The Anatomy of Double Opt-In Forms That Increase Conversions

by Fahad Muhammad in Conversion Optimization

People don’t like filling out forms. There, we said it.

There’s lots of reason why people don’t like completing forms. Big ones include: visitors want to safeguard their personal information as best as possible; because a long form is too much work; they’re an annoyance that stands in the way of what the visitor wants; they force the visitor into making a decision they may not be ready to make.

Getting a person to fill out a lead capture form is one of online marketing’s greatest challenges. That’s why you put a lot of effort into creating killer Google ads, crafting email newsletters you’re sure recipients will open then click-through, schedule social media posts — and direct all prospects to your newly designed, ready-to-convert post-click landing page.

When those efforts fall flat, there’s usually a lot of head scratching and furrowing of brows.

Don’t fret, it’s not you. It may be the lead capture form.

Lead capture forms are an integral part of all post-click landing page types. Let’s face it, they are the the element that brings you leads and increases your conversion rates.

So, what’s the middle ground here — how do you create lead capture forms that convince visitors to act, fulfill the page goal, and increase conversion rate?

You can start by seeing your visitors’ side of the story when it comes to conversion rates.

How do you define conversion rate?

In our marketing dictionary we define conversion rate as:

The percentage of people who visit your post-click landing page that convert on your offer. It is calculated by dividing the number of people who have converted over the number of people who have visited your page.

The Neilsen Norman Group defines conversion rate as:

“The percentage of users who take a desired action. The archetypical example of conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors who buy something on the site.”

Both definitions discuss visitors taking the desired action, or converting on a post-click landing page or web page — which is what conversion rate is from the marketer’s point of view.

But you’re not the one filling out the form, your visitors are.

Salesforce talks about mindfulness when discussing conversion rate:

...conversion rates are a measure of your ability to persuade visitors to take the action you want them to take. They’re a reflection of your effectiveness at satisfying customers. For you to achieve your goals, visitors must first achieve theirs.

Prospects who visit your page want to find a solution to their problem. They don’t care about fulfilling your conversion goals because they don’t want to fill out your form. Mindfulness, (being consciously aware of your visitors’ needs) is what gets you your conversion and prospects their solution.

How do you create forms people don’t mind completing?

Ideally, every post-click landing page element (except the lead capture form) describes your offer to visitors:

  • The headline explains your UVP.
  • The image adds visual appeal, showcases how your product looks or establishes an emotional connection.
  • The video or gif gives them a demo of how to use your product or service, showcases customer testimonials or gives them reasons why your product is the best choice.
  • The CTA button tells them what will happen next.
  • The copy describes the benefits they’ll receive once they convert.
  • The testimonials highlight customers who have used your product and loved it.
  • The customer badges and trust seals do the same as the testimonials.

Only the lead capture form is excluded because it doesn’t explain anything for prospects. It simply requests they enter their information to get what they want.

This causes friction.

Friction is any element on your post-click landing page that causes your customers not to convert on your page. post-click landing page conversions first take place in your visitors’ minds before they do on the page, which is why it’s crucial to free your page from any psychological roadblocks.

The best way to deal with form friction (the psychological resistance caused by your form) is to use double opt-in forms, aka two-step opt-in forms.

What are double opt-in forms?

Double opt-in forms are forms that only appear after a visitor has clicked the CTA button.

When a visitor arrives on a post-click landing page utilizing this two-step opt-in technique, they don’t see the lead capture form. Instead, they see other page elements that explain and describe the offer.

To demonstrate, let’s look at our webinar post-click landing page:

This picture shows how Instapage uses a double opt-in pop up to generate leads and webinar registrations.

  • The headline explains the goal of the webinar.
  • The video introduces the webinar host and explains the webinar topic.
  • The copy explains the webinar’s talking points.
  • The CTA button notifies you know that clicking it will save your spot for the webinar.
  • The countdown timer (below the fold) identifies how much time is remaining before the webinar begins.

Every element does its job of convincing the visitor to click the CTA button to learn more about creating and A/B testing post-click landing pages with Instapage. Once the visitor clicks the CTA button, only then do they see the form:

This picture shows how Instapage uses a 2 step verification form to generate webinar registrations.

Visitors are much more likely to complete the form at this stage because (by clicking the button) they’ve already half committed to joining the webinar. It effectively acts as a 2-step verification process because it allows visitors to learn about the offer without thinking that they also had to fill out a form.

Host Analytics implements this 2-step verification pop up as well:

This picture shows how Host Analytics uses a double opt-in form to generate leads from white paper downloads.

Once a visitor is convinced to download the free report, they click the CTA button and see this short form:

This picture shows how Host Analytics uses a double opt-in form pop up to generate leads from white paper downloads.

Two-step opt-in forms don’t intimidate visitors

Two-step forms break down the conversion process into two parts:

  • Information phase: This is the pre-form phase
  • Commitment phase: This is the post-form phase

Prospects aren’t intimidated by the form in the information phase because they haven’t seen it yet. In this phase, they’re gathering information and learning about your offer — that will help them decide to click the CTA button and proceed to the second phase or not.

SumoMe does this with their post-click landing page:

This picture shows how SumoMe uses a double opt-in form to generate more free signups.

This is the two-step verification form that pops up when the visitor clicks the CTA button:

This picture shows marketers how SumoMe uses a 2-step opt-in form to generate more signups.

To demonstrate the difference between 2-step opt-in forms and “other” forms, let’s look at a longer example. HubSpot’s Twitter kit post-click landing page includes a lengthy lead capture form on the page that visitors can’t help but worry about completing because they haven’t shown interest and committed yet:

This picture shows a long form on HubSpot's post-click landing page which causes anxiety and friction with prospects.

Of course, the length of your form depends on the marketing funnel stage your visitors are in. But, this doesn’t take away the fact that lead capture forms can be overwhelming. By all means include a longer lead capture form if that’s what your offer dictates (like a heavily researched white paper or a free consultation), but use a two-step opt-in form to take the pressure off the visitor.

2-step opt-in forms use the Ziegarnik effect

The Ziegarnik effect is a psychological phenomenon that dictates that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better which compels them to finish what they’ve started.

So, when visitors click the CTA button what they’ve done is initiated a task, completing the form effectively completes that task. This convinces them to fill out your two-step opt-in forms, and also ensures that only committed visitors divulge their information.

A two-step opt-in form makes the form the primary element when it’s time to convert. When the visitor clicks the CTA button, and the form appears in a lightbox, all the visitor’s attention is isolated on the form.

Case in point with Instapage’s Top 10 A/B Testing Tips two-step opt-in form:

This picture shows marketers how Instapage uses a double opt-in pop up to generate leads.

Thinking about including a two-step opt-in form on your post-click landing page? This short video shows exactly how you can create this form with Instapage:

Eliminate form friction with 2-step pop ups

Two-step opt-in forms allow you to put visitors’ minds at ease when they’re on your post-click landing page and learning about the offer. By eliminating this pressure, visitors can focus their attention where it’s necessary and click the call-to-action button without any anxiety.

Start A/B testing this multi-step form today and see if your visitors respond more favorably. You can start creating the forms today, sign-up for an Instapage Enterprise demo.

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Fahad Muhammad

by Fahad Muhammad

Fahad is a Content Writer at Instapage specializing in advertising platforms, industry trends, optimization best practices, marketing psychology, and SEO. He has been writing about landing pages, advertising trends, and personalization for 10+ years.

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