How does requiring fields affect completion rates?

22 Apr 2009 - 2:31pm
7 years ago
13 replies
1001 reads
Shimone Samuel

I would suggest requiring the bare-minimum necessary for the user to
complete their task: email address.

Sales can reply via email: Thank you for contacting us. How can we
help you?

Any additional information can be gathered after the lead is
confirmed. Yes, it makes extra work for sales associates but they
should require the least effort possible for interested parties to
contact them. Faster, easier, better.

If sales wants to get clever they can garner Company name from email
(name at and do a little prelim research too.

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Posted from the new


22 Apr 2009 - 2:48pm
Mark Schraad

You definitely are effecting the completion rate with the amount of
information you ask for, the depth of its perceived privacy, and by
requiring any or all of the information.
Unfortunately, equally disruptive to the entire leads model is that leads
with incomplete information are worth less, or worth nothing.

Most times your leads partner (or whomever is responsible for selling those
leads) is a pretty good source for what works and what does not. They have
no vested interest in turning away customers... and in most case they will
have data to back up their claims.

On Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 8:02 AM, Jennifer <chicgeek75 at> wrote:

> I know that this question does rely on the context and the form
> itself; however, I would imagine there are some general thoughts out
> there about this topic.
> Specifically, if the objective of having the form is to collect
> lead-gen information so that an appropriate sales person can call the
> person who completes the form, should we be concerned with requiring
> the user to fill in fields?
> >From the sales-team perspective, yes; they want as much clean
> information as is possible. I just wonder if from a user-perspective
> this can be a bit much for just initiating a sales call.
> The fields that we're being told are required are: Company, Number
> of Employees, Address (all fields), Phone, Email, as well as first
> and last name.
> A couple of us on the web team think this is overkill, that we may in
> fact be adversely affecting the completion rates by requiring so much.
> What if the user doesn't want to put in their address? Why isn't
> phone # enough? Or, what if they don't want to divulge their company
> name just yet?
> Thoughts?
> -Jennifer
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22 Apr 2009 - 4:18pm
Caroline Jarrett

In addition to other comments:

You mentioned that the purpose of gathering the extra information is to help
make sure that the right sales person gets in touch.

It is possible to get users to divulge more information without affected
response rates too severely if you clearly tell them how it will be used,
and if that use is consistent with what they want your organisation to do
for them.

So, for example, let's think even of "number of employees". Suppose that
you've got Bob who deals with little businesses (10 or fewer employees) and
Sheila who deals with larger businesses (11 or more). You might be able to
persuade the user to tell you if you explain that.

Or maybe you could even ask the appropriate question directly as in:

"Bob deals with smaller businesses (up to 10 employees) and Sheila deals
with larger (11 employees or more). Which sales person would you like to
call? ()Bob ()Sheila"

OK, I admit it, that's not exactly a brilliantly drafted question and you've
probably got way more than 2 people in the sales force. And maybe there are
other answers the user might have like "please don't call me at all".

But if the person is filling in the form *because* they want the right
person to call them, then giving you information that aligns with that user
goal would be just fine.

What I'm trying to illustrate is that instead of simply demanding
information that might seem irrelevant, you can get better results by really
thinking through the conversation that you're having with the user in the
context of the relationship you're trying to build between your organisation
and that user, especially if you focus on the user's goals at that point.

Caroline Jarrett
"Forms that work: Designing web forms for usability" foreword by Steve Krug

22 Apr 2009 - 6:05pm
Stephen Holmes

I agree with Caroline.

My golden rule here is that a contact form is really the start of a
conversation with a potential customer. If you don't have a
"smile" on your "face" like all good service people in the
face-to-face world you turn the customer away.

I always have my sites show all methods of contact - phone, fax and
e-mail and allow the user to decide how they want to start the
conversation. If they opt for e-mail in a web form I explain why each
item I am asking for is needed.

On the other side of the coin, as a customer I prefer to talk to a
real person who knows what they are doing, so I prefer as small an
"electronic handshake" as possible! That means just an e-mail
address and I want to control the conversation initially in any
potential commercial transaction. If you think of your customers that
way and don't use the info gathering form at the start of the
"conversation" as a catchall crutch you end up with better defined
leads since you've talked to the customer and started the
relationship on the right foot.


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Posted from the new

22 Apr 2009 - 8:54pm
Christopher Jones

Hi Jennifer,

I work with these types of forms all the time. Opinions differ
widely, of course, and the product being sold may influence the set
of required fields. My general view, however, is that Name, Company,
Phone, and E-Mail are requirements for allowing Sales to follow
through on the lead. (Depending on the product you may not need to
get the phone number, but e-mail is not necessarily a reliable
communication method so it is good to have an alternate method of
contact and many Sales teams prefer to start off with a personal
connection by voice.)

Address I don't recommend requiring unless there is really printed
materials that will need to be sent. Sales can always obtain address
information during their follow-up call. Number of Employees is
another item than can be obtained during the call. Sometimes State or
Country may be required in order to assign leads to the proper Sales

Basically I look for the very minimum needed to qualify a lead and
follow through. Make Sales do their job of fleshing out the lead when
they call the prospect and don't discourage responses by requiring
information that the visitor may not be able to provide due to
company policy.


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Posted from the new

22 Apr 2009 - 2:49pm
amy middleton

Not only will you probably see lower completion rates, but keep in
mind that you aren't guaranteed to get "clean data" just by making
more required fields. If users feel they are being asked for too much
(or irrelevant) information, they are more likely to use bad data in
an effort to be permitted to submit.

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Posted from the new

22 Apr 2009 - 2:53pm
Kelly Brooks

I agree with Shimone. Email is the only required. And maybe first
name. That way the user gets a "good" feel from that. They are
still partially "anonymous", but at the same time, recognized as a
person. That way, sales can send a nice response with their name in
the email, AND the end user didn't have to fill out 20 fields! Sales
should really take the opportunity to ask all of the important
questions in the initial call. It makes a client feel really good
when you contact them, record their details during the first call,
and then regurgitate that back over the next communication method.

Leave the rest optional!


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Posted from the new

23 Apr 2009 - 6:37am
Chris Neale

In this context (a call-back/enquiry form) I think it's possible to
keep the form short and usable whilst also giving your sales team the
opportunity to capture more information.

I think name (single field) and contact number should be mandatory.
Nearly everyone has a phone number of some sort and a conversation
over the phone is a more personal way to begin than an email.

Then ask for company name and email address but make them optional.
Some people don't work for a company (or may not be inquiring on
behalf of a company). And some people don't have an email address
(this applies more to front-line retail situations in my experience -
I'd guess nearly all business people will have an email address). I
don't think address is necessary - the sales team can probably
Google it later.

If your sales team is still keen for more information, you could
include a few extra fields, all optional, in a final section of the
form. But I think it would be useful to introduce this section with a
sentence explaining why you're asking for the information and how it
will benefit them if they complete it - be really open and up-front
about it. I think most clients will appreciate that your sales team
wants background information so they can do some research before they

Making all fields mandatory leads to unreliable, unclean data. I'm
sure I'm not the only one who responds to nosy, unrelated questions
on forms by deliberately giving daft and inaccurate answers.


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Posted from the new

23 Apr 2009 - 8:04pm
Jared M. Spool

On Apr 22, 2009, at 12:02 PM, Jennifer wrote:

> Specifically, if the objective of having the form is to collect
> lead-gen information so that an appropriate sales person can call the
> person who completes the form, should we be concerned with requiring
> the user to fill in fields?

Hi Jennifer,

You got a lot of good answers, but I think if your team is serious
about creating a great experience while generating leads, you want to
read Seth Godin's classic, Permission Marketing (

He'll give you a completely different perspective on your question
(and tell you why your gut feel is right),


24 Apr 2009 - 6:49am
AJ Kock

I am actually sitting with exactly this problem. Consultant needs vs
User Experience

I work in the travel industry and our consultants would like to give
an appropriate and complete quote for a client after first contact,
but this would require the client to complete lots of fields in the
enquiry/booking form:
E.g. Name, email, telephone, country, Date of travel, comments,
adults, children, childrens' age

Creating detailed Itineraries for customer can take quite a bit of
time so the more details a client can provide, the more accurate a
quote can be.

So do you only ask name, email and telephone number the first time and
loose out to a competitor that already sent a qoute on the first
contact or are you that competitor?

24 Apr 2009 - 11:49am
Adrian Howard

On 23 Apr 2009, at 04:37, Chris Neale wrote:
> I think name (single field) and contact number should be mandatory.
> Nearly everyone has a phone number of some sort and a conversation
> over the phone is a more personal way to begin than an email.

There are a lot of databases out there that have "nope" in my
telephone field. Or 01234 567890 if they force a number on me. Or no
entry at all if I'm having a day of low tolerance ("I just want to
tell you that your site's not working here - damned if I'm going to
give you my e-mail, phone number & address for that. Bye." was a
recent case in point :-)

The salesperson may see it as more personal. The customer may see it
as annoying, or an interruption, or an invasion of privacy, or .....

With contact forms of all kinds what seems to work best in my
experience, as far as getting clean data anyway, it to let the
customer decide what contact info to leave - and just check that _a_
way of getting in touch has been supplied - whether it be phone, e-
mail, address or whatever.


-- - - adrianh at

24 Apr 2009 - 11:53am
Adrian Howard

On 24 Apr 2009, at 12:49, AJKock wrote:

> So do you only ask name, email and telephone number the first time and
> loose out to a competitor that already sent a qoute on the first
> contact or are you that competitor?

Why not get the absolute minimum information first, and then give the
customer the option of improving their quote now by entering more info
- or getting the sales dude to contact them now? Best of both worlds.


-- - - adrianh at

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