In the B2B online marketing world, conversion forms on targeted website pages have become a core tactic for converting an unknown visitor into an identified lead, and generating re-conversions so you can gather more information and qualify these leads as Marketing or Sales Qualified Leads. But without well-crafted landing pages and thoughtful conversion forms, you'll miss out on securing conversion opportunities or end up converting a high number of unqualified leads who aren't a good fit because you didn’t ask good questions.
While the traditional conversion form has expanded into other formats — see #5 below — there are still 6 core dimensions of B2B conversion form best practices that will help you create better forms for your lead generation and nurturing efforts.
1. Form Headline
Don't rely on your landing page body copy alone to compel a lead to fill out your conversion form. A simple headline directly above the form reminds the lead what the next step is to receive the free content, assessment or whatever else you're offering in exchange for his or her information. Make sure you use action-oriented language such as "Get Your Free eBook" or "View the Infographic Now" rather than just saying "Please Complete the Form."
2. Form Length
Determining form length is both an art and a science, requiring a combination of intuition and some basic rules. One would think a shorter form would result in better overall conversion rates and this is often true, but this also tends to result in a higher number of lower quality leads. Begin by asking yourself what initial information you need in order to qualify or disqualify a lead, and construct forms that ask meaningful questions and aid you when the leads start rolling in. You’ll also want to tailor your forms based on whether the resource being offered is targeting leads at the top or bottom of the funnel. In other words, don’t ask for a lot of information in exchange for content intended for those in the awareness stage, because you haven’t yet earned their trust.
When in doubt, ask only for the essential information you need to contact and qualify them. This may be as simple as a name, company name and email. Once you have that information, you can enroll them in a nurturing workflow to present other conversion opportunities and ask for more information down the road. And don’t be afraid to experiment with adding additional fields to see how it impacts the percentage and quality of conversions — that’s where the art comes in.
At Weidert Group, we typically have 7 form fields for first-time conversions, which might seem a bit high. However, because our blog and content is widely read, we found that we were getting a lot of unqualified leads from industries and company types that simply weren’t a fit. By asking additional questions early on, we’ve been able to get fewer — yet higher quality — leads and filter out some of the noise using automation.
Sometimes less is more, however, when it comes to the number of form fields. In fact, sometimes nothing is more! There’s been a recent shift toward providing helpful, ungated content that’s truly free and doesn’t require a visitor to exchange any information. An example of this is a pillar page, which provides exhaustive information on a topic. This helps build trust in your brand — if a lead determines your free content holds a lot of value, they’ll be more likely to trust that the gated content they’re also interested in is even more valuable, and will be willing to provide their information. One way to do this without sacrificing conversions is to offer a downloadable version of your pillar content as a PDF so the visitor still has a reason to provide their contact information in exchange for the “to-go” version of your content. We’ve had very good luck with this hybrid approach for ourselves, as many visitors don’t want the content to get lost in their sea of bookmarks.
3. Sequencing of Form Questions
An often overlooked aspect of creating well-crafted forms is the order of your questions. Keeping in mind where potential leads may be in the buyer’s journey, ease them into the conversion by first asking who they are (First Name, Last Name, Job Title, Company Name, etc.) then ask for their email and additional qualifying questions (Annual Revenue, Budget, Timing, etc.).
One of the many reasons we love HubSpot's marketing software for our clients and our own lead generation efforts is its ability to build smart forms that don't ask the lead the same question twice. Once we've obtained specific details on who they are and how to contact them, we can ask for more qualifying information (questions they haven't received from us before) the next time they convert and automatically assign the answers to their contact record. This begins to paint a much clearer picture of which leads are the most qualified and ready to be contacted directly — and you’ll never waste an opportunity to gather more information that can help you nurture and delight them, even after they become a customer.
First-time Conversion Form Repeat Visitor Conversion Form
4. Submit Button Wording
The final step a visitor must take when filling out a form is making the decision to actually “submit” the information. But is the word "submit" the most friendly and encouraging phrase to use on a button? You should have the ability to customize this button within your website, so do some experimenting on what works best. Try working off of the form headline and use a similar action-oriented phrase. If you're offering a free content piece, try "Download Now." It's succinct, feels less threatening than "Submit" and encourages instant action.
For some, however, even the word “download” can have a negative connotation because it’s sometimes associated with malicious email attachments or phishing scams. It can also be a deterrent because of the suggestion that a large graphic-heavy document might take up storage space on a mobile device (even though most often it’s just opening a PDF in a new browser window). Consider alternatives such as “Get it Now” or “Access Now.”
5. Various Types of Forms
The traditional form isn’t the only way to capture a lead’s information. An increasingly useful method is adding a chatbot to your website to make your interactions more conversational. This can be automated and programmed to interact with and respond to a visitor just like a real person or, if you have representatives available, they can also engage in live chat. A simple “Do you need help?” can aid visitors in finding what they’re looking for, and subsequent questions and responses can lead them down a conversion path. With Hubspot’s built-in chatbot feature, there’s no coding required.
Another way to approach conversions is through a multi-step form, especially if you’re asking multiple qualifying questions. Examples might include shipping or registration forms. Multi-step forms don’t display all the questions at once; instead, leads can fill in their information in smaller chunks. Pop-up forms are also a way to capture leads, but be cautious in how you use them. Many users find them annoying and distracting, especially if it’s the first thing they see before even having a chance to view an article or offer. If you use pop-ups, strategically time them to appear only after the viewer has shown a vested interest in your content, and make sure they are mobile optimized.
6. Overcoming Objections
People often don’t want to exchange their email or personal information for fear of being inundated with spam emails or unsolicited phone calls. Put their minds at ease by making your privacy policies easily accessible, and consider disclosing up front how their contact information will be used and that it will never be given or sold to outside organizations. If your website gets global traffic, you’ll also need to comply with international laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation, commonly known as GDPR.
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Following these best practices will help build trust among your website visitors and increase conversions of qualified leads. No matter how you structure your conversion forms, however, it’s important to use the power of analytics to test and analyze which elements work best for your B2B marketing. Various lead and buyer types may react differently to questions and language, so leverage these best practices to guide you on your way and continually improve.
Forms are just one element of a much broader inbound marketing strategy. Use our Step by Step Guide to Inbound Marketing below to get started and learn more tips.
And in case you’re wondering… Yes, you’ll be asked to fill out a form, but we promise it’s worth it!