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How to Design Lead Generation Forms That Really Work

Getting prospective customers to visit your business website is only the first step in the digital conversion path. If you want to turn them into leads and ultimately customers, you need a well-designed lead generation form. Here's how to create one.

The 5 Factors of Lead Generation Forms

According to the Form Optimisation Pyramid, there are five factors in whether or not visitors fill out your lead form.

1. Motivation: Do I need/want the outcome of completing this form? Are you offering something valuable enough to be worth the users' time?

2. Ability: Can I fill out this form? If you ask for information users may not have on hand (such as a password), they can’t fill out the form at that time—and probably won't return to complete it later. If the design of your form makes it too hard to figure out or if it doesn't function well on a mobile device, users won't be able to complete it, either.

3. Peace of mind: Will anything bad happen if I fill out this form? Asking for sensitive information can trigger users' concerns that their data may be stolen. Even a request for an email address can trigger worries about a flood of spam emails. Either put a link to your privacy policy at the bottom of the form or explain briefly in the sign-up form how you use the information (“We’ll use your birthdate to send you special offers”).

4. Ease:  Is it easy to fill out this form? The easier it is to fill out your form, the more likely users are to complete it. For example, users can fill out a 50-question lead generation form, but it's not easy to do. In addition to keeping your form as brief as possible (more on that later), use thoughtful form design to guide users through completion. For example, dropdown menus for selecting options can be difficult to read and select, especially on a mobile device. If you have five or fewer options, UXMovement research recommends using a radio-button format. That way, each choice is easy to see and minimal clicking is required. You should also design error messages to display in real time so users can quickly correct them. Studies have shown that the best place for an error message is to the right of the form field with the error.

5. Engaging: Do I enjoy filling out this form? Adding humor (if appropriate), conveying a sense of your businesses personality in your lead form, and focusing on the benefits to the user instead of to your business can all help make filling out a form more enjoyable.

What Information Should a Lead Generation Form Gather?

The specific information you need will depend on your industry and your typical sales journey. For example, roughly half of B2B marketers say it's important to be able to segment leads by title or role (49%) and by industry (48%).

In general, best practice is to ask for the least amount of information possible that you need to segment the lead in a meaningful way, and make sharing that information as easy as possible for the prospect. For example:

  • Don't ask for a phone number. No one wants to get telemarketing calls, and asking for a phone number frequently leads to abandonment, UXMovement reports. Ask for email instead.
  • Don't ask for a street address or even a city and state. If location is important to you, collect that information via IP address.
  • Consider using one form field for first and last names, instead of breaking them out into separate fields.
  • Instead of asking visitors to register or create a password, allow them to use social sign in with Facebook, Google or LinkedIn.

Fine-tune your lead generation forms by collecting statistics on how many forms get completed and the form fields or questions that most often lead to form abandonment. Lead generation software can help by providing proven forms you can use.

Once you get those leads, make sure you aren't making these common lead management mistakes and learn how to do a better job tracking leads.