You attracted a potential client to your website with a special offer. Your next challenge is to get the newbie to fill out that form on your site with some personal info so your sales team can go after the lead.
Here are seven tips for creating effective website lead generation forms, gathered from the best minds in web-form-filling-out science. Yes, scientists have studied web forms, books have been written about web forms, there’s even a site dedicated to critiquing web-form fails. So, as the buttons say, SUBMIT!
1. Fewer Questions = More Leads. More Questions = Fewer But Better Leads.
Ask a lot of questions and only the most dedicated prospects will finish your form – and that’s great if you’re looking for serious, well qualified leads. If your goal is to collect a lot of signups, ask less – just an email address might be sufficient. The rule of thumb is 3 to 5 “fields” (fill-in boxes) should do it. You can always ask them more questions later in your relationship.
2. Place the Form on the Right Side of Your Landing Page in the First Screen
The sweet spot to get noticed, according to web-form-filling-out science. And leave white space around it so it pops from the surrounding text.
3. Give Your Form a Logical Flow
Put a headline over your lead-gen form that reinforces the value the user receives by filling it out: Get a Free Trial, Request a Quote. Start with the easy questions (like name and email address), then ask for more detailed information (clarifying their needs for your product, for instance) and, if it makes sense, finish with an optional, larger field with room to enter any other information the user wants to mention.
4. Don’t Say SUBMIT
Concluding the form with a SUBMIT button is a web tradition, though it sounds like you’re dealing with the IRS or the DMV. Usability studies found that SUBMIT performs worse than other generic button text, such as GO. The best idea is a button that reinforces the value proposition, such as “Start My Two Month Free Trial”.
5. Help the User with Visual Cues
Put the labels for the fields (name, email address, etc.) above the fields. Make the field a length that cues users how much information is expected if they have to write in an answer. Use dropdown menus, checkboxes or radio buttons (the ones you click like a bulls-eye) with pre-selected choices so users don’t have to think (or spell) too much. If what’s requested for the field isn’t immediately clear, put some “for example” text next to it. Let the user know if a specific format is required (like MM/DD/YYYY), and display an explanatory error message if the user messes up.
7. Avoid CAPTCHA If You Can
We’re talking about those little boxes at the end of a form that ask you to write in the squiggly letters (if you can read them) to prove you are a human and not a web-crawling robot. Don’t risk annoying real humans unless you have a serious problem with robots (ask your programmer about techniques to defeat robots with hidden fields in the form, too).
Image: Sign-up form for Basecamp