The excitement of starting inbound marketing for your business can lead to initial eagerness to get things rolling. But in that sprint to kick off your marketing, inexperienced marketers often find themselves missing a step or two.
The use of content to gather leads is without a doubt the primary focus of inbound. Therefore, many marketers spend their time emphasizing content strategy to generate those leads. However, optimizing your content without optimizing your lead strategy defeats the purpose of inbound altogether. Instead, marketers should spend much of their intro to inbound process on lead and business strategies to guarantee their content is meeting objectives.
What’s in a Lead Generation Form?
Nearly every website these days has a lead generation form. But the effectiveness of those forms depends on many factors, including:
- Type of form
- The location of the form
- What the form offers
- What questions the form asks
- How the contact information is used
Have you ever been interested in a new apartment complex or shopping center around town? Maybe you had a specific question while they were in development, so you filled out the contact form — and waited. And waited. But no one got back to you.
Chances are, you provided a decent amount of personal information on that lead generation form. You did so willingly because it was an exchange you found reasonable: your contact information for the information you wanted. Understanding this exchange is the key to forms.
In short, a form is a means of gathering information — the level of which is dependent on what you are offering on the other side of the form. In inbound, forms are also a means of progressive profiling (i.e., qualifying your leads by asking for a little more information) each time they fill out another form. This progressive profiling is the purpose of any form. It’s meant to get more and more information that qualify leads by lifecycle stage and determines their point in the buyer’s journey.
Knowing What Questions to Ask
Now that you know the importance of your form fields, the next issue becomes, “What questions should I ask?” This is where your lead/business strategy comes in. If you followed the inbound strategy correctly, your teams all came together to identify your buyer persona. Doing this should have resulted in defining your lead lifecycle stage.
If you have not done this, go back and do it now, because this information is vital to your progressive profiling.
Let’s say you are a tenant representative for a large new commercial office building in downtown. The project is not complete yet, but it has generated a lot of buzz and companies are showing interest. You want to be sure you lease-up before opening. However, you also need to make sure the companies you bring in are a good fit. This is where progressive profiling comes in.
Your first lead generation form, the awareness form, will always cover introductory information. This includes the basics:
- Company name
- Job title
If you are using a marketing automation software like HubSpot, you have the opportunity to add smart fields that will populate if you already have this particular information. Smart fields help expedite the lead qualification process by letting you ask for additional relevant information. These fields also make things easier for sales down the line if the lead becomes “sales qualified.”
Gathering your teams together for your business/lead strategy would be pointless if you don’t have a process by which to direct them. Thankfully, that process is relatively simple. Early in the inbound process, your team should have come up with an ideal buyer profile and a buyer persona, as well as SMART goals for the year to determine what type of leads you are hoping to attract.
At this time, you get to bring all that information together. By using lead and customer goals, persona information, and sales data, your team should be able to determine the necessary lead information to qualify leads.
Back to the Tenant Rep example. You know the office building in question has a specific number of spaces with an anticipated rent range. You also know the amenities that the building does and does not have. Given the nature of the building, along with your business goals, you know you will likely need to build a large awareness funnel to meet the occupancy goals by open.
While your awareness questions are simple enough, the information you need in the consideration and decision stage is much more in-depth. For one, the type of business and size is important in determining fit, as the building may not support the needs of certain companies. If the building is high-end, questions around “current rent” or “monthly revenue” may be important to help you discover if the company is a good fit from the affordability standpoint. By gathering this information early on, when it comes time to start leasing, the Tenant Rep’s job should be fairly simple in picking sales-ready leads that met the requirements.
An Exercise in Segmentation
While the ultimate benefit of progressive profiling is to shorten the sales cycle, there’s a secondary benefit that can help. List segmentation is the act of separating contacts in your CRM by various criteria. If you run a multifaceted business with a lot of different verticals, list segmentation is a lifesaver. If you have a new offer for clients in the senior living space, for example, you don’t want to send it to the people in economic development of mixed-use. Furthermore, people interested in your ad services probably aren’t interested in what you offer in branding. By gathering this information from leads, you can use it to segment your marketing for a more streamlined message.
For marketing success, a lead generation form is much more complex than slapping a few fields on a page. Forms require a certain amount of business strategy to be used to their optimal effectiveness. Forms are a powerful tool that can improve the life of your sales cycle while requiring little more than some upfront strategy. All it takes is asking the right questions.