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Part Four

Lead Capture Forms

The only purpose of a marketing form is to gather personal data, but people don’t just give up their information on a whim. To gather information effectively, you’ll need to keep 2 things in mind – the form’s design and the incentive you’re offering.

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1. Fear of the Form – Perceived and Actual Friction

Friction is the barrier to entry (effort) that your form presents to your visitors. Friction falls into two categories and has one solution:

1a. Perceived friction

This is the shock factor of suddenly being faced with a long form. The perception of having to fill out such a long form can be daunting and cause people to change their mind. A solution to this can be to split your form over more than one page.

Solution – Krug your forms

 Steve Krug famously said “Get rid of half the words on your page, then get rid of half of what’s left.” Apply this thinking to your forms by reducing the number of fields. ImageScape improved a clients’ conversion rate by 120% by reducing the number of form fields from 11 to 4. And Expedia saved $12 million a year by deleting one form field

1b. Actual friction

This is the time and trouble it takes to actually *fill in* the form, and it can cause pretty serious abandonment issues if it’s not considered. Things that can slow down – or cause frustration during – the process of form completion include:

- Too many open-ended questions that people have to ponder

- Dropdown menus that don’t include a viable option for the visitor. An example of this is the commonly asked “What industry is your business in?”. If there isn’t an answer available and you don’t provide a way out (like an “Other industry” option) then frustration can occur.

- Captcha security input fields. This is when you have to read strange looking words or letters and type in what you think they say in order to proceed.

Solution – Learn and adapt

One approach to improvement for this scenario is to analyze the results you get and adapt your form accordingly. When looking at your form data, ask yourself:

Are a high percentage of dropdown results the first option in the list? If so, you should try to make the answers as short and clearly distinguishable as possible. If people can easily/quickly read the option that applies to them, they will be more inclined to select it.

Are the responses to open-ended questions actually real answers? Or are they nonsense (such as “asdfasdf”) designed to get through the form as quickly as possible? If so, you should make the questions more direct and easier to answer. Examples would be: “Tell us about your biggest marketing problem” (requires a short story as an answer) vs. “What is the biggest barrier to your marketing success?” (which could often be answered in a few words).

Related to the perceived friction is the incentive you are providing to people who complete your forms. The goal here is to balance the size of the prize (your incentive) with the friction. The key to incentives is to use great content, as we’ll see below.

2a. Incentives

There are many incentives for a user to give up their personal information. Examples include: 

  1. Ebook
  2. Whitepaper
  3. Webinar registration
  4. Newsletter registration
  5. Consultation for professional services
  6. Discount coupon/voucher
  7. Contest entry
  8. A free trial
  9. A physical gift (via direct mail)
  10. Notification of a future product launch

To align with the concept of balancing incentive with friction, remember to ask for appropriate types of information based on your marketing goals after the conversion. For instance, if you will be sending an automated newsletter to registrants, email or email/name are all that’s needed. Whereas if you have a product/service that requires a follow-up sales call, you would want more information to qualify the level of interest.

2. The Size of the Prize

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No signup required. Give it a whirl to see what you think.


Remove the fear of the form and you’ll increase conversion rates.


A correctly designed form can be a good opportunity for a conversion lift or an improved user experience.


The way you ask people to complete form fields is just as important as the information you are asking for. The clearer you ask the question, the more likely you are to get an accurate response.

1c. Alternative Social Currency

You don’t always have to ask for an email address to give away your content. In fact, some people will actively avoid disclosing their email, due to fear of being spammed. With this in mind, you can use a service such as, which allows a visitor to pay for your content with a Twitter or Facebook share. Take a look at the example below, in this ebook download example visitors are given the choice to provide an email or share a tweet in exchange for the ebook.




Make your lead gen incentives relevant to your audience and make them correlate with the level of friction involved to obtain the incentive.


Using a variety of virtual currencies can increase your conversion opportunities by giving people more choice.

It may seem like you’re giving up email submissions, but the payoff in campaign momentum can far outweigh the sacrifice. By having people share via social networks, you produce a feedback loop that brings others to your page, giving you a steady stream of traffic even after your initial campaign launch.

Screenshot of creating a form in the Unbounce Landing Page Builder.