A better question is: What is your website doing for you? Is it just a few static pages, like many manufacturing companies' or engineering firms' websites? Perhaps it's large, with thousands of pages of product information and white papers, but there's no rhyme or reason to how it functions.
Either way, it's probably not doing you much good in its current shape.
Perhaps you've heard of inbound marketing—where websites are more than just digital brochures; they actually generate leads for your business. An inbound marketing-enabled website could make your online presence a 24/7 sales rep.
It all comes down to whether your website drives conversions—i.e. how your website ensures that the right visitors find the right forms at the right time.
Here are 4 ways your website design can aid in effectively driving form submissions.
Driving Form Submissions with Effective Site Architecture
The first step in redesigning a website is building the site's architecture. This is a simple wireframe diagram showing the main pages and how one would navigate from the home page to all the other content. It resembles a family tree when drawn out, and how it looks will inform you if you have a good site architecture.
A good site architecture will look flat. This means that there are few levels for a visitor to navigate to get to all the content. At most, it should take 3 clicks to get from your home page to any other page on your site.
Another important part of the architecture is the main navigation menu; in particular, the "Contact Us" link.
The most important form on your entire website is the one on your Contact page. The visitors that fill out this form are not so much holding up their hand to ask you a question as they are grabbing your shirt collar demanding to be heard.
It’s important that your Contact page is easy to find.
Through years of internet usage, people have learned that the "Contact Us" link should be in the top right of the main menu, which means that's where yours should be. Nothing is worse than someone landing on your page looking to contact you and having to dig around for a way to do so.
Driving Form Submissions with Your Home page
After your architecture, the most important part of your website is the home page. This is were you will receive the majority of your traffic.
The space a visitor can see on your homepage without scrolling is called "above the fold." This is the most important piece of real estate on your site.
If there is a certain piece of content or event that you want to promote make sure to put a call-to-action above the fold to ensure that most visitors will see it and increase the likelihood of people clicking to that landing page to fill out your form.
At the writing of this post HubSpot is currently promoting its Inbound 2015 event. Smartly, they have taken most of the area above the fold on their homepage to showcase that comedian Aziz Ansari is one of their keynote speakers. They also include a couple of CTAs to lead people to learn more about the event and register.
Driving Form Submissions with Well-Designed Landing Pages
The main way you are going to get form submissions is by giving your visitors something in return: eBooks, checklists, case studies, and so on.
These offers are presented on landing pages, which exist purely to get your visitors to fill out your form. You'll want to make sure your visitors understand exactly what they are getting in exchange for their information.
Start by making the landing page clean and simple. Removing the main navigation helps reduce distractions. Show a visual representation of what the visitor is getting by submitting their information. The form itself should be easily recognizable, with required fields denoted and a clear submit button.
Driving Form Submissions after a Visitor's First Conversion
Once a visitor has submitted a form, don't leave them hanging!
On the Thank You page, be sure to provide more information to keep them on your site. Return the main navigation so that they can explore more of your content. Show them another piece of content related to what they've just converted on.
The more interest someone has in your content the more likely they are to be a good candidate for your product or service. By giving them more content after a form submission you let them show how eager they are.
Use analytical software to find out where visitors are coming from and how they are moving through your site. If you find a certain page has an unusually large number of visitors leaving, analyze it and try to correct the issue.
A well-designed site will have visitors finding the information they want easily and filling out your forms gladly.
Posted by Jonathan Stanis An engineer by training, Jon focuses on the technical delivery of an effective inbound marketing program. He builds client website plans that solve for conversion potential and utilize smart user experiences. He is also responsible for analyzing and monitoring the success of inbound projects. Jon fits the definition of being a "whole brain marketer" because he is both a strong writer-designer and a deeply analytical thinker.