Managing Web Forms For Conversion and Lead Quality

Marketing Sherpa recently released another solid chart of the week, this one focused on form fields for lead generation. The chart summarizes the list of fields that marketers designated as the most important for lead generation forms.

But before we get to the chart, let’s frame the topic to understand why this data is of great importance to demand generation professionals and email marketers.

Lead Quality Vs. Quantity

There has been a long-standing debate in the lead and demand generation field regarding the optimal number of fields to include in a lead conversion form. While it is true the the form needs to be built to match the call-to-action, the location, and the stage in the lead funnel where they are collected, the adage still rings true that you should require fewer form fields to maximize conversion rates.

The answer is simple if you merely want to convert everyone possible, perhaps as a list-building effort for ongoing marketing automation / email marketing campaigns. However, not all conversions are created equal.

When lead quality is more important, take a moment to re-evaluate whether additional form fields are justified. How does this factor into quality? There are two ways:

  1. More data allows you to better filter and segment to focus sales efforts on the best potential fits for your product or service
  2. By making form submission a touch more cumbersome, you filter out all of the low quality tire kickers or people who are just looking to get a free download. Real prospects will be more likely to fill it all out.

Now that we’ve gotten part out of the way, let’s assume you want to maximize lead conversion. That means we have to focus on the top handful of fields, and de-emphasize the rest of them.

Most Important Fields for Lead Generation Forms

Knowing we need to keep the list of fields to 3, 5, or 10 at most, let’s look at what data points are perceived to be of the highest value among marketers.

Lead generation forms most Important Fields to include from MarketingSHERPA

Most Important Fields: Analysis

Email Address

Email address, unsurprisingly, is the top dog. Not only is it important for email or drip marketing, but it allows for a less intrusive first touch by a sales person if desired. If you can only collect or “squeeze” one field out of prospects, this is the one.


Name is logical, and it also serves a key purpose for personalizing any communications you choose to direct to the prospect or customer after conversion. Some lead forms only ask for first name with this in mind, while others will ask for full name in one field, or both “First Name” and “Last Name” in two separate fields.

Business Phone Number

Again, this is a fine field to include if it is obvious that you are collecting leads with the intention of contacting them directly. This field is unnecessary for straight list-building efforts. Consider making this an optional field on initial submission, and then aim to populate it later during your drip marketing follow up.

Lead Source

Every form should be tracking the most recent source for the visitor. This does not have to be an overt question, as many forms can track the page they came from and pass that along to the database via a hidden form field. Don’t forget hidden fields, because they are great ways to get more data without compromising the user experience.

Willingness to be Contacted by Sales

Most lead generation efforts don’t even bother to ask this question. If a form is asking for both email address and phone number, but not asking this one, you can be certain that they plan on following up by any means possible in short order.

Mobile Phone Number

I was surprised to see this field so high on the list. If you choose to request mobile number, always make it optional. Most people don’t want to freely share their mobile number. Personally, I walk away from any form that asks such intrusive questions and makes the fields mandatory for form submission.

Timeframe for Purchase

This is a great field to include if you are obviously targeting hot leads with the form. If you are merely list-building, I do not recommend using this field. It presumes that the prospect is already pretty far down the sales funnel / buyer’s journey. When they are at an advanced stage, it is perfectly acceptable, but it is inappropriate during early stages where they are just figuring out what your company does and whether they are interested in learning more.

Key Pain Point

Again, this presumes that the prospect has a pain point and an immediate need. Great field for downfunnel leads, but avoid it for early stage leads.


I always like to include this field as optional when possible. You can learn a lot from the company website, particularly if they are publicly traded. Alternatively, you could sign up a data append service to add URL, SIC code, company size and revenue, location, and a variety of other information on the back end. This is a good way to reduce field count while still gathering enough data to profile the prospect before talking to them.


Another field for downfunnel leads. If they are at an advanced stage and have an established need, this is a sales qualification tool to determine whether the need is important enough that the company is ready to fund it.  If so, you’ve got a hot lead and someone needs to get them on the phone immediately.


The Sherpa chart only included the top 10 fields overall from their survey. I’d be interested in seeing what the next 10 were. Regardless, if you are aiming to maximize conversion rate and less worried about pre-qualification data, keep your form short and include the right fields for your marketing campaign. This chart should help you select which ones to include.

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As Founder and President of Return On Now, Tommy Landry provides the vision behind our SEO and SEM methodologies. With over 25 years of business experience and a deep understanding of modern internet marketing techniques, he spends his time providing hands-on consulting, insightful content, and engaging public speaking appearances to Online Marketers of all skill levels.
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