By Chris Bucholtz
When many first-time users envision CRM, many of them see this: a system that allows them to capture data automatically about potential customers, apply some automated intelligence to it, and then move it to the appropriate sales person.
That’s exactly what web-to-lead forms are: forms that allow visitors to your website to submit data about themselves, which the CRM application combines with the context of that submission and then submits to sales as a lead, all automatically.
“One of the quickest and easiest ways to achieve ROI for CRM software is to have web leads automatically flow into your CRM,” said David Faye, president of Faye Business Systems Group, a reseller of SugarCRM. “You immediately eliminate manual data entry and increase the accuracy of leads entered into the system. In addition, with some workflow alerts added in, you now have a built-in mechanism for triggering salespeople to follow up on leads.”
It seems like such an obvious part of automating a component of sales and marketing. But a large percentage of CRM users fail to capitalize on this ready-made marketing and sales booster.
“Many times they forget, think it’s too difficult, or think it’s too expensive,” Faye said. “They might push it off to ‘Phase 2,’ and then ‘Phase 2’ never happens. For me, it’s low hanging fruit to easily mix into Phase 1 of any project.”
Getting started with Web-to-Lead forms begins with defining what information you need for your leads – and sticking to your plan. “We come across a lot of organizations that want to have their forms contain all kinds of questions and request all kinds of information that they’re really excited to capture and have flow into the CRM software,” said Faye. “However, website visitors have a limited attention span. We always caution our clients to keep it simple and streamlined.”
You can also decide early on how technically elaborate your forms end up being. “Naturally, the technical requirements for implementing a Web-to-Lead form can depend on the website environment,” said Faye. “However, in most cases, implementing it can be as simple as cutting and pasting some code provided by the CRM partner into the web page. If you want or need custom fields, a fancier look, and custom behavior, you can obviously spend more time and energy on it. However, the key is to start simple, and just get a functioning form up and running. You can add additional functionality to it as you go.”
Web-to-Lead forms also provide marketing with an opportunity to measure how effective its efforts have been – both around campaigns and around the forms themselves. Faye recommends considering what you plan to measure early – “How many leads are you getting per week or per month? Can you tweak the questions and prompts to encourage more people to complete the form? Are your salespeople really using the data provided by the form? Can you create automated workflows or alerts that allow the CRM software to take certain actions based on Web-to-Lead form responses? The Web-to-Lead form is really just the first step in building a fully automated marketing system.”
While Faye said he sees users who implement Web-to-Lead forms achieve ROI more quickly than those who don’t, he also sees the forms provide additional benefits to his CRM customers. “I think it starts opening up their minds to what’s possible with CRM,” he said. “One of the coolest things about CRM software, and Sugar in particular, is the flexibility and capability it brings to an organization to integrate all customer information into one 360-degree view. Implementing Web-to-Lead forms is just one aspect of this, but it’s an important one. And, it opens the door to thinking about other kinds of integration and website integration in particular.”