Pete Bowen's site

Do long enquiry forms get more qualified leads?

I sat on the sidelines of an internet argument about whether long forms - forms that ask lots of questions - are better than short forms. It’s a pretty geeky subject, but, if you’re in the business of finding sales leads, it’s crucial.

Short form guy said they get more leads. Long form guy said it didn't matter if there were fewer leads because long forms got more qualified leads.

I stepped back from the argument. Yelling at a stranger on the internet is as useful as yelling at your teenage daughter (I've had 2) about the length of her skirt.

Long form guy won the argument.

He was wrong.

If your enquiry form asks for much more than contact details you're losing qualified sales leads. Let's start by defining a qualified lead...

What makes a someone who clicked your ad a qualified sales lead?

Basic lead-scoring might use BANT or something similar. BANT stands for:

You’ve probably got extra criteria for what makes a qualified lead. For me, they are:

With your definition of a qualified sales lead in mind, let's consider a stranger who's clicked an ad to get to your site.

Can you change anything about a person by adding extra questions to your enquiry form?

Obviously not. Asking them about their budget can't give them the money they need. Asking about their timezone won't change where they live. Asking them for their job title doesn't give them the authority to buy from you.

Adding extra questions to an enquiry form does nothing to increase the number of qualified visitors to your site. That job belongs to your ad targeting.

Long enquiry forms are a filter

A filter that strains out unqualified leads, while letting good leads through sounds like a smart idea.

But, a long enquiry form doesn't separate people with authority to buy from from tyre-kickers. Instead it filters out:

It's easy to think that someone who won't put the effort into filling a long form isn't serious about buying, but, that'd be wrong.

You see, people have learned that most enquiry forms are a waste of time. Your chances of getting fast a useful response from a clued-up human are low. 99% of the time you're going to get nothing, or an email 4 days after your urgent enquiry. Or, you're going to the victim of "lead nurturing" email automation that swamps your inbox.

And, at this stage, the lead doesn't know of any downside to not filling in your long enquiry form. There are a plenty of other suppliers with short easy enquiry forms two clicks away.

Sometimes people might not have answers to the questions on the enquiry form.

I had a client who supplies dust-extraction systems for factories. The biggest trigger for his services was when smallish factory failed their health and safety inspection. The factory maintenance guy would be told to get the dust extraction sorted pronto.

The maintenance guy was inevitably some crusty old bloke who’d been fixing the machines since he was an apprentice. He'd yell at his lackey to get on "the internets" and find a dust-extraction supplier because nobody in his tattered copy of the yellow pages was still in business.

The lackey would find my client's site and grind to a halt on the first question. "How many cubic feet per minute does your system need to extract?"

My client was in love with this question. In his mind it separated hobbyists in their their garages from factories who would spend $xxxx .

But, the lackey never knows the answer, and the crusty old maintenance guy forgot - if he ever knew.

I know this because when we changed the question from compulsory to optional we'd get answers like "I don't know", "?" and, "Need help calculating this".

Or how about another client who sold reconditioned car engines. They needed the year, make and model to quote a price. But, when it came time to supply the engine, the also needed the first three letters from the engine number.

For "efficiency" they demanded the engine number on the enquiry form, even though they didn't need it before the deal was done. The number of enquiries - and sales - dropped through the floor.

You see, the trigger for buying a reconditioned engine is usually a phone call from the mechanic. He gives you the bad news that it'd be cheaper to get another engine than fix the flux capacitor.

Nobody memorises their engine number. It's on the engine - at the workshop - and on your car registration papers at home. You can’t find it while you're Googling on your lunch break.

Asking people for information they don't have at their fingertips breaks one of the key rules of converting clicks into clients: Don't interrupt people while they're doing what you want them to do.

And, finally people might be reluctant to answer some questions.

For example, I have several immigration consultants as clients. One needs to know if the prospective immigrant has a criminal record or expensive medical condition. Either is a red flag for most countries.

These are sensitive questions. Nobody wants to tell a stranger about a stupid teenage drunk-driving conviction or an embarrassing bladder problem. Especially if you don’t know what’s going to happen with that information.

How do I filter out unqualified leads?

If I’ve convinced you that long enquiry forms aren’t a good idea, the obvious next question is "How do I filter out unqualified leads?" I’ll share some ideas in part 2 of this article.

Need some help with this?

I offer 1-to-1 mentoring and consulting. You’ll get help, advice, support and answers without having to commit to a long-term contract. Details here.

Want to increase your conversion rate?
I’ve seen conversion rates double, triple and even 10X after a few quick and easy changes to the enquiry form. Subscribe now, and I'll send you a free copy of my in-depth ebook High-Converting Enquiry Forms.
You're already paying for clicks. Now turn them into conversions. Privacy policy. Unsubscribe at any time.

Related articles

How I track WhatsApp conversations as conversions in Google Ads At the time of writing Google has no way of tracking WhatsApp leads as conversions. I've used a couple of work arounds to solve this.

How to get more phone call leads. Most businesses who advertise online to get leads struggle to contact people who filled in an enquiry form. One way to improve this is to get leads to call you.

Will using technical terms and industry jargon on a landing page improve conversion rate? Landing pages have to be written for both the expert and non-technical user because you get both expert and non-technical visitors. Here's how to do that.

Improve conversion rates with visitor-focussed headlines High-converting headlines are about what the visitor cares for, not about the characteristics of the business. Here's how to check your headline for visitor focus.

6 Critical Mistakes You're Making with Your Landing Page Amy Hoy wrote a brilliant article titled 6 Critical Mistakes You're Making with Your Landing Page. She makes a really interesting observation which resonated with me: Landing page design is actually a usability exercise.

CAPTCHA is like putting barbed wire in front of your shop Don't make it difficult for your customers to contact you. Businesses with the smoothest processes will attract (and keep) the best customers.

Honest conversion tracking when you've got live chat, click to call and a form I took on an account with no useful conversion data. Here's how I started tracking calls, forms and live chat accurately.

How I got landing page load time down from 0.8 seconds to 0.2 seconds. Here’s a quick tip for improving landing page speed. As you know, nobody likes a slow website. Load speed is strongly correlated with the conversion rate: Fast website = more leads.

How long should your landing page be? How long should your landing page be? The answer isn't a number.

How to craft high-converting headlines, even if you have the copywriting skills of a turnip. If you’re anything like me, starting is the hardest part of writing. It's like I'm staring at the screen waiting for someone to unblock the idea pipe. That struggle is over.

How to improve landing page conversion rates by increasing visitor motivation Here's how I doubled the conversion rate on some Google Ads lead generation landing pages by improving visitor's motivation.

How to improve landing page experience. Improving page speed helps improve landing page experience. Google's guidance is broad, not specific. That makes it hard to know what to do. Google does provide one specific set of instructions, following these will improve landing page experience and boost conversion rates.

I’m paying for clicks but I'm not getting enough leads. Read on to learn how your website could be sabotaging your advertising. And, what you can do to get more leads from your the clicks you've already paid for.

Improve website conversion rates with autocomplete. Here's a small tweak to the contact form on your website that'll make it easier for people to complete it. Adding autocomplete to your form fields is one of those 1% kaizen improvements. They all add up.

Landing pages: Click-to-call or contact form? You get the highest conversion rates from landing pages that concentrate on convincing visitors to do just one thing. Offer visitors too many choices and they bounce. But what if there are two equally good things your visitor could do?

Use HTTPS for your landing pages or kill your conversion rate. The number of website enquiries you get is going to fall off a cliff after 24th of October if your website doesn't use HTTPS. After the 24th of October 2017, Google Chrome will warn people that web pages with forms are insecure unless they’re served over HTTPS. Here's how to fix this.

We read websites like we did 100 years ago Even though the internet is infinitely more ubiquitous now. Even though we've had a generation grow up with Google. Even though 2-year olds have iPads
. The way people read websites hasn't changed...

What's your landing page's first job? It’s not to convince someone to buy from you, establish trust, build your brand or educate your customer. Those things are important but they're not the first job. The first job is ...

Length is a liability; value per page is an asset. This is a quote from Write Useful Books by Rob Fitzpatrick. His advice is perfect for lead-generation landing pages.