June 26

Optimizing webforms to generate more leads through your website



After a talk on lead management, I spoke with several marketers from a company where one said, “We don’t need to qualify our leads because our web forms do the qualifying for us… then we send them to our sales team.”

Here’s the problem with that model… long and detailed web forms often cause people to lie or simply leave altogether.

So what should you do instead? Start by creating a lead generation form that balances your need for information and potential buyers need for not being hassled.

Testing and optimizing even a few key aspects of your landing pages can provide major gains for your lead-gen efforts to improve lead conversion and ROI.

Recently, I was a guest on a web clinic Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Director, MarketingExperiments that examines three tests they conducted to demonstrate how you can use Incentives and Friction to generate more leads through your site.

The webinar was titled “Filling the Pipeline: How a LeadGen Test Strategy Achieved an 86% Increase” You can watch the webinar (no registration required) or read the synopsis

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing. He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. Whoever said “We don’t need to qualify our leads because our web forms do the qualifying for us… then we send them to our sales team.” is obviously a marketer that never had to sell anything in his life.

    There’s two ways a prospect needs to be qualified before they’re usually ready to buy.
    1. Are we qualified to do business with them?
    2. Are they qualified to do business with us?

    All a form can do is get you half way to qualifying whether they’re qualified to do business with you.

    And whoever said that should remember that most prospects lie. Many prospects lie to salespeople. Do you think they’re always honest filling out forms?

    A good salesperson qualifies on:

    A good salesperson qualifies to determine whether their solution solves a prospect’s problems before presenting the solution to them.

    A form is rarely going to be able to qualify all of the things necessary to accomplish that.

    Before I should really present a solution to a prospect, I should ask them 100 questions. If they answer all 100 questions truthfully and I’m satisfied that I can help them. At that point, I’d be ready to present a solution or ask for the sale.

    Also, I’m not sure how good a web form establishes repoire and trust. The qualifying process (by asking good relevant questions) does this.

    And finally, I think that many marketers do not understand that the qualification process is a gift to a prospect. I know my product and how to use it successfully more than anyone else does. I also know internet marketing better than 95% of marketers. My questions make my prospects think, uncover challenges that they’ll need to overcome and ultimately make them understand what’s required to be successful. That’s a service to the prospect. Not to me as a sales person.

    As far as I’m concerned, qualification is rarely ever complete.

    The complex sale will not be automated any time soon, especially the qualification process.

  2. Brian, the article at MarketingExperiments was fantastic. I was particularly surprised by how a complex incentive can be so detrimental to your success rate. That will be a big help in the future.

  3. Brian,

    This is really well written and I really hope marketing managers take such an advice seriously as a lot of them are either not taking web forms seriously or taking them too seriously and making them like a survey form. Inspite of so much research on landing pages, more then 50% of marketers I talk to don’t seem to have spent time in creating easy to convert landing pages and forms. Templatizing good and easy-to-convert landing pages (with all such research and best practices built-in) might be a good idea to explore, no?


  4. Well said Brian.

    It might sounds basic to some folks, but it’s something the vast majority of marketers need to hear. We work hard with SEO / PPC to get clicks and then sit back and accept terrible conversion rates from landing pages.

    A little extra effort with a few experiments can literally double landing page performance. What could twice as many web leads mean to your business?

    Google has a great free tool called Google Website Optimizer – http://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer. It lets you run multivariate and A/B split tests on your landing pages and its not hard to set up.

    – Richard

  5. Hi,

    Nice post.

    We have carried out a lot of tests with our forms and well it is true…long forms lead to faster exits.

    Simple, short forms asking for basic requirements, result in more conversions.

    And we have not compromised on the quality of our leads. We simply did away with a lot of fields that were not necessary.


  6. Experience is the best teacher. By all means make the webform easy and hassle-free. Don’t bother to begin qualifying serious clients from the start.

    Easy webforms attracts more salesmen, tire-kickers and peers looking for information instead of wanting to sign you up for business.

    Tracked sales calls, email inboxes of clients for the past 3 years and, on average, 1 or 2 out of 7 webforms, emails, phone calls, etc. were serious customers.

    Now that the webforms require more detailed information to weed out the salesmen and tire kickers the number of forms, emails and calls have decreased and sales are at a 5% growth.

    How wonderful to be spending the time either attracting new clients or working on their projects instead of wasting valuable time getting rid of telemarketers, etc.

    Dan G

  7. Great article! I have implemented some of your tips into my own website forms 🙂

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