5 Tips for Building Highly Effective Lead Generation Forms

You’ve invested some serious money, time, energy and countless late nights getting targeted traffic to your website. But once these leads arrive, they’re bouncing off your landing page without taking the next step, whether it's signing up for emails, registering for a trial offer, or downloading a free eBook. So what gives?

Landing page conversion rates vary between industries. Average performance ranges from 2.23 percent for B2B landing pages to 5.01 percent for finance landing pages, reports Search Engine Land. The top 10 percent of landing pages, however, convert at much higher rates: 11 percent for B2B and 24 percent for finance. Is your lead capture form beating the average or is your landing page design falling short?

Lead capture is the entire point of a landing page. All of your lead generation work boils down to the success of this single form. A poorly designed lead generation form and landing page can sink online conversion goals. On the flip side, a highly effective lead generation form can deliver conversion rates above the industry standard 10 percent, giving your business a critical competitive edge.

Every landing page is different. There’s no secret formula that determines how you should optimize your landing pages to increase conversion rates and ultimately generate more customers. But it’s not all bad news. Yes, you can beat the average. Conversion-centered design and lead form optimization will minimize friction and drive conversions.

Creating highly effective lead generation forms isn’t rocket science. It all comes down to form optimization. More than half of all marketers (56 percent) consider form optimization essential to website performance. In fact, we think all marketers should consider form optimization to be an essential part of lead generation. At Promotely, we follow a simple yet highly effective process: Remove page friction, identify and eliminate unnecessary form fields, and optimize page design with A/B testing.

Understanding Page Friction:

How to Drive Conversions by Removing Friction

More than half of all visitors spend less than 15 seconds on your website. You have limited time to grab a visitor’s attention. Every part of your site needs to do its job.

In the context of lead generation, “friction” is any barrier on your landing page that prevents visitors from completing an action you want them to take. Common sources of friction on a landing page include lengthy copy, visually distracting or unappealing graphic design elements, a poorly placed CTA button, a lack of social proof, and a lack of privacy policies or accreditation seals.

The goal of virtually every landing page is lead capture. Your mission should be to identify and remove any on-page elements that are confusing, distracting or otherwise causing your website visitors to bounce off the site and abandon your form.

Optimizing Your Lead Gen Forms: Top 5 Best Practices

1. Placement. As a general rule of thumb, it’s a best practice to place lead forms ABOVE the page fold. While you can certainly find examples of successful forms placed below the fold (CrazyEgg highlights this example from FloridaTix for Universal Studios that led to a 20 percent conversion rate increase), this approach is most common with long-form sales pages.

It’s not sacrilege to move your lead gen form below the fold, but if you choose to do so, be sure you’re doing so for a clear reason. Anything placed above the fold gets the most eyeballs. The percentage of people who drop off increases the further you scroll down the page. Thus, if you place your lead gen form at the bottom of a long block of copy, chances are high that most folks will bounce off the page before reading all the copy and thus never make it to your form.

2. Design containers. Poor landing page design is a leading cause for page friction. Eliminate this friction by using design containers. These containers achieve two important goals. First, the container will catch the eye, especially if the container is visually different from the other page elements. Second, the container visually signals that all the elements within the container are part of the same group. This distinguishes the lead form, copy and CTA buttons from the rest of the page

3. Use directional cues. Like design containers, directional cues visually help your audience know where to focus and bring their attention. You don’t need a giant arrow or flashing lights to draw attention to your lead form. Instead, use design elements to subtly attract attention. For example, the header of a lead gen container could subtly point toward the bottom of the form field. A small arrow next to the form field or top of the CTA copy can also draw attention.

4. Minimize form fields. Earlier, we touched on the fact that form fields are the greatest source of friction for lead generation forms. Asking people to freely share their personal information is going to push them away. The easiest and most important way to reduce form field friction is to minimize the number of form fields. Yes, this seems a bit obvious, but a surprising number of companies fail to consider whether each form field is truly essential.

The more unnecessary form fields you eliminate, the higher your conversion rates. But the type of form field also matters. Asking for highly personal information, like a phone number, is a huge turn-off. No one wants to be cold called! The same goes for other personal details that simply are not necessary to the transaction at hand. As a rule of thumb, avoid asking for addresses, ZIP codes, job titles and other extraneous pieces of information.

5. Increase perceived value by solving a real problem. Sure, we all like free things, but when we have to fill out a form to download a white paper or eBook, the content is no longer "free." We're trading a bit of our personal information — and the knowledge we'll soon be on yet another email list — for access to this content. Make sure the content you're giving away solves a real problem your audience faces.

If you're reading this article, you're here because you want to increase you conversion rates. You've got a lead gen problem and you need quick solutions that will drive conversions. If we offered a free eBook with 10 proven tactics for increasing conversion rates, you'd be all over that, right? Follow this approach for your lead gen form.

Drive conversion rates by offering content that's valuable to your target audience and promises to make a direct impact on their business problem. The perceived benefit of the valuable information your audience is sharing thus outweighs the inconvenience of sharing an email address and other contact details, thereby reducing friction and driving conversions.

A/B Testing Lead Gen Forms and CTAs

Does button color matter? Will a red button get more form sign-ups than a green button? What about the copy on the button or the button placement? As we mentioned earlier, there’s no cookie-cutter formula that will guarantee a boost in lead generation. While it’s certainly important to implement best practices, it’s also important to keep in mind that every website and form is different. In fact, as any digital strategist will tell you, what works on one site may not work on another, and vice versa. Here’s where A/B testing comes into play.

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a form optimization technique that tests two different versions of the same form to similar visitors. You can test everything from your landing page copy to your CTA button color. Consider the copy for your CTA button: Should you use "submit," "click here," "go" or "get started"? These four phrases are all variations on the same statement, but have different connotations.

For example, studies find that "commit" has a lower conversion rate than "click here." Why? "Click here" and "go" feel less committal and imply a lower investment of time and effort, so visitors feel more comfortable clicking these buttons. Remember, driving higher lead gen form conversion rates all comes down to successfully eliminating friction — including perceived barriers to entry that are in your visitors' heads!

A/B testing is important not only for boosting conversion rates, but also for eliminating assumption biases that you and your design team may hold. Will a red button really make a difference for your conversion rates? Will eliminating an unnecessary form field help? Maybe the biggest change will come from renaming a form field, such as changing an input field from “comments” to “how can we help you.” On their own, these changes may seem subtle, but taken together, they can make a big difference for your overall conversion rates.

Ready to supercharge your conversion rates? Click here to create a high converting lead generation form.