When it comes to inbound marketing efforts, forms are a critical piece of the puzzle. After all, the whole idea of inbound is to attract visitors to your site and then get them to identify themselves in exchange for your valuable content that will help them achieve their goals. You then have their contact information, by which you can qualify them as a lead and nurture them (for marketing and sales purposes) if they fit your target customer personas. Forms are how the visitor gives you their information. But of course, the data you get is only as good as your form structure—and when you're using a marketing automation platform like HubSpot, form structure is more than just the questions you ask. Let me explain by taking you through a 'tour' of HubSpot's multi-dimensional form capabilities.
Why Would I Even Want to Use Form Personalization?
Website visitors have come to accept that the currency for your valuable content is their information… but what you're asking for has to be perceived as equal in value to the content they’re getting. So you can't ask all 20 questions at once. You can, however use HubSpot’s nifty form features to continue getting new information as you build the trust needed for visitors to give you that data.
One caveat before we get too deep into the features themselves... there are a number of terms that marketers use to describe "smart" forms; which basically means the marketing automation platform personalizes the form to the visitor via browser cookies based on previous information they've provided. HubSpot has three primary form features, all with some element of "smartness" to them. For consistency's sake, we use HubSpot's terms: Smart Fields/Progressive Profiling, Field Dependencies, and Smart Forms.
Smart Fields/Progressive Profiling
Smart fields are the simplest way of personalizing forms and refer to hiding questions on your form if the visitor has already provided this information. Progressive Profiling takes it one step further and actually replaces those hidden questions with new questions. Here's the difference in practical terms:
- Smart fields only—my form has 12 fields and 10 of them are smart, so those 10 won't show up to the visitor who's already converted on my content offers
- Progressive profiling—my form has 12 total fields. 4 of them show to a visitor who's never converted. Next time that visitor fills out the form (on a new content offer, for example) he/she will see 4 different questions to answer. The third time that visitor fills out the form, he/she will see the last 4 questions.
Progressive profiling helps you keep forms short, which increases conversions. It also allows you to gether more information from visitors that you can use to further qualify them as a lead and tailor your nurturing efforts to their interests, without overwhelming them.
Form Field Dependencies
Dependent form fields show as a result of an answer to a previous field. In order for these to work, you may need to create custom contact properties in HubSpot that coincide with your fields (luckily for you, you can do this right within the field options). These can be extremely useful if you need additional detail in order to determine whether a lead is qualified (fits your target customer personas). For example, let's say you're in the food manufacturing industry and you sell to both restaurant chains and distributors. You could have a form field that asks for Type of Operation, and then the dependent field could be Job Title, and the drop-down menu of titles to choose from will show different options if they select Distributor or Restaurant. This gives you better data that you can use to segment your leads, create targeted email campaigns, and provide relative eBooks, tipsheets, and other content offers.
Personalized "Smart" Forms
I know, "Finally!" you're thinking. You didn't think I'd leave you hanging on what a true smart form was, did you? In HubSpot's terms, a smart form refers to replacing an entire form on a website page based on logic. For example, if a contact is on one of your eBook landing pages, and they've already told you they're in the healthcare industry, you can show an entirely different form with a different set of questions than a visitor in the technology industry would see. Or, if you want to keep "bottom-of-the-funnel" forms separate instead of burying those questions deep in a progressive form, you can create a BoFu form that appears based on contact criteria such as number of conversions.
You can also use smart forms based on lifecycle stage so visitors who are already customers get a different set of questions than leads. This can help you get feedback from your customers and sustain better relationships.
What's the point?
"This sounds intense. Is it worth my time?" The good news is that HubSpot's made it pretty straightforward to use these features, once you understand what each of them does. However, for many users, progressive profiling is what they think of as a "smart" form, and for some companies, this is enough. It's important to understand the differences though so you can use the features the way that works best for you. If you’re in an industry that has very specialized target personas and require additional detail to qualify a lead, these features give you endless opportunities to ask better questions and take a big chunk of the qualification burden away from your marketing and sales teams.
In a nutshell, if you would like more detail from your leads than what you're getting, or if you want to continue the conversation to delight customers, you should definitely consider whether field dependencies and smart forms can help. Together these features allow you to never waste another opportunity to gather information from your website visitors that will help your business be more successful.
*Note, not all of these form features are available depending on type of HubSpot license (Basic, Professional, Enterprise)
Kelly Wilhelme currently manages all of Weidert Group's marketing efforts. Through her past experience as an inbound marketing consultant on our client service team and, prior to that in financial services communication, she has a deep understanding of complex businesses and a desire to help them grow. Kelly has a passion for communication strategy, layout and design, as well as writing and content creation.