Evaluating Lead Forms for Greater Conversion, Less User Frustration

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Many excellent articles have been written about how to optimize your web site lead forms. Best practices associated with handling errors in a friendly manner, retaining field data if an error occurs requiring a back-click to fix, providing form field instructions (e.g. enter phone number xxx-xxx-xxxx or date as dd/mm/yyyy), removing the “clear” or “reset” button next to the submit call-to-action one and so on.

But an equally crucial part of lead form conversion is evaluating the questions you are expecting the website visitor to answer in order to complete the form. I was evaluating a web hosting request form recently and uncovered a number of challenges that I imagine many other websites experience. These challenges cause reduced conversion and increased user frustrations.

First, the form had a number of questions that even with years of online marketing experience I found difficult to accurately answer. This is a challenge created by a marketer not fully understanding their audience. Copywriters are taught to avoid using technical jargon (especially acronyms) that may not be recognized or fully comprehended by their readers. The same is true for lead form questions. For example, if a small business owner is seeking web hosting services there is a great possibility that they won’t know how to answer a question like, “how much storage space do you need?” or “do you need server-side includes?” There is definitely a sales value for the web host to receive answers to these questions but in a customer-centric world, convenience should skew to the customers’ end of the spectrum.

Second, consider what information is really necessary to receive from the prospect. Do you really need a phone number, email address, mailing address, IM handler, fax number and cell phone number? Does a prospect really need to confirm their email address after entering the first time? Sounds like a desperate marketer at work who needs to get every prospect closed and funneled to sales even if it means over-working the prospect. Ask for only the information most necessary in order to take the prospect to the next step in the sales process. An email and phone number should suffice in most cases. The mailing address and other contact information can be gathered after further engagement.

Third and last, if the potential prospect cannot complete a question, provide an alternative. For example, if a web hosting company has to ask the question “how much storage space?” then offer one response like “not sure – need assistance.” Consultative selling helps build and secure relationships so no company should be afraid of contacting a prospect to fit him or her with the best product or service.

Focus on your customer when creating your lead forms to increase conversions and reduced frustrations. It will help you increase you lead generation success.

About the Author

Kevin Gold is Director of Internet Marketing at iNET Interactive, a social media company operating prominent online communities for technology professionals and technology enthusiasts. Kevin is a frequent contributing author to multiple publications including Search Marketing Standard, Practical eCommerce, DIRECT, Entrepreneur.com, ConversionChronicles.com, About.com, and On Target (Yahoo! Search Marketing newsletter).

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