For decades, radio stations have relied on Nielsen (previously Arbitron) for data about their listeners. But with the rise of the internet, advertisers now expect more data about the consumers they are reaching than ever. As broadcasters compete with Google, Facebook, and Pandora for ad buys, they need to be prepared to offer more data than just what Nielsen provides.
One great way to collect that data is through the use of online forms. Give your website visitors an incentive — like the ability to win a prize, listen to your stream, or access exclusive content — and require them to fill out a form.
How you design that form will have a big impact on how well it performs. You measure the performance of a form by looking at its conversion rate: divide the number of people who complete the form by the number of people who saw the form. Here are some tips for designing forms that convert well:
1. Shorter is better.
As a general rule, the shorter a form is, the more likely people are to fill it out. So don’t ask for information unless you’re absolutely sure you’re going to use it. Avoid situations like this:
“We ask people what their favorite color is. We don’t use that info at the moment, but we were thinking that one day we might want to send people colored emails.”
When in doubt, leave the question out.
2. Consider the device.
People are much less likely to fill out a long form on a mobile device than a desktop computer. Show people a different form depending on the type of device that they are using. If they’re on a smartphone, just ask for their email address. Once you have that, you can always follow up later with an email that directs them to a longer form. Capturing only email addresses is much better than capturing nothing because people can’t be bothered with your forms on their mobile devices.
3. Explain why you’re asking for information.
Be sure to tell people exactly why you are requesting specific pieces of information. For example, many people are reluctant to give out their home address. Use supporting text to explain why you need the information (“We will mail your prize to you if you win”). This will reduce the number of people who will abandon your form out of privacy concerns.
4. Think through your form field labels and answer types.
Make sure that it’s clear what you’re asking for in each form field. For example, if you label a field “Title,” you could be asking for Mr., Ms., or Mrs., or you could be asking for a job title. If you are looking for the former, use a dropdown menu or radio button; for the latter, label the field “Job Title.” The less you require people to think while filling out a form, the better.
5. Don’t make people read every single multiple choice option.
Consider two questions:
- Which zip code do you work in?: (followed by a list of 20 zip codes)
- Which industry do you work in?: (followed by a list of 20 zip codes)
The first question takes far much less thought to answer. As soon as I read the question, I know the answer: “48025.” If the zip codes are listed in numerical order, it will be easy for me to select the correct one without having to read all 20 choices.
The second question, on the other hand, takes a lot more work to answer. I may think I work in “Radio,” but when I look through the alphabetical list of choices, “Radio” is not an option. What about “Broadcasting?” Not there either. “Media”? Nope. I guess I’m going to have to read all 20 choices. Eventually, I’ll decide that I work in “Entertainment.”
When a question has an instant, obvious, correct answer, it is okay to offer a long list of choices. However, if the correct answer requires a person to read through a list of options before selecting one, keep that list as short as possible.
There’s an art to designing effective online forms; it requires serious thought. If you’d like to learn more about how to design forms with high conversion rates, I highly recommend the book Forms That Work by Caroline Jarrett.
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