Lead Generation Forms Best Practices: Create Forms that Convert

February 15, 2023
Contributor: Natalie Boyd

What to consider for PPC forms and what you need to know about email filters

As a software marketer, you may not have even considered the impact that email filters have on the conversion rate of your landing pages. 

For example, landing page services usually offer an option to build forms that ask for a professional email, rather than a personal one. This is known as validation. But requiring a filter like this may greatly impact your conversion rate.

Considering email filters like these is just one element that goes into converting website visitors into high-quality leads. It’s crucial to fully optimize your lead generation forms to create compelling landing page experiences, especially for pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. 

Here what you need to know about email filters on forms, and how to optimize to convert website visitors to high-quality leads.

Lead generation form elements to consider

Software buyers have very little time to waste and many software options to choose from, so you need to make sure you capture their attention immediately. When building high-converting lead generation forms, it’s important to consider how the form fields are structured.

Consider the following elements for your lead generation forms

  1. Form length. Having too many form fields negatively impacts your conversion rate. Some website visitors may feel as though it’s not worth the effort if your form is too long. Add between three to five fields on your lead gen forms for higher conversion.
  2. Information to collect. Consider the objective of the lead gen form itself. For example, if a website visitor is downloading a piece of content you may need less information compared to if they are signing up for a free trial.
  3. Display privacy policy (when needed). Privacy regulations vary depending on where your target audience is located. This means, in some cases, your company’s privacy policy needs to be included in the lead gen form. Make it clear what website visitors are consenting to at the end of your form.
  4. Remove Captcha. We recommend removing the CAPTCHA from your lead gen forms as they add friction to the experience. Removing CAPTCHA might mean sifting through more spam, but it will increase your conversion rate.

See below an example from the conversion rate specialists at Gartner Digital Markets. They regularly turn complex forms like the one to the left, to the simple optimized form to the right.

Lead generation form examples

How email filters impact conversion rates

Another element to consider is the email filters, or validation, included in the forms. Requiring validation on forms can lead to a decrease in conversion rates. 

According to Gartner Digital Markets’ conversion rate specialists, requiring professional email addresses in a form leads to an average decrease of 52% in the form’s conversion rate. Because of this, many software marketers are losing leads.

Buyers may use “fake” email addresses to get around this form fill requirement or leave the landing page altogether out of frustration. This is why accepting both professional and personal email addresses could be beneficial to the conversion rate of your lead gen forms. 

Why buyers use their personal email addresses in form fills 

If you want to build lead gen forms that result in visitors successfully filling out lead gen forms, you need to think about your customers’ needs. What are their preferences and pain points? You should also consider creating a compelling user experience to improve your conversion rate. Craft a lead gen form that converts, not one that frustrates prospects with excessive requirements.

Fifty-five percent of professionals prefer using their personal email address to download long-form content, according to Marketing Sherpa. Legitimate software buyers often prefer to use their personal email addresses rather than their company email addresses for reasons such as:

  • Flexibility. Personal email addresses may be more accessible outside work hours, while traveling, or working on a home computer.
  • Legitimate site. Buyers want to ensure that the requested information is coming from a trusted, legitimate site and that the information is what was expected.
  • Top of the funnel. Buyers may be collecting information and doing their research during the awareness stage, preferring not to include their work email until they have narrowed down their search (Source). 

Validation may provide more control over what data is being accepted through the lead gen forms of sales teams and it may also result in higher quality leads. However, losing out on a potential lead due to a buyers’ frustration with your lead gen forms is a missed opportunity sales teams won’t want to experience. 

How to handle PPC follow up while casting a wide net

Following up with prospects after they’ve filled out the lead gen forms, whether they’ve used their personal or professional email, is crucial for keeping them engaged and moving them down the funnel. 

Timing is everything with software buyer, which is why sales teams should follow up with a lead promptly after they’ve expressed interest and submitted a form. Emailing a prospect within the first five minutes of receiving their contact information is the best change to boost initial lead engagement and drive a sale. 

Types of touches sales teams use in reaching out to leads

Sales teams should also have separate tracks depending on the type of lead they receive. Audience segmentation can fuel a strong demand generation program and help nurture high-quality leads more quickly down the funnel.

Align relevant content depending on the funnel stage of each prospect. Create a nurture track for leads that submit forms with a personal email address and a separate nurture track for leads that submit forms with their company email address. 

Optimize your forms for success

While the priorities of your software business may change over time, your software buyers’ needs and preferences should be at the forefront of your sales follow-up process. Consider optimizing your lead gen forms and validation settings with the buyers in mind to encourage higher conversion rates and an increase in leads. When you do receive form fills, be sure to have your sales team follow up in a timely manner. These changes will result in a happy sales team and even happier prospects.

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Find out how to optimize your landing pages and lead gen forms for high conversion rates.

Natalie Boyd

Natalie Boyd is a Manager on the Marketing Services team at Gartner Digital Markets. She leads a team of CRO Designers and helps software companies fill their sales pipeline. She has over a decade of marketing experience and a passion for helping businesses succeed online. Connect with Natalie on LinkedIn.

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