If you knew you were going to perish in a tragic plane crash, but could choose between your aircraft crashing and blowing up during takeoff or during landing, which would you choose?

I would choose takeoff. There is something about the proximity to the end destination that makes the idea of blowing up during the landing sequence infinitely worse. The same goes with fishing. I would prefer the stupid fish to never even bite my lure than have to wrestle with it for 20 minutes only to have the line snap two-feet in front of me before I could land the 8lb beast. There is just something about failure in the final moments of an act that really doesn’t sit right with me. To come so far and then have your goal ripped away from you at the last second… that’s the worst kind of failure.

This same agony used to plague me often in my role as an inbound marketer. Far too often steps 1-9 on my marketing to-do list would be executed to perfection and neatly checked off, only to have number 10 staring back at me with mocking defiance. And for most of my customers, number 10 was the only step that really mattered. For all of you familiar with inbound marketing, you already know exactly what I’m talking about.

Leads. Downloads. Sign ups. Conversions. Capturing the data clients need to get more customers and make more money. Heck, it’s why they hired you in the first place! They want you to get them to the pot of gold at the end of the marketing rainbow.

After several less-than-successful lead campaigns, I set out to discover where we were losing potential leads. I was doing so much right: targeting the right audiences, creating eye catching ads, driving good amounts of traffic… What was the matter?

The problem was in the finale, in the reeling in, in the landing. When 700-1000 visitors hit your final page and only 5%-10% are actually converting, it’s time to do what I did—take a step back and take a hard look at the final element of your campaign: the landing page.

I’m still no Jonathan Wickham, but I have seen a dramatic uptick in conversions and generated leads in my last five campaigns by simply re-evaluating my landing page process. The most crucial lesson I’ve learned is this:

Get a reliable form builder/data collection tool

Obviously the most important part of this entire process is capturing the information. The amount of data you collect usually correlates to the success of the campaign. It is crucial to have a tool that creates good-looking and easy-to-use forms. I personally use Wufoo forms. It is very customizable and seamlessly integrates with almost all CRMs. Most tools pretty much do the exact same thing, but I have discovered a few key features that can really make a difference:

Customizable Forms

Data quality is extremely important. Having the ability to create forms where the field size can be customized and data can be validated is incredibly useful. You want to make sure the email address or phone number you get is legit and your respondents have enough room to communicate everything they want to share.

TIP: The ability to insert Captcha fields also comes in handy. Thousands of spam entries can be very frustrating.

Data Tracking

With most tools, once a form is filled out an email is sent to a pre-specified address with the information from the form. This is very useful, but what happens when you or your client want a list of all submissions from the current or previous campaigns? Integrating with a CRM or sending the data to some type of database or dashboard will help you keep your data much more organized and will allow for real-time access and viewing.

TIP: If your form building tool offers some type of reporting and the ability to publish reports on a live URL. Create a report from your form’s data before you actually launch your campaign. As the submissions start rolling in you can use the URL of the report as a live dashboard to track submissions.

Form presentation

Capturing data submissions is an art. Yes, the obvious method is having a form at the bottom of a page or an ad, but there are a few other methods that I have found to be very effective. Presentation of the form that needs to be filled out is a major part of the battle. Some particularly gripping content on your page may catch the viewer’s attention, but the distance from the content to the form at the bottom of the page may lose several potential submissions. Instead, I have had much more success with links or buttons after each article that provide pop-out forms. I have also started using timed fly-outs that present forms to viewers after viewing a certain page several times or remaining on a specific page for several minutes.

TIP: Use SumoMe tools to create timed popups. Then embed your form as an iframe in the popup.

Having an effective process for creating lead-generation-friendly sites and forms directly impacts the success of any given lead campaign. For more tips on how you can make your website a lead generating machine, visit our blog and sign up for Digital Flavor’s free brand audit today!