How to Utilize Online Forms for Customer Engagement with Steve HartertRead Time: 4 minutes


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Imagine your ideal browsing experience. Now imagine that experience involves filling out a form. How likely are you to complete the form? How likely are you to abandon and visit a different site?

If you’re more likely to jump ship and not complete the form, you aren’t alone. Too often, marketers try to make their forms do much more work than necessary, leading to a less-than-ideal conversion rate. Forms may be the gateway to collecting information, but if they’re too difficult and time-consuming to fill out, you’re unlikely to get any of the data you’re looking to collect.

To help you learn the best ways to construct and present online forms for marketing, we sat down with Steve Hartert of JotForm, one of the first online form builders ever created. Keep reading to learn some of the biggest takeaways from his interview.

Online Forms and their Uses

At their most basic level, online forms are a method of gaining insight into people’s needs and wants. At their most complicated, they are a means for businesses to gain a deeper understanding of their customer base than competitors can. Forms can be anything from a simple contact form to subscribe to a newsletter to an elaborate online survey. Of course, this data collection is only possible if your customer base is interested in completing your forms.

The best way to garner that interest? Make it simple for people to provide your company with their information. The easier it is, the more information your audience will submit.

So how do you create online forms that people want to answer? Steve gave us three key ingredients to help you get started.

How to Create Innovative, Successful Forms

When you first begin creating your form, it’s important to focus on the one key thing you want it to do. If you keep that in mind as you draft your form, you’ll find the rest of these tips much easier to execute.

Don’t “Kitchen Sink” Your Forms

One of the biggest mistakes Steve says marketers often make is trying to “throw the kitchen sink” at their forms. Forms should be geared toward the one key data point you focused on at the beginning of this section, not on collecting every possible data point on the web. This means only asking questions that are pertinent to that goal.

When it comes to online forms, success will only happen if you follow the rule of KISS (keep it simple, stupid). Flashy, convoluted forms won’t get you the data you need. Straightforward, easy-to-fill-out forms will.

Pay Attention to Design

The design of your forms is equally as important as the content they contain. Poorly designed forms tend to drive more users away than they draw in. If you want to see success, put energy into designing your form and making it something you’d want to fill out yourself. Don’t be afraid to take some time and make your user experience something you would want to experience as well, and try testing a few variations of your forms to see what performs best.

Understand Your Users

The needs and interests of your users should go hand-in-hand with your design. Who are you targeting? What device types are they using most often to access your website and online form? If the majority of your target audience uses their phones to fill out your form, and the webpage isn’t designed with mobile UX in mind, you’re likely to see a marked difference between your actual conversion rate and the conversion rate you were hoping to see.

No matter where you are in the online form creation process, these tips are easy to apply. Just remember to put yourself in your targets’ shoes and make your forms as easy to navigate and complete as possible. You put a lot of energy and effort into getting people to your website. Don’t ruin that effort and turn potential clients off from your company by “kitchen sinking” your forms.


  • The easier a form is to complete, the more likely a potential customer will be to fill it out.
  • Online forms can be used for anything from newsletter subscriptions to creating binding contracts.
  • Forms should be created with a single purpose in mind. They should not be used as multi-purpose information collectors.


  • Don’t throw the kitchen sink at your forms. Make them simple and easy to complete.
  • Design your forms to look like something you would want to fill out.
  • Forms are the gateway to collecting customer information.


Steve’s LinkedIn

The Jotform Website

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