How Marketers Can Optimize Their Lead Forms for Better Conversions

August 13, 2019 | Elizabeth Rivelli

B2B marketers rely on lead forms to identify prospects and capture their contact information. In fact, half of all marketers say that lead forms are their primary source for generating leads, according to HubSpot. In many organizations, leads that complete a form are deemed qualified, simply because they went through the process of submitting their information. And if a lead flips through a four page PDF and submits their email address, that must mean they’re ready to talk to sales, right? Not so fast… let’s talk about the pitfalls of traditional lead forms.

The Problem with Generic Lead Forms

Data from Formstack found that the average lead generation form completion rate is 17 percent—that’s not too shabby. But just because someone completes your lead form, doesn’t mean that they’re qualified. Not only that, but their likelihood of conversion to an opportunity is low. The basic lead forms that pop up before someone can download a PDF, or register for a webinar, don’t tell marketers or sales people much about those people. In fact, it might even be a stretch to consider someone who registers for your webinar, a “lead,” until you know more about that person and their intent to purchase your product or service.


When we look at contact or demo request forms, for example, marketers run into a similar problem. It’s easy to think that an inbound request is automatically a bottom-of-the-funnel lead that’s ready to get on the phone with sales. But in reality, that inbound request could be a customer looking for product support, or someone reaching out with a press inquiry. When you know a prospect’s name, email, and company size, you don’t actually know if that person is a potential buyer, what business challenges they face, and if your company’s offering is what they’re looking for.

Gating your content with lead forms is a great way to build up an email subscriber list, but it’s not an effective way to qualify leads. There’s a major difference between a lead that looks like a good fit on paper, and a lead that exhibits the right intent signals, and has the potential to convert. Modern B2B marketers need to stop relying on their generic lead forms as the single source of truth for lead qualification.

How to Use Your Lead Forms to Qualify Better Leads

We’re not saying that marketers should abandon lead forms all together. They’re still one of the most effective ways to capture information about a prospect, and track who is consuming your content. But there is a better way to use forms to qualify leads, that goes beyond the standard demographic, geographic, and firmographic data.

Instead of defaulting to the basic lead fields, like name and phone number, use your lead fields to learn more about a prospect’s business goals, challenges, budget, or timeline for product adoption. With that information, marketers can determine if a lead is ready for sales, if they should go into nurture, or if they should be disqualified. That information can be shared with sales before they get on the phone with a prospect, so they can tailor their conversation and show the prospect how your product or service can meet their needs.

To optimize your lead forms for better qualification and conversion, there are a few things that marketers should keep in mind:

1. Choose the Right Lead Fields

According to Formspring, the average lead generation form has 11 fields—but do you really need to ask someone 11 questions before they can sign up for a webinar, or download a white paper? It’s unlikely. A shorter form usually means that more people are willing to fill it out, so you’ll generate a higher volume of leads in the end. Keeping your lead forms to 5-6 fields that will collect the most valuable information is sufficient in most cases. In fact, many companies see higher form completion rates when they keep their lead forms short. Ask for a prospect’s name, email, and role, and use the rest of your fields as qualifiers.

2. Break Up Your Lead Fields

At the same time, marketers rely on forms to gather the information needed to score leads, and determine if they are sales-ready. Sometimes, that means using more than 5-6 lead fields in order to collect all of that data. But there is increasing evidence that when marketers don’t reveal all of their lead fields up front, and spread them out instead, readers are more likely to complete the form and answer the additional questions. In your PDF assets, try asking one qualifying question every 2-3 pages, and save your basic fields—name, email, and company—for the very last page. By asking questions throughout your content, you’ll engage readers and build trust, so they will be more willing to provide their information at the end.

3. Place Your Form Strategically

The placement of your lead form can impact how willing prospects are to fill it out. Say a prospect comes across a case study, but they have to complete a lead form before they can read it. They might decide it’s too much effort, causing them to bounce from the page. Maybe that person was a qualified lead, but putting your lead form up front created too much friction. For better conversions, position your lead form after the half-way point of your content, maybe right before the conclusion, or key takeaways section. Prospects will be more likely to fill it out because they’re already invested and interested in your content.

 4. Employ an Effective CTA

Using the right qualifying fields on your lead form is important, but forms can be a dead end for prospects—they submit their information, and wait to be contacted. But using actionable CTAs on your lead forms keeps prospects consuming your content and learning about your company. After a prospect submits their information on a form, drive them to view a related asset, like a case study or webinar recording. When using CTAs in middle- or bottom-of-the-funnel content, encourage visitors to request a demo with your sales team. To optimize your chance for conversion, use actionable verbs, like “Try for Free,” “Test Yourself,” or “Download Now,” and think about A/B testing your CTAs to see which language resonates best with readers.

Final Thoughts

Marketers are in the business of generating qualified leads for sales—the key word being qualified. It’s not enough to assume that someone who submitted their name and email on your lead form is a true lead that is eager to speak to sales. Traditional lead forms generate empty information, without any of the valuable insights that marketers and salespeople want to know about prospects before the first touchpoint.

By using your forms as a qualification tool, marketers can learn more about their leads, score them based on intent, and be confident that the leads they send to sales are qualified. Learn how marketers are using their content and lead forms to find qualified leads that drive revenue for your organization.

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