While developing a new website for our marketing agency, we spent a good deal of time looking at our lead capture forms and how we could improve them. We started with a typical lead capture form, the “Request an Appointment” form from our previous website. What we ended up with on our new site is something we’ve dubbed “The Lead Capture SuperForm.” This article describes how we came up with this lead capture form and how it helped us increase the leads generated on our website by over 1,400%.
How The Lead Capture Superform Was Born
In our website planning process, we write a mini mission statement for each page of the website, along with a list of the top questions a visitor would have when they arrive. This gives our web development efforts a clear direction and ensures that each page is focused on achieving a particular goal.
From the outset we knew that people could arrive at any page of our website at various stages in the buying cycle. Some may be engaged in early exploration, while others have a budget secured and have their finger on the button. We incorporated this knowledge into our page planning process, adding the appropriate questions to each page based on the buying stage of the visitor. With this in place, shaping the content around the user’s needs became a relatively straightforward process.
But we ran into a wall on almost every page when we got to the lead capture form. Our “Request an Appointment” form only addresses users in a small range of the buying cycle.
- Very early in the stages of the buying cycle, a visitor may just need a question answered, or might be interested in your newsletter or social media feeds. They may be exploring, learning, and checking you out, but they’re not ready to commit to engaging with you on a formal basis yet. Our appointment request form was too committal to address the needs of these users.
- On the other side of a coin, a buyer with a finger on the hot button wants to get you on board as quickly as possible. They’ve done their homework, secured resources, and the clock is ticking. They want to start the conversation right away, and an appointment request or quote request form is ideal for their needs.
Based on this, we explored the idea of having several forms on each page. This is a common approach on websites, where you might find social media links up top, email signup in the sidebar, and a lead capture form somewhere in the body of the page:
The problem with this approach is it can quickly clutter up a page. We didn’t want to have twenty things fighting for the visitor’s attention and distracting them from the purpose of the page.
While writing the sales copy for one of the pages, I decided to label the heading above the lead capture form “Next Step”. At that moment a light went off in my head. Why not make this phrase “Next Steps” and add tabs to our lead capture form? This would allow the form to serve various needs, all tucked away in one neat place at the bottom of each page. The lead capture superform was born.
Designing the Lead Capture Superform
We identified several key tasks that a user may want to perform on our website:
- Asking a Question (early stage) – I’m perplexed that this form is not used more often on marketer’s websites. Often times people have questions unanswered by the website and no way to get answers. Their options are usually to (a) either fill out a big fat lead form or (b) call/email the agency. Both of these take more time and cause more friction than they’re worth, so most people don’t bother. An “Ask a Question” form is pure genius because it allows you to start a dialogue with a prospect with very little friction or time commitment on their part. Of all the tabs on our form, this is the one that generates the most leads for us.
- Requesting an Appointment (mid-late stage) – This is a form we’ve used for years. We switched to this from the more formal “Request a Quote” format because most buyers don’t want to, or don’t know enough to, type out their entire project brief into a form. Request an Appointment requires less time and commitment, and implies that we’re just starting a conversation, not committing to a project. Not surprisingly, the improvement to our conversion rates after switching to the appointment format was infinite. You heard me right, our “Request a Quote” form wasn’t filled out once in the time it was on our site.
- Subscribing to Newsletters (any stage, biased towards early) – Early stage buyers who are engaged by your content may want to get more of it. They may also want to keep you on their radar for a future project. A newsletter subscription is a great way to stay top-of-mind and easily accessible.
- Providing Feedback About the Website (any stage) – There’s some degree of redundancy between this and “Ask a Question” (they could be used for the same thing), but this form is useful to gather feedback and identify problems. Much of the submissions here are usually questions about where to find something or grammar-defenders pointing out a typo. Nevertheless, it’s very useful to get feedback on your site, good or bad.
With these major goals defined, we designed our form with tabs for each section, coming up with a layout like this:
Advantages of the Lead Capture SuperForm
Prospects Passively Identify Their Buying Stage
I don’t know about you, but I hate forms that ask “How soon are you planning to purchase?” This is like asking a prospect how quickly they’re going to buy from you after they’ve told you their name. Nobody would do this in person, so it baffles me why some marketers think this is a good idea online.
Regardless, this information is useful to forecast numbers and plan your pipeline activities. The Lead Capture SuperForm provides this information simply by looking at which of the forms the user filled out. A prospect asking a question or subscribing to the newsletter is likely much earlier in the buying stage than somebody requesting an appointment. It’s a quick and simple way to get this information without directly asking for it.
Combining your various forms into one space means a cleaner, easier to digest layout. Most marketing company websites I visit are too distracting to be effective (in my opinion)—buttons, banners, and CTA’s galore, all screaming for attention and getting none. Moving all of this clutter into a single spot helps the user focus on what you want them to focus on.
This is perhaps the best part about this form. Because it addresses buyers at various stages, there’s an option with the appropriate amount of commitment and detail for everybody. People early in the buying cycle will be turned off by a huge form. But they may be fine shooting us a question, providing just their name and email so we can reply to them. It’s still a lead for us, one that we likely would not have captured if the only option available was the appointment request.
Since we launched this new form, we have seen a healthy 1,400%+ increase in the amount of leads we generate. Part of this is attributed to the availability of the “Ask a Question” form, it gets used more often than we expected and often turns into a sales meeting. However the use of our appointment form has also increased, and arguably this could also be attributed to the clean, well-organized layout of the website with clear calls to action. Overall the results have been fantastic and the Lead Capture SuperForm is here to stay.