Lead-generation forms are a staple part of the B2B marketer’s diet. Find out how to serve them up in a way that pleases your sales team and your target audience.
When you’re running a marketing campaign, you won’t get far without using forms.
Particularly in the B2B world.
If you’re sending traffic to a technology vendor’s website, you’re not going to close a deal there and then. Particularly if you’re a challenger rather than a market-leader. B2B buyers tend to be cautious, more likely to stick to what they know, often preferring reassurance over risk (hence the classic phrase ‘Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM’).
This is true even in today’s era of digital transformation.
Businesses may be increasingly demanding innovation, agility, new ways of working. However, long purchasing cycles are still the norm. Multiple stakeholders will always need to be consulted. Long-term strategies will encompass slow-burner tactics like 30-day trials, freemium offers and product demos.
Of course, there are many ways to target technology clients. Social media, events, account-based marketing, telemarketing… all powerful when used correctly within the marketing mix. In recent years, there’s the rise in messaging apps, live chat, and chatbots. These all offer powerful, albeit relatively early-stage, routes to gathering leads.
For now though, email marketing remains top of the pops for ROI.
And to succeed with email marketing, well…you need to get people’s email addresses. Sure, building a database to gather contact details is one option. Although if you need your campaign to hit the ground running, that’s where forms comes in.
They’re the first step to building a relationship with your target audience. Laying the foundations for you to nurture and move your target audience through your sales funnel. Until they’re in a position where you can close the deal.
Forms are also great for qualifying people. You might get 1,000 downloads of your cloud computing white paper, but some of those will be your competitors, students, journalists and PRs. Use a form to filter these out early, and save your energy for where it’s needed. Here’s how ConversionXL uses a form to qualify enquiries:
The #1 question about forms is always: ‘How many fields does my form need?’
The annoying – but correct – answer is: ‘It depends’.
The web is full of case studies (like this one) concluding, “The shorter the form, the more form completions you get”. The easier something is, the more people are likely to do it, right? This makes sense… up to a point.
Sometimes the easier something is to do, the less meaningful it becomes.
For example, this Salesforce form has nine fields:
The ‘employees’ field tells Salesforce what size of potential customer they have. Follow-ups and content (such as case studies) can be tailored to match.
The ‘country’ field makes sense if Salesforce want to target certain regions.
Without this information, Salesforce would struggle to follow up with appropriate information.
Here’s the thing: You need to balance and align two opposing viewpoints.
Your organisation needs enough details to start the process of converting from browser to buyer.
Your website visitor wants the process to be as simple and hassle-free as possible.
You also need to factor in motivation levels. The more motivated the user, the more likely they are to stick with the form. Mortgage applications, insurance quotes, booking holidays – users understand that these take time, so will be prepared to complete longer forms.
It’s up to you to strike the balance, and factor in motivation levels. And the only way to do that… is to test.
Then again, maybe you don’t have time to test. For a targeted B2B campaign, you might not attract enough visitors for your results to be statistically significant. Or perhaps you want to test, but aren’t sure where to start.
In which case, take a best practice approach. Read on and find out how.
These are the ‘extra’ words that act as a guide, encouraging and explaining things to your target audience. Keep them short and sweet (they’re called ‘micro’ for a reason). Always add microcopy under each of your fields, explaining why you’re asking for the information.
People filling out an online form have all sorts of questions. “Can I trust this company? Am I wasting my time? Will I start receiving lots of useless emails?” Microcopy helps alleviate concerns and answer these questions.
Here’s how Hotjar slips in some microcopy under the all-important CTA button. See how it answers two of their target audience’s biggest concerns: “How much will it cost?” and “How long will it take?”
Zappos adds microcopy to explain why visitors should create an account:
Chief Wine Officer uses microcopy on their event registration pages:
Imagine you’re marketing a highly specialised artificial intelligence tool. One that only experienced data scientists would use. Naturally, your sales team want qualified leads to come through the website. You also need a way of filtering out the non-relevant enquiries.
You’ve been given an enquiry form that has to be used on the website. There’s just one problem. The form is for a technical audience, with 20 fields to fill in. This makes the form look hard work, particularly on mobile devices.
Solve this problem by making it a multi-step form.
This has several advantages:
– the form looks easier to fill in
– once people get past the first step, they’re more likely to follow through (due to the endowed progress effect)
– you can show the ‘easy’ questions first, and show the more technical questions later
You may have followed all the best practices when creating your form. yet, somehow, conversion rates are still low. What do you do?
If you’re like Expedia, you do some tests and find out a field is confusing your visitors. Then when you remove it, you increase annual profits by $12 million.
The booking company had a ‘company’ field above the ‘billing address’ fields, for business travellers. However, non-business visitors thought this referred to the bank, and inputted their bank’s name – and then the bank’s address, rather than their own billing address.
Result: lots of Expedia users having their purchase refused and going elsewhere to buy their flight tickets.
Always set up tracking on your form, using something like Hotjar or Google Tag Manager. Check if there are specific fields where your users are dropping off.
This works if you build your forms on a marketing automation platform. Your form fields can automatically populate with visitors’ details – assuming they’ve previously visited your page. Your visitors just have to click the button, and you can even configure the form so it asks different questions to repeat visitors.
Your website and website visitors have one thing in common. Both want what the other has.
Your form wants visitors’ information. Visitors want whatever is offered after completing the form.
It’s your job to set up the form as a friendly, professional, and trustworthy broker.
That means making things simple.
Ensuring everyone’s 100% clear on how progress and completion will be measured.
And most importantly, making sure everybody gains something from the transaction.
Follow the advice above and you’ll be well on the way.