Web forms have been around since the beginning of the Internet, from the first time AOL or Compuserve asked you to fill out your contact information.
In the past decade, web form functions have become a lot more sophisticated, as have the problems that they can solve for businesses. Any commercial site not using them is missing opportunities to optimize their landing pages, achieve better conversion rates and improve their customer targeting.
In this article, we look at 8 examples of web forms that will maximize the reach of your general content marketing and help your sales team connect with those lucrative leads who are ready to make that final buying decision.
Before we dive in, let’s speak briefly about the two key elements of this concept: web forms and marketing funnels.
A web form is anything that captures information about a visitor to your site and delivers it to you. You can use that information to help with your marketing, delivery, operations or any general data collect that powers every aspect of your business. Your shipping address at Amazon goes into a web form, as does that Yelp review of your favorite restaurant.
As data mining and contact management become more complicated and robust, the execution and management of web forms has become more challenging. Unlocking the possibilities of a good web form network requires expertise, especially when paired with a marketing funnel.
A marketing funnel is a series of steps in your customers’ interactions with your company. At the top and widest end of the funnel is everybody who knows about your business. As it narrows, it weeds out the casually curious. These are the people who need something different from what you offer, and/or the people who can’t afford what you do - leaving only the people most likely to make a purchase.
A successful web form helps your company move prospects from one level of the funnel to another, target them with the most appropriate content for each stage, and show them the products and services most likely to get their interest. In fact, form technology has come so far, that this happens automatically while your team focuses on other things.
Let’s look at eight ways to make this happen.
Entering the first step of your marketing funnel requires a consumer to ask you for more information about what you do. Although a strong landing page on your website can fulfil this function, it leaves all control of that viewer’s interaction with you in their hands.
A web form, such as a simple email collection form linked with a high-value, low-cost loss leader, gives you some of that control back. Once you have the customer’s email, you decide when they next hear from your company and the pace at which they hear from you next.
eCommerce websites in particular can benefit from this tactic, as by initially offering a discount to new customers in exchange for their email addresses not only allows them to make a sale faster, but also allows them to continue the relationship through timely emails, discounts and newsletters. Here's how T-Shirt retailer RedBubble lures customers into providing email addresses on their website:
A customer profile is a picture of the demographics, income, tastes, likes, dislikes, and general characteristics of the people most likely to buy what you sell. In the past, most companies had to hire expensive consulting teams to build a strong customer profile they could use to target their marketing.
In 2020, companies can use two methods to build customer profiles in-house. One method is to analyze what potential customers view on the company website and to pay for analytics of what they view on other sites. This can be in the form of user testing, A/B testing, heatmaps and conversion data through platforms like Google Analytics. Read our guide on conducting market research for a breakdown of these strategies.
The other is to use web forms to directly and indirectly ask visitors to a website about their demographic information, tastes, income, needs, and other aspects of their personalities. Once applied, that information can help both design marketing campaigns and determine where best to position that marketing.
There are few things more frustrating for your sales team than time spent trying to sell your product or service to somebody who won’t buy it. Whether it’s because they legitimately can’t afford your price point, they’re not interested, or they don’t have decision-making power, it’s a waste of time and resources.
Well-constructed web forms can help prevent this by collecting information from the leads who interact with them. Certain responses trigger alerts to your sales team to watch the progress of an individual until what they enter in the forms suggests they’re ready for a full effort. Whether you're targeting customers within a certain income bracket, neighbourhood, gender or age group - you can set parameters for these factors through forms in order to automatically send only the qualified leads to your sales team.
Neil Patel nails this process on his website by presenting a short pre-qualifying form that asks respondents for their business revenue and marketing budget to ensure that their numbers match the target demographic of their customer persona.
When introducing a new product or offering an existing product to a new market, it can be hard to nail down what price to set. Setting it too high means lost sales, while setting it too low means selling more items at less of a profit than they could earn. Neither is a great situation, especially for a business in the middle of the sort of expansion this situation usually accompanies.
Using web forms in early marketing materials, especially sneak-preview or behind-the-scenes content, can help gauge how to answer this important question. Gathering information about your ideal customers’ disposable income, zip codes, and local cost of living — and even directly asking about reasonable price ranges for the solutions you offer — can lead you in the right direction.
This Paperform template (& 100+ others) can help you create a custom testing form for your customers in minutes. You can edit fields, colours and imagery and even connect your form with your favourite apps to send leads directly to yourself or your sales team based on any factors of your choice.
Strong sales and marketing are a matter of clearly solving a problem for your potential clients. Identifying their “pain points” — their emotional investment in problems you can solve — is one of the most effective and efficient ways of doing that. It makes the conversation about what’s wrong and how your company can help.
Using a combination of suggestive text and open-ended questions in a web form identifies the most important pain points for potential clients. Once you identify these, you can approach customers with a combination of automatically delivered content and direct sales team contact, both tailored to the relevant emotions, details, and solutions based on the information they provided.
Imagine two different potential customers for a home service like a security system or smart home climate control. One is a busy executive who works 60-hour weeks, unmarried without children, who is away from home frequently and wants convenience above all else. The other is a stay-at-home parent with three kids seeking safety for their family and simplification for their lives.
Although both are strong leads for either product, the marketing that works on one will look different, feel different, address different pain points, and likely come in different formats than the marketing that will convince the other.
A smart set of web forms, encountered early upon visiting your company website, can direct the executive to one set of marketing materials and the parent to a different set. This puts the right content in front of the right people, at the right time, making the most of your marketing assets.
Wix, the website-building platform, tackles this by including an interactive form as part of the customer's onboarding process. Here, Wix is able to lead their customers to the right parts of their website by first asking them what their objectives are.
We already touched on the problem of spending sales time on people unqualified to make a purchase, but there’s another side to that coin. Some information tells you a person cannot buy from you at this time. Other information tells you when a person is mentally primed to make a purchase.
Web forms that are fine-tuned to the behaviors, experiences, timing, and content that person who is ready to buy exhibits or interacts with automatically tell your sales team when to make a phone call, send an email, or schedule an appointment. These forms watch for specific responses, which trigger your sales infrastructure to match.
Modern form builders contain a variety of features that allow you to completely automate this entire process. With a tool like Paperform, you can connect your forms with your CRM or emailing platform, which means that these behaviours can automatically trigger certain actions for your sales team.
Just because somebody can’t buy from you right now doesn’t mean that person won’t purchase from your company ever. Sometimes, that person becomes able to buy from you later. Other times, they’re not a good fit for your company but become a consistent source of referrals because they like the way you do business. Others simply follow and support your social media presence by interacting with your brand.
These roles have value and can be fostered and encouraged with the right web forms. Many companies set up their forms to simply drop contact as soon as somebody is shown to be unqualified to buy or they opt out of purchasing. If you can, set up your forms to instead push them into a different set of forms and communications primed to get their opinions and foster their loyalty.
This includes optin forms for newsletters or webinars that you might be running. Staying in touch with potential customers through content is an effective way to build a relationship with them, which can prime them for whenever they are ready to make a purchase.
You can create a branded signup form in minutes using Paperform, either from scratch or by customizing a template like this one:
Armed with an understanding of how web forms can help target and accelerate your content marketing, your next step is implementing one or two of the ideas above. Start with the one that either resonates with you most or seems the quickest and easiest to put in place with your existing content marketing. As it builds momentum and value, use the time saved or money earned to implement the next one, and then the one after that. Continue until your marketing funnel is operating smoothly.
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