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How to Create a Lead Capture Form

Max Freedman
Max Freedman

This guide explains the benefits of a lead capture form and how to build one for your landing pages.

  • Lead capture forms are website sections through which visitors can send you their information, often in return for downloadable content.
  • Lead capture forms should have headlines, contact and information fields, calls to action, images, and some additional components.
  • When you create a lead capture form, prioritize compelling copy, relevant images and smart placement, proper information field types, and privacy concerns.
  • This article is for small business owners who want to reach a wider audience by employing lead capture forms.

Although pursuing sales leads is essential in any savvy marketing strategy, not all new customers come from actively seeking leads. In some cases, a compelling lead capture form smartly placed on your company's website does much of the work for you. Lead capture forms are a powerful tool for generating leads. Below, we'll explain these forms and how your company should use them.

What is a lead capture form?

A lead capture form is a section of your website where visitors enter their information in return for some form of content, often a downloadable e-book or webinar. Lead capture forms are often housed along the side of a website, though they sometimes appear as pop-up ads on your website or comprise entire webpages. They should never occupy your entire homepage.

Key takeaway: A lead capture form is a website form through which visitors provide their information, often in exchange for content.

The importance of lead capture forms

Lead capture forms are important for businesses of all varieties because they help to generate leads and move these leads along the sales funnel. Crucially, they do so in a nonaggressive manner. If someone is willing to give you their information in exchange for content, they're likely already interested in what your company does. As such, this person is a natural and obvious sales lead, even if they didn't initially come to your website to make a purchase. With this person's information in hand, you can begin a conversation that could ultimately lead to a sale.

Key takeaway: Lead capture forms are important because they deftly generate leads and move them along the sales funnel.

What to include in a lead capture form

A lead capture form needs to immediately draw visitors' attention to capture leads. It should briefly inform the visitor of what they'll receive for filling out the form. Given these requirements, you should include these elements in your lead capture form:

  • A headline
  • A call to action
  • Contact and information fields
  • An image

You may also want to include the following:

  • Testimonials
  • Additional copy
  • Social media links
  • A video
  • Customer badges
  • Cybersecurity trust logos

We'll explain how you should implement and use these components in the remainder of this article.

Key takeaway: Lead capture forms should include headlines, calls to action, contact and information fields, images, and several other components.

Lead capture form best practices

Now that you know what to include in your lead capture form, you might be wondering how to implement these components successfully. These best practices can help make your lead capture form as compelling as possible:

1. Make your headline count.

Your headline is your first chance to get sales leads' attention, so make the best of it. In approximately 10 words, your headline should clearly state what the lead gets for completing the form. You can either name a piece of content outright or describe the content. Your headline should appear at the top of your lead capture form, making sure your visitors immediately see it.

2. Write a strong, obvious call to action.

Since a headline alone might not always persuade someone to complete your lead capture form, a call to action that tells readers how to get your content is equally crucial. For example, if your headline describes an e-book, your call to action should explicitly tell the reader to enter their contact information to receive the e-book.

The text of your call-to-action button can also make a difference. Buttons labeled "Submit" generate fewer clicks than buttons such as "Get my eBook" or "Start my free trial." In other words, button copy should be direct and brief.

3. Choose the right number – and type – of information fields.

Of course, lead capture forms have little value without obvious bubbles in which customers can provide their information. However, too many bubbles overwhelm a lead, making them less likely to complete your form. That's why many lead capture forms for top-funnel content such as e-books and webinars only have sections for email, name and phone number.

If your lead capture form is for a lower-funnel item such as a free trial, more fields may be appropriate. In fact, for lead capture forms targeting low-funnel customers, more fields (such as for the lead's company name and job title) might generate higher-quality leads, because people who aren't seriously interested in your products or services are less likely to complete a longer form.

4. Consider multi-step lead capture forms.

Another way to address the information field concerns is to use multi-step lead capture forms. In these forms, a sales lead might first enter a small amount of basic information before being taken to another screen that asks them another question. The lead can enter more information following the gentle introduction of the previous question or (at most) two, thus making them more likely to complete the form.

5. Use relevant images.

Almost all lead capture forms have an image of some sort (with the possible exception of pop-up, ad-style lead capture forms that lack space for an image). Your image should be relevant to what you're offering, whether that's a picture of a book (if you're offering an e-book) or a photo of your CEO speaking (if you're offering a webinar).

6. Place your images carefully.

It's usually best to place larger photos at the side of your lead capture form, where they don't distract from or obscure the form itself. Sometimes, you can use images as links that customers can click to indicate their needs.

7. Keep your copy short and obvious.

Larger lead capture forms may provide space for additional copy beyond the headline and call to action. If so, consider adding no more than 30 words detailing the content you're offering. To use the e-book example, a few bullet points summarizing what's inside your book can increase the likelihood of successful lead acquisition.

All copy should be easy to see. Calls to action or headlines that are difficult to make out against background images or so small that they're easy to miss are almost entirely ineffective. Your copy's visibility is as important as its content.

8. Establish authority.

The e-book examples above also establish your company's authority in its subject matter. By hinting at what's in the e-book with powerful, concise language, you present your company as knowledgeable and trustworthy. From this position, you have more leverage to make sales. For a similar effect, you can add customer badges to showcase the companies that use your products or services.

9. Think about your space.

In larger lead capture forms, you may have space for testimonials, social media links or videos. However, you almost certainly won't have the space for all three, and sometimes, even one of these items will be excessive for your form. Keep the following purposes for each of these assets in mind:

  • Testimonials show your leads the value that other entities have gained from your content or your company.

  • Social media links connect lead capture form users with the latest news about your company and offer them a sense of your company's personality and branding. However, these links are generally less common in lead capture forms, since they lead visitors away from the form, possibly distracting them from completing it.

  • Videos embedded in your lead capture form (always use embeds so leads aren't taken away from the form) give visitors a quick, easy way to learn all the information you might have otherwise included as copy. As such, they keep your lead capture forms smaller and less overwhelming.

Knowing these uses, you can determine which of these assets, if any, to include in your lead capture form. If you notice that your copy has run too long, insert a video in place of some of the text. If few other businesses provide services or products like yours, use testimonials to show the value your company provides to your user base. If your branding and image are key to your company's offerings, include social media links.

10. Don't neglect user privacy and security.

Anytime personal information is shared on the internet, there comes a risk of data breaches that place this information in the wrong hands. That's why you might want to add a privacy policy to your lead capture form. To better understand your company's obligations to protect website user information, read this primer on GDPR requirements.

To reinforce your company's commitment to protecting the data you obtain through the lead capture form, include the trust logos of any cybersecurity products you use in the form. Sales leads who recognize these logos may feel reassured that the information they provide will be safe.

11. Place your lead capture form strategically.

Even if you create the most compelling lead capture form around, it's all for naught if you place it at the bottom of your homepage after a ton of text. It's also counterproductive if you use a pop-up form on an audience that often uses ad blockers. It may be best to place the form at the side of a webpage or host it as a separate page.

Key takeaway: Compelling form copy, relevant images with strategic placement, the right contact and information fields, and a strong privacy policy are important considerations for your lead capture forms.

How to create a lead capture form

To create a lead capture form, you can use your own software or web development skills, or you can assign the task to someone on your team. You can also hire a third-party developer or use page creation software. Most importantly, you should ensure that whomever you task with creating your form adheres to the best practices we outlined above.

Examples of powerful lead capture forms

To end this discussion of lead capture forms, let's look at two especially powerful lead capture forms.

Nugenix

On health brand Nugenix's homepage appears a lead capture form that uses an eye-catching headline and an informative but brief CTA to state the company's free sample offer and explain the brand's value. Clicking the button leads to a second page, making this a multi-step form. The second page includes cybersecurity and trust logos alongside the ultimate call to action: entering information in exchange for a free sample.

Salesforce

CRM software provider Salesforce includes a free trial button at the top right of its homepage. This button directs visitors to a lead capture form that clearly states the incentive – a free trial – while briefly stating Salesforce's value and telling readers exactly how to get their trial. Images and cybersecurity logos are also included, as is a small but important touch – the exact number of fields the reader will enter. Take a cue from Salesforce: Make your lead capture form not just easy to understand, but easy to use.

Key takeaway: Nugenix and Salesforce provide good examples of lead capture forms because they are clear, informative and compelling.

Image Credit: shironosov / Getty Images
Max Freedman
Max Freedman
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Max Freedman is a content writer who has written hundreds of articles about small business strategy and operations, with a focus on finance and HR topics. He's also published articles on payroll, small business funding, and content marketing. In addition to covering these business fundamentals, Max also writes about improving company culture, optimizing business social media pages, and choosing appropriate organizational structures for small businesses.