Whether you're well-versed in inbound marketing or just starting to dip your toes into the water (it's nice and warm – come on in!), you know that the very basis of inbound marketing is attracting prospective customers to your website and converting them into leads by enticing them with the content on your website.
Capturing a lead's information, of course, is dependent on having forms throughout your website acting as gates to your content pieces. When your website visitors want to access one of your eBooks, guides, videos, or any other type of advanced content, requiring them to fill out a form beforehand adds new contacts to your database, and using a thoughtful form progression can help you gather more information about your leads each time they return. It's no wonder, then, that getting the most out of your inbound marketing efforts relies heavily on having a form strategy in place.
Rather than haphazardly using one standard form (or worse, using no form at all) throughout your site, your forms should naturally progress with your leads as they move through their buyers' journey. In fact, an intuitive form strategy should mirror the buyer journey, asking the right questions—in the right order—to gather more detailed and granular information about a lead with every conversion opportunity.
Use Progressive Forms to Encourage Conversions
Before you dive too deep into determining which form fields you'll use to capture all of the information you're hoping to about your leads, you'll want to make sure you're taking advantage of progressive forms to spread out that data as it applies to your typical buyer journey.
If you're using a marketing automation software like HubSpot, it's easy to set the fields in your form as "smart fields." Doing so ensures that those fields are hidden once that contact returns to your website and downloads another piece of content, displaying the next set of fields you'd identified instead.
Using progressive forms with smart fields will allow you to tailor the fields that appear in your form progressions to the information that applies to your buyers' journey. Likewise, progressive forms allow you to break down the amount of information you request from your contacts into smaller portions, which helps encourage conversions rather than turning prospects off. Take a look at the chart below from Unbounce to see how the amount of fields on a form directly impacts conversion rates:
As you can see, when it comes to the number of form fields, less is more. Your visitors will tend to expect to fill out a longer form for their first conversion with their general contact information (we recommend first name, last name, company name, email, and industry), but 1-2 form fields is really the sweet spot for driving continued conversions. This is especially important to keep in mind as your fields get more detailed and specific toward the bottom of the funnel.
Writing an Effective Form Progression Based on Your Buyers' Journey
Your buyer personas should help you frame the questions you'll ask throughout your form progressions. If you haven't yet created personas (or if your existing personas could use some updating), imagine the demographics and qualities that would make up your best qualified customers.
Think about all of the specifics: what's their industry? How big is their company? Where are they located? What's their annual revenue? What's their pain point that your product or service will address? How many projects will they partner with you on? Once you've pictured your ideal customers, work backwards to frame the questions that will help you source the answers you're looking to collect.
Then, consider the three distinct stages of the buyers' journey and sales funnel and how each of those questions fits into each stage: the awareness stage, the consideration stage, and the decision stage.
1. The Awareness Stage
When your prospects are in the awareness stage, they're still trying to diagnose their problem and understand whether there's a viable solution. For this stage, stick to broad, general form fields to capture your lead's contact information. Including industry information in the first form progression can help you begin to qualify and segment your leads while they're in the early stages of the buyers' journey.
2. The Consideration Stage
During this stage of the buyers' journey, your prospects are trying to gather more information about what their options are and who they'll choose to do business with. Your form fields should probe them to find out more about their company demographics and their pain points to find out if they're a good fit for your business.
3. The Decision Stage
Once a prospect reaches the decision stage, they're ready to move. At this point, you should be gathering very specific information regarding the project and the company, and using that information to drive conversations with your sales team, when appropriate.
Easily Qualify Leads with an Effective Form Strategy
Using your buyer journey to shape your form strategy allows for simpler lead qualification and segmentation, since your form fields will work to naturally qualify them as they progress throughout their buyers' journey. The best part? You'll be able to spend more time making sure your leads are nurtured effectively and are properly handed off to your sales team.
Posted by Laura Sheptoski Laura is a detail-oriented consultant and project manager, with a background in public relations, social media engagement, and client content creation. Prior to her time at Weidert Group, Laura managed PR for an industrial services company, and maintains a strong focus on earned media within our inbound marketing programs.