When we think of things that revolutionized the internet, we tend to remember the advent of Google, email, ecommerce sites, digital assets, and social media.
But there’s a new type of revolution brewing, one that is, surprisingly, yet to be fully realized. This revolution is multi-step forms, and though they’re being used by plenty of companies, their true potential hasn’t been utilized. And the question is…why not?
What is holding back the companies who use multi-step forms but don’t get the big results they expect? And how come some businesses haven’t tapped into the potential of multi-step forms at all yet?
This article uncovers all the secrets and delves into crucial insights, enabling you to fully leverage the potential of the multi-step form to support business goals such as lead generation, conversion rate optimization, and user engagement.
A multi-step form is an otherwise long form that has been separated into numerous different parts, with the questions appearing subsequently instead of all at once. The multi-step form simplifies and breaks up a form, making it easier for a website visitor to tackle, and much more likely that they’ll do so in the first place.
A multi-step form doesn’t reduce the amount of necessary information you’ll be able to obtain from a website visitor, either. In fact, all it does is make it easier for the user to provide the info, giving them a less intimidating task at first and easing into the others only afterward. Typically the most pertinent (and sensitive) info, such as email address or phone number, is requested on the latter steps.
For example, imagine you’re looking for insurance and you come across State Farms’ website. They’ll need to get some info from you before providing a quote, and the form looks like the following:
Chances are that most users, even if they really want to buy your product, and even if they don’t mind giving this information at all, will still be deterred. Compare that with a multi-step form approach:
Surely the above form is much less daunting a task for the user, and giving them a personalized experience makes it more likely that they will continue filling out the form. It also acts as a kind of commitment, as they’ll now be more likely to answer further questions on the next page, and fill out more forms. This concept is often referred to as the foot-in-the-door technique, which we’ll discuss below.
Such is the power of the multi-step form, and its benefits are wider ranging than most people would expect.
The dynamics of a website form is typically as follows. The company behind the site wants to gather information from the visitor, with the goal of gaining a new lead or customer. The visitor, however, would like to get through any required form fills as quickly as possible, and all while giving up as little private information as required.
Given these dynamics, we began to draw many benefits from taking a multi-step form approach. A multi-step form changes the entire process of filling out forms for a user. In short, it reduces the amount of information they must input at one time. The end result tends to be extremely positive, with more quality leads and higher conversion rates across the board.
Let’s take a closer look at the many benefits that come from implementing multi-step forms.
There’s not much room for creativity in a traditional, single-step form asking for a customer’s information. Maybe a color scheme or font could be changed around, but that’s it. Sometimes this is okay, but often customers need to be wowed at every phase of a sale process. This is where multi-step forms reign supreme.
People have become good at detecting salesy talk, or marketing lingo. They almost have a sixth sense when it comes to this stuff, as if they know the moment something went from intriguing to demanding. One moment a customer thought they had found the next big thing, the next they realize it’s just another company trying to sell them something.
That’s why, as marketers, we have to work around these built-in defenses, and wow the customer throughout the entire process. In a multi-step form, you decide which question should come first. Will you make it mysterious? Will answering this question make the customer feel like they’re making progress toward something? Will the question give the customer a sense of individualism – making them feel as if the question was crafted just for their specific needs? The possibilities are endless, so long as your creative juices are flowing.
Multi-step forms differ from single in a few key ways, including:
Single-step forms are best for things like login screens, as obviously users would be frustrated to go through a multi-step process just to access an account by filling in a username and password.
Another example is entering contact details: if only a total of three fields, such as name, phone number, and email address, need to be filled out, it is probably not the best user experience if users have to fill out only one field at a time and then click "next" repeatedly. In this case it definitely makes sense to collect all the information at once, as in this example:
When it comes to increasing lead quality, however, the multi-step form takes the cake. Here are some positive ways they outperform single-step:
Multi-step forms are grounded in the commercial theory of the foot-in-the-door (FITD) technique – a method that gets someone to agree to something big by having them initially agree to something small. FITD works because people are more willing to grant further requests of themselves if they’ve already made some type of commitment.
So where does the FITD technique enter into the multi-step equation? It does so when comparing multi-step and single-step forms.
When you need a customer or a prospect to fill out a form, sometimes it’s best to get a foot in the door. Laying out a single-step form, which requires numerous entries on the same screen, is overwhelming and can lead to the user feeling demotivated to even start completing the form. In contrast, a multi-step form allows the user to answer an easy question first, setting the stage for further responses. This approach gives them a chance to say “yes” before they are too overwhelmed and can easily say “no”.
And that’s not the only way in which multi-step forms outperform. They also boost your conversion rate optimization (CRO).
Conversion rate optimization is the way in which a company can maximize the amount of website visitors complete an action to bolster lead generation. The end goal of CRO is to increase the amount of leads and the quality of leads, and this is done through improvement of processes such as form-fills.
When done correctly, multi-step forms boost your CRO. This can be seen directly with the increased ease-of-use and relevancy they bring, as well as the decreased anxiety that single-step forms stoke.
While it is true that you want to obtain essential information right off the get-go, it’s also true that you don’t want to scare off the user. Consider both how the question will feel for the user to answer, but also if the information they’ll give is necessary.
When I’m going through a questionnaire, I’m much more likely to quit in the middle if I’m unsure when it will end. Do I have two more hours? Five more questions? I want to know that I’m not just wasting my time in an endless loop of questions.
The same goes for multi-step forms. Even if your questions are intriguing, and the potential customer is open to answering more to find out further information about your company, remember that their attention won’t be given unconditionally. At some point they’ll want the process to end, and if you don’t keep them in the loop throughout, they might exit before finishing.
So, either inform them right at the beginning about the estimated time it will take to fill out your form, or utilize the progress bar feature, which is available in many multi-step form builders, to show the respondent's progress as they answer your questions.
Multi-step forms increase the options for a marketing team, but more isn’t always better. Even though we are spreading out the number of questions, there’s still a chance the end user will be overwhelmed if we ask too many.
So how can we ensure that our forms don’t get overly complicated? Consider the following suggestions:
There will be times, when creating multi-step forms where it’s absolutely necessary to use fields that require a typed-in answer.
If possible, however, it’s a good idea to opt for simplification, which comes in the form of an answer the user can select. For example:
This form allows the user to select a choice and not have to type in a number. It might not seem so tedious to type in a number once, but over the course of a multi-step form, you might try a user’s patience.
They say the journey is often a reward in and of itself. Though this can be true, it’s not the case for multi-step forms. The end user fully expects to be rewarded with something after they finish clicking through each question. It’s your job to make sure the reward is given, worth it, beneficial to the respondent, and dangled like a carrot on a stick.
Some key questions to ask yourself when creating multi-step forms:
Heyflow is a no-code solution that allows you to build flows, the next generation of multi-step forms. A flow is more than just a multi-step form – it’s an interactive experience. It helps you convert your website visitors into leads and customers while keeping them engaged, and impressing them with smart features and stunning design elements. And, with Heyflow, you can even create entire landing pages and highly personalized lead funnels.
Here are some examples of flows done well: they prioritize obtaining essential user information, employ visuals and excellent design, are visually appealing, and minimize user input efforts, facilitating smooth progression through the flow while answering the questions.
Now that you know how powerful multi-step forms are, it’s time to begin building your own. The problem many marketing teams run into when taking this next step is the amount of coding required to create a working multi-step form. In fact, this may keep teams away from implementing the right type of flow altogether.
Fortunately, we have a simple, no-code solution. The Heyflow offering cuts right through the hassle of coding, eliminating the need to write a single line of code. Instead, it brings you a highly templated form builder that lets you create brand-relevant forms that convert.
Here are some of the other helpful features Heyflow offers:
The multi-step form revolution is here, and before you know it, users will expect websites to offer them. Multi-step forms provide a better customer experience and increase the quality of leads, and all it takes to implement is an effective form builder.
If you’re in search of a customizable, no-code required multi-step form creation tool, get in touch with Heyflow today.