Reading Time: 4 minutes

conversion rates can


How well do your lead generation forms convert?

To explore this question we’ve written a number of posts in the past about lead generation tactics, form best practices and conversion rates. These elements are each a cog in the larger process that ultimately drives your college website’s results and delivers on your business objectives.

In Formstack’s recently released report on Form Conversion, they’ve provided some interesting statistics on form conversion rates, including some specific to the higher ed sector.  It is always really helpful to get the specific higher ed context on what’s happening out there and to then be able to compare that to other industries.  Formstack’s survey incorporated over 450,000 “accounts” across a wide swatch of industries. Higher ed made up 3.5% of these accounts, which is almost 16,000 accounts. It is not clear what their definition of an account is, but regardless, it would seems to be a reasonable base of users to extrapolate trends from and certainly get something that is useful to compare to, when evaluating your own institutions form conversion rates.  Chris Lucas, Formstack’s VP of Marketing, was interviewed about the report on Higher Ed Live, which you can see here.

So here’s their chart of overall form conversion rates by industry, with Higher Ed coming in at around 8 %.

conversion rates by industry


This brings in Higher Ed a bit below the overall average of 11%.   This metric is helpful to have but be careful on how you apply it as a benchmark to your specific activities. It turns out that you have to drill down into the type of form, (i.e. contact, or event registration) to truly understand the nuances of its conversion rate.

The table below, (also from the report), provides insights into the average structure and performance of the range of types of forms accounted for in the survey. Note this data incorporates the whole survey rather than just the higher ed accounts, so we are seeing a much wider, cross-sector average here.  From my experience in higher ed, the trends still look pretty true, with contact forms being particularly low and order/payment (registration) forms being much higher.

form conversion rates by type


Take a minute to consider the average number of fields per form for each of these types of forms. The survey‘s results don’t necessarily indicate best practices but they do indicate most  common practices in form design.

From a lead generation point of view, I am always looking for new insights to improve forms to increase conversion rates.  The 21% and 28% conversion rates on Surveys and Contests also came as a bit of a surprise to me and I think offer something very interesting to consider.  As described by Lucas, these tactics offer added value to the visitor that prompts engagement at a level, far surpassing that of a normal contact or “send me information” form.  I’ve developed some really great lead gen forms using best practices and solid testing that convert up to 6 and 7 %.  But imagine getting 4 times that rate by using a contest or survey to generate your leads!

Before you get too excited, there is the problem here that you need to be aware of.  “Unqualified” individuals can come out of the woodwork interested in only winning  your prize, and drive lead quality way down. If this happens, it also has an unintended consequence of tying up your recruitment staff with a long list of low quality leads, which probably distracts them from a smaller but higher quality list from other sources. So be warned, but I think if you are reasonably careful with whom you expose the contest to, you can still come out ahead.


Given how hard it is, (and seemingly getting harder), to generate good leads, I think it’s worth a solid test. I’ll let you know how mine goes in a future post. If you have tried using Contests and Surveys to generate leads, I’d love to hear about your results.  Did a commensurate number of registered students ultimately accompany these higher conversion rates?