The marketing landscape has changed considerably over the last decade. The inundation of digital media has whittled down our attention span to a staggering eight seconds — one second less than that of the goldfish — forcing marketers to work harder to capture leads’ attention.

Yesterday’s static web forms are quiet on the page, occupy expensive real estate, leave few options for creativity, and aren’t guaranteed to display well on mobile. With marketers’ needs shifting to prioritize engagement, versatility and mobile-responsiveness, pop-up forms are are increasingly the way to go.

Today’s forms can play a crucial role in your marketing and sales processes. They can be used for anything from capturing your leads’ email addresses for nurturing campaigns to taking orders directly on your site. For any information gathering you need to do, chances are forms will be your solution.

Here are six ways to use forms that will make them your ecommerce business’s go-to lead capture tool:

1. Engage With Lightboxes Based on Visitor Actions

Vying for a visitor’s attention is one thing, but instantly drawing the fickle eye of today’s consumer to your compelling call to action is a total gamechanger. ONTRAPORT Marketing Director Sam Flegal says, “Lightboxes are proven time and time again to convert more visitors into leads by a large margin.”

ONTRAforms features an array of dynamic web form and lightbox options allowing you to specify a pop-up action based on a number of visitor triggers: time on page, scrolling past a certain point on the page, or even on “exit intent” — when the mouse heads up toward the back or “close” button. Any combination of these triggers is possible, ensuring visitors to your page see the value you’re offering, know how to claim it, and can do so in a matter of seconds.

“Lightboxes are proven time and again to convert more visitors into leads by a large margin.” – Sam Flegal, Director of Marketing, ONTRAPORT

When you use a lightbox on exit intent as a last-ditch effort to re-engage visitors about to leave your site or click the “back” button, flash an offer they can’t refuse, such as a pop-up form saying, “Enter your email here to get 25% off your next order!”

With your forms going directly to your leads, as opposed to your leads being guided to your forms, you’re removing extra steps that typically result in page or form abandonment.

2. Set Lightboxes to Appear on Command

If you’re worried about nagging page visitors with unwanted pop-ups, you have the ability to select a  “click to load” option so your site’s visitors won’t be taken by surprise. With “click to load,” you can set your forms to appear on a visitor’s command rather than a page engagement trigger. You can set the form to pop up through a hyperlink to an image, logo or text link.

3. Build With Ease and Versatility

The quality of your forms greatly depends on the ability to customize them to your specific needs. If your form builder provides you with locked-in templates, but you want to mix and match parts from other available templates, you’re out of luck. With a tool like ONTRAforms, for example, you have the ability to stack, move, add and remove “blocks” to create any type of form your business needs.

When selecting your form-building tool, remember that versatility is key. Here are a few common types of forms you won’t want to do without:

  • Lead Capture forms
  • Order/Payment forms
  • Survey forms
  • Contest forms
  • Product Promotion forms
  • Event Registration forms
  • Donation forms
  • Contact Us forms

Additional features you’ll want to look out for are the capability for pre-filled forms to save repeat customers time and a variety of form field types such as dropdown and fill-in-the-blank.

4. Brand the Forms Your Way

Use ONTRApages’ click-to-edit functionality to mix art with technology and ensure your boundless creativity is never stifled. Tweak and tailor each block to your brand on the fly with custom fonts, sizes, colors and media. No code is required, and you don’t need to integrate with a third party application to get the look you’re going for.

To edit, simply hover over the block you want to change to reveal your editing options. Each block has an available set of customizable layouts to cycle through, giving you thousands of potential mobile-responsive combinations.

5. Avoid Form Abandonment With Multi-Step Forms

Including lots of fields on your forms is risky; an incomplete form means a lost lead. Too many fields discourages visitors from filling them out, but too few means you don’t have enough information to properly segment your list. The solution for that is to build multi-step forms, where each step saves your leads’ answers then redirects them to another form that asks for more information.

In the first form, of course, ask for the essentials: name and email address. Once they click “submit,” you’re free to start asking more in-depth questions. That way, if they stop at form two or three, you still have them as a lead.

6. Make Your CTA Clear

Do your site visitors know what to do when they’re on your pages? Craft a powerful and compelling call to action to include on your forms so that it’ll be 100% clear what you want your visitors to do. Whether your call to action is a simple request like “join our mailing list” or a more direct sell like “get your tickets now,” by coming out and saying what you want, your chances of making that happen will increase.

About Martin Cogburn

Martin Cogburn, ONTRAPORT's Senior Content Strategist, cherishes and strives to master the art of great storytelling. Originally from Frankfurt, the German native attended UCSB after growing up in the Santa Barbara area. Martin wears multiple hats in his role at ONTRAPORT: story producer, blog author, scriptwriter, and content curator -- all of which get his creative juices flowing. On top of that, he's an avid film enthusiast. Name any movie and there's a pretty good chance Martin can tell you all about it.