We all know that the more fields you include in a form on your website, the fewer responses you’ll get. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for any information. That’s not much of a form, after all. Here are three approaches to consider.
Yup, you can go the minimalist route and ask for an email address and nothing more. If someone isn’t willing to give you that, they’re probably not a great candidate — or you simply haven’t created a compelling enough offer to attract them.
This makes the most sense for top-of-the-funnel content when site visitors are likely to have the less sense of urgency and are likely to be least interested in anything but the most basic interaction. Once they’ve begun to dig deeper into possible solutions, prospects will be more open to sharing more information with you.
There’s a twist here — requiring a business email rather than a gmail, hotmail or AOL address. You probably want to avoid this as a requirement if your target audience is very small businesses or, oddly, enterprise level. Small business sometimes don’t have business emails; they just set up firstname.lastname@example.org or something similar.
Enterprise employees may use some email other than their corporate address because they have just that one email address and don’t want to subject their inbox to any more weight than it already bears. (Lucky are those of us in the middle who recognize the value of having an email address devoted to email subscriptions and don’t have to fight through multiple layers of IT policy to get one.)
The most complex of the three solutions we’re discussing, progressive profiling requires you to enable some tech tricks on your website. Essentially, you keep your initial form very simple, perhaps just an email address, as above. But when a prospect returns to your website for more information, your site automatically serves up a form that asks the next logical question and connects the two sets of data, frequently pre-populating the email address you already have.
You’ll get the best results if the questions you ask are relevant to the new content you’re offering. For example, if you segment your target markets by company size, your visitor will be more comfortable providing company size information if you make it clear that you’re offering advice customized to their company rather than just asking for it without context.
That holds true for our third approach. Even without progressive profiling, you can make site visitors more comfortable by providing that same context to the fields in your form. This doesn’t require any fancy technology. You simply answer the question, “Why?” As in, “Why do you need to know how big my firm is?” So a label for that field might look like this:
Please tell us how large your organization is. It will help us tailor the information we send you to be most useful.
As with so many other aspects of digital marketing, your goal should be to create conversation that begins to build a relationship between you and your prospect. If a question is one you wouldn’t ask to someone you didn’t know well, don’t ask it in your marketing forms until your prospects feel they know you better.