There have been countless articles over the years comparing marketing to dating (Forbes has even gotten in on it), and for good reason.
Landing pages and forms are the first date in your marketing relationship. If you don’t make a good first impression, or if you ask for too much information too soon, it’s going to be an early night.
On a first date, you don’t offer up your entire life story along with your phone number, address, and how much revenue your company brings in (okay, maybe that last one never comes up). You usually wait until you know someone better and have built up a level of trust before sharing any personal information.
The purpose of getting someone to your landing page is to fill out that form, right? And just like you’d spend some time getting ready for a date, it’s important to put some time into making a good first impression with a potential lead so that they fill out your form, you get the kind of information you need from them, and ultimately you can make smart decisions based on that information.
Below are 10 tips to make sure your landing pages and forms inspire trust and confidence and get you that coveted second date:
- Provide a consistent experience
If a prospect clicks on a link in your email (or paid ad, website, etc.) and then ends up on a landing page that looks completely different than how that email was styled, they may not continue. Considering the amount of time people spend scanning emails, they may be thrown off by a landing page with a different look and feel than the email they started on. Even worse, they may chalk it up to some kind of bait and switch and abandon ship.
Design with message matching in mind so your visitors experience consistent content and design throughout their journey. While it may be tempting to reuse an existing landing page and form, use the images from your email in your landing page, mirror the copy, and make the subject line of your email the header of your landing page. Message matching has been shown to increase conversion rates by over 200 percent.
- Know your audience
Are you marketing to new leads, existing leads, or current clients? How much your audience already knows about you matters when designing a landing page with a form:
- For existing leads and current clients: Don’t ask for information you already have. With progressive profiling, your contacts will only be asked to provide information that isn’t already in your database.
- For new leads: Make sure your landing page is a bit more informative and has a narrative that introduces your new friends to what you want them to know about you. Don’t assume they’re already familiar with your business.
Customers expect personalized content in the digital age, and 74 percent actually get frustrated when they don’t get it. Personalization tools are widely available nowadays, and Marketo offers a dynamic personalization tool that lets you personalize your landing pages — even when a contact isn’t already in your database.
- Only ask for what you need
Along the same lines, don’t ask for everything and the kitchen sink. Marketers tend to want prospects to give up a lot of information in a form, which frustrates people and puts them off. Sometimes people don’t have the information you’re requiring them to submit. Or, maybe it’s just not information they’re ready to disclose. Either way, they’ll give up and abandon the form, so think carefully about what you really need to know at this point in their journey.
If you want to try to get some additional information without losing potential prospects, include a few required fields and make the rest of the them (aka the “nice to haves”) optional. Be very clear about which fields are required and which are optional by using asterisks or some other type of visual identification. And if you really want to see just how much information you can get before abandonment rates become a problem, you can do A/B testing to find out.
- Sequence matters
Go back and think about the order of your form. People lose interest as they move down the fields, so ask for the most critical pieces of information first: first name, last name, and email address. After those first three fields, anything else you get is a bonus the first time someone fills out a form on your website.
For instance, many marketers want to ask for job title straight off the bat, but that’s too much, too soon. It may be useful information for your sales rep, but after you’ve provided a prospect with valuable content, they’ll be more likely to share that kind of information the next time you interact.
- Don’t make prospects fill out the same information more than once
After filling out a form and downloading content, have you ever tried to download additional content from the same website and been hit with another form?
Having to fill out the same exact form multiple times is exasperating. That’s why it’s important to use hidden fields and progressive profiling. That way you can ungate content to contacts who are already in your database. Existing leads and contacts won’t have to retype information you already have. You can also hide fields you already have information for, making the form less overwhelming.
- Carefully consider your field types
After name, email address, and company, try to limit free-form fields where people can enter their own information. Whatever they type will go straight into your database — verbatim (garbage in, garbage out!).
If you let respondents manually enter their job title, for example, five different people doing the same job might provide five different responses: engineer, field engineer, ENG, and so on. Inconsistent data is hard to manipulate, and segmenting your database by title just got infinitely more challenging.
Also, studies have shown that forms with radio buttons are completed more quickly (and more often) than drop-down menus (also known as select menus). There are reasons to use one versus the other, though, and it’s important to know when to use each field.
- Optimize for mobile
Fifty-five percent of people read their email on a mobile device, so don’t forget to optimize your landing page and form for mobile. A mobile device tends to stack a two-column landing page (with copy on the left and form on the right) vertically, putting the copy on top and the form at the bottom. Your prospects aren’t going to want to scroll down on their phone or tablet to find that form.
If you absolutely want your copy to be at the top, keep it short and sweet. You have to design differently for mobile — and in the digital age, less is more.
- Provide a compelling call to action
Never have a form on a landing page without a compelling call to action. This actually happens a lot. Marketers figure if someone clicks through to the landing page, they’ll automatically fill out the form. But a lot can happen between click and submit. If you don’t believe me, check your landing page abandonment rates.
Make sure you’re crystal clear about the benefits of filling out your form with a call to action. Language that creates a sense of urgency always has a better engagement rate. A form that just says “Submit” at the bottom will have a worse completion rate than “Fill out this form to receive your free eBook” or even the classic “Download Now.”
Also, use a contrasting CTA button that pops off the page. It gets people’s attention and can have a huge impact on form submits.
- Don’t forget to say thank you
Have you ever submitted a form and then nothing happened? You’re stuck on the same page, wondering if your request disappeared into a black hole. Maybe you receive an email with a link to the content in the next few minutes, or maybe it arrives later, giving you enough time to forget about why you wanted that content in the first place.
Always send folks to a confirmation page that thanks them for their interest and tells them what their next step is. An automatic download is a missed opportunity for additional engagement. Instead, cultivate your relationship with your lead by offering them links to other relevant information on your website. This can help you gather even more information about their interests and where they are in the buyer’s journey.
- Know where they came from
You don’t promote your content only one way, right? In addition to sending out an email, you probably also promote your content on social media, in a blog post, via paid ads, and possibly through joint marketing with one of your partners. So, short of using different links for each channel, how do you know which ones are most successful?
That’s where UTM parameters come in. They can give you more information about where your leads are coming from. When a prospect converts, you’ll know if they came from LinkedIn, your website, or from that great email you sent.
Using UTM Parameters in your landing page or form URLs:
– Shortens campaign production time, simplifying the process for repeated tasks
– Helps with tracking and attribution, which strengthens reporting-based budgeting and resource-allocation decisions
The magic behind the curtain
Make sure your forms are doing the work for you on the back end!
Once you’ve designed the perfect form, there is a great deal of back-end work that goes into how it interacts with your CRM and marketing automation platform, including:
- What happens in the background once you get a lead
- How the lead flows into your CRM, lead scoring and nurturing programs
- How the lead moves into the funnel and to the right people
We have a lot of experience setting up landing pages, forms, and the associated workflows for our clients. We’re here to ask the right questions to ensure everything flows perfectly.
Let us know if we can help!
Kathy Gillman is a Campaign Services Manager at DemandGen. With years of experience in digital marketing, she provides a strategic campaign framework that helps ensure flawless client campaign execution and aims to turn our clients into marketing heroes.