Using Online Forms to Supercharge Lead Generation

Digital lead generation techniques have evolved rapidly over the past decade, and businesses that are looking for new ways to connect with customers online have refined the way they optimize sites for search, guiding visitors to landing pages and reaching out via email or social media. But there’s one widely used lead generation tool that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves: the Online form.

Most company websites have an online form — if not multiple forms. But is your online form working as hard as it could to generate leads? It’s worth periodically revisiting the form’s presentation and message to make sure it is. Here are some factors to keep in mind as you take a critical look at your online forms or consider adding a new one to create more leads.

Form Type and Placement

After site optimization and effective SEO practices are in place, the decisions you make about online forms can be among the most impactful in terms of lead generation. Forms are a direct means of turning anonymous site visitors into leads, so the type of form and where it’s placed are important.

There are many different types of forms that serve a range of purposes. Your form might give potential customers a way to contact Sales for a demo, gather contact information, deliver a popup message to keep visitors connected, provide off-hours chat options, or entice customers to opt-in to receive an email. The decision about what type of form to use will depend on what your purpose is and, to some extent, your site layout.

So where should you place your form? Options include the homepage itself, the footer, landing pages built for specific promotions, the blog, a smart bar at the top of your site, or an opt-in popup. HubSpot notes that forms above the fold or that are accessible without scrolling perform the best. That makes sense since it’s a good idea to remove as much friction from the process as possible.

Optimal Headlines and Form Length

The headline should be a call to action, e.g., a brief invitation to click on the button or link and fill out the form. The call to action should succinctly communicate the value you’re offering to the visitor. For example, a button labeled “submit registration” or “download whitepaper” or “join loyalty club” communicates value more effectively than “submit,” “download,” or “join” alone do.

Experts advise keeping the form itself brief but comprehensive enough to gather vital data. Forms that contain more than four fields with a mix of required and non-required fields (and clearly marked as such) generally work best. Forms that are too long or ask too many personal questions risk losing good leads, so balance is the key. Including required and non-required fields is a great way to distinguish between warm and hot leads.

Effective Offers

Once visitors click through using the button or link that takes them to the form, you’ll have the opportunity to grab their attention and encourage them to fill out your form by highlighting the value you’re offering. The offer should distinguish your company from competitors and give site visitors a compelling reason to fill out the form.

The content will depend on the value exchange with the visitor. They’re giving you access to personal data; what are you offering in return? If it’s the opportunity to see a product demo, view a webinar, download a whitepaper, join an email marketing list, or whatever other purpose, put yourself in the visitor’s shoes and identify what they gain from the exchange. The offer should speak directly to that.

Turning Visitors into Leads

Forms aren’t a new way to generate leads — they’ve been around virtually as long as the internet itself. But forms remain among the most effective ways to establish a relationship with potential customers. They are a terrific opportunity to showcase new content, create a sense of urgency about an offer, and signal to customers that you understand their issues and can solve their problems.

Chances are, your site already has one or more forms, and while the marketing department might tweak web content and revise the site layout from time to time to keep things fresh, it’s easy to overlook the humble online form. That’s a mistake because forms are a key part of your lead generation strategy — or at least they should be.

So take the time to review your online forms, or if you are creating a new one, keep these tips about optimal form strategy and techniques in mind. Nurturing leads at every stage of the buyer journey is more important than ever, and forms are one of the most effective tools any business has to supercharge the process of turning site visitors into leads.

Read more: Why PR Is the Missing Link in B2B Lead Gen Strategies

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