Let’s face it, filling out forms is a bore. Whether it be medical paperwork, legal contracts or website forms, providing your personal information can be long, tedious and often intrusive.
So why is it that forms are so important to great B2B website design?
It’s easy to forget, but 100% of your web-based leads filled in a form at some point. This makes it the number-one source of data collection.
It can be easy to prize the data collection above customer experience. For much of your team, the analysis on the back-end is what matters. However, without a happy customer who is willing to fill out your form, there is no data.
These days every inch of a website is analyzed and given metrics. So it can be easy to disregard the importance of a simple online form. But this overlooked hero of your B2B website could make or break your marketing strategy.
B2B Website Form Foibles
You might be short on time and/or energy when it comes to writing a website form. So here is a cheat sheet on the most common mistakes to avoid:
- Your forms are broken. All that time and effort you’ve spent attracting the user to your website is now useless.
- Your form is too long or onerous. Your user doesn’t have time, or the questions give them privacy concerns.
- Your form is hidden behind a call to action. By hiding your form behind a CTA you’re adding more mystery than is necessary. Putting the form on the same page makes conversion more likely and removes an additional barrier.
Forms and Progressive Profiling
To make your forms more approachable, think about adopting progressive profiling. Progressive profiling is where the form is split and spread over a longer period, and at multiple touch points, so users feel less burdened. Layering the form in this way allows marketers to collect more data than ever before.
The Way You Think About Forms Is All Wrong
“…usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology.”- Steve Krug
The user is the single most important factor to consider when designing a form. It’s less important how pretty it is, how well it works on the back-end, or how easily it transmits data. If users don’t use it, it’s worthless.
With that in mind, here are some top priorities in user-friendly form design:
- Be a minimalist. If you ask for too much from the user, you’ll drive them away.
- Don’t be too nosy. If at any time your user feels like you’re asking too much, you’ve likely lost them.
- Design for mobile and web. In 2018, 52.2 percent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile, according to Statista. That means about half of your users will want forms for the web. If your forms aren’t optimized for both you’re going to lose valuable leads.
After making sure the user is comfortable, you can start to think about your team. How will they approach the form? Think about how data is stored, the interface your team uses to analyze that data, and how “agile” the forms are.
Your forms must be agile. For example: can you place a subscribe form on different pages? Can you make the form a popup? etc.
Give your team more control over form design and placement. This will allow them to test and optimize for the best results.
Forms need to be flexible. Especially for progressive profiling, forms might need to be made longer or shorter within the same layout. Don’t overdesign your forms.
What information is most useful to your sales team? Your sales team’s time is a precious commodity. You want them spending their time talking to the best leads, not weeding out unqualified leads. What simple questions can you add in a lead generation form that will be unobtrusive, and easily answered by your best leads? This might also give unqualified leads a hint that they’re not in the right place.
Last but not least:
- Include a “captcha” or spam remediation tool to cut down on junk submissions.
- Make sure that any form being shown to someone in the EU is GDPR compliant. Other states, such as California, have introduced similar laws.
Test, Test. Then Test Again
Without testing, your forms are stuck in their current state. If you created the perfect form on the first try, well then kudos to you. But, since that’s probably not the case, you should be testing.
More than two-thirds of respondents (69%) in a web usability report stated that “excessive form field requirements” would deter them from completing a general inquiry form.
Your users won’t fill out forms that aren’t relevant to their situation or show up at the wrong time in the buyer’s journey. Through testing, you can find out which forms work well with certain types of content and what stops users from completing the form.
Remember to Say “Thank You”
After a prospect submits a form, decide on the right message to convey. A simple “thanks, we’ll contact you soon” might not be enough.
Some prospects might appreciate more information. This may include upcoming steps in the process of a transaction or an introduction to the individual/team processing their request.
The thank you page could also offer educational resources for your prospect to consume while they wait for a reply. These review materials could allow the client to gain a better understanding of service offerings ahead of future communications.
If a website uses multiple forms, it may be useful to have multiple, context-specific thank you pages as well. Aside from targeted content, the pages could also make goal-based analytics easier to track.
Ignore the Form at Your Peril
Forms need not be long, painful, or snoopy. They could even be fun! Well, maybe not.
But hopefully, you can see that a small shift in design can help. Concentrate on the user first and you can make direct, positive decisions that have a measurable impact on your lead capturing.
Windmill Strategy has extensive experience creating websites that convert. As part of our monthly maintenance packages, we proactively test your forms each month to ensure that they’re working and technically sound. Also, ongoing review and analytics work ensures that they’re continuously improving.
Talk to us today about how to improve your sales and marketing alignment while boosting lead generation.