Marketing Automation: What’s in a form?

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2nd June 2016, 6 minute read

A person fills in a form on your website and you are sent a notification - job done, right? Probably not. You’d be surprised by the number of layers involved when someone completes a form on your website.

The first thing to note is that not all forms are created equal. Some forms require an extra layer of thinking and some require less. In this blog post, I am going to look at the main things you should be thinking about when creating a form and where a marketing automation system fits into the mix.

What is the purpose of my form?

The purpose of your form will play a big role in what precedes it in terms of preparation. A form that offers insightful content to a first time visitor will need handling differently to that for an existing customer asking for help.

Do I need to consider the status of my contacts?

Yes, absolutely. Forms will take on… well, different forms, depending on where contacts are in the buying cycle. This will have an impact on what you do with these contacts post form completion. For example, a form may exist that, if completed, allows you to convert a lead from unqualified to qualified in your CRM, resulting in different follow-up activities taking place.

How many fields should my form have?

Regardless of the purpose of the form, one rule that you should always keep to is ‘the fewer fields the better’, no matter the status of the person filling it in. You must ask yourself: do I really need that piece of information? The longer your form is, the less likely people will be to fill it in.

There will be occasions where you will need to ask an additional question in order to validate a lead. For example, if you are a B2B business, you may want to include the field ‘Company Name’. By doing this, it will help to put off those who are not related to a company. The most common example is a university student using your content for the benefit of their studies. While it’s nice to be regarded in this way, there is no benefit to your business.

Should I send the contact a follow-up email?

Regardless of the status of the person filling in the form, there should be some sort of acknowledgement email.

Firstly, people will be expecting one, and you should never turn down the opportunity to make another contact. Secondly, it is a chance to further stamp your brand identity in the mind of the recipient. If it is a first-time lead downloading a guide, a thank you email should be sent which includes a link to the guide.. If an existing contact is asking for help, they should be sent an acknowledgment email informing the recipient that their query has been received and how it will be dealt with. These acknowledgment emails will all help build trust in the mind of your customers and prospects.

Do I need to send any more emails?

When looking at the longer-term picture, the answer would be most definitely yes. What these emails should be, again, comes back to the purpose of the form. A new lead acquired through a downloadable piece of content, depending on what they have downloaded, can be sent a series of related emails that help to nurture the lead into a contact.

The existing customer asking for help example will not need a slew of sales emails, but they could be sent a customer satisfaction survey asking how they feel their query was handled and their likelihood to recommend your business,

Also don’t forget your internal lead notification emails. Again, this comes back to purpose. The right person within your team needs to be notified when a particular form is completed.

Do I need to consider anything else?

There are a couple of other important considerations when implementing your form and your marketing automation system will be critical here.

  1. Lead scoring is one of the most powerful elements of marketing automation and helps tell you how hot or cold a lead is. If a lead completes a form, this should be reflected in their lead score. A form completion is one of the biggest indicators of how hot a lead is. However, as I mentioned earlier, not all forms are completed equal. Some forms will carry more weight depending on their purpose and therefore should be scored differently.
  2. Also consider your list management. Where should contacts go after completing a form? For example, if a contact registers their interest in a particular service you have to offer, it would make sense to move this contact into a list of people interested in that service. You can then send emails specifically on this service offering.

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when adding a form to your website. A marketing automation system, such as Constant Contact or Marketo, is a vital component of building and effectively following-up on forms – from segmentation to making sure the correct leads and customers are handled by the right person in your business. A well-constructed and thought out process for your forms will help reduce admin costs and create a much better experience for your leads and customers.

If you need help with anything mentioned in this blog post – give us a call or contact us by email here.

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