Although pursuing sales leads is essential to any savvy marketing strategy, not all new customers are the result of active lead seeking. 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. We’ll explain these forms and how your company should use them.
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 a website or make up entire webpages. A lead capture form should never occupy your entire homepage.
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.
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:
You may also want to include the following:
In the remainder of this article, we’ll explain how to implement and use these components.
Lead capture forms should include headlines, calls to action, contact and information fields, images and several other components.
To create a lead capture form, you can use your own software or web development skills, delegate the task to someone on your team, 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 below.
Your headline is your first chance to get sales leads’ attention, so make the best of it. In at most 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, ensuring that your visitors immediately see it.
Because a headline alone might not always persuade someone to complete your lead capture form, a CTA that tells readers how to get your content is equally crucial. For example, if your headline describes an e-book, your CTA 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. For example, buttons labeled “Submit” generate fewer clicks than buttons such as “Get my e-book” or “Start my free trial.” In other words, the button copy should be direct and specific.
Of course, lead capture forms have little value without obvious bubbles for customers to provide their information. However, too many bubbles overwhelm leads, 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 have sections only for the lead’s name, email address 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.
Another way to address the information-field concerns is to use multistep 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.
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).
It’s usually best to place larger photos on the sides 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.
Larger lead capture forms may provide space for additional copy beyond the headline and CTA. 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 that are so small that they’re easy to miss are almost entirely ineffective. Your copy’s visibility is as important as its content.
The e-book examples above also establish your company’s authority in its subject matter. By using powerful, concise language to hint at what’s in the e-book, 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.
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:
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.
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.
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 for an audience that often uses ad blockers. It may be best to place the form on the side of a webpage or to host it as a separate page.
To end this discussion of lead capture forms, let’s look at a few especially powerful lead capture forms.
On health brand Nugenix’s homepage, there’s 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 multistep form. The second page includes customer testimonials alongside the ultimate call to action: entering information in exchange for a free sample.
Customer relationship management software provider Salesforce includes a free-trial button on the top right of the company’s 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 also easy to use.
OptinMonster is lead generation software with a specific focus and expertise in email marketing channels. OptinMonster includes more than 400 email lead capture form templates that can be deployed on desktop or mobile devices. It also includes multiple form types, so there’s a suitable option for whatever type of information you’d like to capture. OptinMonster makes A/B testing easy as well, so you can see which types of forms perform best on each marketing channel you use. That way, you drive the most leads possible.
Nugenix, Salesforce and OptinMonster provide good examples of lead capture forms because they are clear, informative and compelling.
Sometimes, capturing leads isn’t about going out and pursuing sales. It can also be a matter of building a compelling lead generation form on your website — the kind of form that leads might naturally stumble upon. Think of it as a magnet: Any time great leads come nearby, your form will pull them in and keep them present. From there, you can act based on the data they’ve shared and convert those promising leads into paying customers.