Long Form or Short Form – Which Lead Generation Form is Best

Commentary by:  Robert Cowes, President & Co-Founder of SmartTouch Interactive.

Having had the experience of working on over 500 websites and landing pages over the past 10 years, this article summarizes key findings and tactics we use in our practice daily.

They key take aways here are long vs. short form.   Obviously the shorter form the higher the response.  But as marketer you have to be conscious of your sales teams time.  If you have a marketing automation system in place with a nurturing series of automated e-mails, you can capture additional information as the prospect move into the sales funnel.  If you intent is to feed the leads immediately to sale keep your form to 7-8 questions.    Company (if its B to B) First name, last name, e-mail, phone, questions & comments.   Your other two questions ask a data point that will be of importance to your sales team.   B to B typically their role and timing or product of interest.  You want to know if you are talking to an influencer or a decision maker.  For b to c, product or product type of interest and timing.   If address is something you value, you will want to ask that only if your call to action calls for them to provide that information so you can mail them something.

The other three key points are make sure to add the call to action on top of the form and have the form design from a visual perspective be symmetric so it can be perceived short. Lastly make sure that the form and its intent are relevant to your offer.

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Long Form or Short Form – Which Lead Generation Form is Best

During tax season, one of the first decisions you need to make when filing your taxes is long form (1040) or short form (1040A or 1040EZ)? Your tax form decision is based on your needs as a taxpayer, just as the lead generation forms on your site should be based on your needs as an organization. Here are some questions to ask when deciding how many and which questions to include in your form:

B2B vs. B2C? Consumers have been encouraged to be cautious with their personal information, resulting in programs like the National Do Not Call Registry. Business leads may be more willing to give information about their company in order to get more accurate or detailed information in return. Often, people who are at work, are under time constraints and don’t have time to fill out complex forms, no matter whether they are B2B or B2C leads. Be aware of your site’s usage patterns and demographics/psychographics in order to develop the best form for your visitor.

What’s the call to action? Write your lead generation form content so that the questions in the form are all relevant to the call to action. If your content is customer-oriented and focused on the benefits of filling out the form you’ll be able to ask more questions without sacrificing lead conversion.

How does the incentive for filling out your form impact your form length? Your customer wants to know,“What’s in it for me?” Create a compelling call to action that shows how the incentive you’re offering is (or has the perception of being) worth the information you’re asking them to give you.

What info do you need? Ask the questions you absolutely have to know on the initial form. Be clear about why you need the answers you are requesting. You can always ask additional segmentation questions once you begin to develop a relationship with the customer in order to customize their experience with your company. Give them a reason to like and trust you before you ask rather than overwhelm them with questions right away.

What answers will you really use? Everyone wants to make their communications relevant to the recipient and segmentation is a great way to do that. However, if you are creating text and HTML versions of your email newsletter anyway, don’t ask for that info in your forms. Similarly, don’t ask for other details about your customer if you’re not going to use them to create relevant content on landing pages, emails, or in offline communication efforts. Know how each answer will make your response customized especially for the person filling out the form.

What data do you already know? If a visitor has browsed your site, you should have web analytics data on how they got to your site (referring source, keywords, etc.), which pages they were interested in, and othersource tracking information that you can use to enhance their customer record without asking those questions in your lead generation form.

Does your form “feel” long? For lead generation forms with more than a handful of questions, use graphic elements, a completion status bar, or other page layout techniques to make the form feel shorter and/or give the prospective lead a sense of completion. Sometimes a multi-page form with one question on a page using the right visual effects gives the perception of being less daunting than a single page form with dozens of questions on it.

Are you getting lead quantity over quality? Short, simple forms often produce more leads than longer, more complex forms, but the ultimate goal is how those are leads converting. You can waste a lot of time and money if your lead funnel is too wide at the top and you’re getting too many unqualified leads. Ensure that the metrics you are tracking include not only how well the form gathers leads, but also how those leads convert to sales.

Final recommendation: TEST, TEST, TEST! What works best for one site doesn’t work at all for another. You need to measure the results from different form lengths and questions to see what produces the best results for your site.

Like what you’ve read? Don’t forget to share it! Did we miss other questions that you ask before deciding what to include in a lead generation form? Please leave a comment below to let us know!

The article originally appeared in B2CMarketingInsider.com posted by Sharon Mostyn, February 28, 2011

 

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