At the recent MarketingProfs Business-to-Business Forum 2008, I hosted an Email Lab and provided on-the-spot email program evaluations for several B2B marketers. One of the trends I noticed was that the majority of the companies I met with were not collecting email addresses on their websites. Their list growth came from new customers, paid acquisition, email append and business cards provided by their sales people (more on that in my next post). What a missed opportunity! These marketers assumed that no one would seek out their company’s website and voluntarily sign-up for their email program. That assumption is most likely costing them a potentially valuable source of new customers. Adding an email capture form to their website should require minimal time and resources and is well worth the investment.
Now the next question is, where should the form go? The simple answer is everywhere. While your home page is a must and the most obvious location, don’t stop there. Prompt for it (either the email address form field itself or a link to a multi-field form) in the persistent navigation bars or on key sub pages. People often enter your website directly through content or product pages.
The marketers I met with who did collect email addresses often collected more than just email address since they were using the sign-up as a lead generation tool for inside sales. Other requested information included name, title, company name, phone number and country. While asking for this much information can be effective in some cases, it can also be a barrier to conversion. Sometimes people want to find out more about your company and products without having to worry about getting a phone call from a sales person. I encouraged the B2B marketers to test their forms. Ask for just email or ask for the other information but don’t make it all required. See if they get a higher capture rate by asking for less information and if those subscriptions eventually turn into sales down the road. If asking for more information yields a lower capture rate but ultimately a higher conversion to actual sales, then keep using the longer form. You won’t know unless you test it.