Lead Gen Form Optimization: Why a lower conversion rate can be a good thing
Friction on your lead generation landing pages is bad, because it reduces conversions.
Except that is not always a bad thing. Hear me out for a moment …
As we teach in the MarketingExperiments Landing Page Optimization Online Course, you’re certainly not looking to eliminate friction. When it comes to lead generation, you’re not even always looking to reduce friction … what you’re looking for is the right balance that ultimately makes your company more profitable.
This might seem counterintuitive at first, especially if you work in a marketing department that has a relentless focus on only one number – the amount of lead generated.
However, high-quality leads will likely result in less dead ends for the sales force. Thus, Sales will invest more of its time on leads more apt to close, which should make everyone happier at the end of the day.
Use the lead gen dials to flexibly optimize your page
But you don’t have to be locked into only one approach. The great thing about the lead gen dial approach (shown in the image above) is that it can help you flexibly adapt to your company’s needs:
- If your sales force is simply starved for leads, you can reduce friction to increase the number of leads they receive.
- If your sales force has a long list of leads they still haven’t contacted, you can dial up friction to reduce the overall number of leads, but acquire higher-quality leads that go straight to Sales with a clear priority attached in them.
Of course, if you work in the marketing department, these changes shouldn’t happen in a vacuum. You should create a flexible universal lead definition with Sales that can adapt and scale as the company’s needs change.
Friction in lead generation forms
One of the most impactful places to adjust friction is in the lead gen form itself. Here are three places you can adjust friction, and then test to see which combination is most profitable for your company:
- Make some form fields optional. If you use this technique, very motivated leads can choose to give more information, but you hypothetically wouldn’t lose any less motivated leads, since they wouldn’t have to fill out those form fields.
A word of caution, though — a long form presents a large amount of perceived friction. Let’s face it, even with optional fields, a long form just looks time-consuming in the split second a prospect decides whether to act or not.
- Use a two-step process. You can capture basic information, and then ask for more in-depth information in a second step. You can test offering an incentive for completion of the more time-consuming second step, or just clearly communicate the benefit to the prospect (for example, that they will receive more relevant information from your company).
For leads that don’t complete the second step, you can follow up and try to gain more information at a later date (when they might be further along in the buying cycle, and, therefore, more motivated to provide that information).
- Simply remove form fields. Take a good hard look at your form and sit down with every person or department that has an interest in that form. For example, does Job Title or Budget really help Sales? If so, it might be worth keeping.
If not, it may be like the appendix, a vestigial form field that had a good purpose in a previous era, but no one currently at the company remembers why exactly they needed that information.
To help you in your lead generation form field testing, here is a look at the most important form fields, as told to us by the 1,915 marketers surveyed for the MarketingSherpa 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report (free excerpt at that link):