Simple Contact Forms to Improve Lead Generation Website Conversion Rates

April 13, 2009

The vast majority of my firm’s clients provide either a service or a high-involvement type of product that is not typically bought via an e-commerce store.  As such, the client websites are all lead-generation websites.  Their primary focus is to generate leads that are then in turn used by the sales team to communicate with the prospect and close the sale.  Generally speaking, my criteria for what I will call a “lead” tends to be a bit more strict than most.

When I use the term “lead”, I’m generally talking about an opt-in, direct consumer-initiated action where they are specifically requesting more information from the client.  The most common manifestation of this is the prospect doing a search, finding the client’s website, and then either picking up the phone to call the client or filling out a contact form to request more information about the services, pricing information, etc.  That’s what I think of when I think “lead”.

I know this is a rather narrow definition, and discounts a lot of other great types of leads that are less-direct, but still quite valuable nonetheless.

Anyhow, when working with a new client I often find myself recommending that they add a contact form to their website, if they don’t have such a form already.  Anecdotally, I’ve seen this improve conversion rates and, just as importantly, improve the ability to track effectiveness of campaigns and use that data to improve the campaigns.

We just started with a new client this month, and here is what I emailed them regarding a contact form:

Hi <<Client>>,

I’d very much like to add a contact form to your website, a short form asking just a few pieces of info like name, email address, phone number and service they are interested in, etc.  Here are the reasons I’d like to do this:

1) Improve Conversion Rates – In general, I’ve seen contact forms improve the conversion rate of visitors-to-leads for the vast majority of clients.  The main reason is that it enables prospects to take action during off-hours.  Especially with a service like yours, there is a good percentage of your traffic that is visiting on the weekends, or very late at night.  If their only option is a phone number, they won’t call b/c they expect no one to answer the phone.  Additionally, you also will get the “goofing off at work” crowd which is actually quite significant – people who are spending a few minutes while at work researching personal stuff, and they don’t want to call b/c their coworkers will hear, but they are happy to fill out a form to make initial contact.  You currently have an email listed on the site as well as a phone number.  Again, a form is one better than that.  For some people just having an email address is to vague.  Its not a strong enough “call to action”, and since it doesn’t prompt the user with questions sometimes they don’t know what to write.  On your end, a form submission is better b/c you can ensure you have the 2-3 pieces of information you really need from a new contact.  With an email they might leave something out such as their phone number or the type of service they are interested in.

2) Better Tracking – We can track all form submissions in our analytics package.  We cannot track phone calls or emails sent via the email link in the same way.  With forms, I can gain valuable data and learn which keyword phrases bring you the most leads, not just traffic.  Often we may find that keyword abc brings 100 visitors and 3 leads, whereas keyword xyz brought only 40 visitors but 6 leads.  Without the form tracking we would think keyword abc was better and deserving of more attention.  With the form tracking we clearly know that keyword xyz is more valuable to you.

Convinced yet?  🙂  The cost of implementing this is on us.  Thoughts?

Upon writing this I realized most of the evidence I have is in my head and in my experience. There is a client we started with about 2 years ago that went from 2% to about 3% conversion rates when moving from email to form.  We did not leave the email up so this was email address vs. form rather than email address vs. (form + email).

Who has hard data on this?  Any case studies?

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