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How to create more effective, more powerful lead forms

Last time I rapped at you about creating effective lead forms, we covered the basics. Here, I want to spend some time on slightly more advanced tactics.

1. Sometimes, minimalism is a poor qualifier. Yes, I told you to ask only for the information that’s absolutely essential. But let’s say you’re capturing leads and everything’s fine and dandy, except that the leads aren’t taking your calls. They won’t call back, they barely remember submitting the form or they simply aren’t qualified to have a sales conversation.

Add a field or two that better qualify your prospect. What you ask for depends on your unique sales cycle.

One idea is to force your lead to specify a “best time to call” or “requested phone appointment.” Generally, the more specifically your leads answers this question, the better the lead. Some companies require the lead to name a project budget. You can also ask for specifics around the challenge that drove them to write in for help. In every case, entering more detail requires more commitment of your lead and better qualifies them.

2. Plug your forms into a marketing automation platform. The advantages of doing this are:

  • Get richer data about each lead (geography, business IP, etc)
  • See the keyword(s) the lead searched to get to your site
  • See form conversion data over time in pretty charts & tables
  • Automatically add your leads to specific mailing lists if you wish
  • Automatically push lead data to the platform and to your CRM
  • See exactly which pages the lead visited before & after converting

There are plenty of options, but I’d steer most small businesses away from the heavyweight, feature-rich marketing automation platforms like Eloqua and Marketo unless:

  • You’re ready to make an investment of at least $50k to $100k annually
  • You know what you’re doing when it comes to marketing automation
  • You have at least one dedicated person whose full-time job is making your marketing automation engine sing

On the other hand, if you just want to get your feet wet, some lower-end yet powerful marketing automation tools include Pardot and Loopfuse. The latter will even give you a free trial with functionality for up to 1,000 prospects.

3. Explain why you’re asking for the info. Assuage your visitors’ concerns by adding tooltips that explain why you’re requesting their phone number, email address or mom’s maiden name. Build trust with your prospect by over-communicating early. If you can’t put into customer-friendly words why you need the info, reconsider your decision to collect it.

4. No checkboxes. For heaven’s sake, don’t make them check any boxes. Unless you’re a giant corporation with a legal staff, don’t require a checkbox about your terms & conditions. Just insist that submitting the form signifies acceptance of your terms, and link to them. If you must add a checkbox — be sure to make the entire text and area around the box clickable.

5. Sell softly. Your visitors get it: you want their contact info so you can sell them stuff. But if you don’t couch your lead form in enough information — if you don’t give them enough to go on — they’ll just leave.

Every time a prospect encounters your lead form, they engage in a (sometimes subconscious) decision process: is this company worthy of my contact info?

Be informative, be brief and earn their trust by spelling out the benefits of what you do, featuring prominent logos of your partners and clients, making other options beyond your lead capture form available to them and being open about your company. Check out how helpful Gmail’s sign up page is. Aim for that level of hand-holding and transparency.

What companies are sporting the most effective, most powerful lead forms out there?