There’s no arguing that Web forms can be a killer method for generating leads. The emergence of companies like LaunchRock, which combines a “Coming Soon” page with an email submission form to great success, shows us that a bit of ingenuity can make them even better. But we’re not going to leave well enough alone. We’re going to take things a step further to make sure that we can get the highest quality leads from a Web form by using segmenting with the FullContact APIs and some external tools as well.
First thing’s first – Make sure your form is gathering the information that you need. Typically speaking, you are looking for an email address at a minimum, but it will help you to also have a first and last name. Anything less than this increases the work that you have to do to segment these contacts.
The benefit to a Web form is that people have to manually agree to communicate with you by entering their information. The chances, therefore, of that email being linked to a quality lead are considerably higher than if you had simply grabbed a stack of business cards or bought a list from somewhere. So we already know that we’re working with people who probably want to know more about what we’re doing. That’s a great start.
But how do you get the word out to more people? The answer here is to look externally. Instead of sighing over a bad day’s traffic, get your name out there to the people who need to see it. Sites like Quora are great for this. Because you can answer questions and become involved in coversations surrouding topics that are core to your brand, it becomes easier to drive people back to your site.
Another option to consider is traditional forums. While sites like Twitter and Facebook have certainly lowered the number of active forums around the Internet, it’s difficult to find a more meaningful, pre-segmented group of users than you’ll reach via a forum. These sites are often incredibly niche, and it’s easy to get involved in conversations.
Finally, make sure that you’re offering your potential contacts something in exchange for their information. Customers aren’t dumb – they know that they’re giving you a way to contact them. Offer them early access to new features, or a direct line for customer support. Give them something so that they know that they’re important to you.
Sifting and Sorting
Here’s where things get fun. You should start by narrowing your goals. Instead of mass emailing 10,000 people, we want to contact those people who are likely to be the most valuable for each target. If you’re looking to reach a market for women’s clothing for instance, the chances are pretty good that you don’t want to email a 35 year old male whose primary interest is technology.
But how do you know who they are?
Disposable Email API – Let’s pull out some API help, starting with the FullContact Disposable Email API. You can find out if that email address is only for one-time use, set up as a sub-address (firstname.lastname@example.org) or even a duplicate signup. Run your list, find the real emails and then you can start getting the information you need.
Mailgun – Now that you’ve gotten rid of the disposable, crummy emails, it’s time to run them through and find out if they can be validated. Mailgun has a great suite of tools for this, and much more. After all, every email costs you money (whether literally, or in time spent) so you had best make sure that they’re effective.
Person API – Let’s say that you only want to target people who have a Twitter account. Or maybe only ones who are on LinkedIn. You could even search for keywords in their profiles, find them by gender or get rough location data. One interesting use case that we’ve seen recently is targeting of people with low Klout scores for beta testing, so that if something goes horribly wrong the word is less likely to spread. Get creative. The Person API returns a huge amount of information with just an email address.
You have your list, you have your segments. Now put them to work. Whether you’re using a marketing automation platform like Pardot, or even something as simple as Yesware to track email, you know that you’re sending out those messages to the best quality leads that you can find. While it will cost you some time and a little bit of money, the return on your investment has never had the chance of being higher.