The art of the lead generation form

By Steph Von der Heyde | Content Marketing

Apr 28

Lead generation forms: we all need them, most of us have them, but how do we maximise their conversion potential?

The purpose of a lead gen form is to collect customer data, but people have become wise to marketing ways and don’t just give up their information willy nilly.

Here we’ll give you a few helpful tips and tricks to help you optimise your forms for maximum lead generating power.

Let’s go:

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First, what is a lead gen form?

A lead generation form is the online form digital marketers use to capture lead’s information. You’ll see often see them as a gateway to offers such as ‘Get our free guide’ or ‘Contact Us’.

Why should I care about optimising my lead gen form?

Gathering details from prospective leads helps you continue the conversation with them after they’ve left your web page. If they’ve completed a micro-conversion (downloaded your eBook, for example) you know they’re interested in what you’re selling.

Not only does collecting their info give you the opportunity to send them material which may move them further down the buyer’s funnel, but it also helps you learn a little more about their needs.

Optimised lead gen forms will provide a better conversion rate, increasing your list of leads and improving your user’s experience.

How do I optimise my lead gen form?

So you’ve got a lead gen form on your website, but it’s not working the way you want it to. Thankfully, there are a few nifty and simple tricks that’ll help you increase your lead gen form’s conversion rate.

Remove perceived friction:

When we talk about friction here we’re talking about anything that acts as resistance in the conversion process. Remember, even though it’s not monetary, a transaction is about to take place – what might act as a sticking point in the exchange? That’s friction.

Perceived friction, in this case, are the things which might ‘turn off’ a prospective lead and prevent them from even attempting to complete the form.

The fix:
  • Shorten your form

Count the number of questions on your form and halve it. Time is money and people are put off by the idea of having to fill in a lot of information.

Think about the type of information you really need. Yes, knowing details about their business might be nice, but is it worth missing out on potential leads to get it? It’s up to you to find that balance. You can always collect more data at a later date.

  • Stretch your form

If you’re desperate to collect a bit more information from people, try stretching your form over 2 pages, so that people complete the first page and then click through to the next.

This helps remove the perceived friction of a long form, and once people have filled in the first page a ‘well I’ve already come this far’ mentality kicks in.

  • Shorten your questions

If your questions look long and involved people are less likely to want to engage. Try to make your questions look short and punchy – using less than 6 or 7 words per sentence.


Remove real friction:

Real friction is the time and effort it takes to fill in the form. If it’s difficult or complicated they’re going to jump ship.

The fix:
  • Ask easy questions.

If you ask open ended questions or questions that make people think too hard, they’ll give up. Try to ask questions which people can answer in very few words.

  • Do the work for them

Adding fields which autocomplete (such as countries or language), or a drop down menu where people can choose their option helps make the job easier.

  • Have enough options

If you’re asking people to choose from a list of options, be sure to have enough fields. People like to fit neatly into a box. Adding an ‘other’ option can be helpful to cover all your bases.

  • Hide previously-completed fields

For sites with a lot of quality, downloadable content, you’re going to get a lot of leads.

For first-time visitors you may want to include all your questions, but your returning visitors are going to be annoyed if they have to keep filling in the same stuff.

Choose a form generating tool that enables you to hide previously completed fields for returning visitors.

  • Release the Captcha

Security features such as Captchas can cause friction if they’re too tricky to complete. If you have one, make sure it’s short and easy to get right.


Balance your incentives

If you’re offering a 4 page eBook, you’re not going to get people to answer 10 questions and give you their home address.

The fix:
  • Make sure your offer is worth the effort

Ask yourself whether you’d be willing to give up your information (and risk being spammed) for what you’re offering.

Remember: the customer doesn’t know how much time/effort/blood/sweat/tears went into creating the offer, so take it at face value.

  • Match the form to the offer

If you have more than one piece of downloadable content, chances are they vary in size and quality.

Assign different forms to different offers so that the complexity of the questions or form relate to the size and value of the offer.


Bonus: Design and Copy

There are 10 week courses dedicated to design and copy on lead gen forms, but below are a few simple tips and tricks we’ve found to have the most effect:

  • Keep your lead gen forms above the fold

Immediate visibility is important as you want your form to capture attention. Make sure readers don’t have to scroll down to see and access your form.

  • Use a CTA as your headline

A CTA (call to action) should act as your headline. You want to inspire them to take action immediately and a strong CTA is a great way of doing this.

  • Never make your submit button say submit

Who (aside from E.L James) wants to submit? No one. You want to ‘Start my free trial now’ or ‘Get my guide today’!

Your CTA button should remind them of what they’re getting.

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In a nutshell, here are the top tips to keep in mind when creating lead generation forms:

Remove perceived friction:

  • Shorten your form
  • Two page forms
  • Simplify your questions

Remove real friction:

  • Include autocomplete
  • Include all options
  • Hide previously-completed fields
  • Assess your Captcha

Balance your incentives

  • Make sure your offer is worth the effort
  • Match the form to the offer

Bonus: Design and Copy

  • Keep your lead gen forms above the fold
  • Use a CTA as your headline
  • Never make your submit button say submit

And there you have it. Now go forth and convert!

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