If you’ve been following the best practice of positioning your remarkable content behind a gated landing page which houses a form for visitors to fill in, then you’ve been doing things the inbound way.

By creating a dedicated page for each piece of high-value content you have, you’re giving people the option to find out more about a resource before they decide to download it, as well as encouraging them to submit their details with you; it’s a scenario where everyone gains something.

HubSpot has historically promoted landing pages as one of the most user-friendly, customer-first options when it comes to gaining lead conversions. And whilst we still use landing pages at ESM Inbound, there is an alternative that businesses can benefit from: the pop-up form.

ESM Inbound offers a pop-up form in each of our content packages – and that’s no accident; we understand the benefits of this tool when it comes to lead conversion rates. If you aren’t already, using pop-up forms across your site is easy – here are the tricks you need to know to get started.

What is a pop-up form?

Like it’s lengthier cousin the landing page, a pop-up form’s function is to capture leads. But instead of accessing the link via a CTA, ad or social post, the form literally ‘pops up’ on a relevant piece of content.

For example, when a visitor is reading one of your blog posts or pillar pages about a certain topic, instead of relying on them to click a CTA or link somewhere in the post to a landing page, a pop-up form means they don’t even have to navigate away from your page.

The form simply appears in the centre or to one side of the screen, explains clearly what the content offer is, and provides the form fields there and then. They can quickly fill in their name and email, submit it, then carry on reading your content. The resource will be sent to their inbox, and offers a less disruptive experience.

Pop-up form best practices

Building your pop-up form in HubSpot is really easy, and they walk you through it in their Knowledge Base article, step by step. But that’s just the mechanics of how to build one in your portal, you also need to understand the best practices that will get visitors to become leads.

Tip 1: Include a crystal-clear explanation of what the offer is: if it’s a golfing technique ebook, call it that. If it’s a start-of-school-term checklist, call it that. If it’s a guide to growing your own fruit and vegetables, call it that. You get the idea: be really specific in as few words as possible. The ESM Inbound example below tells the visitor that this is a downloadable PDF guide about Growth-Driven Design:

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Tip 2: Make it visual: include a small image of the resource – as you would on a landing page – to show the visitor exactly what they’ll be downloading. If they get an idea of the physical gain they’ll get from submitting their details, they’ll be far more likely to fill out that form. In the examples above and below, an image of the front cover of the ebook is included in the form:

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Tip 3: Include your branding. If this is the first blog post or pillar page the visitor has read of yours, the form needs to match the overall look and feel of your website. Use your brand’s colours and fonts to build trust and consistency. In the examples above, the button colour is the same that is used across the ESM Inbound website as one of our four core colours.

Tip 4: Use really specific language in the buttons, as you would with all CTAs across your site or on a landing page:

  • Use an imperative to start the phrase such as, ‘Download’, ‘Submit’ or ‘Fill in’.

  • Then call out something enticing about the resource such as ‘free’, ‘ultimate’ or ‘easy’ – remind them why they’re downloading it.

  • Finally, name the type of resource they can expect: ‘guide’, ‘checklist’ or ‘template’, again minimising any chance for confusion.

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Tip 5: Finish with an opportunity for the visitor to navigate to another one of your pages to find out more on this topic – this could be a related pillar page, blog post, white paper or case study – something which will offer additional value. Alternatively, they might choose to continue reading the article they were already on when the pop-up appeared.

Where to use pop-up forms

In HubSpot, it’s very easy to target when you’d like your pop-ups to appear. In the pop-up form settings, you can get really specific about where they appear by selecting pages with a certain word or phrase in the URL, down to pasting a specific URL into it’s own field to make sure the pop-up definitely appears on that one-off page:

How pop-up forms could be the missing link in lead conversions on your website (6)Not only can you include pop-ups that link to lead magnet content, but you can use them in other ways, too. For instance, you can set them to ask people to subscribe to your weekly blog or newsletter. You might offer to take visitors to an interactive tool, such as a calculator or questionnaire elsewhere on your site. Or you might choose to use it to encourage visitors to request a task from you. You can also use chatbots to encourage a live chat with your team, and to offer multiple options in one go:

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When should they appear?

You can also choose when the pop-up is triggered on your page – and this is something worth experimenting with to see which option gets you the most interest. The options in HubSpot are:

How pop-up forms could be the missing link in lead conversions on your website (5)Your form might appear when a visitor reaches halfway down the page, when a visitor goes to leave the page, or you might set it to appear after a certain length of time spent on the page. Whichever option you go for, the aim is not to be intrusive, but to offer more value than the page offers on its own. The way a pop-up appears can also be trialled. ESM Inbound’s HubSpot Implementation Specialist, Harry Picken says it’s worth experimenting with different styles of pop-up form:

“Pop-ups tend to be more associated with exit intent, while slide-ins are less invasive. They are good on a page which has useful content that people may want to download or take action on, without feeling forced to do so. I generally advise using a form that doesn't require much buy-in and has an immediate benefit so people don’t just dismiss it. I tend to go for a slide-in form as standard and then if needed, I’ll test pop-ups.”

A pop-up and CTA are not mutually exclusive. If you’ve got two content offers associated with the same campaign, add one as a pop-up form, and one as a footer CTA. The more opportunities you give to visitors to convert, showing you’re a thought leader in your field and want to help and educate them for free, the more they will trust your brand, and the sooner they will convert to becoming a lead.