How to determine what questions to ask on your forms

Last updated: June 15, 2016

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Forms are the way that you gather information from those who are looking to you to provide something helpful or interesting to them. These forms should be inviting rather than intimidating. Imagine finding an amazing ebook that you think could really help you with using LinkedIn for your business, but the form asks for 15 pieces of information such as some personal details such as your salary, your company size, and yearly company revenue. You have never interacted with the company before, so the trust has not yet been built. While those questions are all qualifying questions and would help the business understand your needs better, they weren't the right questions at the right time. It's important as a marketer to know what questions to ask and when to ask them.

When a contact converts, they provide more than just what they submitted on your form. With the HubSpot tracking code, a cookie is dropped in the visitor's browser upon their first arrival. This cookie is used to track the activity they take on your site, including how they found you (organic search, social media, direct traffic, etc.) and other analytic information. Upon form submission, an identity is associated with this tracking information and the IP address location of the submission is attached to that contact record. HubSpot can then record the journey of that contact throughout your site, showing you their behavior and how they interact with your content. This also includes email activity, list memberships, lifecycle stage transitions, automation events, and more, listed in chronological order. Don't underestimate the power of your forms. Your forms are there to invite your visitors to convert, and for you to see how these contacts interact with your website, content, and emails. This allows you to not only get a picture of who the contact is and how they found your site, but what they are interested in, thus providing more relevant content that meets their needs and interests.

What to consider when setting up your forms

The qualification process is different for every company, but consider the following when determining which questions to ask:

  • Ask questions to qualify your leads. This allows you to segment which leads are qualified and which are not. If they are not qualified, you might still be able to provide them some sort of content that can turn them into promoters. For example, while someone may own a car in Boston and thus not likely to use a short-term car-rental service, they may still become a promoter of this brand and would recommend them to friends and colleagues who would use this service if they were presented with other helpful content. Although that person didn't become a customer, their trust and confidence in the brand turned others who could use the service into customers. Those non-customer promoters can still add value to your database.
  • Ask questions that bucket your contacts into personas. This allows you to target those personas to provide relevant content to their specific persona-based needs. Don't know how to start? Check out 9 Questions You Need to Ask When Developing Buyer PersonasTo learn more about personas, check out this article.
  • Ask questions to know more about the contact's situation (e.g. "What is your biggest marketing challenge?" or "What is your current travel budget?"). Think about the questions that would help you most easily identify how you can help them. These don't necessarily need to be separate from personas. If your personas are designed based on the needs of your clients, then the potential answers would equate to yourpersonas.

There are also 5 critical components to be mindful of when designing lead capture forms:

  1. Positioning - the location of your form on your landing page is critical. Draw the attention to the form immediately by ensuring it is above the fold (towards the top of the page, so users don't have to scroll to find it); don't make your visitors look for it.
  2. Length - the length of the form should reflect the value of the offer or your goals. You don't want to give away valuable content without getting something valuable in return. Longer forms may attract more quality leads whereas shorter forms may attract more lead volume. This will be talked about a bit more in the best practices. Smart fields and progressive profiling greatly aid in accomplishing a feasible length without foregoing valuable information.
  3. Fields - ask for general contact information, but also ask qualifying questions. Keep in mind the length of your form when determining what fields to include.
  4. Privacy Policy - gain your visitor's trust by including a link to your privacy policy within your form. Credibility and trust are key to converting quality leads.
  5. Submit button - generic "submit" text on a form's submit button doesn't perform as well as more actionable terms such as "Go," "Download," or "Register." Use actionable terms that relate to why these visitors are filling out your form (e.g. if your form is used to register contacts for a webinar, use "Register" as your submit button text).

If you are have an Enterprise HubSpot account, you may consider A/B testing landing pages with form variations to test which variation converts better.

How to determine what info to collect

HubSpot Academy

Best practices

Our HubSpot Academy team has a project for Form Optimization, where you can follow a series of steps to allow you to do the following:

  • Identify how to use and optimize forms throughout the buyers journey
  • Build a more robust lead/customer profile
  • Provide context to people who view the form

Check out this Project here!

Read more

It's important to keep in mind where the form will be in the buyer's journey (TOFU, MOFU, BOFU). Like anything else you create, it is important to first plan out your strategy. Your forms are the bridge between you and your visitors. There are two big questions you should ask yourself prior to creating your forms:

  1. What questions do marketing and sales need in order to qualify a lead? Then follow up with: How can I use this information to provide the leads the assets they are looking for? These qualifying questions help you better segment your contacts into industry, persona, stages in the funnel, etc. If you're asking a question that doesn't clearly add to the qualification process or allow you to segment contacts for a purpose, it doesn't need to be asked.
  2. What questions should I ask to reflect the perceived value of the offer? Consider the value of the offer, as you don't want to scare off new leads. Consider what and how many questions prospects are willing to provide to receive the value in comparison to the information you need. If your offer is a TOFU offer about luxury vacationing, don't ask questions about their budget; this is a BOFU question when they are ready to have you help them book their travel.

Your questions should be probing questions that adds to the offer. They are designed to "help me provide valuable content to you." Decide what questions are must-have and which are nice-to-have. Beyond an email address (how HubSpot identifies unique contacts, and is necessary in order to maintain contact with the person), the questions you ask must be relevant to the offer; remember that your prospects are qualifying your form, validating whether it matches the perceived value of your offer.

Forms best practices

Much research has been conducted into how long you should make your lead gen forms. Each business will vary. Keep in mind your specific goals:

  • If your goal is to generate more high-quality leads, consider making your forms longer to weed out those prospects who aren't that interested in your offer
  • If your goal is getting more lead volume, consider shorter forms that cause less friction. Note that asking sensitive questions (budget, salary, company revenue), despite the form being short, can still lead to friction. Be mindful of when in the buyer journey the questions you're asking are presented.

These are not hard and fast rules but rather goals to think about when designing your forms. You know your industry and personas best, so you'll tailor your forms to meet your needs. It is important though to balance how much information you absolutely need from your leads vs. how much information those prospects will actually provide on a form.

Another best practice is determining which fields should be required and which are helpful but not mandatory. If your leads are required to fill out all fields in order to receive your whitepaper, they may just skip it because they're not ready to hand other all that information; the perceived value did not match your probing questions and expectations. Give the prospects some options:

  • Use open text fields (such as for name, comments, website URL)
  • Use some picklist options (number of employee range, budget range, industry, education)
  • Perhaps include a check-box opt-in field for your leads to explicitly consent to receiving emails from you.
  • Consider including a non-mandatory comments field for them to respond to a qualifying question, such as "What is your biggest marketing challenge?"

Having a variety of field types can also make the form appear less intimidating.

HubSpot uses smart fields and progressive profiling options to make forms easier to use and "softer" on the eyes of your leads. The more information they provide up front, the less they have to provide in the future. This is seen in action in the above example. Since Pamela's information is already known in the database due to the cookie in her browser, and with smart fields on this form, the form is not as long and only displays the non-smart fields. Her data is pre-filled, as dictated on the form, so all Pamela needs to do is click "Download Templates Now." Since this is a TOFU offer, the form isn't asking for more sensitive information than she's already filled out.

These tools allow your really long BOFU forms to not appear as long, as much of the information on the form has already been gathered so those fields no longer appear on the form. These two topics will be discussed in detail later in this guide.

Since the information you capture is submitted through your forms, this collected information lives in the contact's record. It can then be used to send personalized emails to increase your clickthrough rate, and personalize your website pages created in HubSpot. Personalization can lead to further engagement. Just be sure not to be creepy about it.

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