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Don’t Leave Your Toothbrush on the First Date: Or How to Lose a Lead with Your Web Form

Do you remember that rom com How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey’s abs? Basic premise: She writes an advice column and decides to do all of the needy things women do while dating that turns guys off (demanding attention, crashing boy’s night, leaving *gasp* feminine products in his bathroom). He’s an ad exec who makes a bet that he can make any woman fall in love with him.

Marketers are like Kate Hudson’s character, or at least the girl she’s pretending to be —they’re too aggressive with leads they’ve just met, which drives them away. For Kate, it was an overbearing manner and a very emasculating nickname for…never mind. For marketers, it’s web forms that leave their toothbrush on their first date and ask too much too soon.

The point is that a lead who has never interacted with you, but is interested in a piece of your content, should not have to be put through the third degree to get it. I know, you want all of their details right away so you can market the hell out of them. But would you feel comfortable giving up all of your information to a company you’re not even sure you’re interested in? ‘Course not.

In the spirit of this crappy movie, here are 10 ways to ensure your web forms aren’t driving away attractive new leads.

1. Match form length to content type.

Requesting a product demo or sales person to call? Ask away—this lead is ready to engage and probably OK with giving you lots of details about themselves. Downloading a white paper? Not so much.

2. Decide on quantity versus quality.

Shorter forms will increase the number of leads you get, but they won’t be very qualified. Longer forms draw higher quality leads (although fewer in number) that are interested enough to fill out all the fields.

3. Make it easy.

Don’t make your lead work hard to complete the form. Streamline the layout, use inline validation, provide sample text, clearly identify which fields are required, and so on.

4. Don’t have more than one open-ended question.

This isn’t a survey. Kinda goes hand in hand with the above point, but your lead is under no obligation to expound on the things you’d like to know. Plus, you may get some answers that you don’t like (or are NSFW even).

5. Be consistent

Just because you can design a new form for every need doesn’t mean you should. And you pretty much shouldn’t. Keep field names, fonts, capitalization and button colors consistent.

6. Have a link to your privacy policy.

Would you tell your most intimate secrets to a date who won’t tell you anything about themselves? Of course not. Leads need to feel they can trust you with their personal information.

7. Get testy.

Not angry-testy. Like, A-B testy. Try different lengths and see how they perform.

8. Try gradual engagement.

Here’s an example: A lead is interested in your upcoming webinar. As a good marketer, you ask for just the minimal contact info. But, on the confirmation/thank you page, you add a few additional—and optional—follow-up questions.

9. If it has to be long, make it manageable

Sometimes the toothbrush is unavoidable. When it’s appropriate to have a longer form, think about ways you can break it into chunks or steps to make it more manageable for the lead.

10. Don’t ask for any more information than you need.

This is pretty much the whole point of this blog. If you take away nothing else, if you’ve never seen How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, please for the love all that is good in the world, don’t ask for the toothbrush when a handshake will do.

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