Episode 279: HubSpot Forms Best Practices (for Building Marketing Campaigns)
By XEN Systems
Published: Tuesday 24 May 2022 | Last updated: Wednesday 01 June 2022
Welcome to HubShots Episode 279: HubSpot Forms Best Practices (for Building Marketing Campaigns)
This edition we dive into:
- HubSpot Forms in detail, including
- Regular forms
- Popup forms (including Click through forms)
- When and how to use progressive form fields
- When and how to use behavioural targeting
- How to measure form results
- Best practices for form naming conventions
- Form integrations
- How to trigger workflows from form submissions
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Recorded: Wednesday 18 May 2022 | Published: Friday 20 May 2022
🌱 Shot 1: Growth Thought of the Week
The simplicity and complexity of forms
On one hand forms are a simple concept, and easy to get started. On the other hand, they have a number of features that can get overwhelming at times.
In our previous episode - Building a Campaign in HubSpot from Start to Finish - we gave an overview of all the key components in a marketing campaign from start to finish.
In this episode (and future episodes) we’re going to dive into each of the key components in more detail.
As a quick recap, here’s the HubSpot items we covered at a high level last episode:
- HubSpot forms
- HubSpot lists
- HubSpot files
- HubSpot landing pages
- HubSpot CTAs
- HubSpot emails
- HubSpot workflows
- HubSpot campaign
- HubSpot site updates
- HubSpot reports
- HubSpot dashboards
This week we’re looking specifically at HubSpot forms, and diving into the best practices around using each of the various form types in HubSpot, to drive better results for your business.
We’ll look at:
- Embedded forms - the ones you use in a landing page
- Popup forms - which you can target to show on various pages on your site
- Click through forms - which simply promote another area of your site (ie they are a form that doesn’t ask for any details)
As part of this we’ll also discuss:
- How to use behavioural targeting to ensure people only see appropriate forms
- How to measure and report on the results of forms
- How to test variations of forms
- How to use a single form on multiple pages
- How to use progressive form fields so that new fields show on your forms (if previous fields have already been entered)
And we’ll use real world examples to show what we’ve learned over the years (including our mistakes).
By the end of this episode you’ll know which forms to choose and build, and the best practices for ensuring they give you maximum results.
Who said forms were boring? Not me!
Let’s get started…
✨ Shot 2: Types of HubSpot Forms
Regular versus Popup Forms
There’s two main types of forms:
- Regular forms
- Either embedded into one of your pages (eg landing page, contact page, footer, support page)
- Or available as a simple pre-configured Standalone page
- Popup forms, that:
- Pop up in the centre, or
- Slide down from the top, or
- Slide in from the bottom left or right
- with fields, or as
- a simple Click Through link to another location (eg page, meeting link, file, calendar event)
There’s also other form types, including:
- Non-HubSpot forms - these are when HubSpot ‘listens’ for other forms (eg a WordPress form)
- Chat forms - these are actually chat bot and chat windows, but could be considered as ‘forms’ since they collect details that are entered/submitted
- Blog comment forms - that are used only on blog posts
- Support forms - used to collect data and create tickets
🚀 Shot 3: Regular Form Tips
By regular forms, we are referring to the first two options in the Create form process:
Mandatory versus Optional Fields
When creating forms you have the ability to mark fields as mandatory (otherwise, by default they are optional). Email address is the only field that is always mandatory.
The question as to whether a field should be mandatory or not depends on how qualified you want the form submission to be.
This in turn usually depends on what the focus is:
- Quantity of leads, versus
- Quality of leads
If the form is for a simple top of the funnel asset that is going to be mass promoted, and is mostly focussed on building a subscriber base then the simpler the form the better.
However, if the form is only for qualified contacts, and it’s aimed at weeding out tire kickers, then more mandatory fields are appropriate.
Examples of fields that when marked mandatory will reduce the submissions and result in more qualified contacts:
- Phone number
- Self-identification fields (eg persona)
- Anything financial (eg budget tiers)
- Company details (eg size, revenue bands)
An example of a simple form is our HubShots Show Notes form - it only has:
- Email address
Whereas our HubSpot Coaching form includes fields for:
- Phone number
- Job role
- Timeframe questions (how long you’ve been using HubSpot)
- Portal questions (which hubs you have)
Using Progressive Form Fields
Progressive form fields allow you to keep forms ‘simpler’ and switch in new fields to replace fields that have already been entered.
Start by adding a progressive field onto your form - here’s an example of a simple contact us form, which has Company name as a progressive field:
If the Company name field has been entered, the next time the form is shown to the contact it will switch in another field to replace the Company Name field.
It selects the next field to use from a queue of fields, set at the bottom of the form:
Using Company, Ticket and Custom properties on Forms
As well as contact properties you can also use properties from:
- Custom objects (for HubSpot Enterprise portals)
Example of Custom Object properties on a Form
For example, here’s a Customer Registration form, which has a custom object (Product Registration) available in the fields to add to the form:
And here’s how it looks when custom object properties have been added:
There’s a number of options on forms:
The main options of interest are:
- Redirect after submitting the form: we almost always redirect to another page (as opposed to showing a message)
- Prepopulate contact fields with known values: as it provides a much nicer experience for the user
- Campaign: we’ll chat about this later - but setting the campaign on a Form is useful if the form applies to a specific campaign
- Send submission notifications: this will depend on whether you use the form submission to trigger a workflow (which we usually do). If you have a workflow that sends internal email notifications, then there’s no need to send notifications on the Form options
💰 Shot 4: Popup Form Tips
By popup forms we are referring to the following 4 form options in the create form process:
- Popup box
- Dropdown banner
- Slide in left
- Slide in right
Which popup format to choose?
Some quick tips:
- Test and measure - Pop ups in the screen centre tend to convert well, but are annoying
- Make sure your popup approach fits with your brand (eg you’ll never see an exit intent popup on the Apple site, but you will see it on most ecommerce sites)
- We find Slide in popups to be a good balance between annoying and useful
- If you have a Chat bot of Chat tool on your site, they typically slide in from the bottom right, so if using a Slide in form, use the Slide in left box)
Fields versus Click Through forms
One potentially confusing (but super handy) option with HubSpot forms is to create forms that don’t actually have any fields to be submitted. Some would say that means it isn’t actually a form (and I get that) but put that aside for now.
Here’s a typical popup form (with fields):
Clicking the button shows this form:
And here’s an example of a popup form (without fields):
Initially it seems the same as the earlier form.
The difference is that the ‘Learn More’ button doesn’t progress to showing a form. Instead it simply takes the visitor to another location (eg website page, meeting link, file, etc).
We call these ‘Click through forms’.
BTW if you are interested in seeing that click through form in action, you can view it on this page on the Louder Minds site (one of my wife’s sites).
These are easy to set up in the first tab of the popup form editing:
One of the super powerful features of popup forms is the Targeting functionality.
With Targeting of the form you can decide where and who sees the popup form.
Here’s an example of how we target the HubShots popup on our XEN site:
Things to notice:
- By default it shows on all pages, except:
- Home page
- Services pages
- Contact pages
- Any proposals/quote pages
- Additionally, we hide it if the contact has already subscribed to the show notes (ie we don’t want to annoy/confuse people by showing them a form they’ve already submitted)
This is really powerful - but is only the start.
You can also target based on things like query parameters - here’s an example of where we promoted a coupon code to an audience, but then hid the popup if they visited the site and used the coupon code (since it would be just promoting the very offer they had used):
There’s a range of other behaviours you can target, including:
- Country (eg only show/hide a popup to visitors of specific countries)
- Device type
- Days since last visit
- Session count (eg only show a VIP popup offer to someone who have visited multiple times)
You can get very creative with these options.
You can also ‘chain’ popups eg
- Hide a popup (let’s call it Popup A) if they’ve already filled it out
- Only show a popup (let’s call it Popup B) if they’ve filled out Popup A
👨🔧 Shot 5: Reporting on Forms
Ok, so now you’ve put your form in action and are starting to get some results.
How do you measure results?
There’s a number of ways to view and analyse the results:
- Analyze tab
- Form analytics
- Custom reports
The Form Analyze tab is sometimes easy to miss - but it’s right there next to the Manage tab (ie that shows your list of forms):
The Analyze tab shows the summary of all your forms, and allows you to review the conversion rates of forms:
You can sort by the columns as well (eg sort by Conversion rate)
What’s a Good Form Conversion rate?
Conversion rate will vary depending on the goal (quality versus quantity) of the form.
However, as a general guide, for top of the funnel, simpler forms you should be able to see >20% conversion rates if your audience is targeted and your offer is simple and compelling.
For bottom of the funnel, complex forms that are designed to only attract very qualified contacts we don’t really consider the conversion rate (instead we measure based on deals linked to the form submissions - more on that in a future episode).
At the top right of the Analyze tab there is a link to the detailed Form Analytics report
Form Analytics is very similar to Forms Analyze tab, but has two additional features you may find useful:
- You can export the results (ie out to an Excel file)
- You can selectively click to show form results on the graph:
Lists are your friend. Repeat after me: Lists are your friend
We always create lists based on form submits, because they quickly show the results of each form:
You can add these to dashboards to get a good overview. Note that on collected forms the views and conversion rate metrics are not available.
Plus there are prebuilt reports that you can add from the library to start:
You can see below that the highlighted part is one of the best places to view and compare some key metrics. What is interesting below is that the forms are the same, but the offer was different on the forms!
🔧 Shot 6: HubSpot Forms Gotchas
Non-HubSpot (Collected) form properties not showing
On collected form fields you will often find that data gets collected but the system cannot match the property and therefore cannot add it to the CRM.
Solution: View what form data is collected by Viewing an individual submission on the form submission page. Then create properties to match.
💡 Shot 7: Form Best Practices
When you create forms in a growing portal it’s important to use a consistent and helpful naming convention. There’s no right or wrong, as it typically depends on the particulars of the business, however, here’s a few common descriptors to include:
- Brand (if you have multiple brands in your portal): for example we have XEN and HubShots running from our portal, so it’s helpful to prefix any form with the brand it applies to
- Product or Service (or Newsletter etc)
- Objective (eg Subscribe/Signup, Contact Us)
- Location (eg Sidebar, Footer)
Here’s some examples of how we name HubShots forms:
Notice the ‘XEN | HubShots Signup’ Form - it is to sign up for HubShots show notes, but is used on the XEN site. Hence, we prefix with the brand of the site it will show on, and then the rest is just the descriptor of what it is.
When creating this it is important to think about how you want to collect and use the data.
- Think about how you can reduce input error, have you selected the right type of field? Could it be a dropdown to make it easy for a user to select.
- Think about how you want to use this property/field. Do you need it for a particular purpose?
- Having thought through these will help you with reporting and segmentation when using properties in lists, workflows and reports.
Adding Forms to Campaigns
HubSpot recently added the ability to add a form as an asset in a HubSpot campaign:
(You can also add to a campaign from the form Options on a specific form)
This is good for showing attribution of a form in a campaign.
However, don’t feel that it is mandatory to add a form to a campaign. Examples would be if a form is used globally throughout a site and potentially impacts multiple campaigns.
Since forms can only be associated with a single campaign, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to associate a global form with a specific campaign.
There’s two ways of approaching this:
- Create forms specific to campaigns (we tend to do this)
- Create a global ‘catchup all’ HubSpot campaign for global items (we do this as well)
It’s probably beyond the details of this episode, but as a quick note, we tend to create an overall campaign for anything that isn’t specific. For example we have a ‘HubShots’ campaign that we associate any assets that aren’t part of specific campaigns (Eg forms, social updates, general emails, etc)
🏈 Shot 8: Form integrations
These used to be known as Collected Forms and refer to forms that HubSpot ‘listens for’ on a website.
For example, a WordPress site that is using WordPress forms. (Assuming the HubSpot tracking code is in place on the site)
HubSpot can ‘listen for’ those WordPress forms to be submitted, and pull the form submission details through into HubSpot.
These show up in the Forms list as Non-HubSpot forms and are very handy.
Typical form submits that get ‘collected’ include:
- Comment forms
- Login forms
There’s a number of different WordPress form tools, with some of the most popular being:
- Gravity forms
- Contact Us Form 7
- Ninja Forms
We tend to use Gravity Forms on WordPress sites (if we’re not able to use HubSpot forms), due to the excellent integration it has with HubSpot. We use the Gravity Forms HubSpot Add-On.
📚 Shot 9: Form workflows
Adding Form Submits into a Workflow
We’ll be going through this in detail in our HubSpot Workflows episode in the coming weeks.
However, for now the main point to note is how easy it is to trigger Contact workflows based on a form submission:
This is probably the simplest example of using a form submission to trigger a workflow.
Notice that the workflow triggers based on the form submit happening on Any page:
However, this can be refined if appropriate:
For example it could refined to:
- Only trigger on specific pages
- Or within certain timeframes (eg last 7 days)
- Or based on number of times (eg if they filled it out a number of times - which is a valid possibility for complex forms that have Progressive fields queued up)
Advanced: you can also use Lists (based on form submits) to trigger workflows:
This can have pros and cons and needs to be handled with care (see our discussion ‘Should I use Lists to Trigger Workflow’ of this from last episode.
✍️ Shot 10: Quotes of the Week
“With data collection, ‘the sooner the better’ is always the best answer.” — Marissa Mayer
“Contact data ages like fish, not wine … it gets worse as it gets older, not better.” — Gregg Thaler
🏋️ Shot 11: Training of the Week
HubSpot Academy Training
- Design, create, and strategically place a form on your website
- Capture Leads Using Forms and Conversations in HubSpot
🧲 Shot 12: Follow Us on the Socials
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Published: Tuesday 24 May 2022 | Last updated: Wednesday 01 June 2022