We’ve discussed actionable data but that didn’t address how best to capture all the data you want. Before we can talk about the data you want, you need to understand how you can collect and store data (and easily use it later). That takes us to field types and form input types – options for how you capture data and what gets stored. The common types are:
<input type=”hidden” name=”Language” value=”English”>
One of my favorite places to get quick reminders & tutorials on HTML is W3 Schools. Here’s their overview on setting up html forms.
So when do you use which type? Let’s hold off on asking, “what information should I collect?” and, instead, look at some generic examples to get you more comfortable with how you might use the field/input types above on your forms. It helps to envision how you’ll collect this data. Web form? In your CRM while making calls? Uploading a list of new leads? All of the above? Think about it.
No way around this: text field. You can’t list every first name so you just need to count on them to enter it. There are services that will try to “complete” a first name as the person starts to type it. It is a high-end service but helps reduce crap data. “Crap” data is what I call those erroneous values someone enters in order to get through the form as quickly as possible.
You require a number but if you leave an open text field you could come up with some useless data. You really want to use a picklist because there is a limited number of possibilities. Radio buttons make it easy for your leads when filling out a form.
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There are two answers: yes or no. That should get you thinking Boolean and checkbox. You can specify what the default value is so your leads have to actively check or uncheck to avoid receiving your email.
This has two answers. If you are asking leads to choose, then give them a picklist. Better yet, if you know how they are getting to that page then use a hidden field with a static value you populate. You can tell where they are coming from if you are 1) able to capture a query string value that indicates, 2) using the form on a landing page for a specific email or digital ad, 3) using the form only for trade show attendees or people who saw your print ad, etc.
What’s Your Timeline
You probably know to use a picklist here, otherwise, you will get answers all over the map. The key is to choose the right picklist values – which ones will you take a different action on? If 3 – 6 months doesn’t mean much between 6 – 9 months then combine the two. The tricky part with this question (and other BANT questions) is how much stock do you put into the answer?
Best Time to Call You
Again, I lean towards a picklist so that you can specify the options. “Weekday mornings” gives you more flexibility than “Monday 8:00 am”. A multi-select could work here quite well.
What Could We Have Done Better
A text area works well when there’s a high number of possible answers and you’ll be going through these answers manually, one at a time. Also, giving people a chance to input their own words let’s them feel empowered and gives you actionable data you might not have been expecting. You can accompany this line of questions with some picklists to help categorize your data.
This is a trick question. First of all, you probably do NOT want to store the address in one field. Capturing an Address Line 1 and Address Line 2 makes sense as separate fields. So does City, State and Zip. Asking for these separately allows you to put form validation on each field. For example, Zip can only be 5 digits. With State, a long picklist is a bit cumbersome but at least you can get people to give you the two letter abbreviation rather than dealing with entries like “CA”, “Cali”, “California”, “Calfornia”, and so on.
Which Products are You Considering
In case it isn’t obvious, I lean away from open fields and like ones where the lead doesn’t have an opportunity to give me crap data or data in a condition that doesn’t play well with data entered by other leads. This is a good example of presenting a multi-select list as a series of checkboxes. Alternatively, each checkbox could be it’s own field, storing either a “true” or “false” for whether the person is considering that product. Neither approach is wrong, but the latter yields data that is very easy to work with.
Feeling better about what you need to capture and how you need to consider how you are storing the data? You should. Now start listing out the data you are interested in and see which field type you would choose for it.