Adding Friction to Your Sign-Up Forms to Improve Lead Quality?

We all know the drill: Make sign-up forms as simple as possible. Best case: An input field for the email address and a sign-up button.

But is this really the best strategy?

Can a little bit of friction help to get rid of low-quality leads in your email list?

Believe it or not, a little friction in your sign-up process might be just what you need.

Yes, this goes against conventional marketing wisdom, but stick with me.

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If you can apply this tip to your email strategy depends highly on your goals, of course. If you just want to grow, no matter what, this tip isn't for you.

Understanding the Value of Friction

Adding an extra step or question to your sign-up form might seem counterintuitive.

After all, the generally accepted marketing advice is to make things as easy as possible for potential customers. This includes the sign-up process.

Why?

Every action you demand from a lead (=friction) during a conversion bears the possibility that you confuse them. Or make them doubt if continuing really is the best use of their time. Or ...

One of these thoughts aaand: the lead is gone. Bummer!

But there's actually value in that for you. At least for the sign-up:

A bit of friction can actually help filter out leads who aren't truly interested or relevant to your business.

I'll tell you why I believe that:

How Friction Enhances Lead Quality

A client of mine does nutrition counseling. This is a huge field. She specializes on nutrition for athletes (especially female athletes).

Now, she can help men, or obese people, too. These are just not her ideal customers. Her funnel probably won't match their needs or interests.

We added a simple dropdown question to her sign-up form for athletes:

“What do you want to achieve by changing your diet?”
- Shorter recovery time
- Faster muscle growth
- Less injuries
- Better competition performance

This simple question helps her—and a bespoke one can help you for two reasons. And the second is the more powerful one.

Self-segmentation

By answering this filtering question during sign-up leads self-segment themselves for you. You instantly know better who's joining your list.

What's this good for?

This allows you to tailor your emails and offers to meet your leads specific needs.

While this in itself is helpful, here's the real benefit:

Deterring Subscribers

There is a high chance that a lead won't have a good quality, if they don’t find themselves in the categories you provided.

Take the example from above:

If a lead wants to lose weight or the best diet during pregnancy my client could help them. But her funnel isn't targeted for that.

The result?

The lead probably won't buy from her, eventually.

So, why have them in the email list in the first place?

If a lead struggles to answer this one filtering question they might decide this isn’t the right list to join—and they probably are right.

This naturally filters out leads who aren't interested in what you'll offer them.

How to Implement “Good” Friction

I hope, I could make it clear that friction can be beneficial.

But it is also relevant, how you introduce it to your forms. Here are some tips:

Make it relevant

The question should give you meaningful insight into your subscriber. This also means:

Your ideal customer (and then some) has to recognize themselves in the question and the answers you provide.

This demands some balance.

Anything too generic won't help you. Too detailed and you'll add too much friction.

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Don't ask anything that people might deem invasive! This will turn potential leads away. Don't ask anything you wouldn't ask a new client in person when you meet them for the very first time.
(I know, this is Captain Obvious advice)

KISS—Keep it simple

Yes, we're introducing deliberate friction. We have to keep it as low as possible, though.

Just ask for one extra piece of information besides, of course, the email address (and maybe the first name).

Decide if checkboxes, radio buttons, a dropdown, or even a free text input is the best approach. They all have pros and cons. Maybe A/B test them.

Test and learn

A/B test your new friction element. You want to know if this change is worth it, right?

What to test? In my opinion two things:

Visitor/Conversion Rate

How many visitors signed up with/without the friction element?

  • Keep the friction element if you maintain a good conversion rate.
  • If the friction elements caused a severe drop, change it and test again. Or drop it.

This can be done easily with Mautic's built-in A/B testing feature for landing pages.

Lead quality

You should also keep taps on your new leads during your test. Tag them (#friction) or add them to dedicated segments.

You need to measure if the friction element really improves the lead quality of this group of contacts.

A significant drop in the conversion rate is justified if the rise in lead quality makes up for that. Quantity ≠ quality.

Bonus test: friction elements

Over time, test different questions/approaches for your friction element. Measure how they affect your sign-up rates and lead quality.


Adding a question to your sign-up form isn’t about making it harder to join your list—it’s about making sure that those who join are exactly the right fit for your business.

It’s a strategic choice that can lead to a more engaged (and profitable) email list.

What are your thoughts on that?

Happy marketing