Conversion rate

How to increase conversion rates from your sign-up forms

21st Dec 2016

There are still some common misunderstandings in conversion rate optimisation (CRO) circles about what the perfect sign-up form should look like and what it should be about. But what will lead to higher conversion rates?

We have decided to look deeper into this matter, and thus run a split testing of our own data collection and asked  industry professionals to share their expertise on the topic.

Number of fields

It is true that the number of fields in your sign-up form affects your conversion rate. However, it is something of an urban legend that less equals better.

“I see many forms where a business wants to know unnecessary information from the user. Really, all you want is confirmation that someone wants to talk to you," says Stuart McClure, digital marketing manager at Peoplevox.

It is widely known that you can increase your conversion rate by 50% with the elimination of one form field (for example, reducing the number from four to three). However, things are never that simple in the digital world. SEMrush recently split tested its own sign-up forms, and actually concluded the contrary: including an extra field increased the test page’s traffic by 5%.


The landing page with the additional field in the registration form Enter domain, keyword or URL showed better results. The number of users who clicked the Try button was almost the same in both campaigns, but users who had the opportunity to enter domain or keyword into the registration form immediately were more likely to click the Submit button (up to a 5% increase).

The graph below shows the most commonplace form fields across various industry sectors, with email topping the list (according to a MarketingSherpa Lead Generation Benchmark Report).

Marketing Sherpa

Thus, unlike the widespread rumour, quantity is not the key, necessity is. The notion that including fewer fields boosts conversions is not completely an urban myth. Of course, asking your user for an unnecessary piece of information would raise suspicion. However, not asking for relevant information in order to include fewer fields leads to a similar reaction.


Taking the previous point into consideration, the perfect sign-up form shouldn’t ask unnecessary questions. It makes the user suspicious, and a suspicious user does not tend to become a potential lead.

Instead, a potential lead should feel a sense of being at ease. Various split tests have shown that once you provide a clear call-to-action form the increase in conversion is immense. Some recommend adopting a two-step process if you have a longer form that has to be filled out. Ask for the basics in the first step (name) and leave slightly more controversial details (email) as a step two. That way, people are more likely to fill out your step two since they have already put effort into step one. It seems simple, but it's extremely effective.

“Unclear paths to completion are at the top of the problem list. I know this is fairly broad, but it sums up the majority of user experience and user interface issues across the web. When a user does not intuitively know what to do to achieve X on a website, this indicates an unclear path to completion,” says Jordan Patchak, ChannelNet's UX/UI manager at Raven Loon Communications.

Another important point is checking your form’s readability. According to Wichita State University lab research, leaving white space around your form helps your potential leads notice and understand your call-to-action, while decreasing their reading speed.

Design and layout

Some CROs believe in design, some believe in words and some favour rewards, but the power of A\B testing empirically concludes that design tips and tricks actually work.

Make sure your sign-up form is located at the top of the page – this will increase subscribers. According to research by the Nielsen Group, on average, users engage with above-the-fold sign-up forms 84% more than below-the-fold ones.

“There isn’t a single best colour that maximises call-to-action button conversions. What maximises conversion is contrast,” says Nigel Ravenhill, marketing specialist.

Finally, we’ve come to the cornerstone of CRO – button colour! Yet another legendary study on how button colour affects conversion rates has confirmed that the colour red increases conversions by 21 percent. However, this study is based on a particular split test of a particular website. What’s more important than simply colouring the call-to-action button red is ensuring that the button actually stands out in relation to the rest of the page’s layout.

What’s extremely important is to follow current trends. It is a fact that Accelerated Mobile Pages are nowadays the it thing among web page optimizers. Thus, since the majority of web traffic now cycles through various devices rather than desktop only, so it's useful to design your sign-up form as if you were designing it for an AMP, since it is very likely you will soon have to move to AMPs anyway, if you are not there yet.


Wouldn't it be lovely if changing one word increased your revenue by X percent?

Well, it does. Your CTA copy is as significant and influential to conversion as the rest of the factors mentioned above.

What is the key in such alterations is experimentation. According to various case studies, there are many examples out there that would provide proof that replacing a Register button with a Continue one will quickly change your life, increase your conversion rate etc. However, the phrase 'to each their own'  was invented to match our discussion. Only A\B testing will show you exactly what you need: each website has its own distinct audience, design and copy.

Yet again, it's great when everything in your sign-up forms puts the user at ease, for instance, Wufoo tells you "that's OK. Everyone forgets" once you press the "Forgot password" button. Who wouldn't fill out their form?


Clearly you need translate your sign-up form to a local language of your potential leads. However, it is important to conduct an A/B testing in order to find out which copy is more efficient for a particular region.  According to a research altering the copy of a CTA button can significantly impact conversion:

CTA button

Source: Search Engine Journal

Upon the release of our Lead Generation Tool we were aware of the regional differences, thus the option to localize the CTA button was available. But surprisingly, within a very short time of less than a month after the tool’s release, about 70% of our users asked us to add an extra option of translating such fields as Domain and Email, which confirms that complete localisation actually affects user experience and, therefore, conversion.

Screen shot

Source: SEMrush

Value proposition

“I’ve found that the number one influencer in conversion rate is value. If there is no value being offered to the visitor, then nothing else matters,” Andrew Johnson, founder of WP Hatch.

Finally, the biggest conversion influencer has entered our story - the value proposition. You can optimize your sign-up form as much as you want and are capable of, but if you are unclear about what your lead magnet is you are very unlikely to increase your conversions if you attract any at all. After all, it doesn’t matter whether you are simply offering a valuable piece of information, a free e-book or a luxury holiday in the Bahamas (fine, the latter might affect conversion slightly!), once a potential lead feels like he/she is getting something out of filling out your form, the hook is set.

The more you ask from your users, the more you have to give in return, while including privacy reminders and free rewards.

“A quick writing trick is to use the following formula and customize to your needs: Achieve X using X guide without sacrificing X,” says Catherine Campbell, director at Bright Planning.

The rewards you offer directly correlate with your conversion rates, given that you are a trustworthy source and offer convincing lead magnets. The rest is up to your post-conversion steps: nurturing emails, compelling offers and quality of your original product. 

This article was originally published on our sister site, BusinessZone


Replies (3)

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By WidnesHealth
21st Dec 2016 11:01

Brilliant article, I've never tried playing with the colours of my contact form buttons but will definitely make sure that my forms are more high contrast now!

Thanks (1)
Chris Ward
By Chris Ward
21st Dec 2016 12:35

Thanks WidnesHealth. Certainly some testing tips we can all learn from! The psychology of colour in marketing is not to be discredited. We ran an infographic earlier in the year with the full lowdown, if you want to take a look:

Thanks (0)
By Glopss
18th Apr 2018 07:15

We are a young Performance Marketing Network yet we've been here for a long time. Our Glopss Team have been in the industry since the early years of Performance Marketing.

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