For many websites, forms are the most important element. This is where user interaction, data sharing and lead capture happen. For most businesses, sales leads are the most important part of their business. Therefore, great value should be placed on a business owning the lead generation forms on its website.
Online sales, marketing and technology platforms like Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, Wufoo and many others attempt to take the complexities out of building lead generation forms. They tout the benefit of not needing any development knowledge to build a form for your website. Due to this, many businesses fall into the trap of thinking that it is a good idea to outsource their lead generation forms. While a small business may be able to make use of these platforms with little to no effort, medium and large businesses should steer clear. These businesses have more complex needs and should own their online forms. Making a decision to outsource these forms will most likely cause issues down the road, including the following common challenges:
1. Tracking Issues
Many platforms use hosted forms that require the form to run on a subdomain or in an iframe. Since these forms do not reside on the website’s domain, it can become difficult or impossible to configure the necessary tracking codes for Internet marketing campaigns. Without proper tracking, you cannot understand the value of your Internet marketing campaign results.
For example, if a form runs on a subdomain, a specialized setup of Google Analytics is required to properly track visitors across your website’s domain and the subdomain that hosts the form. Another example is when these forms send folks who have successfully submitted forms to confirmation pages that are not hosted on the website’s domain. Since many types of tracking code require the visitor to stay on the main domain, tracking can be broken if a visitor leaves the page/form hosted on a subdomain.
These platforms are very limited when it comes to integration with other systems. You are basically limited to any prebuilt integrations that already exist. Within each prebuilt integration, you are limited to the way the integration was mapped and cannot customize it. For example, say you are using a HubSpot form and would like the form data sent to Salesforce and then pushed into a CRM other than Salesforce. There is a good chance that the integration for that other CRM doesn’t exist.
There are many other reasons larger businesses need a form submission to be pushed into multiple systems like CRMs, ERPs, marketing automation, email campaigns, lead scoring/validation systems, etc. Many times, these integrations do not exist with the hosted form providers and therefore cannot be done.
Web developers have full control over every element of online forms, whereas platform-based forms were created by their form builders. Each form builder is limited by the functionality and customization that was conceived when the form builder was developed. Typical limitations include:
- Available form field types.
- Design style and placement of form fields.
- Auto-population of form fields based off previously completed fields.
- Back-end functionality like checking the DNS MX record of an email address field to make sure the domain runs a mail service.
- Your ability to place conversion tracking code from Internet marketing campaigns in the correct place.
- Where your database is stored.
- Your ability to back up your database.
- The ability to capture all form submissions in a database, but only generate an email if the form passes all error validation.
- Control over file uploads, where the file is stored and what can be done with the file after it is uploaded.
- Error validation methods and the design style and placement of error messages.
As this overview shows, lead tracking issues relating to outsourced forms can cause huge issues for Internet marketing campaign management, reporting and ROI (in terms of producing and measuring ROI). While outsourcing seems like an efficient solution on the surface, integration issues can create data synchronization issues that cause errors and require manual intervention that combine to reduce the efficiency of lead generation campaigns. Finally, functionality and customization limitations can result in subpar online forms that cause businesses to incorrectly handle form submissions, discourage prospects from completing them, and in the end, lose sales leads. Creating and managing lead generation forms independently puts you in a much stronger position to maximize lead generation, efficiency and ROI.