One of the main reasons companies use webforms is to gather valuable information about their leads, in order to focus their marketing efforts on prospects who have a good chance of becoming customers.

That’s why it’s essential to follow certain best practices when creating your form — asking the right questions (and the right number of questions) makes it much more likely that a prospect will fill out the form, and less likely they’ll abandon it.

But what is the right number of questions to ask on your webform design? The truth is, there are so many variables to this equation, there isn’t a simple single answer. Even so, there are still some tried-and-true best practices you can follow when deciding how many webform questions to include on your landing pages.

1) Cut the friction

The first thing to keep in mind is that your readers have short attention spans. And by “short,” we mean they’ll spend only a few seconds on your site before deciding to stay or to click the ‘back’ button. Since you have such a limited amount of time to grab their attention, it’s critical that you reduce friction on your landing pages as much as possible.

Page friction is anything on your website that’s confusing or overwhelming for your visitors, and it’s a major reason why website visitors abandon webforms. Webforms that have too many fields and ask too many questions are a major source of this friction.

To help boost your conversion rates, limit the number of questions on your webforms. A study by Unbounce found that the optimum conversion rate is 25 percent for a three-field form, but that figure drops to 15 percent for a six-field form. Studies like this demonstrate that it’s best to stick to shorter forms with simple questions to increase your conversion rates.

2) Stick to the essentials

Marketers have conducted loads of research on exactly how long lead generation forms should be, and how many questions they should include. (Most studies recommend having three to seven webform questions or fields.)

These studies show that form conversion rates tend to drop off sharply after three to seven fields. However, the exact number of questions to include can also vary based on the nature of your business, and your specific marketing goals. That’s why it’s important to figure out the ideal number of questions for your industry, and to follow the best practices for your specific business. A MarketingSherpa study found that 46 percent believe that optimizing their form layouts is essential for boosting lead generation.

With most landing pages, your aim is to gather enough information to move leads further down the marketing funnel. Crafting a high-performing webform means only asking for information that’s essential for your marketing strategy. For example, no matter what industry you’re in, you’ll always need to ask your leads for their email address so you have a way to contact them. But from there, you’ll have to carefully consider exactly how much information you need from your prospects. If you’re a B2B company, this probably includes the lead’s name, email address, and job title.

Since most website visitors have a low tolerance for filling out lengthy contact forms, a solid rule of thumb is to only ask for information you need to contact and qualify your leads, and to save the rest of your questions for when they’re further down the sales funnel. In fact, a 2014 Formstack report found that only 3 percent of visitors will fill out more than three fields on a contact form. Statistics like this illustrate why it’s best to keep your contact forms as short as possible and ask for more information later on.

3) Put your forms to the test

It’s always a good idea to run A/B tests to figure out the ideal number of questions to include on your webform design. By splitting your site traffic to test out two different versions of a page, you can know exactly which webforms perform best, and focus your efforts accordingly.

And best of all, there are plenty of tools available to help you quickly and easily conduct A/B tests, like this service from Hubspot. For our purposes, A/B testing a webform design involves setting up two discrete versions of your landing page, where each version has a different number of questions.

A/B testing your landing pages is a surefire way to dramatically increase the number of leads your business brings in, and there’s plenty of research to back up this assertion. One luxury home-builder ran an A/B form test to see what version of their landing page captured more leads. The results showed that a simpler form with fewer steps and fields was far more effective than longer and more complicated forms. In fact, implementing the new form design resulted in a 166 percent lift in leads for the company.

4) Consider quantity VS quality of leads

When figuring out how many questions to include on your landing page forms, consider whether the quantity or quality of leads is more important for you. Studies show the length of your form impacts both the quality and quantity of your leads.

In general, shorter forms are easier to fill out, which means more people actually will fill them out. This results in more leads, though they’re likely to be less qualified. On the other hand, if you have a longer form with more questions, fewer people will fill it out but those who do will be higher-quality leads.

Be sure to carefully consider the tradeoffs of each approach: High-quality leads (rather than high quantities of leads) are increasingly important for B2B operations, with 70 percent reporting that improving lead quality is the most important objective of their lead generation strategy.

If you need more leads, only request basic information such as their name and email address. But if you really need high-quality leads, a longer form with more questions is the better option.

Though there’s no hard-and-fast rule for the exact number of questions to include on your webform design, these guidelines and best practices will definitely get you moving in the right direction. By figuring out exactly which (and how many) questions to ask on your forms, your business will be well-positioned to start attracting more high-performing leads.callrail form tracking