Lead generation forms are a valuable marketing tool. Most people will visit your website one time, never to return again. But if you use lead generation forms, you can capture their contact information and market to them through email as well. Nurturing leads into customers through email is a lot easier than trying to impress them on your site in one shot.

In order to succeed at this, the forms on your site need to work well and be optimized to drive as many conversions as possible. Keep reading for some tips on how to create the most effective lead forms for your site.

Decide What Fields to Include

Choosing what information to collect from your lead generation form is a challenge. You want to capture important information that can help you segment and better market to individual leads. But the more fields you include, the less likely people will fill out the form and convert.

It’s best to include as few fields as possible. This encourages people to follow through with the signup process. What information you truly need will depend on your business niche. For example, a B2B business might need to know a lead’s company name, their position within the business, etc. Most B2C businesses can get away with just asking for their first name and email address to start.

If you want to include more fields to make it easier to segment, consider making them optional. For example:

  • Name *
  • Email address *
  • Company name (optional)
  • Position (optional)
  • Budget (optional)

It won’t be possible to collect every relevant piece of information for your segmentation. But you can follow up with your leads through email, asking for more detailed information. Just focus on minimalism for now to drive conversions.

Illustrate Value and Minimize Risk

Your copy is one of the most important parts of your lead generation forms. You’ve taken the time and care to create compelling landing page copy, and your form should compliment that.

The most effective form copy will simultaneously illustrate value and minimize risk. Check out this lead form example from Toptal:

Value proposition: Working with the world’s top talent.

Minimizing risk: Illustrating there’s no financial obligation for signing up.

Consider what people might think about before filling out your lead form. What could make them hesitate? Maybe they worry you’ll start spamming them with emails. Address this in your lead form copy!

Always use language that brings people back to the value they’ll receive by filling out the form. If your lead magnet is a ebook, call it a free ebook. You can even assign financial value to it (e.g. “Free ebook valued at $45”).

Optimize Your Call to Action

Your call to action (CTA) is arguably the most important part of your lead generation form. More than 90% of visitors who read your headline also read your CTA. So make sure it’s a good one.

Your CTA needs to stand out and be easily identifiable. Don’t leave it as a regular text link — turn it into a bright-colored button. Your CTA should also create a sense of urgency by including action-words (e.g. “Get a quote now,” or “Download the guide today”).

Probably the most important thing to do is avoid being vague. You want leads to click on your CTA with confidence knowing what they’re signing up for. If they’re creating an account, make sure the CTA illustrates that. If they’re signing up for a free trial, include that in your CTA copy as well.

Here’s an example of a great CTA that stands out, creates a sense of urgency, and reassures visitors of what they’ll receive by clicking:

Remember Context

Your lead generation forms are just one piece of your landing page. All the page elements need to work together to illustrate value and drive conversions.

Consider placement, for example. You can place your lead gen form in all these ways:

  • Header
  • Sidebar
  • Footer
  • Popup
  • Multiple places on the page

In general, it’s good to have your form above the fold, as fewer people are likely to scroll down to the bottom of your page. But it really depends on your audience. Some people need to read a lot of material and feel convinced before converting. In this case, below the fold placement makes sense.

Your landing page can also include other elements that draw attention to your lead form, no matter where it’s placed. Check out this landing page example from Unbounce:

They place the lead generation form in a box separate from the rest of the landing page so it stands out. They also use visual cues (arrows) to draw attention to it. These are a few of the many landing page design elements you can use to improve the effectiveness of your lead generation forms.

Always A/B Test

Even if you follow all the advice in this post, it won’t matter if you don’t A/B test. There’s simply no way of knowing from the beginning what form elements help your site visitors convert and which ones don’t.

Important things to test include:

  • Form copy
  • Form and button color
  • Call-to-action text
  • Number of fields
  • Placement
  • Any other form elements

If you use a quality marketing automation platform, it should have features that help you measure the performance of your forms and associated landing pages. SharpSpring’s Form Insights, for example, gives you a snapshot of overall form performance as well as the performance of individual forms:

There’s Always Room for Improvement

There’s no such thing as the perfect lead generation form. No matter how many times you optimize, you’ll always learn new things about your audience down the road. Use these insights to tweak, revamp and replace your lead generation forms with something more targeted and effective.

As long as you’re always monitoring performance and making improvements, you’ll end up building powerful lead generation forms that convert.

Isabel Hasty
Isabel Hasty writes and edits case studies to share client success stories and industry trends. She produces a variety of lead-generation content, including white papers, blogs, infographics, and thought leadership articles.