By ZoomInsights staff

Your messaging worked its charm and now that potential lead has found a way onto your website for a white paper, webinar or other product or service. But getting coveted details from potential clients on your landing page can be a slippery slope, and one that’s important to get right.

The most common tactic? Require visitors to complete a Web form before your site provides the desired information. But ask yourself: Is a form really necessary? If you already have the person in your marketing automation, sales force automation and/or customer-relationship management system, the answer may be “No.”

“Marketers using marketing automation software should bear in mind that if you are emailing someone, you already know them,” Jon Miller, co-founder and VP of marketing at Marketo, told ZoomInsights. “So why bother asking them to complete the form? Just track the behaviors, and you get the same benefit without the form.”

But there are cases when a Web form is necessary. A visitor who you don’t know might arrive on your landing page, or you might not have enough information about someone who is on your mailing list. That’s when these best practices to determine when, where and how to collect information online can help.

Size matters

No matter how visually appealing or cleverly worded, the length of the form matters. “You want the short form when your goal is to maximize conversion, such as a demo or early-stage content,” said Marketo’s Miller. “But some forms are a bigger deal — for example, if someone fills out ‘Contact Sales.’”

In fact, Marketo sales execs call every person who fills out those broad-reaching contact forms. That’s why Miller suggests that making them just a little bit cumbersome is a good way to weed out the complacent. “It’s actually worth it to make it a bit harder for someone to fill out to help make sure they’re really serious,” Miller said. And time’s a wasting when it comes to making the call. “You want sales to call them as soon as possible — minutes matter — so the additional information helps route the prospect to the right sales representative.”

Depends what you’re selling

Many companies are experimenting with the placement of the forms, and the desired sales goal is the biggest determining factor. If a visitor to the page is perusing a white paper or other informational content, it might not make sense to have the form embedded into the page, where the prospect isn’t ready to sign up. But, something like a webinar page is a completely different thing, because prospects are expecting to sign up for something. That means you can optimize the form around the webinar.

The type of information collected will vary depending on the offering. Marketers often consider title, industry and company size necessary components of a form submission, but they can be less helpful than determining how someone found your website and what he or she is doing there.

“If he's looking at white papers, you know he's in the early stages of the buying cycle, but if he's repeatedly looking at product pages and getting there by searching the product's name in Google, you know that your sales team better get in contact with him,” Miller says. “We're seeing a big shift from demographic to behavioral marketing, and using behavior as a qualifier will produce better results.”

Testing, testing…

Above all, savvy online marketers recommend testing. And testing again. Email marketing, after all, is not a one-size-fits-all business. Ideas to try out include embedded video vs. no embedded video, prose-like content vs. a list of bullet points. To help narrow down some specific formulas, Marketo created a split test calculator for landing pages.

If it turns out the answer is less is more in some instances, companies have options other than cumbersome landing pages for retrieving critical information. B2B data providers like ZoomInfo, for example, can fill in the blanks. That means if you’re wary of using too many fields on your Web form, you can simply collect an email address and nothing more.

“As long as your B2B data provider has highly accurate email addresses in their profiles, it can instantly match the email address you’ve collected and fill in the complete picture. So an incomplete record becomes a detailed profile with all the information the marketer needs to qualify the lead,” Santosh Sharan, VP of product management at ZoomInfo, said.

“Really, marketers should never have to send an ‘email address only’ or other partial lead to a sales team again when you can fill in the gaps like name, title, industry, company size, region and many other fields,” he added.

With quality B2B data and automated tools filling in missing information in your prospects’ records, organic list building and single-field Web forms can help marketers maximize the ROI on their lead-generation efforts, making each and every sales call worth the time.

ZoomInfo can help you fill in the blanks in your marketing automation data, without asking visitors to put the information on a Web form. Find out how.
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