Best Lead Generating Forms In 2018
by Marcus Taylor - Jun 07, 2018
Looking for design inspiration to increase your form conversion rates?
Below are 21 of the best lead capture forms I’ve seen on the web, along with a deconstruction of the psychological / design tactics that make them high-converting.
To kick off, let’s start with one of the best converting forms I’ve come across.
A colleague of mine designed a homepage lead gen form for BrokerNotes that, literally overnight, increased the conversion rate from 11% to 46%.
Here’s the form:
We came up with this design after months of surveying users, recording user sessions in HotJar, crunching Google Analytics data, and applying everything we knew about behavioural science to improving the design.
Takeaway #1: Don’t make your forms look like forms
A key concept behind designing this form was to not make it look like a form. Despite common wisdom suggesting that you shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel with things like forms, people just don’t like forms. When was the last time you got excited after being told to fill out a form? Exactly.
By using non-standard user interface (UI) elements, such as large clickable images and toggle sliders, the form was fun and felt more like using a tool. Of course, the data captured at the end of it was identical to if we used a traditional form.
Takeaway #2: Reduce cognitive load using clickable elements
From a psychological perspective, every UI element required motor action (a mouse click or movement) rather than a cognitive action (having to think and type).
In the same way that a piece of software may be more intensive on your computer’s RAM than others, motor actions are less ‘load intensive’ on the brain than cognitive actions. Therefore by reducing cognitive load – i.e. the amount the user has to think to complete the form, we made it easier for users, increasing form completions.
Takeaway #3: Use conditional logic to ask better questions
Another tactic used is conditional logic (a feature in LeadFormly) to hide/display certain questions to certain users. For example, if someone said they were a beginner trader, we wouldn’t ask them which trading platform they prefer, as it’s unlikely they’d have one. For someone who answered that they were an expert, this is an important question to ask.
While this sounds like common sense, most forms ask the same cookie-cutter questions to every user. Conditional logic allows you to capture more information on users, while segmenting them better, by asking the most relevant questions to different audience segments.
One of the best lead capture forms I’ve come across recently is by TopTal, a site for hiring the top 1% of developers and designers.
Their form has no distractions, is well-designed, and conforms with all of the usual conversion optimisation best practices.
Digging deeper, there are a few things that are quite impressive. Like the BrokerNotes example above, TopTal uses conditional logic to ask different questions to different users based on your previous answers.
Throughout the entire process TopTal also reinforce trust signals such as their phone number and client list.
While subtle, I also like the green progress bar beneath the header, making it clear how far you have to go. My only gripe here is that it moves in very small increments – giving the impression of a very long form.
A final nice touch was that TopTal sends off your form submission to a sales rep once it’s ~40% complete. You then have the option to add more information, which will fast track your enquiry.
Creative Design Architects are another great example of a company standing out from the crowd with a well-executed lead generation form. The form uses a lot of visual icons, making it appear less form-like and more engaging.
This form also uses calculations and conditional logic to provide leads with a personalised experience that provides them with instant value (a quote), in return for capturing their information.
Salesforce do two things particularly well in their lead generation forms. The first is that they counter common objections and emphasise trust signals with statements like ‘no downloads’ and ‘trusted by 150,000 customers’.
Secondly, Salesforce allow you to register a free trial using social profiles. While not too unusual in the SaaS industry, this is quite a smart approach to lead generation – as it moves away from the user having to fill out a form, while still providing the company with the same data.
It’s quite rare to see eCommerce sites doing lead generation. For MusicLawContracts.com (a site built by Venture Harbour), we used this lead generation form to simultaneously help direct customers to the right product for them, while capturing email leads.
This form converts at ~26%. In other words, just over 1 in 4 visitors to the home page give us their email address.
The reason why this lead generation form converts so well is because it doesn’t just take – it also gives value to the user. By directing the user to the best product for their situation, this lead gen form appears to be more of a tool than a form.
By capturing these leads at the start of the user’s journey on our eCommerce site we can easily segment between leads that bought and those who didn’t. This provides a number of remarketing and email marketing opportunities, to entice leads to come back and purchase a contract.
While it might look like a simple tool, Hubspot’s marketing grader is really a lead generation form in disguise. What’s great about it is that it only asks for two pieces of information before it begins to give you value.
After you’ve entered your web address and email, you’re giving a personalised web audit of your site’s performance. If you click ‘Try Hubspot for Free’ you’ll be asked for more information – if not they’ll still get in touch to try and sell their software.
The lesson here is once again noticing the power of a simple form and giving your visitors some value (e.g. an audit) in return for their details.
BounceExchange’s lead gen form is another non-conventional, yet impressively-designed, example of how you can collect leads without using the usual boring form designs.
What I really like about this form is the conversational tone of the questions. While the questions are perhaps longer than they need to be, it differentiates their form from the usual ‘name, email, phone number’ forms that we’re used to.
In combination with the clear call to actions, a subtle progress bar, and a permanent value proposition for why you should use the form, I imagine that this lead gen form performs particularly well.
Among designers, there’s a never-ending debate about whether form fields should have a title above the field box, or just placeholder text. The argument goes like this: Form fields look better with no title. However, when the user clicks the form field and starts typing, placeholder text disappears, which is a bad user experience.
As you can see, Xero have opted not to have titles above the form fields (except for the country field). But wait…
Xero have created a simple, yet slick, solution by moving the field placeholder text to the title as soon as you start typing:
This simple feature is a smart and stylish solution to the form field / title debate.
While Base’s form is actually nothing special, the value proposition of their lead capture form is clever. Instead of focusing on requesting a demo with a sales rep, Base position the value proposition of the demo as ‘speaking with a sales productivity expert’.
While I’ve never heard of the Ryan Thomas, Vanessa Arterberry or Tyler Rosenberg, the use of these images makes it feel more like an expert consultation, increasing the value proposition to fill out the form.
The first thing that’s quite unique about SingleGrain’s lead gen form is that they use a ‘twitching’ call to action (every three seconds or so the button wiggles).
As our brain’s are hard-wired to notice movement, this is a smart way to draw attention back to an already-prominent call-to-action. In combination with the well-crafted personalised headline, I imagine this form converts very well for SingleGrain.
Shifting back to B2C lead generation, we have CompareTheMarket.com.
If you’ve ever requested an insurance quote online you know just how long and dull the process can be. CompareTheMarket.com have reduced the amount of clicks required to complete this form to the absolute minimum.
One of the ways they do this is by asking questions in a logical order. This enables CompareTheMarket.com to set the most probable answers as defaults to future questions.
For example, once I’ve entered my vehicle registration number, all of the following questions are already answered by default:
Another area that CompareTheMarket.com are particularly strong in is providing good explanations for ambiguous questions. Instead of the usual question mark tooltips, CompareTheMarket.com have full pop out explainers with icons when you hover over any question.
Their handling of optional fields is also particularly interesting. Using the same pop-out explainers from above, CompareTheMarket.com explain how filling out optional fields will benefit your quote. This is a great balance between allowing users who’re in a rush to skip these questions, but still capturing extra information from users who are willing to invest more time to get a better or more accurate outcome.
eHarmony use many clever tactics already outlined in the examples above. By using conversational form field text, the word ‘free’, image-based UI elements, relevant imagery surrounding the form, and action-driven call-to-actions, this form is incredibly simple, yet well thought-out.
Like many of the forms, eHarmony also use a black out effect to make the form pop (and reduce distractions).
Cottages.com’s form is pretty standard for a travel site, except for one feature.
When you update the location that you’re looking for cottages in, the text in the call to action changes to show how many matches cottages there are in that area.
This is extremely clever, as the location is the first field you enter, which also happens to be the field that users are most likely to abandon. By quickly displaying how many cottages are in that area, it increases the user’s motivation to fill out the rest of the form.
Before trying to capture your information, Wealthfront give you a personalised investment portfolio plan based on your answers to a few questions.
What I really like about this approach is that it gives the user something of value before asking for anything in return. According to Influence author Dr. Robert Cialdini, this kind of reciprocity can be a powerful trigger for influencing action.
In addition to this, Wealthfront’s form is beautifully designed. With only question per step, clear progress indicators, and mostly one-click answer options, it’s quick and easy to use.
Once you finish answering the questions, you’re redirected to a page that requests your email address in return for displaying your personalised portfolio. By this point, you’ve invested enough time and effort that handing over your email address is a no-brainer.
The form on the Leadformly homepage converts approximately 34% of visitors into leads.
While this particular form doubles up as a live demo of Leadformly’s end product, the form incorporates a number of best practices such as conditional logic, multi-step design, strong visual cues, and smart defaults (personalising the default option based on the user’s IP address or previous answers).
Perhaps my favourite thing about this particular form is the animated progress bar, which moves like a barber shop sign. Check it out here.
One of the most significant factors affecting form conversion rates is how much motivation your visitors have to use them in the first place. One of the best ways to increase this motivation is to ensure that your forms sell the benefits of using your form
Crazyegg is a great example of this. Their homepage lead capture form clearly explains that by using their form I will receive a heatmap that will tell me what’s making my website visitors leave.
While this form is designed to connect to my Google account and capture my information as a lead, the wording focuses on the value I’m about to receive.
Lead generation forms can be a nightmare for companies in highly-regulated industries like finance. With so many legal do’s and don’ts, it can be very challenging creating a smooth experience.
eToro are probably one of the best examples of a company that’s doing things right. While their forms could definitely be improved, they have done a good job of asking for lead information over a few phases to break things up.
When you first sign up, you’re required to enter your basic personal information. As you can see, they’ve put a lot of effort into providing clear inline validation, using smart defaults (e.g. predicting my phone extension), and giving me a few different options on how to sign up.
For those unaware, a site like this needs a lot more information than this in order for me to make a trade. They are going to need a copy of my passport, a household bill, as well as a lot of information on how I want to trade. Most companies ask for this all in one go.
eToro have turned this part of their lead gen form into a ‘wizard’ that gives the impression that you’re completing your profile. In other words, they’ve gamified their lead generation forms.
While simple, WeLoveDates’ lead capture form is very well-polished. From using an image of a happy couple to help the user visualise why they’re using the form, to starting with a simple question that requires no thought, this form uses all of the tricks in the book.
As soon as you start using the form, the rest of the page is blacked out to reduce the likelihood of users being distracted by other links / elements on the page. The form also provides instant feedback by displaying a green tick on the option that you’ve selected.
While their form only requires five pieces of information, WeLoveDates have split their form into five steps.
By asking one question per step (and clearly showing where the user is in the process), this design increases the user’s motivation to complete the form as they get closer to finishing (due to a cognitive bias called the endowed progress effect).
While there’s nothing particularly special about the form Datanyze is using (in fact, it violates a lot of form design best practices), I liked how it slides in from the side of the screen when you click ‘request a demo’.
It’s a small thing – but a nice touch none the less.
My favourite thing about Square’s lead capture form (and there are many) is their validation messages. When something is entered incorrectly a full width error message appears, making it extremely clear that you need to make a change.
While it’s arguably quite intense, I like it. In addition, Square’s lead capture form feels very sleek and well-designed.
21. The Zebra
Now, I may have saved one of the best until last.
TheZebra.com have one of the best insurance lead capture forms I’ve ever seen. They not only have stunning landing pages, but the process of capturing information is incredibly well thought out.
Once you’ve entered some basic information, TheZebra ‘gamify’ the lead capture form by improving the accuracy of your insurance quote as you enter more information. When you answer additional questions, a percentage meter increases in realtime, encouraging you to answer even more questions.
Insurance is an inherently tough industry for lead capture forms, and TheZebra have created one of the best forms I’ve seen taking into account a tonne of insights that we’ve come across at Leadformly that typically result in higher engagement.
If you have a lead generation site that you want to optimise, here’s my advice:
- Look at the Wikipedia page for cognitive biases. This page lists all of the known and proven ways in which humans make decisions (often irrationally). If you’ve ever wondered why certain conversion optimisation or usability principles work, often it’s grounded in one of these biases.
- Use Leadformly. As a co-founder I’m obviously biased, however, we built it because building high-converting forms for our lead gen sites was costing $1,000’s each month in development fees and taking far too long. That’s not even taking into account the weeks of setting up insightful form analytics in Google Tag Manager, integrating them with our other tools, and squashing bugs. Leadformly lets you build powerful lead gen forms like the examples above, with ease.
- Test big changes. Don’t waste time testing your call-to-action text – create a radically different form that solves the same problem in a different way. Test that. As we saw in example #1, that’s how you go from converting at 11% to 46% overnight.