Marketing is a little bit like dating: Knowing the right questions to ask makes all the difference. You wouldn’t ask about marriage prospects on a first date – doing so would scare off any Romeo or Juliette. Website marketing is similarly sensitive. A well-designed website inquiry form should make it easy for potential customers to get more information, without feeling overwhelmed or even offended.
At the same time, you don’t want the floodgates of internet users to open, dumping too many prospects into your lap. An effective website inquiry form should weed out the prospects that aren’t a good fit for your company. Since business is all about relationships, let’s stick with the dating metaphor here. Inquiry forms are like speed dating – they’re open to everyone, so it’s important to ask the right questions up front. Experienced speed daters have two or three questions they ask every romantic prospect. Likewise, your inquiry form should have one or two crucial questions to help you find the best leads of the lot.
A truly great inquiry form requires finessing. Sit down with your sales team and review what kinds of leads you’ve gotten from your online form. Are you wasting time following up with dead-end leads? If so, analyze any inquiry data to figure out which questions could be tweaked to allow your salespeople to quickly spot the best prospects. Identify any challenges around lead creation, and massage your inquiry form accordingly. That word “massage” describes the back and forth you’ll need to do with this process. It’s not a one-time fix but an ongoing website marketing dance that creates a top-notch lead generation form.
As an example, you may find that many of your leads just don’t have the budget to allot to your type of business. If so, you may be tempted to add the question, “What is your company’s annual revenue?” Certainly, this would help your sales associates quickly prioritize the most lucrative leads. However, this query would also turn off many prospects, who would most likely feel this question is too personal. What’s more, the average employee doesn’t always know the answer to this question – and you certainly don’t want to make a potential lead feel uninformed right off the bat.
Here’s where the search for the best question becomes crucial. Is there another way to ask the same question without invading privacy or stirring up uncertainty? Yes. Instead, your form could ask, “How many employees does your company have?” This is a win-win question – your salespeople will be able to extrapolate approximate budgets, and your website visitors won’t feel overwhelmed.
Here are a few more general tips for creating effective website inquiry forms:
Ask an open-ended question or two
Open-ended questions often turn up critical details you’ll need down the road. Even a simple “Is there anything else we need to know?” gives leads the opportunity to mention time constrictions or other limitations.
Track inquiry data consistently
When you’re first starting out, a spreadsheet may seem sophisticated enough for your lead follow-up process. However, to truly analyze what’s working and what’s not, you’ll want a more sophisticated CRM solution that can keep you consistent and organized.
Find your own “ultimate question”
Conduct regular post-mortem analysis with your sales team to discover the most important question on your lead form. Track data on leads; ask happy customers about their experience with the lead form; ask your sales team what drives them nuts about your lead follow-up process. This approach will require more time and effort, but it is more likely to result in substantial improvement.
A friend of mine recently revealed she had found her fiancÃ© through an online dating service. She had typed in only three parameters in the service’s search function: Her man had to have a graduate degree, he had to drive a motorcycle, and he had to live in our town. This simple search turned up just three prospects – definitely manageable for lead follow-up. They’re getting married next year. To make your website marketing similarly effective, focus on creating the most useful, approachable set of questions for your prospects.
About the Author: This post is courtesy of Cameron Madill, President and Co-Founder of Synotac. Located in Portland, Oregon, Synotac is a website marketing and design agency.