Online Forms That Generate Leads

How can your site generate more leads?

How can you make those leads result in more transactions?

For many Web sites, obtaining new leads is a critical online objective. Yet few companies take full advantage of a tool that’s probably already part of the site. Often, the lead form, or “Contact Us” page, is hidden somewhere on the margins of the page. As a result, contact forms rarely generate qualified online leads. Even more rarely do these leads actually translate into sales.

This is tremendously frustrating for online marketers. We spend countless hours ensuring the right prospects arrive at our sites. We tailor messages and offer the best possible user experience and work to ensure prospects have faith in our products and services. Frequently, we achieve little or no meaningful results.

Why don’t leads result in transactions? This can largely be the fault of the offline team responsible for replying to “Contact Us” queries. Many companies’ offline teams don’t view leads from Web forms as reliable as more personal requests for information. Offline teams often don’t fully trust online operations. Most bank account reps, for example, don’t consider an online information request as credible as someone walking into their office and asking for that same information.

Offline teams are usually busy, so online requests often aren’t responded to in a timely manner. A reason for this can be the offline team’s struggle with the very limited information received regarding online leads.

If “Contact Us” forms are too short, the offline team doesn’t have enough information; name, email, and phone number aren’t adequate. Long forms that request sufficient user information tend not to be completely filled out or are ignored by frustrated users.

Either way, the sale is lost.

This pattern can be changed:

  • Test multiple lead forms. Implement and test several different forms. Get as much feedback as possible regarding your “Contact Us” forms. Monitor conversion rates. Understand the first form you try probably isn’t the best, most optimized one.

  • Engage prospects at the appropriate time and place. Instead of passive links, visibly display the form when a prospect has spent significant time on the site or viewed sections that indicate that prospect is genuinely interested in your products and services. Make a form available to prospects who seem to be struggling with an online application or order. Don’t simply make the form available on the page’s margin; base visibility on the visitor’s behavior.

    Once you see interest, be proactive. Offer a conspicuous means of contact, including alternatives (e.g., a toll-free number) for people who prefer not to fill out the form or are more likely to respond via other channels.

  • Act appropriately. Once a form is submitted, don’t merely forward it to a sales rep. Arm them with additional useful information, such as how many times prospects visited the site before filling out the form; what pages or products were viewed; whether the prospect purchased before; and how the prospect found the site.
  • All leads are not alike. Flag important leads. Create criteria to differentiate prospects. These can be related to behavior (number of visits, pages viewed, etc.) or profile (answers to specific questions on the form). Based on these conditions, create different lead categories and define a specific process to respond to each category.
  • Create processes to ensure offline performance. Once a sales call has been made, determine if it was effective. Was the user satisfied? Use post-call surveys to obtain enough information to improve the process so the salesperson can assess performance and efficiently close the next customer.

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