Lead Generation

Building Better Lead Generation Forms

Think about the purpose of a marketing form. They only exist to capture personal data, right? They can be a great lead generation tool, but only if they’re used correctly. In other words, the right form for the right purpose.

In our Lead Generation series, we’ve covered what lead generation is and how it works, and 10 lead generation strategies you can use that really work. Today, we’ll cover that most essential bit of lead generation: the marketing form.

What form you use and what information you ask for depends on why you need it. So how do you tell what’s what?

Long or short marketing form? It depends on the lead generation.

The biggest question when creating forms is, should I have a long form or a short form? You probably automatically want to create a long form. Get as much information as you can while you can, right?

What are you going to do with the information you’ve gathered?

What are your marketing goals? In other words, once you have their information, what are you going to do with it? This is what defines the information you ask for.

If you’re just going to send out newsletters, and email is all you need. You might ask for a name, but the email field should be required. If you’re going to provide a follow-up call, you need more information, such as the phone number.

The rule of thumb is, don’t ask for more information than you need. The longer the form, the less chance of conversion in most cases.

What information do you need?

Obviously, we want more than just a name and an email address, but are your visitors going to be willing to give it to you right away? Maybe… maybe not.

For example, if you were to sign up for the Disney Book Club, they’ll ask you about children. In this case, it might not make you wary. However, were you signing up for information about a roofing project, a form calling for this information may give you pause.

Once you define what you need vs. what you what, it’s time to lay out the questions.

Writing form questions with the visitor in mind.

It takes time to fill in a form, and you want to keep that time limited. Several things can slow down the process, such as:

  • Asking questions people have to really think about
  • Incomplete drop-down lists that may not cover the option that best fits the visitor (remember to add “other” if the possibilities aren’t set in stone)
  • Complicated captcha forms

Try to think of the easiest way to get the information you need. Easiest for them, that is.

Do I really need this?

Once you’ve laid out your questions and built your form, it’s to reevaluate. Do you really need the information you’re asking for? Have you marked everything as “required” and, if so, is it really?

For instance, if you’re offering a download, consider “Pay with a Tweet.” While some may be hesitant to provide their email address, they might not have a problem with advertising for you. There might be other ways to slim down the form that you’re currently unaware of.

Marketing form tips for better conversion:

Creating a marketing form for lead generation shouldn’t be taken lightly. A weak form can break a marketing campaign, just as a strong form can make it. Below are a few tips to help you turn your form into a lead generation machine:

Reduce form fields and white space.

Giving your form fields and labels space is great – you don’t want things so squished that visitors can’t read what’s expected of them. However, you also want to keep your forms short. How do you do this? By reducing space between the form fields, as well as the fields themselves when possible. For example, instead of asking for a first and last name in two separate fields, ask for your visitor’s full name. In 2012, Expedia found out that removing one form field could make them $12 million profit.

Reduce the number of required fields.

Many times, you’ll see a form where everything is required. Instead, make sure that everything you’ve marked required really should be. For instance, while you might want company information, should it really be compulsory? Remember, you can always find the information out later in some other way.

Place a marketing form above the fold.

Above the fold (showing before the visitor scrolls down) gets the most number of eyes on the screen. With this in mind, it makes sense that placing a small lead generation form in this spot would make for higher conversions. As well, users read from left to right. They won’t automatically know they’re interested, so placing the form in the upper right makes sense as well. While this doesn’t mean that above-the-fold marketing will work for you, it does mean that it should be tested. Don’t leave out possibilities!

Place your form in containers.

Colored backgrounds, dashed, dotted or solid lines – giving your form boundaries helps visitors distinguish the offerings on the form from the rest of the content on the page. It also catches your visitors’ eyes, because it stands out.

Use visual cues, such as arrows and shading.

Your form caught their attention, now what do they do next? An arrow pointing to the submit button can’t go wrong. Directional cues subtly (or not so subtly) point to the call to action below the form.

Keep qualifying fields.

Sometimes you can get so busy slimming down a form that you trim too much fat and get into the meat. Don’t get so busy removing the meat that you lose the information that qualifies the lead. For example, if qualifying a lead depends on the number of employees a company has, you might want to keep that in your form.

Update your call-to-action.

CTAs are the most important part of the form. It’s amazing how much difference wording can make. “Get started” performs differently than “Download now,” for instance. Colors also encourage clicks. If your forms aren’t performing, look here first.

Final Thoughts

Your online business needs leads if it’s going to survive. You can’t just throw up a lead generation campaign and expect it to do well. As any marketer would say, you must always be testing.

No matter how much thought you put into it, or how many articles you read, you’re not going to get it exactly right the first time. There is always room for improvement. Test, tweak, track, because a higher converting form is a more profitable business.

If you’ve missed the first two parts of this series, read “Lead Generation: What Marketers Already Know” and “10 Lead Generation Strategies That Really Work”

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