Blackjack, also known as twenty-one, is the most popular casino game in the world. It is played against a dealer, and the object of the game is to get 21 points or reach a final score higher than the dealer without exceeding 21.
In each game, the player is dealt a two-card hand. After receiving the first two cards, players have the option of taking an additional card in hopes of getting closer to 21 points. This is called getting a “hit.” If subsequent hits exceed 21 points, you lose, or “bust.”
Using lead generation forms is similar to playing blackjack. Ask for too little or too much information and you might lose.
If you ask for too little information, you might not get enough information to effectively segment your leads within your marketing automation tool and populate your CRM data.
Similarly, if you don’t ask for enough information and a competitor asks for more, your competition will have more complete information upon which to initiate meaningful contact with the prospect in a timely manner. If you can get there first with the most, you’re more likely to close the sale.
But just like getting too many “hits,” there are perhaps even greater risks in asking for too much information on lead generation forms.
Of course, you can’t convert leads unless the website visitor fills out a form. A good lead capture form might ask for first name, last name, email address, company and job function. Or any variation of those. And you can have more or fewer fields depending on your needs, but it’s generally better to err on the side of including fewer form fields.
With lead generation forms, less is more. Short forms outperform long forms when it comes to conversion rates. This is probably not a surprise – it’s only common sense that people don’t want to waste time filling out long forms. Be honest – have you ever given up on downloading something from a website because the form asked for more information than your doctor?
To prove this point, marketing automation software company Marketo did an A/B test of short forms vs. long forms. The shortest form performed significantly better than the long forms.
But there’s another reason why longer forms should be avoided. The more information you ask for, the more people lie.
In a MarketingSherpa study, it was found that with self-submitted data, the more information a lead fills out, the less likely they are to tell the truth.
In the game of blackjack, counting cards is a technique where the player takes note of which cards have already been played to make inferences about the cards which remain to be dealt. While it’s not illegal, successful card counters are sometimes asked to leave the casino.
Somewhat similarly, progressive profiling takes into account previously “played” hands in order to gain an information advantage. The technology behind progressive profiling enables you to ask for new information when a lead fills out a subsequent form, and avoid asking for information you already have.
For instance if, on the first form, you asked for company and job function. The next time you don’t ask for that information (since you already have it). Instead, you ask further qualification questions.
While it’s tempting to ask for a lot of information on a lead generation form, veer on the side of fewer fields. A lead with some information is better than no lead. Plus, if you continue to offer useful, interesting content to deepen the relationship with your prospect, you’ll ultimately get the qualification information you need.