As a B2B marketer…
Imagine every prospect who fills out your lead capture forms becomes a customer.
Every opportunity you send to Sales hits “closed won.”
It’s every B2B marketer’s dream…
And there are pretty exciting rewards that come with always hitting a 100% lead-to-sale conversion rate:
- Deep love from your SDRs and everyone in Sales
- An eminent seat at marketing and revenue decision-making tables
- Company-wide recognition
- Easier budget approvals
The list goes on…
But we all know what happens in real life:
A 100% lead-to-sale conversion rate is never a reality for most businesses.
You win some, you lose some… you know how it works.
But still, when you build lead capture forms, whether to collect sales or marketing leads, you don’t want to only collect customer information.
You need your forms to collect leads that convert into sales.
And you want those sales fast.
You don’t want leads forming super long sales cycles in your pipeline.
Of course, there are businesses that — no matter what they do — can’t avoid long sales cycles, often because of the costs and complexities of their offerings.
But if you’re able to have shorter sales cycles, you want to make those your priority.
The bottom line here is this: you need lead capture pages and forms to help you collect leads that convert into revenue fast, not those that’ll form extra long sales cycles.
We have a five-step process for building revenue-driving lead capture forms, and we’ll be covering each step in this guide:
[Heads up, though: This post is more about the things that make your lead capture forms effective than it is about creating those forms. So we’re not talking about forms until the 4th step of this guide.]
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Step #1: Put lead gen aside… for a bit
Instead, focus first on not just capturing, but holding attention.
When you’re able to hold a potential buyer’s attention, converting them into leads becomes easier.
So you want to solve the “attention-holding” problem first.
To hold a prospect’s attention, you need to offer them something they’ll be happy to spend, say, 3-10 minutes of their time with.
And after holding their attention that long, then you can show or send them to a lead capture form.
Usually, there are two key “attention-holding” things you can offer them:
- A free problem-solving tool
- Content (a video, blog, webinar, or an ebook)
But we’ll be talking about using content to hold attention here since that’s our bread and butter at Premium Content Shop.
So what does it take to create the type of content that holds a buyer’s attention?
Expert writing? Nope.
Quality video? Nope.
Relevant content? Bingo. You got it.
Relevant content always holds buyer attention
And more buyer attention = more leads.
You may be asking, “Is it really that simple?”
Good question; it’s not that simple.
Because getting a buyer’s attention doesn’t always mean you’ll convert them into leads.
Generating quality leads largely depends on the type of attention you’re attracting — and we’ll explain this in detail in steps #2 to #5, coming up after we tackle this attention-holding problem.
But let’s continue with this all-important first step.
Content relevance is way more important to prospects now than it’s ever been.
We’re all always looking for content that’s relevant enough to:
- make us better professionals at our jobs
- educate us on a major topic of interest
- or even just entertain us
So create content that’ll provide them with any of these benefits and you’ll be creating relevant content — positioning your business at the right spot to attract customer attention and get quality lead generation opportunities.
Yet, relevance is the single element that’s lacking in most of the content published today
James Carbary of Sweet Fish Media put it this way when we asked for his opinion:
And Scott D. Clary of ExciteM shared how he makes sure he doesn’t add to the noise on social:
It’s the lack of relevance in most content that keeps you scrolling your LinkedIn feed and Google search results pages.
You scroll, scroll, and scroll but don’t click through to read or watch most posts because the topics and content you’re seeing show little to no relevance to you or your business.
Often, you care about different or more important things than what people are sharing, so their content just turns you off.
And sometimes, you find something that looks promising; you click through, but it’s not what you expected.
We’ve all been there.
Now let’s look at the lead gen opportunities all this irrelevant content creates
Every time other brands (including your competition) publish content that gets ignored by prospects, you literally have the floor.
You have an opportunity to hold their attention and convert them into leads with content that’s hyper-relevant to them.
Jason Widup of Metadata.io mirrors the same idea in a brief chat we had with him:
And in a recent conversation with Tucker Hood, VP of Enterprise Sales at Capturely, he mentioned how he likes and comments on posts that are relevant to him on LinkedIn — so he’ll keep getting more relevant content from the same authors when next they post:
Essentially, Tucker pushes down irrelevant content by engaging with what’s relevant — ignoring some brands and paying attention to others.
This is why in a world where so many businesses keep creating irrelevant content, you need to take a different stance:
Start putting in that extra effort to create hyper-relevant content. It will cost you more time, research, and perhaps money.
But you’ll be getting more opportunities for quality lead gen.
Now, this begs the question:
“What’s the step-by-step method I can use to create relevant content?”
That’s beyond the scope of this post, but we’ll cover it in our next post.
If you’d like to know when we publish our next piece on “how to create relevant B2B content that holds buyer attention,” get updated here:
Step #2: Attract problem-aware prospects to your forms
It’s one thing to create relevant content…
But it’s an entirely different thing to use your relevant content to attract prospects willing to convert into leads.
And one type of these “willing prospects” are often problem-aware prospects.
Just so we get on the same page on who they are…
Problem-aware prospects are potential customers who have a problem but aren’t aware that there’s a solution (your business/product/service) for it.
Or sometimes they’re vaguely aware of the problem your business solves. And because they don’t know the full extent of that problem, they’re not really thinking about making a purchase decision.
Basically, they don’t instantly equate your solution to their problem.
So here’s what you do: you target this type of prospect with — that’s right — relevant content that:
- educates them about their problem and
- opens their minds to the opportunities your business provides
This way, it’s easier for you to convert them into leads.
Here’s a typical example:
The article’s topic got Devin’s attention.
So he clicked through, read the content, and boom: a light bulb went off.
In the article, Matt shared an analysis of the social media impact of a major event and showcased Sprout Social as the tool he used to run the analysis.
He also included screenshots of the analysis like this one:
This helped Devin realize the problem Sprout Social could solve for him.
He went to their site and signed up for a demo. Now, he’s a convert.
But the journey started when he read that post from Matt that “hinted” the problem Sprout Social could help him solve.
He shared this story in a recent LinkedIn post.
So we sent him a DM and asked, “Were you aware of the [struggle] social listening solved before [reading Matt’s post]?”
“Vaguely,” he answered.
We probed further: “So the article gave you more understanding of [a] problem and established Sprout Social as a possible solution?” He said:
This is a classic example of how to attract (vaguely) problem-aware prospects to your business using relevant content that creates interest in their minds — so they have a good idea of your business before filling out your product or service-interest forms.
If your goal is to generate leads that improve your revenue, and do it fast, avoid creating content like you’re doing it for a non-profit organization.
You need to draw your problem-aware prospects using content that’s relevant to them and their buying stage — before sending them to your lead gen forms.
Step #3: Attract product-aware prospects to your forms
Again, you need to attract prospects who would be most willing to convert into leads.
And another type of these “willing prospects” are product-aware prospects.
Product-aware prospects are potential buyers who know your product but aren’t buying it yet for some reason or objection they have.
Maybe they’ve explored a trial version of your product, experienced a part of your service, or seen a demo of it but still aren’t convinced they should make a buying decision.
Before sending these types of prospects to your lead gen forms, or before they find your forms themselves, you need to show them content that:
- digs into a specific problem they’re facing and shows how it’s hurting them — especially how it’s hurting them in ways they don’t even know (we’ll show some examples in a bit).
- clears up misconceptions they might have about the problem.
- shows how paid users are driving big results using your product.
- demonstrates authority by providing the absolute best content on the issue.
- reassures them that your product can be used right away without too much hassle.
- and finally, strategically showcases your product without being salesy (we’ll share an example of this below)
For example, Nelio Leone of UrbanMonks shared how his team ran a campaign for a client targeting prospects who were very aware of the problem their client’s business solves.
And for some reason, these prospects thought Nelio’s client’s product would be long and complex to implement, so they kept delaying their purchase.
But it was all a misconception.
To clear the air, Nelio’s team created content that helped the client’s product-aware prospects understand that implementing their product isn’t a complex process.
They may not have used lead capture forms for this campaign, but there’s a lesson here:
Show product-aware prospects content that convinces them about your service before sending them to a lead capture form.
This way, you’ll be clearing any doubts they may have and converting them into high intent leads.
Another example of how to attract product-aware prospects
Ahrefs is amazing at targeting product-aware prospects with relevant content that showcases the usefulness of their product.
Case in point: They wrote an article about pagination recently, and the piece has several sections in it about how Google treats pagination and whether it impacts search rankings.
In one section of the piece, they covered mistakes SEO experts are making because of a new statement Google made about pagination and how readers can use Ahrefs to know if they’re making those mistakes:
So, here’s what Ahrefs has done with this post:
- They thoroughly explained Google’s stance on pagination.
- They showcased an Ahrefs feature that helps SEO experts solve their pagination issues.
- They have made SEO experts aware of an Ahrefs product feature they probably weren’t using.
They do the same in most of their content (blog posts and video) — creating content from product-aware prospects and amplifying the usefulness of their product in a very non-promotional way.
They make sure they thoroughly cover the content readers came for while presenting Ahrefs as a tool that just happens to help readers in their problem-solving process.
BTW, the SaaS startup rakes in ~40M ARR and is growing at 60% YoY — and this content strategy is a huge part of their marketing.
So now that we’ve covered the foundation you should build your lead gen campaigns on in steps #1 to #3, let’s discuss how to create your lead capture forms.
Step #4: Create your lead capture forms/pages
Want to know the truth?
Creating lead capture forms and pages isn’t as important as step #1 to #3 above.
When you’ve used relevant content to convince buyers that your offer is worth signing up for, it’s easy to get them to fill out your lead gen form — almost regardless of how you present it.
So if you’re not clear on those preceding steps, this one won’t be so useful for you.
You may even collect emails, but they’ll hardly convert into sales as quickly as you’d wish.
So it’s important you follow steps #1 to #3 before showing visitors your lead gen forms.
There are several tools you can use to create your forms and pages, and several ways to present them — all of which impact conversions.
Here are a couple of ways to present them for optimal conversions:
Make it auto-filled or conversational:
As a B2B business, you often need to collect more contact info from your prospects than first name and email.
The more data you collect, the better you can personalize your messaging and run targeted campaigns.
But traditional forms that look like this are a hassle for some prospects — unless they’re auto-fill forms:
These types of forms still work, but they often create a horrible experience for users, especially when they’re long with, say, seven fields.
If you have to use traditional forms like this, make them shorter and have them auto-filled — and this is something your developer can do for you.
But still, some fields in your form will only be auto-filled by your visitor’s browser.
All in all, you need to auto-fill as many fields as possible so it’s not a trouble for them to sign up.
Or you can make your lead capture forms conversational.
Have them ask questions one after the other.
But conversational forms are often best for when you’re collecting sales leads, not email subscribers or marketing leads.
Sales Development Rep at Wistia, Massimo Severino, recommends that Typeforms are used for longer forms while traditional forms are still okay for shorter forms.
Exit-intent forms work great, too. Let’s discuss those for a bit.
If you’re not familiar with what exit-intent forms are, they are those forms that pop up the second visitors show signs they’re leaving your site.
That word “exit” is key. This means that exit-intent forms are way less annoying than other types of pop up forms since they only show up when visitors are done with your website and are attempting to close it.
For example, this is what visitors see when they’re about to leave the Vidyard website.
And of course, you should use exit-intent forms as a second lead capture strategy.
They work beautifully most times, making someone who thought they were done to stop, look, and hopefully, be pleased that you didn’t let them go so easily.
Now, let’s discuss UX and how to avoid annoying your customers with forms in step #5.
Step #5: Focus on user experience (UX) first, lead capture after
Know what’s more important than capturing leads?
Speed, relevance, and ease.
Assuming all things being equal: the better you are at UX, the more conversions you get.
Here are two key guidelines to make sure you’re not ruining UX with your lead gen initiatives:
- Give visitors the value they come for first before showing them or sending them to any lead capture form.
- Avoid using obstructive, disturbing forms without giving visitors a way to close them easily and return to the content they came for.
But all in all, don’t be so aggressive with lead generation that you ruin user experience.
With the right content for the right prospect, you can cut your lead-to-sale cycles short.
So, make sure your prospects are seeing relevant content for their buying stage before sending them to a lead capture form.
You shouldn’t be shooting blind with your content and lead gen forms.
Also, make relevant content and lead capture forms targeted at problem-aware and product-aware prospects. These types of prospects are easier to convert into customers because they have a real need for your business.
Get this right and watch your sales increase.
If you’d like to know when our post on “how to create relevant content” comes out, sign up here: