The Marketer's Guide to Online Forms
As a modern marketer, you are operating in an environment that looks far different than it did a few years ago. Formstack was launched to help meet the needs of the evolving marketplace by creating a user-friendly interface for building forms online. Forms have become an integral part of the inbound marketing process, enabling organizations to collect valuable information that helps them engage with their audience in deeper, more meaningful ways. This guide highlights the many ways forms can be leveraged to do just that. With the Formstack Marketing Field Guide, you will learn specific ways forms can support marketing and how these ways can be enhanced with our third-party integrations. We also share tips and best practices for optimizing forms to make them as user friendly and effective as possible.
The Benefits of Using Forms For Generating Leads
Generating leads is an important part of the sales process. There are many ways for marketers to collect online leads, but most of these ways involve the use of a form. A good online lead generation form allows you to capture the right information for nurturing leads.
Here are five benefits of using Formstack's lead generation forms:
- Easy Form Builder
Formstack's drag-and-drop form builder makes it easy to create lead generation forms quickly without any programming knowledge or any software to download and install.
- Website Integration
Easily integrate HTML lead generation forms on your website by embedding a few lines of code in your site, or using custom style templates that match your brand.
- Data Routing
Use Data Routing to streamline notifications by sending submission emails to different people depending on what your users fill out on your contact form. This gives you the power to get a lead into the hands of the right person so they can follow up with the prospect.
- Custom Confirmation Emails
You can automatically send a confirmation email to people who submit your online forms. It’s a great option for lead generation, allowing you to touch base with leads before they receive a personal call or other follow up.
- Spam Protection
Fight spam by using lead generation forms instead of publishing your email address on your website where it can be picked up by spam bots.
Five Ways to Increase Form Submissions
Form building can certainly be the easiest part in the data-capturing process. Receiving submissions, however, can be more challenging. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your forms, these tactics may help increase form submissions.
- Include it in your newsletters.
Email marketing is a great way to communicate to your customers what’s going on in your company. So why not include a link to your form? You can either include it within one of your ongoing newsletters or you can create a special email marketing strategy around your form. Either way, making it easier for users to gain access to the form is the best way to ensure submissions.
- Share it via social networks.
You can’t always count on people checking one form of communication – such as email. In order to cover your bases, include a link to your form on your Facebook page, tweet it on a daily basis, and include it as a prominent button on your blog. If you want to be even savvier, include tracking codes within each link so that you can see which outlets work better than others.
- Print QR code in marketing pieces.
Every time you build a form, along with your regular URL and mobile URL, you’ll also receive a QR code. If you have any type of marketing collateral that goes out to your customers or items that you use frequently at trade shows and conferences, be sure to include a QR code that links back to your form. It will allow for simple access and doesn’t require any extra work to create!
- Embed the link in email signatures.
If you’re the type of person who is constantly emailing back and forth with clients, your email signature becomes prime real estate for links. If your form is one that needs to be submitted by people you email, be sure to include a link in your email signature.
- Include an incentive.
Yes. It can be gimmicky. However, including even the smallest incentive may help boost participation. Whether it’s something monetary, a product, or just a discount, you’d be surprised what motivates people to fill out a form. We suggest testing this out to see what works. Even if you start out with something small, it’s worth a shot.
Remember, the key to increasing form submissions is making it as easy as possible for your audience to access your form and omit any possible challenges because even the simplest obstacle can deter them.
Creating An Online Form That Converts
By designing a better form, you can increase conversion rates. This works by optimizing the form for all users so that even those with lower motivation can breeze through and complete a form. To make sure you are on the right track when designing your form, follow these five guidelines:
- Be Concise
The best way to increase conversion rates is to keep your form short and sweet. Every question you ask on a form creates tension or “friction” for the user. The more questions you ask, the more friction the users feel, and the less likely they’ll finish the form.
Here are a few tips on how to keep your form concise:
- Essentials only.
For every question or field, ask yourself, “Do I need this?” If the answer is “No” or “Not really, but it’s very nice to have,” drop it. What’s more important? Getting that specific piece of information or any information.
- No profile information.
Some forms ask for “profile information” such as name, address, phone number, etc. Many times this is to complete or update a user profile for demographic purposes. But unless this information is required to make a transaction, don’t ask for it. Let users login to your site to complete this info, or send out a separate form that is optional to complete.
- Split forms into sections.
People can digest more information if it’s split into groups or sections. So similarly, they can complete a form better if fields are grouped together into sections or split amongst a few pages. However, this is not an excuse to add more fields! This is a last resort to break up a form that requires many fields. Sections are an optional feature for Formstack forms.
- Be Clear
Be sure your questions are as clear as day. Use explanatory or supporting text to explain exactly what is expected for each field. Always avoid using internal company phrases and keep your language as basic as possible.
- Think Vertical
Build your forms in a vertical layout. When filling out forms, users will first scan the process and then proceed to fill it out. Making a form too long or unorganized adds a lot of eyestrain and overall form “friction.” By left-aligning and stacking fields and labels vertically, you dramatically decrease eye movement and processing time. By default, Formstack uses the left-aligned, vertically stacked layout.
- Maintain Expectations
Don’t throw a curveball at your users. Chances are you set up certain expectations for users well before they started filling out your form. Be cognizant of those expectations, and don’t throw something unexpected at them in the form process. By giving users what they expect in a form, you will drive more conversions. By the way, this also applies to individual questions you ask in a form, not just the overall form itself. Be concise and keep fields and questions down to the essentials. You will avoid the common pitfall of “Why are they asking me for this?”
- Make Your Form Responsive
Today, being “responsive” when talking about web forms typically means it is designed for any medium (desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile phone, etc.). Having a form that converts relies heavily on responsive design. Formstack makes it easy to create responsive forms by providing all users with the ability to embed forms with mobile-friendly code. But a responsive form can also mean it responds to the user and gives the user a more targeted experience. Both aspects are very important when making a conversion-optimized form. Responsive can also mean adaptable to the individual user profile. For instance, if you wanted to send out a survey to three distinct user groups, you could create one form that populates a different set of questions based on what group they identify themselves as. Or, on a lead generation form, you might ask users if they are interested in a certain product. If so, that could populate more targeted questions that would give you more insight into a particular user, but wouldn’t create more form friction for other users. At Formstack, we call this Conditional Logic.
All of these factors may seem minor to you. However, it takes just the smallest barrier to cause form abandonment. Follow these easy guidelines and you’re sure to create a streamlined form process for your users and higher conversions for your company.
At Formstack, we love forms and all they can do for our clients’ businesses and organizations. This Formstack Marketing Field Guide should provide you with a strong foundation of ways forms can make your next marketing campaign a success. We also know you might have more questions. Fortunately, we have answers. From our blog to our Support team, we’re here for you if and when you need us. Happy form building!