I come from a marketing background.  Before my years in PPC management, I was the marketing manager for a B2B software company for six years. If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you’ll notice that they tend to focus on what the client can do to make PPC advertising work better. I strongly believe websites have to do a better job at converting the traffic that comes to their site. What worked in 2001, or even 2007, no longer works the same, especially as web users become more savvy. So let’s talk about Contact and Lead Forms and how to make them work for you.

PPC AdvertisingI have clients that have forms for requesting more information, for signing up for a newsletter, for accessing whitepapers and PDFs, for viewing demos, signing up to view MLS listings and more. Most website visitors understand that they will have to give their name and email address to get information from a company on a website. But your form can pull people in or turn them off from your site.

When it comes to what fields you include in your form, the rule of thumb is: LESS IS MORE. Capture the least amount of information possible on your initial contact with the person. People are leary of passing out too much information on the Internet, so the more you request, the less likely they are to fill the form out. If all you need is a first and last name and a email address, don’t ask for a mailing address, phone number, fax number, and how likely they are to purchase. A rule of thumb that goes with less is more: people are likely to give more information when what they are receiving has a higher perceived value. Valuable whitepaper = more information (name, email, phone, address, company name, information pertinent to the whitepaper). Sign-up for a free newsletter = less information (name and email address).

I’ve actually been on a website that in order to let me request information about the company’s service (information that was free and would have helped me decide if I wanted to buy from the company) I had to supply my credit card number (and on an unsecured webpage no less). Do you think I filled that form out? Not on your life, and I left the site and didn’t go back.

And that’s another thing, if you really, really want to include a few fields on your form to capture things like buying potential, operating system, etc, and you don’t NEED that field to give the person what they want, don’t make it a required field. There’s nothing more annoying than filling out a form on a site and fields that don’t apply to me are a required field. If I’m a consumer buying a product online that has nothing to do with my business, why should I have to fill out a company name, or a fax number? If you are going to have a salesperson contact someone who filled out the lead form, don’t make that person supply information that the salesperson can just as easily ask them, unless that information helps you determine how to actual handle the lead (like the state they live in or the operating system their company works on).

And speaking of numbers, if you’re capturing something like a phone number, make sure to let the person know what format to fill it out in. Another annoying things is filling out a phone number like 877-239-9610 and having the form *yell* at you when you hit submit that it should have been 8772399610. Even more annoying? When the form yells at you AND loses the information you just inputted.

Fill out the form yourself, and better yet, have multiple people in your company or friends and family fill it out. You’d be amazed at how you think something should work, and how it actually works when real people actual use it. See where the people get hung up or question what they are supposed to enter. Get their feedback on if the information you are asking for is too much information. Those hang-up points or annoying spots are the spots where you are likely to lose that person because they decide it’s not worth the effort and they leave your site.

And one final point of lead forms, put that form on every page that it makes sense to. Put the newsletter sign-up form on every page of your site somewhere in the header or navigation. If you offer whitepaper downloads on your product pages, put the request form on every product page. If you offer information packets on a service page, put the form there. Don’t make your visitor have to click one more place to do the action that you want them to. Having the form right there in their face means they’re more likely to do it as it takes less effort and they are less likely to forget.

At JumpFly, we offer suggestions to our clients all the time at making that lead capture form as easy and hiccup-free as possible. Make filling out the forms easy and uncomplicated, and at the moment you’ve peaked their interest, and you’ll capture more leads and more potential business, making PPC advertising more successful.