fields was better than having more fields when it came to conversions. By simplifying his forms, he improved his conversion rates by 26%. Basically, when it comes to contact forms, shorter is sweeter.

The same is true for forms that deal with opt-ins and lead generation. When dealing with users who are new to a site (or who essentially aren’t yet invested in your business), the single-step forms outmatch the multi-step forms more often.  

Single-step forms also tend to perform better for conversions when less information is needed or when enticing a customer to take a specific call-to-action.

Single-Step Forms Don’t Work When…

But single-step forms can actually backfire if you’re trying to gather too much information at one time. In fact, using more than 4 forms fields on a single-step form can send users running for the hills.

In one study, an 11-field version of a contact form was replaced with a 4-field version, which resulted in a 160% increase in the number of forms submitted and a 120% increase in overall conversions.

Not to mention that long forms can be extremely overwhelming to look at, even if they’re still considered single-step. In terms of conversions, single-step doesn’t work if the form is too long, like the example below.

longform

What Are the Best Uses for Single-Step Forms?

Single-step forms are a great choice for simple information gathering. If the majority of your forms are focused on opt-ins, contact information, or lead generation, then simple is the way to go.

Simple forms are also great for getting creative with animations, like the example below.

getstudiokit

Essentially, if you want to take advantage of single-step forms, remember to keep them short and sweet. Focus on the essentials and create a call-to-action that entices new customers without overwhelming them with information.

Complex, Multi-Step Forms

The general idea behind multiple-step forms is that the further the prospect goes down the sales funnel, the less likely they are to turn around when asked for valuable information. Essentially, they’re more likely to finish the whole form because they’re already committed. But does this idea hold up in the real world? Statistics point to yes.

Multi-Step Forms Work When…

One company compared user rates for single-forms versus multi-step forms and found that 14% more people finished the multi-step form than the single-step, including those who stopped filling out the form and returned to fill it out later. They found that people were more likely to finish longer forms when it required them to provide a lot of sensitive information.

Basically, people like filling out longer forms when they’re already invested in the process, like during checkout while shopping online.

Complex forms also work when you need to collect a lot of information, but you know that putting all of your form fields on one page will be overwhelming. By creating a multi-step process, the chances are higher that people will fill it out.

Multi-Step Forms Don’t Work When…

However, complex forms don’t work quite as well when you’re trying to generate brand new leads, or get people to subscribe to basic functions on your site like a newsletter or email list.

They also don’t work well if you don’t have the form’s progress clearly listed somewhere. It’s important to make sure that you provide the user with constant feedback on their progress to let them know how much more time they will require to finish the form.

What Are the Best Uses for Multi-Step Forms?

If you need a lot of information but don’t want to overwhelm your customers, multi-step forms are a great choice. If you’re curious about using multiple-step forms but still want the feel of a single-step form, you can also use what’s known as a single-field form. The single-field form includes multiple steps, but lets users fill it out one field at a time (like the example below).

Single-Field-Form-Interface

When it comes to conversions, however, the best uses for multiple-step forms include checkout processes (for e-commerce stores), and forms that require information from current customers or those who are already invested in your business.

Which Should You Choose?

Does the information presented here feel conflicting? Well, the reality is that either form will help you boost conversions if used in the right context. Certain form types work better in certain situations.

If you run an e-commerce store, for example, and you’re running into a lot of abandoned carts or find that your customers stop short of filling out the billing information, your forms might be better suited to the multi-step process. The same is true if you need a lot of information from your users upfront, but don’t want to overwhelm them with a single-page form. (Just make sure to include the progress as visibly as possible.)

On the other hand, if your forms are used more for gathering basic contact information or getting subscribers for a service or special offer, then single-step forms are a much better option. They’re quick to fill out and easy to animate, making them the perfect choice for quick conversions that don’t require a lot of investment from your users. And generally speaking, the age-old adage still stands… less is more.

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Is a Landing Page or Microsite Better for Customer Engagement?

So you’re developing a new website, or you’re thinking about launching a new product or service on your current website, and you’ve been strategizing the best possible way to make sure customers actually notice what you’re doing. You’ve done your research, and now you’re facing the same question many developers and designers encounter: should you use a landing page or microsite to promote your stuff?

It’s a difficult question, to be sure. Both are similar in nature, but does one offer more benefit when it comes to customer engagement? Possibly. It all depends on what you’ve got to offer. Let’s take a look at both options to see which one comes out on top.

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The Case for Landing Pages

Landing pages are normally the go-to option, but what are they, exactly? And more importantly, are they really the better choice for engagement?

landing-page-form-encapsulation

 

A landing page is simply a page of content within a larger site that users “land on” when visiting your site. Most of the time when someone says “landing page” they probably mean home page, or “About Us” page — something that communicates essential information about something. But landing pages can be used for much more than that.

The best landing pages are about a specific call-to-action (CTA): they’re not just giving information, they’re expecting the visitor to do something, whether it’s purchasing a product, downloading a resource, or requesting additional information. Basically, landing pages are all about conversions — they’re designed to give users what they want (information and resources) in exchange for something you want (e.g. clicks, follows, or subscriptions).

Good landing pages are focused on getting visitors to take immediate action without ever leaving the page. This is called “closing the loop”: the goal is to keep visitors from leaving before they fulfill the CTA. If done right, good landing pages can seriously convert.

But what happens if they’re not done right? Well, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using a landing page to engage customers.

Pros

They’re easier to measure. Landing pages are designed to make measuring their effectiveness easy. Basically, you would only need to know “out of X visitors, Y took action.” This means if you’re looking for a specific number of conversions to show the boss, landing sites are the perfect option because they provide instant results.

They cost less (than microsites). Since landing pages are single page additions to already developed sites, they don’t need a lot of fuss to get up and running. Using the style elements of the existing site also saves time that would otherwise be spent on creating CSS or HTML from scratch. Additionally, microsites often need separate domains (which cost money to host), while you can have a near infinite number of landing pages on an already-hosted site.

They’re CTA focused. While you could technically consider a microsite one giant CTA, oftentimes action steps in a microsite can be easily overlooked (we’ll get to that later). Landing pages, on the other hand, are only about the CTA, and they’re hard to miss. If you’re needing your customers to take an immediate action step, using a landing page may be the better bet.

They’re easier to A/B test. Because landing pages are often single pages, they can be easily updated and changed to test the effectiveness of different elements. Don’t like the button style? Just change it! You won’t have to mess with coding across an entire site just to see if one layout works better than another.

They’re easier to brand. Since landing pages are technically already part of a branded site, your customers will have no problem knowing that your business is the one behind the content. Microsites often include separate branding to make them stand out, which can make it harder to implement an integrated marketing strategy. If you want to avoid the question, “Will customers know this is us?”, then landing pages are the way to go.

Cons

They’re maybe a little too focused. While narrowing down your content and focusing on a CTA is a great way to engage certain customers, it may not always be what you want. Landing pages are designed to encourage visitors to respond to a specific service or product, and can often miss visitors who may want something else from you (or your site). This means that landing pages may actually miss a large chunk of your potential market if you’re not careful.

They’re not always compelling. In order to engage customers, landing pages need to include a lot of important information without being too long, while still being compelling enough to get reactions and responses to the CTA. Writing content that is impactful, brief, and equally fascinating can be difficult, and not all landing pages succeed in their attempt to impress.

They’re distracting (if not designed well). If it’s true that a well designed landing page is great at converting, it’s equally true that a poorly designed landing page is a disaster for customer engagement. If the page is distracting — offering too much content with no context, mixed messages, or too much media — it can actually send visitors away.

They can fail at converting (if there is “leakage”). As mentioned earlier, landing pages are designed to keep visitors on the page, but a poorly designed landing page (which are more common than you think) will mistakenly send visitors to outside sites, like Facebook or Twitter, without realizing that the more often you send someone away from your site, the less likely they are to come back to it.

They might be really, really boring. Having a unified brand is great for marketing, but if you’re launching a new product that needs to stand out, having the restrictions of a landing page’s one-size-fits-all design may be limiting.

Who is a landing page good for?

Landing pages are transactional in nature — for example, visitors give their information (credit card, email, etc.) in exchange for a product, resource, or service — which makes them great for businesses that need immediate results that can be measured by transactions. If your goal is to get your customers to take an action (and/or complete a simple task), and you don’t want to do a lot of extra work when it comes to design and branding, then landing pages are the perfect choice.

The Case for Using Microsites

Microsites are less well known than landing pages, but depending on how they’re used, they can make a powerful impact on engagement. But what is a microsite, exactly?

screen-shot-2013-05-09-at-10-01-44-am

A microsite is like a mini-website made up of several pages or sections (3-5, typically). Unlike regular websites, however, a microsite is focused on one campaign or promotion. They’re designed to let the customer know about one thing, and one thing only.

Most microsites are built to hold more information than can be contained on a single landing page. They’re created for bigger, more complex marketing campaigns of a particular product or service. But they’re not for everyone. Certain industries seem to thrive with microsites more than others.

A great microsite will convert customers through different tactics than a typical landing page. While landing pages focus on the immediate action, microsites will focus on informing now and creating action later (think: “Call us for more information” instead of “click here for more information”). A good microsite will create curiosity that sticks with a customer, and it will use “leakage” into social sites to create buzz that brings customers back repeatedly.

Of course, this means microsites are a bit riskier when it comes to engagement, but could they possibly be more effective? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using microsites.

Pros

They’re better for relationships. Because landing pages are designed to create action, they don’t always give your customer a real look into who you are as a company. Microsites, on the other hand, offer in-depth information about you (and what you’re promoting). Since most microsites are made up of several pages, they give visitors a chance to spend a significant amount of time learning about the benefits of working with you. Their “soft-sell” nature creates a sense of awareness that can boost your brand and public relations.

They’re more flexible (than landing pages). Microsites offer much greater flexibility than landing pages in both design, content, and function. While landing pages try to squeeze as much content into a single page as possible, microsites let you take your time with your story; allowing you to show what you want, when you want, and where you want. You can also come up with some really clever ideas for site designs that wouldn’t work on normal landing pages.

They can include multiple engagement points. Because microsites encompass several pages, you can include several different CTAs, which means that visitors have multiple chances to engage with your company. This is especially beneficial if you think about the narrowness of landing pages (which, as mentioned, may miss certain customer demographics). If your microsite doesn’t entice someone on the first page, they may be enticed on a different page.

They’re perfect for certain industries. Due to their flexibility, microsites can be a great advantage depending on the industry you’re in. A great example of an industry that uses microsites to their advantage is the auto industry. Companies like Ford often build microsites for specific vehicles or contents and giveaways. If your industry often rolls out large campaigns or products, microsites are a great choice.

They work with leakage. While having “leakage” — a place where visitors can click away from your site (e.g. to Facebook) — on a landing page is bad for business, leakage on a microsite is no problem at all. In fact, microsites are the perfect choice if your desired method of conversion requires earned trust (brand awareness, relationships built through networking and blogs, etc.). If you’re okay with a “sales cycle” approach to engagement, then microsites may be for you.

Cons

They cost more (than landing pages). Because microsites are technically separate (albeit smaller) sites, they require separate hosting fees and URLs, which can cost more than just adding a landing page to an existing site. If you’re being creative with your microsite (or even if you’re not) you’ll still need to pay a designer to design the site for you, which can eat up time and money.

They don’t always measure well. When it comes to conversions, landing pages are easy to measure, but microsites can take time to see the same amount of engagement. Visitors will generally linger longer, which means they may be more likely to activate a CTA, but it also means they’re more likely to click away from the site all together. You’ll have to find alternate ways of measure engagement to make sure you’re getting the figures you want.

They require dedicated content. Creating a content and marketing strategy for a microsite can be more time consuming, as well. Because their focus is to tell a story more than share information, you’ll need to create more content to fill the pages and make sure that all of it is equally engaging. If only one page of your site is interesting, you could risk turning away visitors faster than a landing page.

They could dilute brand identity. If your goal is to use your microsite for creativity and you don’t mind people confusing your business for something else, then microsites are great. But if you’re concerned about that confusion, you might be better off with a landing page (or at the very least a less creative microsite).

They mean a little more work. When it comes to changing a landing page, a few clicks usually does the job. With microsites, however, you’ll need to login to an additional site to make changes, and if your company has more than one person monitoring sites, this can make things a little more challenging. Microsites also mean more work if you’re constantly A/B testing, too, as it takes more effort to rework an entire site than it does a single page.

Who is a microsite good for?

Microsites are relational in nature — for example, visitors spend time getting to know your brand and researching your campaign — which makes them great for businesses that want to create a personal touchpoint with their customers. If your goal is to create engagement through multiple channels and you don’t mind getting a little creative, microsites are the perfect option.

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So, which should you choose?

When it comes to choosing between a landing page and a microsite, it all comes down to a few things: your industry and business goals, your preferred conversion style, your time commitment, and your flexibility with branding. Basically, the right option comes down to who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish.

If you’re a business that wants to build brand reputation, you have time and money and love being creative, and you really don’t need customers to fulfill an immediate CTA when they visit your site, then microsites are probably the best choice.

If you’re a business that wants to measure conversions on a daily basis, you want customers to know you but you’re more interested in getting your product or service to them as quickly as possible, and you want your brand to be unified so that people know you by sight, then landing pages are the way to go.

The biggest dilemma will be for businesses who see themselves as a mixture of both. You might be a business that wants to be able to measure your engagement rates, but you might also want people to trust your brand (and you don’t mind when they “click away” every so often because you know they’ll be back). If that’s you, then the choice becomes a little less clear. You’ll have to rely on conversion styles to make your choice.

Essentially, both landing pages and microsites are great for customer engagement, but they go about it in different ways. If you want fast, easy conversions, use a landing page; if you don’t mind a slow sales cycle approach, go with a microsite.

But ultimately, the choice is yours and yours alone.

How Tweaking Your Microcopy Can Instantly Double Your Conversion Rates

There’s no denying that words have power, but how often are you thinking about words when trying to improve your website’s conversion rates? Chances are, not as often as you should.

Words – in this case, copy – can have a significant impact on what happens (or doesn’t happen) on your site. (If you’re still not convinced, this video by Andrea Gardner might change your mind). But what words are the most important when it comes to generating leads?

As it turns out, it’s not about big, bold headlines or catchy CTAs. It’s all about microcopy.

What is microcopy?

Microcopy is the copy that shows up in less obvious (but heavily trafficked) areas around a site – like the instructional text on forms or applications (“Please write your full name”), the words on a CTA button (“Subscribe Now!”), or the label on a form field (“Credit Card Number”). It’s often unnoticed, but it’s extremely essential to user experience.

Mark Boulton, author of the book Designing for the Web, gives the perfect example of using microcopy to alleviate customer concerns. After running into issues with people trying to purchase his book, he added a small piece of microcopy to his purchasing instructions, which solved the problem. After the original copy (“Transactions are handled through PayPal”) he added, “but you don’t need a PayPal account to buy this book“. As it turns out, people weren’t buying through his site because they thought they needed to create a PayPal account. By changing his microcopy, he instantly changed his sales numbers.

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Tumblr is another great example of a company that used microcopy to improve their sign-up experience. When users are about to submit their information, they’re asked to choose a sub-domain name for their site. The microcopy next to the form field assures them that they can “change it at any time.” Who wouldn’t breath a sigh of relief knowing that whatever they enter now won’t be held against them later?

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But it doesn’t stop there. Microcopy not only has the ability to improve user experience, it also has the power to make or break conversions.

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How does it affect conversions?

When it comes to getting users to subscribe, little words and phrases can significantly impact whether or not people click that button.

Take Veeam, for example. They noticed on their quote request form that visitors were continually asking for a price (which couldn’t be displayed due to a privacy policy) before submitting their information. Veeam decided to change the microcopy on their submission button from “request a quote” to “request pricing” and saw a staggering 161.66% increase in clicks. Similarly, another company found that changing two little words in their newsletter subject line resulted in a 23.88% increase in click-through rates.

Likewise, ContentVerve saw an 83.75% increase in newsletter subscriptions simply by adding three bullet-points of microcopy under their form headline that briefly explained the benefits that visitors would receive after form submission.

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So what does this all mean? Basically, good microcopy significantly improves conversions.

It should be noted, however, that bad microcopy can also negatively affect conversions. For example, student website WriteWork noticed that after changing their CTA button from the original text (“Read Full Essay Now”) to “Get Instant Access Now”, conversions actually fell by 39%. It turns out that context is just as important as the words themselves.

But the fact remains, having good microcopy on your site can help alleviate user concerns and generate more leads. But what exactly makes “good” microcopy?

How to tell the good from the bad

At its core, good microcopy is something personal – it lets users know that there are real humans behind the screen. Good microcopy uses natural language to communicate important messages.

Take this prompt text from Social Inbox as an example:

social-inbox-microcopy

Instead of simply saying that the “tweet text goes here,” it gives a much warmer set of instructions by asking, “What do you want to say to your beloved followers?”

Good microcopy also gives a sense of personality and helps users relate to your brand – it makes them feel special, like your business really knows them. Bad microcopy, on the other hand, makes people feel like they’re just another number.

Meanwhile, good microcopy helps alleviate customer concerns. Like the examples listed before, good microcopy answers questions users don’t even know they have, like whether or not they can change something later. Bad microcopy, on the other hand, means customers will have to find another way to get questions answered, which usually means you’ll be wasting time frequently answering the same questions. (You might not have to create a FAQs page, though. Simply ask yourself: “Is there somewhere I can use microcopy to answer these questions instead?”)

Bad microcopy will also demand an action (“Subscribe!”) without offering anything in return (which, let’s face it, nobody likes). Good microcopy, however, lets customers know about the benefits they can receive. If you really want people to fill out your forms, tell them what’s in it for them. While most websites use landing pages to go into more detail about the perks that come along with subscribing, you can reinforce the idea by using microcopy in important places like headlines and buttons to assure customers they’re getting the most bang for their buck.

Where to tweak your microcopy

Even though microcopy is subtle by nature, it tends to be most effective in high-traffic areas. While there are plenty of places that microcopy can be (and often is) utilized, here are a few of the most essential places on your website you should check for microcopy adjustments.

Form headlines

Headlines can include the headline on the form itself (the title that lets people know what they’re signing-up for) or the headlines on the landing page associated with the form.

Form headlines are all about conveying value and relevance to the customer – they should answer the “what’s in it for me” question. Adjusting specific aspects of the headline (like saying “Get FREE Marketing Tips!” instead of “Subscribe”) can help encourage subscribers.

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CTA buttons

CTA buttons – like the “Subscribe” buttons at the end of a form – are the perfect spots to use microcopy, especially if you’re looking to double your conversion rates. A great example of this is the $300 million dollar button story, which details how one company tweaked the copy of their “Register” button and increased conversions by 45% (the company made an extra $300 million the following year).

Form fields (Instructions)

Form fields are an important part of gathering information that you need from customers, but they’re also a great place to take advantage of the power of microcopy. You can easily quell customer concerns by adding instructions that let users know what they should do.

One site owner noticed that customers were entering their addresses wrong (or so he thought) because he kept getting credit card fail messages. It turns out that customers were entering their shipping addresses, but not their billing addresses, which caused the transaction to be declined. As a quick fix, he added some microcopy: “Be sure to enter the billing address associated with your Credit Card.” Problem solved.

Final thoughts

While general copy is always important to a site’s user experience, nothing quite compares to microcopy when it comes to improving conversion rates. If you’re spending hours on your site and you’re still not seeing the subscription number you’d like, try tweaking various aspects of your microcopy, tracking your changes as you go. Test out different areas like headlines, buttons, and form fields to see if you can add text that would benefit customers and generate more leads.

How To Make Users Want to Fill In Your Forms

Online forms are a digital marketing gateway. They’re the filter between the people who are merely interested in your content, product, or service, and the people who will become paying customers. But when it comes to your forms, do your potential customers actually want to fill them in?

Forms can either ease the transition between “merely interested” to “paying customer,” or they can frighten away potential business. Here are a few ways you can optimize your online forms so that users will actually want to fill them in.

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Entice users with great content

You can spend hours designing beautiful forms for your website, but if potential customers don’t believe that the form will lead to something significant, they won’t bother filling them in.

After all, there’s no point in using forms to generate leads if those leads don’t turn into paid business.

Unless your content adds value, your form is essentially worthless.

The best way to ensure that users will fill in your forms is to give them something worthwhile on the other side. By optimizing your content, you can entice potential customers to click “submit.”

Offer valuable content

Whether you’re trying to acquire sales leads by gathering basic contact information, capture a customer’s feedback, or simply attempting to get more subscribers to your newsletter, you’ll need to grab their attention with your content first.

One of the best ways to garner form submissions is by having information on an optimized landing page alongside your form that includes details about what’s in it for the customer.

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Including things like attention-grabbing headlines, bullet points that highlight benefits, content previews, and calls-to-action will create curiosity and make potential customers want to know more. You can also include text in your forms that mimics the language in the landing page, helping to create a natural flow between reading and submitting.

Another great way to gather submissions is to include a short call-to-action at the end of your content preview with a promise of more (and equally beneficial) content. This technique works especially well if your content or service is intriguing and fills a knowledge gap or need from the customer’s perspective.

It should be noted, however, that this only works if your content is meaningful to the customer. If what you have to offer isn’t worth the time it takes to submit the form, having forms may actually turn away further business. By ensuring that your content is genuinely beneficial, you can eliminate any hesitations and capture customer data.

Utilize your microcopy

Another important and often overlooked feature of any successful form is the language that’s used to guide people while they’re filling it in. Microcopy, or the small bits of text that instruct users or address concerns, plays a crucial role not only in getting users to fill in the form, but helping prevent errors that slow down the process.

Joshua Porter, co-founder of the product design Rocket Insights, blogged about his experience using microcopy to minimize errors on his forms (you can check out the whole article here). After receiving multiple error notifications on one of his forms, he realized that his microcopy wasn’t giving clear enough instructions.

“I remember the first time I realized how much even the smallest copy can matter in an interface,” Porter says. “It turns out that the transactions were failing because the address people were entering [on the forms] didn’t match the one on their credit card.”

Form-Microcopy-1

Porter quickly changed the microcopy on his form to notify users to enter the address information associated with their credit card (instead of a general address) and the errors stopped. In light of this lesson, he encourages designers to add microcopy to all areas of their forms, including notifying customers that they can unsubscribe from a newsletter at any time, or that their email won’t be spammed when they sign up.

It can also help to add more natural language styles throughout your forms and in your call-to-action buttons that promote the benefits of your content. Using copy such as, “Sign me up for this free service” or “No, I don’t like free stuff” can humanize the process and guide users through the form by minimizing confusion. The less room there is for misinterpretation of complex jargon, the smoother the process will be.

Don’t miss: 5 Unique Forms that Make Users Want to Fill Them In

Make your forms easy to use

The best way to get users to want to fill in your forms is to make them as quick and easy to use as possible.  Here are a few ways to make sure your form experience is painless:

Use a mobile-friendly design. Whether you hand-code your forms or use a design service like FormKeep, having your forms accessible on mobile phones and tablets will broaden the range of people able to use them at any given time. The more available your forms are to users, the more likely they will be filled in, especially if they are busy or travelling.

Enable autofill features.  Enabling features like autofill can help shorten the time it takes to fill in your forms. Google Chrome offers its own autofill feature, and by optimizing your forms to use browsers like Chrome (or by adding microcopy that indicates that this feature is available) you can help users move through your form effortlessly.

Use a clean, condensed, and easy-to-read design. Not only does a clean design save layout space, it saves the user time and effort jumping or scrolling around the page. Having a simple, clean form also prevents form fields from being missed, and gives the user less work for the same results.

Make sure the user has a quick escape option. No one likes being forced to fill in a form, so if you’re using pop-up forms, make sure you include a big ‘X’ in the corner or a noticeable “No Thanks” button at the bottom.

Make the form as short as possible. Only capture the information you absolutely need to use. You can always follow up in an email notification asking for additional concerns or questions.

Change your form types to help lazy users. Try using radio buttons instead of form fields to create a “one-click” form submission experience for passive users. The less work the person filling in the form has to do, the more likely they are to do it.  

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A/B test for the best results

Of course, the best way to ensure that your forms are optimized for user experience is to test them regularly. Like Joshua Porter realized during his microcopy experiment, sometimes updating and testing the smallest parts of your form can have huge impacts on conversions.

A/B testing, sometimes called split testing, will help you compare and contrast which versions of your forms and landing pages are producing more conversions.

Testing things like form placement (above the fold or after the fold?), form labels (do your form fields go next to instructions or below them?), personalized microcopy and call-to-action buttons (should you say “Sign Up” or “Join”?), and even testing your design and color schemes can help clarify areas of your form that slow users down or prevent people from filling them in.

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While there are no set rules when it comes to making your forms more appealing, by having great content, clean design, personalized microcopy, and frequent testing, you can ensure the best user experience possible and turn interested site visitors into actual customers.

Why Agency-Client Communication is a Bigger Problem Than You Think

Agency-client relationships are all about partnership. The relationship between an agency and client needs to be strong and healthy to survive the constant onslaught of project deadlines, meetings, and creative differences that arise throughout the working relationship. The stronger the relationship, the better the results.

According to a 2015 study by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), seventy-four percent of clients who work with creative agencies believe agencies play an important role in driving their own success, and rely on long-term agency relationships to further their business goals.

For many agencies, these long-term client relationships are equally as important to success. Agencies often spend thousands of dollars each year developing and maintaining client relationships. Yet with all the effort spent on hiring experts, developing marketing strategies, hiring the right teams, and providing excellence service, developing a plan for good agency-client communication is often overlooked.

A good communication plan is essential to maintaining any successful business relationship. Cycles of poor communication can lead to dissatisfaction, failed projects, financial losses, and worse yet, loss of reputation in the industry. But because many agency-client interactions are more collaborative than other business – especially in the creative fields – effective communication is even more important, since communication often goes through multiple channels to multiple sources before projects are completed.

Many agencies run into issues of over or under-communicating with their clients – either communicating too little, leaving clients confused or worried about project deadlines, or communicating too much (or about the wrong things), overwhelming clients with too many details.

Reversely, clients often have a difficult time expressing their needs to agencies through the proper channels, leaving many agencies struggling to meet the demands placed on them.

While these breakdowns in communication can come across as merely annoying or “just part of the job,” they can be detrimental to the bottom line if not properly addressed.

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The most common types of communication breakdowns


One of the biggest communication failures between agencies and clients is a lack of communication. This problem can also include a lack of useful information being processed between parties. If the agency forgets to respond to emails, leaves out critical information, or is too vague about project demands, for example, it can cause clients to feel they’re being ignored.

Clients will sometimes overcompensate for this perceived lack of communication by providing massive quantities of (often useless) information, which is not always helpful for the agency, as much of it will not be necessary to the task at hand. Agencies may respond to this information overload by ignoring pieces of information, which may cause clients to feel misheard or misrepresented. This vicious cycle leaves agencies feeling overwhelmed and clients feeling devalued.

On the reverse side, if agencies over-communicate, clients may feel overwhelmed and overworked and assume the agency is too incompetent to manage the project on their own. One example of communication overload is agencies placing a heavy reliance on email communication over more personal styles such as meetings or phone calls.

Phil Simon, author of Message Not Received, says that the average person receives 120 to 150 emails per day, making it extremely common for clients to misplace, delete, or forget to read their emails. When too much information comes across a digital platform, overload is more likely to happen, which can cause clients to disengage.

In worst cases, this disengagement can lead to entire projects being stalled. While constant communication is important for any development project, over-communication or communication about issues that aren’t essential to the needs of the moment can leave many clients feeling confused or overworked.

Having a strong communication plan in place is important to combatting these communication issues. Knowing when, where, how often, and to whom communications should be sent can alleviate the burden on clients and allow agencies to manage projects more competently.

Of course, communication plans only work when the relationship between an agency and client is already established. If there are breakdowns within the relationship, poor communication will only cause further problems. Some experts warn that poor communication within an agency-client relationship is actually a symptom of something far worse.

Poor communication is often a sign of deeper problems

In 2014, RPA and USA Today conducted an anonymous online survey of more than 140 agencies to better understand what makes successful agency-client relationships. In their report, The Naked Truth, they discovered that ninety-eight percent of agencies and clients agreed that trust was a major factor in maintaining relationships, but that poor communication was a major factor when there was a lack of trust.

Poor communication can be a sign of underlying trust issues between agencies and clients, and can play a major role in the dissolution of otherwise successful business relationships. If an agency struggles to connect with clients on a consistent basis, for example, it can create uncomfortable distance in the working relationship, resulting in unnecessary overreactions when smaller issues arise. agency-clientcommunication03

If the client feels like the agency isn’t listening to their needs or has trouble getting those needs met on a consistent basis, they may either react with a desire for more communication (which the agency may not be able to fulfill) or they will slowly withdraw and look for alternative solutions.agency-clientcommunication02

Without first establishing the kind of trust that leads to healthy agency-client communication, tensions can build over time until one or both parties walk away from the relationship all together, resulting in financial and networking losses for both.

The good news is that trust can be built and protected by intentionally stewarding good communication patterns.

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Three ways to promote trust through great communication

Since communication is a skill, it can be learned and improved through intentional practice. Strong communication skills may need to be relearned during the course of a relationship, especially if there have been patterns of poor communication in the past or a history of mistrust. Here are a few ways agencies can ensure they are maintaining healthy communication with their clients (and vice-versa).

Be consistent and reply quickly

If an agency has issues with slow or inconsistent communication, it can hinder workflow and create communication barriers. Replying to emails and phone calls as quickly as possible – or sending additional emails notifying clients when they can expect a reply – can go a long way in boosting confidence. Setting a 24-hour rule to responses (or faster if it’s an emergency) and sticking to it will help foster trust.

Adapt your communication styles

Misunderstandings are one of the most common communication problems for both agencies and clients. When a client has trouble interpreting the intentions of an agency, it can cause confusion and slow down the workflow, since additional messages are required for clarification. Making sure communications are well written, clear, and concise before sending will help eliminate that confusion. It can also be helpful to restate the main concerns at the end of an email, phone call, or meeting to ensure everything was properly communicated.

Be open and honest (but don’t overreact)

Being open and honest (but respectful) with clients can help build strong relationships and promote good communication. Being courteous and sincere but honest about perceived complications will create a safe environment for both parties when problems arise. When complications do occur, address them quickly and confidently without assigning blame. If the relationship is already shaky, overreaction can cause non-issues to escalate into impossibilities. Asking “Why,” “Why not,” and “What” questions will help clarify and refocus the discussion while calming fears that clients aren’t being heard.

Getting Creative With Contact Forms

Contact forms are the bread and butter of any business’ website. They’re how you gather new leads, convert prospects into real customers, and support your existing ones. They should be one of the places you focus on most when designing your website: A/B testing different solutions, getting creative with layouts, and optimizing conversion rate.

Unfortunately, most contact forms are the last priority when designing a website. They not only end up looking rushed or out of place within the context of the site’s design, but identical to every other site. The contact form is the end of the user’s journey through your website, and should be one of the key areas that differentiates you from your competition. It can be a real waste when your website uses beautiful fonts, colors and graphics like this:form-1And then your contact form looks like this:form-2

It can be difficult to come up with ways to get creative with your contact form. Most contact forms only need three pieces of information: the user’s name, a way to contact them, and a short message. The easiest way to do that is by simply using three text fields and a submit button. But getting creative with your contact form can improve the quality of your leads, increase your conversion rate, and bolster your brand’s reputation for good design.

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Provide Options

The default contact form is great, but not always the most suitable. They’re not great for receiving immediate help, or for complicated requests. By providing different options at this point, users can pick what suits them best. Here, Chargebee offers not only the default contact form, but also a call back request. Placing links to the company’s social networks here would also be a good idea (Twitter and Facebook are great ways for getting in touch with a company).form-3

Fit the Design

A beautifully-designed website will impress visitors and sell your business. But since your website is essentially a path leading towards your contact form, having this final point in the journey be comparatively disappointing will tell visitors that you don’t pay attention to details. If you can’t get such an important aspect of your own site right, how can they entrust you with their site?

You don’t have to go to extreme lengths to create an entirely new contact experience – simply taking the time to design the form around the rest of your site is a great first step. Saus, a creative communications studio, has styled their contact form based on a physical postcard. At its base, it’s still just a couple of text input fields and a submit button, but it fits perfectly into the context of the website.form-4

Give Context

One way to improve Saus’ form would be to give the user some expectation of when they might receive an answer. If they call immediately, will there be someone to answer? If they email, will it be minutes, hours or days until they receive a response? Huge does this well by appending the current time to each of their offices. Now the user can tell whether or not it’s currently business hours, and can get a rough estimation of how long a response might take. If it’s currently 2 AM, you won’t be getting a response until later in the morning. But if it’s 2 PM, you can probably expect one within the hour.

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Give a Head Start

One big discouraging influence in many contact forms is the blank text field. Name and email address are no problem – the user already knows those, it’s just a matter of being willing to share the information. But a big blank text field saying “Message” is daunting. The user needs to figure out exactly what needs to be shared, and worry about what they might have forgotten to include. A great solution to this problem is a mad-libs style contact form, like the one below  from Andrew Haglund.form-6

Eliminate The Blank Page

Even if you don’t want to go full mad-libs style, there are still ways to avoid the blank page syndrome. Prime users with multiple choice questions, then use placeholder text to further guide their answers.

Break It Up

Some contact forms won’t fit into the simple name-email-message structure, and will need to request a bit more information from the user. Placing a lot of text fields on screen at once is a sure way to scare users off, especially those with limited time. By breaking up long contact forms into sections, the form appears smaller and gives the illusion of taking a shorter time to fill out. Creative Digital Agency Harbr breaks their contact form into three steps. The final step is still a freeform text input field, but by this point the main questions have been answered, and this field is more of a support, rather than the critical piece.form-7

Get Graphical

Most form elements are pretty boring by default. Typeform spices up their designs by using simple illustrations instead of radio buttons. The illustrations remove the reliance on detailed copy, and allow users to skim the form. The less reading involved in your form, the faster users can fill it out, and the higher your conversion rate will be.form-8

Be Analytical

Whenever you’re making changes to your contact forms, make sure you track and analyze how the form performs before and after. If the changes you make reduce interaction rates, that’s not necessarily a bad thing! You might be reducing the rate of users asking questions that your website already answers. Keep track of how many useful conversions you get, and use the data to guide your design decisions.