If you want to generate leads from your website, you need forms that ask your website visitors questions. This invaluable information is then added to your contacts database to power the rest of your marketing and sales funnel.

However, when it comes to forms for generating and qualifying leads, most data center businesses are asleep at the wheel.

In this post, you’ll learn how to effectively use lead generation forms to convert website visitors into leads and set your data center’s marketing and sales funnel up for scalable, predictable success.

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Why Forms?

Because forms are such a major part of pop culture and modern commerce, forms take on a really important role in digital marketing for data centers.

While forms for lead generation are usually embedded into landing pages, you sometimes see shorter versions of forms in sidebars for websites and blogs.

Which are better, short forms or long forms?

With shorter forms embedded right into the website and blog sidebars, you have less friction in your conversion paths. A website visitor doesn’t need to take additional action to click through and visit a landing page.

But with fewer form fields, you often can’t properly qualify a lead because you’re asking for too little data.

And for many data center businesses, it’s not just that the forms are weak and have too few fields to qualify leads. Many times on data center websites, there are no forms at all – except perhaps on a “contact us” page or a “get a quote” page.

How Forms Done Right Power Your Digital Marketing and Sales Funnel

In the context of lead generation and landing pages, forms take on some very important roles:

  1. Forms collect visitor information.
  2. Forms add that information to a database (or via application program interfaces (APIs) to multiple databases).
  3. Forms can trigger actions and workflows that send information automatically to website visitors.
  4. Forms are usually configured to transfer website visitors to a confirmation page or thank you page after completing and submitting the form.

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Optimize Your Forms With Best Practices

Form best practices can have an enormous bearing on lead generation success – or lack thereof – with data center businesses.

With that in mind, what are some of the most important best practices for using forms to generate leads?

  1. Keep the form headline consistent. The text in the call to action (CTA) and landing page headline should be nearly identical. Get that right, and your results improve almost immediately.
  2. Start with an action verb in your headline. “Download the Guide” or “Attend the Webinar.” Make it crystal clear what action website visitors need to take.
  3. Require enough data for lead qualification purposes. But don’t ask for too much information, or your visitors will be too apprehensive to convert to leads. It’s a delicate balancing act. Basically, you’re trading off lead quantity vs. lead quality. Pick the brains of your sales and services teams about which fields are most needed for lead qualification and client retention. If you personally wear both hats (sales and services), review your support logs and CRM reports.
  4. Distinguish between mandatory and optional fields. Building and maintaining a database of the right evaluators and decision-makers is a major investment. Don’t settle for half-baked contact records cluttering up your database.
  5. Make your privacy policy prominent. Most of your website visitors will be very anxious about parting with their personal data. Show your visitors that their privacy is a priority. Linking to your privacy policy is also a best practice that Google and most trustmark providers want to see.
  6. Add checkboxes, drop-down lists, and radio buttons to get more consistent data for your marketing automation and lead-scoring needs. Without these ways to standardize data, your website visitors will enter ever-so-slight information variations that interfere with segmentation, workflow automation, and metrics.
  7. Rethink the conventional “Submit” wording to better align with the form’s headline. The form’s button text should be consistent with the action verb in the landing page headline and action verb in the form headline. For example, “Download the Guide” or “Attend the Webinar” rather than “Submit.” This solves a second problem: who actually wants to “Submit?” The word itself has some pretty negative connotations.
  8. Address your buyer persona’s challenges when planning fields. Think about your segmentation and personalization needs, which can make a huge difference in accelerating the sales cycle.
  9. Don’t ask the same question twice. With progressive profiling, you can prioritize which fields to include on a form for an initial conversion versus which more sensitive fields should appear on subsequent forms for reconversions. This provides two benefits: After you know a lead’s company name, company size, and website URL, you don’t have to ask for it again on subsequent reconversion attempts. You can then dynamically slot in more sensitive information requests, such as fields asking for budget and buyer’s journey stage.
  10. Don’t propose too soon. By understanding where a website visitor is in the buyer’s journey when encountering a particular form on a particular landing page, you can avoid turning off website visitors by proposing “marriage” on the first date. In the Awareness stage, limit the form length and don’t ask ultra-sensitive questions. Later on, as your new lead is aging through to the Consideration and Decision Making stages, you’ll have built up some trust and earned the right to probe a little more – with longer forms and more intrusive questions – as you collect the necessary data to pass a qualified lead from marketing to sales.

While landing pages and forms are often discussed in the same context, they really are two entirely concepts with their best practices.

From a sequencing standpoint, because forms get embedded into landing pages, you’ll usually want to build a form before you build a landing page.

And from an efficiency standpoint, building forms is often desirable so they can be reused across multiple, similar landing pages.

How do you currently use forms to generate leads for your data center business? And how many of these best practices is your website currently aligned with? Share your take within the Comments section below.

Learn more about Colocation Data Center Providers and Go-to-Market Strategy (GTM) for Growth.

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