Forms are one of the key components for building a website for a maximum ROI. They are the best way to enable a website visitor to self-qualify and to begin a dialogue with that visitor. This article contains several tips on building forms.
What should the form contain?
Many people make the mistake of using a form to do the selling. These forms are long and ask lots of questions. For example, you may see forms that ask about budget, time frame and decision making authority, etc., just for giving you access to a free online demo of the product.
I did a random search on the term “request a demo”, trying to find both good and bad examples of forms. Here’s an example of a bad form.
Take a look at the form on this page – http://www.intergraph.com/contact/contact_form.asp I’ll bet this page’s exit rate is high, meaning people are coming to the page, but not filling out the form. Why?
- It asks the person to provide a lot of information
- It goes on for two pages
Pretend you’re the visitor. You’ve never spoken with this company. All you want is for someone to call you because you think you might be interested in their product. Would you fill that form out? You’re probably asking yourself “why do they need all this information?”. Here’s an analogy. Imagine you’re at a party and you’re meeting a person for the first time. Would you start the conversation by asking a series of very personal questions? What type of reaction do you think you’d get if you did so? I look at forms the same way.
Here’s an example of a pretty good request a free trial form – http://www.courion.com/ Why?
- In return for a free 14 day license key, all you’re asked to provide is your contact information. You can argue whether this company should have asked for title and number of employees, but in fairness to the company, if you’re giving away a free trial of your software, you want to make sure the person has decision making authority and is of a company within your target market. Otherwise, you’ve wasted everyone’s time.
As a business owner, I want our sales reps to engage in a conversation with the prospect. That’s why I believe in keeping the form short and simple. I don’t want to scare people away by asking too many questions. Collect the person’s contact information, and leave the rest of the questioning to the sales rep. Let the sales person have a conversation to uncover the prospect’s pain and within that conversation figure out budget and decision making authority.
Remember – this is the first contact the prospect is having with your company. If you were in that person’s shoes, would you fill out a form that asked a lot of questions that weren’t appropriate for a first time conversation?
The “Submit” button
If the form is connected to an offer, say a product demo for example, naming the submit button “submit”, believe it or not, might not be the best thing to do. We’ve done studies on this. One of our clients was offering a free onsite demo of their product (infrared cameras). We split tested the submit button, naming one “Demo Request” and the other “Information Request”. In head to head battle, the one named “Information Request” had 3 times more conversion than the one named “Demo Request”. Why? We believe that the “Demo Request” name implies that a sales person is going to call the prospect right away, and for an offer such as a product demo, this will scare off the prospect. If they’re responding to that offer, they’re probably not ready to speak with a sales person. They’re too early in the sale cycle; they’re still in the education/verification phase.
Closed loop marketing – linking your form with your CRM system
Nowadays, many customer relationship management systems (CRM) are web based, making it very easy to integrate web forms with the CRM system so that completed form information is automatically imported into the CRM system when the prospect submits the form. There are plusses and minuses to this approach, however.
One of the benefits of this approach is that you no longer need to manually copy and paste the leads from the form into the CRM system, saving lots of time. Also, with the form automatically integrating with the CRM system, you can quickly and easily (1) determine how well your campaign is going, and (2) keep track of and follow up on all leads.
I’d say the only negative with this approach is that you may dirty up your CRM system with lousy leads; forms completed by people who clearly aren’t in your target market and/or forms completed with dummy information. For this reason, some of our clients have the form data go into a spreadsheet first, manually clean it up and then manually import the spreadsheet into the CRM system. You’ll have to decide which procedure is best for you.