Lead generation involves visitors handing you their information and accept to be further contacted by you, and in fair trade you sending them a benefit. This process of gathering leads gets more and more challenging as consumers grow ever more demanding of brands they work with. The main stepping stone for you as a marketer (by formation or by job description) is to keep tabs with trends and collect a sufficient amount of leads to ensure your business growth.
To help you get real and steady leads using your web forms we are opening a blog post series that will discuss the ins and outs of lead generation forms. From choosing the proper fields to putting everything in context and nurturing leads to the point of closing a sale, we will share the knowledge we have gathered in years spent knees-deep in form building.
This opening article discusses the essentials you need to keep in mind when starting off with lead generation and putting your forms on rails. Next chapters will deal with the most frequent forms used for lead generation, and their best practices:
Leads are the vital force that keeps businesses running. If you represent a small business, your leads may mean quote requests from interested prospects, subscriptions to your newsletter, participants to occasional online or offline events you hold. Nonprofits need to gather leads too: volunteers, attendees to conferences or other events, donors.
To find a way through the long and winding road of lead generation is tough for most marketers. Luckily, we can always narrow down the process to a few actionable steps and start building the framework to gather those leads.
Forms are one of the primary ways of collecting leads on the web, but they cannot function alone. To speak just about the form in this landscape is like thinking a simple net would be enough to catch butterflies even if it’s pouring outside and it’s September.
Your lead generation process can be resumed to 3 main steps:
1. Define goals. What it is that would make you happy in your lead generation game? Gathering more newsletter subscribers? Seeing people book a meeting to receive consultancy from you? Pinpoint anything that may represent your goal in order to structure your website around it and incentivize people to go through your funnel accordingly.
2. Optimize your form for lead generation. You need to take into account form length and structure, an appealing overall design, the text you use on the button and other details that can make or break conversions.
3. Collect customer insight as you go. Synchronizing your form with Google Analytics is a marketer’s goldmine. You can gather data about the referral pages that sent visitors to your form, to see what people are interested in and maybe shorten the path to completion. Also, it’s a good idea to define the form abandonment rate by dividing the number of valid submissions by your visitors volume.
The lead generation form is the belly button of your website, where all your online marketing efforts converge. However, filling in forms is what most users loathe about website interactions. I hate to break it to you, but that’s the general truth: no visitor likes web forms too much unless incentivized. People just want to get through the form as fast as possible and achieve the goal they had in mind, namely to register somewhere, to buy something, ask a question or to leave a complaint.
The first question in people’s minds when the form prompts them to take action will be: “What’s in there for me?”. This is why incentives work. You have to display the form together with the promise of an exciting follow-up for users. Examples:
Find the best offer kind of form (which redirects to a page with price calculation or lets people know the sales team will get back soon)
Get a free resource (e-book, whitepaper, even coupon)
Online contest (the best are the ones where everybody wins something)
Just a contact form with a friendly copy (Fill in this form to get in touch with us).
The structure of the page or email template where the form goes is also crucial in order to build intention and motivation. Basically, it’s a good idea to place your form on however many landing pages with offers you provide.
10 takeaways to tweak your lead generation form:
1. Describe your offer in power words and avoid wishy-washy marketing cliches (or weasel words).
2. Use an engaging button copy. Just think about the sonority of the word “submit” – what does it mean? Us, humans, don’t generally like to submit to something. Therefore, you should make the button text more friendly. Use a CTA like “Download now”, “Register”, “Get the offer” and you’ll catch the butterflies in your net.
3. Let people call you, don’t be the one to call them. Like a polite lady who has to be hesitant, it’s a good practice not to be pushy with gathering phone numbers and calling your prospects. Unbounce reports an average 5% dip in conversion rates by including a phone number field in the form. If it’s a must for you to add a phone field, at least mark it as optional. And be sure to provide some contact details of your business, or a click-to-call extension in ads, in order to be reachable yourself.
4. Keep forms at a reasonable length. The sweet spot for best conversions would be around 3-5 fields – everything that goes beyond that is perceived as tiring. Be sure to use the type of fields that work well on mobile devices (let them choose, not type).
5. Label arrangement: top converts best. Why is that? Simply because top-aligned labels are most visible on mobile devices. Also, a multiple column layout is not the best choice for lead generation forms, as it can get confusing.
6. Provide hints to fill in fields. Instructions in text or links are a big plus for form usability.
8. Leverage autoresponders and page redirects. Keep a high level of visitor engagement by using autoresponders to highlight your offers or discounts. You can also redirect to product overview videos after form completion, or send other presentations by email.
9. Nurture leads further on. Assign notifications automatically to sales representatives for faster answers on the topic of the form request. Connect your web form with your favorite CRM or import data into email marketing systems (ExactTarget, MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact). This way, your leads will be automatically included in later campaigns that will increase their engagement to the point of closing one or more sales or other actions in your benefit.
10. Test, test, test. There is no universal formula for the success of a lead generation form. The best plan is to tweak and test everything until you reach the best possible strategy for your brand.
What challenges did you face in your lead generation efforts? Share your thoughts with us!