How to Avoid These Common Website Form Mistakes

Posted by Krista Moon on June 29, 2014

How to Avoid These Common Website Form Mistakes

The main way to generate leads online is to put forms on your website. It goes beyond the "contact" form. Anytime you have a valuable content offer to share with your target audience, you can ask for information in order to download it.

The data you collect on the forms can be used to guide prospects through the buyer journey. You can use it to properly qualify leads to either send them to the appropriate sales rep or put them back in the bucket for more lead nurturing.

If you collect the right information about your prospects in the right way, you can use it to create targeted messaging that will keep the sales momentum going. However, I frequently see mistakes on website forms that make the data collected very difficult or impossible to use.

Here’s an example: recently, my client did a joint webinar with another company. Afterward, we got the list of registrants. We wanted to segment out all the company leaders (CEO types). But, we couldn’t.

The Title field that the registrants filled out on the form was an open field. That means they could fill in any title they wanted. Here are some examples of the responses we got:

  • Head Hancho
  • Big Cheese
  • Owner
  • CEO
  • President
  • Co-founder
  • Director
  • Partner and Consultant

I could go on and on. How in the world can we segment that? A huge percentage of the list had unique data in the Title field.

The only way to segment that list now is to have someone sit there and go through every contact and try to determine if they are a company leader based on the title they put in that field. What a time-consuming pain. Maybe it’s not that big of deal if you have a really small list, but when you have thousands, forget about it.

There is a really easy way to avoid that problem in the first place.

1. Map Out What You’re Going to Do With the Data

For each piece of data you collect on a website form, ask yourself:

  • Why is it important to you?
  • What are you going to do with it?
  • How might people answer the question?

You have to think ahead a little bit. It’s really that simple!

2. Make Your Fields Multiple Choice

In sales, we’re taught to ask open-ended questions. In marketing, we need to give people multiple choice answers as much as possible.

For example, if you wanted to find out common challenges that your target audience faces, you should make some assumptions about the challenges they face. Then create a list of potential answers that are meaningful to your business and what you’re trying to find out.

This approach allows you to manipulate that data you gather much more effectively. In regards to the above example, if the Title field was multiple choice, and "company leader" was one of the potential answers, we could easily create a segmented list from that information.

3. Standardize the Forms Across Your Website

As much as possible, ask the same questions in the same way on your website forms. If you make the mistake of asking the same question in multiple ways on various forms, you’ll struggle to aggregate the data. For example if you ask for Title information in a multiple choice field on one form, and an open-ended question on another form, the data won’t be as valuable to your company.

There is a lot of talk about big data today and how unwieldy it can get. That is so true, but if you plan ahead, you can extrapolate insights from it that can dramatically impact your business.

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