Web Form Etiquette 101: Manners for Marketers

05 May Web Form Etiquette 101

Web forms are often referred to as the gateway to your leads, but what happens when you over-step or under-step your boundaries? How does one even know when or where those boundaries were breached?

Lets take a look at what to ask, when to ask it and where to ask it when it comes to web forms embedded across your website and throughout your landing pages depending on a few distinct situations.

1. Newsletter signups


The key to having a great newsletter sign-up process is to do as little as you possibly can in regards to the form itself. 

Some companies go with first name & email, some with just email; if you have enough content, you may even allow your visitors to check off which topics or sections they may be interested in receiving news for so that you can begin segmenting your content updates. For most SMBs however, a simple sign up form will do as they aren’t creating loads of content that falls under unique categories that may require advanced distribution.

To help paint a better picture, lets take a look at a Leadsius client, Saab Auto Parts, who exemplify this take on signup strategy with style and finesse:


Saab Auto Parts Newsletter Registration using Leadsius Web Form


In the example above, Saab took a Leadsius web form and fuzed it into the theme of their CMS to create this beautiful registration process. After someone has signed up and agreed to Saab’s terms & conditions (not every company will be required to do this), Saab simply uses a Leadsius alert message to thank the person for signing up and allows them to continue browsing, uninterrupted:


Saab Auto Parts Newsletter uses Leadsius alert message

When someone comes to a website and submits their details to sign up for your newsletter, the last thing this person wants is to be disrupted or knocked off course. Your best bet is to use a simple in-form notification that says something to the effect of, “Thanks for subscribing!” and then let this person move on with their browsing, just as Saab has.

In the background, you should have your marketing automation platform add them to a dynamic smart list whereby you’ll start nurturing them via a series of scheduled emails that will begin to send over time (such as week by week over the course of 5 weeks); this is called a drip campaign and it’s a great way to warm people up to what your business is all about.


2. Content downloads


Offering up a piece of content for free is a great way to entice visitors and capture interest. Regardless of whether you’re a small-to-medium business within the B2B or B2C sectors, you most likely have some sort of free giveaway or test drive-like offer going on; this is considered gating your content.

“Gating” your content is a well-known strategy that places a form in front of this offer to ensure that it’s free, but for the price of this person’s email address. Generally speaking, if someone likes what they see and is interested in what you have to offer, they’re going to have no problem giving you an email address in exchange for what they want.

In our previous post we did exactly this with our new buyer persona template; here’s a screen shot of the landing page we use to offer this guide:


Leadsius SMB Buyer Persona Guide Offer Page


In this scenario your form may ask for one or more related to the following:

  • first and last name
  • email address
  • company website
  • geographic location (for segmenting purposes)

In the background, you could have a workflow email scheduled to go out immediately that provides them with a backup copy to what they’ve just redeemed and even drive to some next-steps that help to usher them down the sales pipeline.

Another good tactic in this scenario is to have an email that’s addressed and written on behalf of a staff member scheduled to go out with a delay after the form submission occurs.

By delaying this email and sending it on behalf of a person rather than your business, you’re boosting the odds of this email being opened as well as your authenticity factor (a win-win). Make sure to include this staff members email as the reply email address, this way you truly are generating value and fostering a one-to-one conversation if the interest is there to chat more.


3. Detailed product information downloads


White papers and detailed product information downloads are reserved for qualified leads. When someone downloads this very product specific, in-depth type of information, it clues you in as to what stage they’re currently in regarding their buyer journey.

When someone’s interested in a more detailed analysis of what you have to offer, this is a great opportunity to ask questions that help you to take this lead across the threshold towards becoming a happy client. Here’s an example of a white paper web form used by the CRM software giant, Salesforce:


Salesforce white paper offer and web form


Your form may have fields that ask:

  • what’s your role within your company?
  • what does your budget look like?
  • how many employees do you have?
  • are you currently using a product like ours? If so, which?

The kinds of questions or information you look to gather in regards to this scenario are ones that you’d usually never ask a newcomer to your website who’s still floating around within the awareness stage.

As you can most likely deduct by now, this process is all about feeling out where your boundaries are and asking questions that are relevant to the stage of the buyer’s journey.


4. Event invitations


Events are a great way to get to know your leads as well as generate new ones. When hosting an event, you’re most likely going to email the invitation to a closed group or spread the word via social media in conjunction with inviting known guests via email.

The web forms that pertain to your event invitation are in a unique position to capture intimate data. Here’s an example of a sign up form used by Amazon for their 2015 Web Services Summit global tour:

Amazong web services summit berlin 2015 sign up form

Your event registration sign up form may have fields that ask for:

  • detailed interest preferences
  • phone number
  • client status
  • full mailing address
  • guest’s contact details (if it’s a +1 event)

The next time you create a web form for an event registration or RSVP, take some time to think about what’s important to capture here and begin fuzing these elements into your web form design. This is not only going to fuel your post-event follow-up marketing communications but also help your sales reps to gather a more robust profile on the leads they’ve been working for the months leading up to this event.

These are just a few suggestions, but at the end of the day it’s up to you to feel out the scenarios in which you’ll use a web form to capture interest and know what questions to ask. The aforementioned examples are just that – examples of what could be done given a certain scenario. Feel free to experiment and see what works for your business and your audience!

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