David Kirkpatrick

Lead Generation: Testing form field length reduces cost-per-lead by $10.66

June 27th, 2011

After driving potential customers to your website through PPC ads, organic search results, or a targeted campaign to create online traffic, the most logical way to turn those visitors into leads is by getting them to register via an online form.

For this blog post, let’s assume you’ve already presented an offer with a strong enough value proposition to get your visitor to actually be interested in filling out your registration form. Let’s just focus on optimizing the form itself.

A form can have any number of fields, of course, and it would seem if you have more required fields on the form, you will generate more lead information for the database.

Can we all agree to that point? Great, let’s take a look at a recent lead generation test then.


Marketo, the marketing automation company, has a content-fueled top-of-the-funnel marketing strategy that drives traffic to its website in order to access that content. Some of the content is ungated, but what the company calls “middle stage” content (buyer’s guides, ROI calculator, RFP template, independent analyst research, etc.) and some of its “late stage” content (such as a comprehensive product demo) all require registration.

Because Marketo requires what it considers high-quality website visitors to register so it can track their behavior and contact those visitors, it conducted A/B testing on its forms to find the best-performing version.


The company tested forms with five, seven and nine field forms.

The five-field form asked for:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Work Email
  • Job Function (with dropdown menu)
  • Company

All five fields are required.

The seven-field form added “# Employees” and “Industry,” both with dropdown menus.

The nine-field form added “Work Phone” and “CRM System.”

Click to enlarge


The short form with only five fields — first and last name, work email, job function and company — produced an average conversion of 13.4 percent, with a cost-per-lead of $31.24.

Adding additional company information fields — number of employees and industry — to the form dropped conversion to 12 percent and raised the cost-per-lead to $34.94.

Adding CRM system and work phone fields further lowered conversion to 10% and cost-per-lead jumped to $41.90.

Click to enlarge

Clearly, shorter forms are more effective in getting Web visitors to actually complete the registration and in terms of lowering the cost-per-lead. The trade-off is that with a shorter form is you are collecting less information for your database.

Jon Miller, VP Marketing, Marketo, doesn’t see using the more effective shorter forms as a problem.

“People lie on the forms all the time,” he says. MarketingSherpa research backs up Jon’s sentiment, showing the accuracy rate of self-submitted data.

Click to enlarge

Jon’s solution is to use the basic information collected on the short form and buy the data to fill out the database record on the new lead.

He explains, for Marketo it is actually less expensive to use a short registration form with a higher conversion and lower cost-per-lead to capture basic lead information that can then be used in conjunction with an outside vendor to complete the record, than it is to ask for more information on the registration form. Information that might not be correct, anyway.

Jon sums up the results of Marketo’s form field testing, “Why should I ask for data, hurt my conversion rate and get bad data when I can buy it cheaper?”

Related Resources

Jigsaw (Marketo’s database vendor)

Members library — Marketing Strategy: Revenue-oriented approach leads to 700% two-year growth

Internet Marketing: Optimizing form fields to maximize conversions

Marketing Strategies: Is performance-based vendor pricing the best value?

Lead Marketing: Cost-per-lead and lead nurturing ROI

Interview: 4 Tactics to Lift Product Registration Forms 20% or More

David Kirkpatrick

About David Kirkpatrick

David is a reporter for MarketingSherpa (our sister company) and has over twenty years of experience in business journalism, marketing and corporate communications. His published work includes newspaper, magazine and online journalism; website content; full-length ghosted nonfiction; marketing content; and short fiction. He served as producer for the business research horizontal at the original Office.com, regularly reporting on the world of marketing; covered a beat for D/FW TechBiz, a member of the American City Business Journals family; and he provided daily reporting for multiple LocalBusiness.com cities. David’s other media and corporate clients include: USA Today, Oxford Intelligence, GMAC, AOL, Business Development Outlook and C-Level Media, among many others.

Categories: Analytics & Testing, Internet Marketing Strategy, Lead Generation Tags: , , ,

Comment pages
1 2 7188
We no longer accept comments on the MarketingExperiments blog, but we'd love to hear what you've learned about customer-first marketing. Send us a Letter to the Editor to share your story.