Many marketers optimize web forms to make it easy to route submissions to sales rather than informing better nurturing campaigns post initial conversion.

optimize your web forms

The Most Common Web Form Optimization Mistake

Thu Apr 5, 2018

There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing those first few people download a new asset you’ve produced. But that excitement is short lived if those leads don’t continue to visit your site and move through the buying process.

Establishing a nurture cadence is essential to maximizing the opportunity this new visitor provides. And it all starts at the point of lead capture. Unfortunately, most marketers optimize forms for the hand off to sales by asking questions focused on purchase intent and geographic location which feed lead scoring models and route to the appropriate territory representative.

Below you can see a pretty typical form which I captured from a beverage supplier’s website I recently visited. It’s focused on where I am located and how large a “deal” I might represent (#of people, # of locations).

web forms

What a lost opportunity! I can imagine a host of questions that would be more insightful for building a trusting nurturing relationship. 

  • What type of coffee do I like?
  • Does the office have a wide range of tastes or a homogenous palette?
  • Do we have a passion for exotic flavors?
  • How do we use our caffeine – to spur us awake in the morning or after hours to keep us going late into the night? 
  • How do we get our coffee today?
  • Rate your caffeine addiction:
    • Don’t mess with my caffeine - I’d inject it directly into my veins if I could
    • I prefer my coffee ice cold, with tons of cream and sugar – now that I think about it maybe I don’t really like the taste of coffee after all
    • Addiction, what’s that? I only occasionally indulge in a cup 

Don’t optimize forms for lead conversion, optimize them for deal conversion.  

Hopefully you’re convinced that adding persona driven questions to your lead forms will better inform your lead nurturing efforts than asking sales hand off questions alone. But I’m guessing you may be tempted to simply add these types of questions to your more typical routing questions.

Tread carefully—form length has a measurable impact on form completeness rates.  While shorter is not always better there are best practices for balancing what you ask with what you are providing in return. Formstack published a benchmark report on this topic you should check out.

By now you might be asking yourself—if I don’t want to overwhelm the length of my form how do I handle lead routing and nurture insight simultaneously? 

Lead routing should never drive form development. Forget the fear and focus on engagement. Sales will thank you later.

Here are three techniques you can use to forget the fear and focus on engagement.

  • Use progressive profiling. It’s tempting to ask everything we want to know about a prospect in our first lead interaction. But lucky for us that isn’t the only approach. Progressive profiling is the art of asking new questions each time a visitor comes to your site. Over time you’ve developed a detailed profile of your intended audience. Best of all, if you use a marketing automation tool you probably already have this capability.
  • Use 3rd party data augmentation services to provide common attributes such as company size, location, twitter ID, LinkedIn profile and industry so you don’t have to ask these questions on the form. There are many proven providers who can use email address to build out a profile including companies such as Harte-Hanks, Acxiom, DataFlux, NetProspex and Oceanos to name a few.
  • Centralized qualification—First and foremost, we should align our processes around the buyer not around our internal territory alignment. Implement a lead qualification process that is centralized, sending leads to territory representatives only when they have been vetted. It’s a simple solution to lead routing when location data is not available which many organizations overlook.

With advanced planning your lead forms can work double duty as profile gathering devices and the foundation for nurture content creation. In this case you really can have it all.


Samantha Stone
Samantha Stone
Marketing Advisory Network

Samantha is a fast growth, B2B marketing junkie, mother of four high energy boys and wannabe gourmet chef. Throughout her career she has launched go-to-market initiatives and lead marketing strategies for award-winning, high growth technology companies including Netezza, SAP, Ascential Software and Powersoft. In 2012 she founded The Marketing Advisory Network to help enterprises unleash the possible within their organizations. You can read more about her marketing philosophy and get practical advice by visiting her blog.