8 Vital Webform Tactics Digital Marketers Should Embrace

Earlier this week, Tom spoke about the ability for webforms to ramp up your data collection strategy, along with a few tips on what your initial design considerations should be. In this post he gives his top 8 tactics for webform design, build and deployment that every marketer should consider – as well as their core value proposition.

The webform is an understated tool in the belt of the digital marketer – a key channel to enrich user data, gain valuable customer insight and engage your audience. Often, they’re deployed in a haphazard fashion and without much thought for the user experience, which marketers ignore at their peril. Every touch-point should be treated as a chance to develop relationships with your customers, and not frustrate them. So, with that in mind and starting from the very basic, here are our top 10 considerations to make the best use of the humble webform.

1. Employ a Website Newsletter Sign-Up

This is the most traditional of web forms, and usually one of the first things that a brand puts on their web page. This is a standard tactic for pretty much all businesses with a digital presence, but often brands get bogged down asking far too many questions about their new subscribers. Keep it simple – First name, last name, email. Remember, if they engage with your email and click on your links, you’ve got the opportunity to get to know them better further down the line.

Example signup form from one of our favourite blogs, Convince & Convert. This is what's above the fold...

Example signup form from one of our favourite blogs, Convince & Convert. This is what’s above the fold…

...and this is what's below the fold. On the mainsite this takes up the width of the footer

…and this is what’s below the fold. On the mainsite this takes up the width of the footer

Basic design considerations for this are to ensure that the sign-up call to action is clearly and prominently displayed on your website, i.e on the home page. Whether it’s above or below the fold is a matter for debate, but just make sure it’s there! Most sites embed it into the persistent header or menu bar, but whatever you do make sure that you are monitoring and testing placement performance through a combination of your site and webform analytics.

Of course, you also want to make sure that someone’s actually creating and sending out a newsletter. There are few things more frustrating than signing up for something that you don’t end up receiving.


2. Create a survey or online poll format

If you’ve not been on Facebook for the past year, you’ll have probably missed out on the swathe of ‘What x are you?’ type-surveys, propagated by Buzzfeed and Viral Nova. While on the surface they seem like innocent fun, these are in fact very shrewd ways of gaining insight into engaged user/consumer personas.

Surveys are a great tool to collect very rich data from prospects and customers. While the ones run by Buzzfeed et al, don’t necessarily match personal info to user responses, many email service providers offer an integration that allows you to append the data you collect to the records in your existing lists.

The type of data you are going to collect will directly influence the format of your survey. In our last post on webforms, we talked about how the 9 points of data ranking help you directly assess your data needs for a particular campaign.

Many feedback surveys incentivise participation responses with prize draws, which you may want to consider doing if your particular survey doesn’t involve determining which Royal House from Game of Thrones your user belongs to.

You’ll also want to consider the ‘contextual purpose’ of your survey – one like Buzzfeed’s below, is primarily an engagement play, but gathers personality data against web traffic to help target their native advertorial content. Other examples may be a customer satisfaction survey of a particular product in a post-product delivery email, or a ‘preference centre’ as part of an event registration form. Science Buddies, has a great guide to structuring survey questions, that you should definitely check out.


BuzzFeed’s GoT Quiz – (we came out as House Targaryen, if you wanted to know)


3. Create New Customer Touchpoints

If you don’t say ‘thank you’, when someone buys something from you, you might be considered a little rude, or indifferent at best. An automated ‘thank you’ email when someone signs up to your newsletter, or as part of your purchase/shipping confirmation goes a long way.

eBay of course has their seller/buyer feedback mechanism – no reason why your brand shouldn’t do the same. It’s a great way to show your appreciation, engender loyalty, and of course, collect extra customer data.

An example straight out of our whitepaper. American luxury specialty department store, Neiman Marcus, treats its purchase confirmation emails just like real human checkout in one of their stores.

An example straight out of our whitepaper. American luxury specialty department store, Neiman Marcus, treats its purchase confirmation emails just like real human checkout in one of their stores.

 4. Get on Facebook

These days, pretty much every email marketing service provider offers a social app plugin that lives in the top tabs of your brand page that can harvest email addresses – the trick, is to know how to direct traffic there.

This where the App Tab lives...

This where the App Tab lives on you Facebook company page…

..and this is what it could look like. Obviously you'll want to style it up and add your own fields, but you get the idea.

..and this is what it could look like. Obviously you’ll want to style it up and add your own fields, but you get the idea

Tabs see less that 0.06% average clicks per 1mm impressions via the company page, so it’s a task of posting the tab link on your page’s timeline, possibly once a month with a touch of entertaining and engaging copy.

If you want to get fancy, you can use an app like Offerpop or ShortStack to build an engaging competition draw, entry for which is simply the submission of an email address.

Click to Enlarge A ShortStack webform / competition

Click to Enlarge
A ShortStack webform / competition

5. Capture blog visitors’ data

This is pretty similar to the newsletter signup, but a lot more focussed. Your regular blog traffic is effectively its own segment. If your webform is able to automatically append webform data to your email database (like dotMailer does), you can make an initial assumption that the subscriber finds value in your content.

Your blog, and pretty much every page where you’re creating regular content are touch-points where you can offer a web form sign up. Check out the bottom of this blog for an example (so meta!)


6. Referrals & Social sharing

While you may want to add share buttons to your actual form, the underlying issue you’ll want to address is giving a reason that someone would want to share your webform. If you’re running a competition which incentivises a signup, you may want to further incentivise sharing through awarding social referrals – both Offerpop and Shortstack offer these features in their app builders. What this means is that entrants to your promotional competition get an extra entry, for every friend they get to enter in turn.

British Beauty brand, Rodial ran a webform-based promotion in return for signups to their email newsletter. On signup, users received a unique URL to send to their friends or share on social networks to enable others to enter the Rodial competition – served to them dynamically on a webpage, and emailed to them.

Every time another user entered the competition using that unique URL, the original referrer received another entry into the competition, for an extra chance to win the main prize.

Rodials Spa Giveaway - a great example of a referral campaign

Rodial’s Spa Giveaway – a great example of a referral campaign


7. Segment your database by engagement

Look at your engagement data in your email service provider’s dashboard – some providers use a starred system, dotMailer has a ‘last opened’ field, and pretty much every suite is able to show which of your links get clicked on. Look at this data, and consider what questions you could ask of these different segments to help create a more personalised user experience for each one.

An incentivised win-back campaign might be a good idea – a survey to help readjust your user’s preferences would help send better, targeted and more relevant emails.

8. Create A Compelling Value Exchange

Last but not least, consider the value of what you are trying to exchange for an email, or your user’s engagement. This is ‘Content Marketing’ at its core. What user data do you already have that can help paint a compelling case study for your industry? Or, more interestingly, how can you create a data series through an engagement play with your customers that can be turned into lead generation-style content?

It’s literally the million-dollar question – what makes for good insight-driven B2B lead generation content? Content marketing agencies Raconteur and NewsCred addressed this in a recent seminar in London. Consider all the live/physical touchpoints you have with your customers. If you’re running an in-store activation, ensure in the planning stage you’re collecting things such as footfall data, engagement etc. Benchmarks and user insights are gold dust – and more than equal currency for an email.

Learn more about webforms from our Marketer’s Guide to Webform Optimisation, or check out the video below for ideas of how you can build surveys in dotMailer.

dotMailer Surveys and Forms from dotMailer on Vimeo.

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