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6 Tips For Creating Smart Lead Generation Forms That Convert

By Amy ChetwyndComments

6 tips for creating smart lead generation forms that convert

You did it. You finished that remarkable piece of content you just know is going to get your audience fired up and eager to learn more.

We understand the time and energy that goes into creating authentic, educational content, so give yourself a pat on the back.

But let’s not forget about the gatekeeper.

Your content needs to be behind a form - I mean we can’t give away all of our hard work for free can we?

Of course, not all content is guarded by a form. Blogs, infographics, videos (I could go on) are, for the most part, made freely available to the people we want to consume them.

But when we create premium content - tomes, eBooks, webinars, calculators whatever you choose to offer - that provide enough value to warrant an immediate return, forms are more often than not, the answer.

But what if next to no-one is downloading your content?

You’ve promoted it across multiple channels, emailed your database - shouted about it from the rooftops. And yet conversion rate is still way below the industry average.

We get it. Low conversion rates on landing pages can feel like a kick in the teeth - especially if your click through rate is sky high.

But don’t worry, it can all be avoided.

There are many reasons for low conversion rates. Two of the most common are that your reader did not expect a form and doesn’t consider the content deserving of them giving you their data - or, more likely, the form you’re using is just not friendly.

Ever started to fill out a form to then be asked for everything from your phone number to your mother’s maiden name? It’s boring, not to mention intrusive. And usually, you’ll end up bailing on the whole thing.

Smart lead generation forms

This is actually a pretty common occurrence - and one that can harm your marketing efforts.

But as I mentioned in my recent overview of inbound marketing, contact details are like gold dust to marketers. Without the right information, we’re just shouting into an echo chamber.

Once we have it, however, it opens up a whole new world to us.

So how do we get this?

Lead generation forms are the golden ticket.

The lead generation goals vary from brand to brand.

But usually this can be split into two categories:

  • To generate more lead volume
  • To generate more high-quality leads

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to forms, only you will know your company goals and industry best.

Just keep these two categories in mind when following my 6 top tips below...

1. Utilise your headline

The headline on your form is there to encourage your visitor to take that last step towards giving you their details. Help them over the line with action-oriented verbs and a clear, concise reminder about what they are actually filling the form out for.

Make this process as simple as possible.

Encourage them with snappy, to the point headlines like “Download your epic blogging guide now” or “Claim your free guide to becoming a Content King”.

2. Keep it short

This seems obvious right? You’d be surprised.

Companies still insist on using lengthy forms which add no real value to the content offer and annoy their visitors.

Only ask for what you need.

There is no rule that determines which fields are needed. You need to understand your lead generation goals - and manage the information you need vs. how much your audience can expect from the content.

Making the phone number mandatory can prove to be a big mistake.

Personally, I don't think I have ever put my real number in when asked.

Smart lead generation forms

Crazy right?!

I’m not saying never ask for a phone number, but just remember to think about where your prospect is in the funnel. If they are in the awareness stage it may be discouraging to include a mandatory phone number field.

Further down the line, once a level of trust has been established and the prospect is ready for a sales conversation, this is when a phone number field is more appropriate.

You don’t need a huge amount of information on your first touch point with a visitor. An email address (preferably their business email if you’re marketing to a B2B audience) and their first name and surname (in separate fields) is all you need to enter them into a workflow and begin a conversation.

However, if your goal is for high-quality leads, a few more questions will help weed out the weak so to speak. In this instance, only high-quality prospects who really want your content will fill in the form and download your content.

‘A few more questions’ doesn't just mean anything though. You still need to really think about the benefit it will have for your company and why you need this information.

Maybe ask for your prospects’ job role or the industry they are in for example.

Don't just ask for info for the sake of it, this won't bring you high-quality leads, and it’s likely to turn people off from your business.

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3. Use progressive profiling

In today’s fast paced, crazy crazy world no one likes to repeat themselves.

This runs true for completing forms. Progressive profiling combats this repetition and allows companies to capture more data at a faster rate.

Once a visitor has filled in a form, they won't be asked the same questions if they fill in another form on the same website (as long as they haven’t been sneaky and cleared their cookies).

Smart lead generation forms

Instead, your prospects would be asked more relevant questions to gather new information and preferences, gradually building a more detailed profile of who they are.

For example, their biggest business challenge or what publications/blogs do they read?.

When you get this additional info, remember to use it! Channel these newly learned preferences to create personalised content around the needs of the prospect.

Smart right!? I thought so too. And it’s a key feature within our core platform Hubspot.

4. One vs. two column debate

This debate has marketers questioning their own thinking half the time, as they all try to come up with a definitive answer.

HubSpot puts this to the test to make a ruling once and for all…

When capturing data in a trade for information (your snazzy content for their contact info), two or three questions is more than enough. Any more and you begin unnecessarily testing the trust/value of your relationship - which at this point is most likely low.

However, if you are thinking about your contact us forms (rather than content download forms), then a two-column layout will work nicely as this is more of a benefit to the visitor.

More questions can be asked at this stage which will not only help you understand what the visitor wants from your business, but also help them get an answer quicker.

In simple terms, if the form is an exchange of information a short one column form fits.

But, if the form being filled out triggers other actions (for example a call back) then a two column form works better with more questions.

5. Remarkable call to actions (CTAs)

We have gone into a great level of detail about what makes a CTA remarkable.

Now let’s recap with the focus on lead generation forms.

A CTA is an overarching statement that helps the reader move forwards.

Or in this case, defines what they will receive and why they should do it.

The design should be visually vibrant, they need to stand out and be clear and there is no one-size-fits-all. However, for a lead generation form CTA, best practice states it should be the same width as the form itself (Hubspot).

Next step is the copy.

You need to be clear, concise and straight-to-the point.

Just as with the form headline, remember to use action-oriented verbs such as ‘Download’, ‘Register’ or ‘Sign-up’.

This reminds the visitor what they are filling the form in for, whether this is downloading your latest e-book or signing up to your monthly newsletter.

With this in mind, remind the visitor what they are downloading.

The CTA needs to be relevant, re-iterate the reason for the form using your action verb and entice the visitor to give you their information.

Smart lead generation forms

6. Placeholder text

Controversial last tip alert…  

There are many debates around whether or not you should use placeholder text.

Does it confuse the visitor?

Is it clear what is needed?

Is this user-friendly?

Here at SupaReal we take all the different arguments together and come up with our best practice tip based on our own experience using forms.

The first of two key arguments is to not use placeholder text instead of labels.

The other argument is not to use placeholder text that disappears when you click in the box (this upsets keyboard users who tab through forms).

We like to combine these arguments and create our own rules. We use placeholder text instead of labels *shocked faces all around*.

We do this to save space on the page and to make extra clarifications.

We ask for “business emails”. Since asking this, we have found a large decrease in generic emails, meaning we can then see company names without asking for this information.

All hope is not lost in us, we do make sure the text does not disappear when clicked, only when you begin to type.

Phew! I like to think the shocked faces have passed or at least on their way out.

As I said earlier, best practice is great, but it really needs to fit your organisation. There is no one-size-fits-all; experiment, play around and see what works for you.

To finish off...

Ironic that the ‘keep it short’ point is the longest section, but it stands true.

Balance how much information you need to collect on forms with the worth of your content and how much your prospect will actually fill out.

It’s a fine line and one you need to keep on top of.

Remember, if they like your content, they are likely to return to download more.

So if you use smart fields, you can capture more data over time, nurturing your relationship and creating higher quality, relevant leads.

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