Every day we talk to business owners and marketing professionals who want to generate more leads and more sales from their website. This might be a simplified version of the work we do, but perhaps it rings a bell: We work with our clients to develop a strategy for bringing the right visitors into their site, directing them toward a targeted landing page with a form they fill out to become a lead, and then providing valuable, educational email content over a series of weeks and months to nurture that contact into a paying customer. We then look back on these inbound marketing campaigns to identify room for improvement, and a lot of the times, a key place to start is with the fields on the form.
How not to decide what information to ask for on a form
Many businesses will approach form fields on their landing pages by asking the question, “What are all the possible pieces information I want to collect?”
From the business point of view, this is a great way to build your forms – require visitors to your website to give you everything from their name and email to their job title and street address. That way you know who they are, what you have to offer that they are interested in and how you might best market to them.
So what’s the problem? The problem is that you end up with a form looks like this:
Is this a form you would consider filling out to subscribe to an email newsletter? Probably not.
When it comes to landing pages and forms on your website, the key is finding a balance between getting the information you need but also receiving as large of a volume of leads as possible. An internet marketing term that explains this balance is conversion rate.
Conversion rate means the percentage of people who visit a page that end up “converting” or filling out a form and becoming a lead. The target conversion rate for our clients is 20-30% of people who click on a call to action and visit an individual landing page will fill out the form to access or receive what was promoted in the call to action.
If you don’t know your conversion rates, consider setting up some reporting tools to get this information and know where you stand. If you do know conversion rates, and they aren’t any where near 20%, read on to learn how to reconsider your form field choices.
The right way to select form fields to include on your landing page
In order to optimize your conversion rates while still getting the information from leads you need, I recommend thinking about your form fields as being proportionate to the “ask” on your landing page.
What do I mean by ask? A typical landing page will fall into one of three stages of the “buyer’s journey.” The buyer’s journey is the process someone goes through to become a customer and usually includes an awareness stage, a consideration stage, and a decision stage. The further along someone is in the buying process, the more value your offers will provide and the more invested they are in what you have to offer so the more you can ask for them to receive it.
Here is a basic example of a landing page at each stage of the buyer’s journey:
- Awareness: Blog signup
- Consideration: Case study
- Decision: Schedule a Demo
Now let’s take a look at each of these and what form fields we might include.
Awareness landing page: Blog Signup
If someone is signing up for your newsletter, that’s really early on in the buying cycle. They are actually more of a “subscriber” and not really a lead. It doesn’t require any additional effort on your part for them to sign up for your blog and they can access your blog content whether they subscribe to it or not. Proportionately you might only ask for their email address. At most, you would ask for their email address and name.
Consideration landing page: Case Study
In contrast to the blog subscription, a gated case study is exclusive content. It is not accessible unless a form is filled out. You’ve also likely put a lot of time and effort into this content to use as a sales or marketing piece. You know someone downloading the case study is far enough in the buying process to be doing some serious research. They’ve already invested time getting familiar with their problem and now they are looking for solutions. It is fair at this point to ask for a little bit more.
You would definitely ask for their name, probably a company and possibly their role or a phone number. I’d recommend 4 fields – still keep it short, but get some info you can use to get in touch and start to qualify them.
Decision landing page: Schedule a demo
Of the three landing pages mentioned, the demo is going to require the most effort on your part. In order to not waste the time of your sales team, you want to know someone is serious before spending 30-60 minutes with them. Here you would probably ask for a phone number. You might also ask if the person is already using a product / tool similar to yours and include a dropdown for them to select from. You could ask what their biggest challenge is related to the problem you solve. These questions could give you or your sales team some good background to use in the demo.
Another form that would fall into the decision stage but is even more involved is a quote request. For this, you might add a handful of additional questions. Consider asking about product / service interests or budget to better qualify the lead and know which submissions are worth more of your time.
Pro Tip: Smart Form Fields
By now you should have a good idea of what form fields to include on what types of landing pages to create a strong balance between increasing conversion rates and getting the information you need.
I want to leave you with one last thought. Everything mentioned here assumes you are using static fields and that the fields on your forms will be the same for every user no matter what. If you want to get crazy with your forms, however, there are software tools that will allow you to create “smart fields.” These are tools that will automatically swap out form fields based on information you already have on the user.
For example, someone comes to your site and forks over their name, email and company to download a whitepaper. Next time they come back to your site and visit the case study download page. Instead of asking for their company again, since you already know their company, a smart form field would replace the company field with a phone number field on the case study page. This allows you to limit the number of form fields, increasing conversion rates, while collecting as much information as possible from your visitors. Learn more here