Contact forms are increasingly being used by life science companies (and web development companies) as a lead collection tool, but despite this very important function companies often don’t think through the design of contact forms well. For example, I was looking at a life science service company’s website today, and they had an extremely long contact form. There were about 12 fields for contact information – all required. While this is an extreme example, it does highlight the point very well. Contact forms are being misused by life science companies.
You may be thinking “Isn’t this focusing on minutiae? Contact forms aren’t that important.” If so, most people think like you. When designing a contact form they ask what information they would like to collect and that’s about it. That thinking, however, is completely backwards. Why? Contact form submissions, which essentially equate to leads, decrease dramatically the more fields you have. Evidence in a minute.
I’ve heard anecdotally that form submissions decrease between 20% and 50% for each field. That seems a bit exaggerated to me (anecdotes often are), so I looked into it. Thankfully, with creative Googling you can find a study on just about anything. A Chicago-based web dev outfit called Imaginary Landscape did our homework for us. They ran a pilot contact form on their website with 11 fields, then the next month decreased it to 4 fields. The results? They saw a 120% increase in their form submission rate. Conversely, this would mean a 62% decrease in submission rate when increasing from 4 fields to 11, or roughly a 12.5% decrease in submissions per additional field if we actually can apply an exponential mathematical model as the anecdotes would tell us we can.
It stands to reason, however, that as we make it easier to fill out the contact form, that we will lower the quality of the leads. There is almost always a trade-off between lead quality and lead quantity in any given situation in which leads are collected. However, scientists aren’t going to fill out a form and give out their contact info for no reason. We’ll simply get more people contacting us who are “on the fence” – and those are exactly the people that you want your salespeople to get in touch with so that they can sell them on your life science products and / or services.
Because of all these factors, life science companies and life science web designers must be minimalistic in their implementation of contact forms. Do not ask yourself what information you want from your customers, but rather what is the minimum amount of information you need to collect. Let your sales staff get on the phone and collect the rest after you have the lead in hand.