Contact forms are the most popular method to collect information on your website visitors. They’re also the most diverse. Forms range from registering for an event, applying for a job, contacting a company representative or signing up for a product or service.
For B2B websites, forms typically are trying to capture a new user and turn them into a qualified prospect. With this goal in mind, how can you build the right form for your visitor? It varies greatly from business to business, but there are some best practices to implement for your visitors and your internal team so you’re building the best conversion tool possible.
First, a bit about your visitors
Most effective B2B websites serve as a lead generation tool. Meaning they attract new visitors, educate them and prompt them to convert to a lead. This final step is often completed through a form submission (e.g. “Contact Us”). It’s also the point in time a new visitor is at their highest risk to abandon your website—possibly to never return.
Forms are a perfect method to capture that new visitor before they leave. Without any clear forms on a website, you’re making it easier for new visitors (prospective clients) to not engage and forget about your brand.
Building forms for sales support
Marketers are quick to slap a form on a webpage without little consideration as to how this collected information will be utilized. Most importantly a form is a lead driver, so it makes sense that the data collected should be of value to your sales team. With this in mind, ask your colleagues some of the following questions:
- Will certain products or services require special information from a visitor? (e.g. asking the annual company revenue or client budget)
- What team members will receive which form data? (e.g. different office locations to handle specific leads)
- What are your ideal methods for follow-up? (e.g. collecting email, phone number and/or mailing address)
- What should the autoresponders prompt a form conversion to do? (e.g. get in touch with a sales rep or download more information)
Forms come in all shapes and sizes and ultimately should serve the desired action of that user. But most forms can be grouped into three levels:
- Basic – These forms are incredibly simple, often not exceeding more than three desired values. The most traditional form includes name and email. Because of its low barrier to entry, most basic forms are used to access non-sensitive information (e.g. non-proprietary documents, tip sheets, FAQs) or encourage individuals to quickly get in contact with your firm.
- Intermediate – This is a step up from a basic form, possibly including additional information like a company name, address, phone number or more. It could also include a specific open-ended question that supports the needs of a sales staff (e.g. “Have you worked with a financial consultant before?” or “What technology have you used in the past?”). The positive of an intermediate form is that you gather more useful information. However, the negative is that the more information required, the more likely a visitor will abandon the form.
- Advanced – These forms are often 10+ values and because of this, are the most likely to prompt visitor abandonment. Creating forms this robust should be reserved for special instances, such as collecting sensitive personal information or when you’re sharing proprietary documents in return. These forms are rare, often reserved for credit card applications or similar formats.
Designing the best form
Similar to the type of data you should collect, the design of the form itself depends on the company, its website and the type of action the visitor is taking. Still, elements of a form shouldn’t go ignored—research has shown that simple design tweaks can make a big change in how often users complete a form submission. Here are some general tips to keep in mind:
- Visibility – Don’t bury your form under a lot of copy or images. Make sure that it’s easy for a visitor to take the next step without too much distraction.
- Functionality – Remember how annoying it is if a form requires you to specially format your phone number? Or scroll through a long list of countries just to find “United States”? Make sure the functionality of your form meets the core needs of the information you’re collecting—and leave the rest out.
- Simplicity – No need to make it complicated with elaborate buttons or neon boxes. Create a call to action that differentiates the form, but doesn’t overwhelm the webpage.