All B2B marketers dealing with lead generation inevitably face the following question: should you collect personal email addresses from leads, or should you force leads to use a business email address on the forms on your website?
This isn’t necessarily a question of lead generation, as much as it is lead qualification (though it does play into lead generation later on). Many businesses argue that money, time, and resources are wasted on trying to qualify leads that have come in through marketing channels with personal email addresses. And while they aren’t technically wrong, it’s important to note some reasons why individuals use personal email to fill out forms in the first place:
- Not sales-ready / too early in the buyer journey
- Reduce unnecessary contact/increase anonymity (for self or company)
- Reduce spam
- Building trust in a brand
- Competitive or personal research
- Start-up company without a company email
- Consultant to another company
- Looking for a job
- Do-it-yourself-er (someone who wants to implement your solution themselves, and only want a template)
Now that we know why people could be using their personal email, we can return to the burning question: Should you accept them as a B2B marketer?
The answer depends on the business itself and its success metrics. And both options have their share of pros and cons.
If your business is looking for continued growth in traffic and form fills (quantity over quality approach), accepting personal emails will help reach those numbers. Not to mention that while personal emails often convert at lower rates than business emails, they open the targeting net much wider than restricting a form would. The con here, of course, is that more time and energy is spent on qualifying contacts.
On the other hand, businesses looking to restrict form fills only to accept business emails tend to have a much clearer idea of their buyer personas and narrow the focus of resources and time on those who are most likely to convert into a sale. Limiting forms to business emails is limiting the lead pool and reducing the number of form fills overall.
Don’t worry if you’re still not 100% sure what solution is best for you. Here are some best practices for landing page form fills to get you going in the right direction:
- Your B2B landing pages should at least ASK for business email addresses. Even if you aren’t going to require it in the form. You can do this in the contact form itself (Either in the header or the description of the email input).
- But, if someone ignores that request using Gmail, Yahoo, or any other email platform, you should let them proceed.
- Then, you should “score” the lead appropriately. That is, if your leads that have personal email addresses “close” at a lower rate than leads that use business email addresses, you should score those leads lower.
- Add lower scored leads to a ‘nurture list’. This is a cycle of long-term email or contact correspondence that you use to mature contacts over time. Consequently, this is the model that is followed (in different ways) by some of the leading B2B companies, including Payoneer, com, Tableau, Eloqua, Slack, Justworks.com, Melio, c2fo.com, and more.
- Update scoring criteria over time as you watch the behaviors of your leads on your website. For example, someone who uses a personal email and finds their way to your ‘open job positions’ page may not be a quality lead, but someone who uses their personal email and visits four or five products/services pages might be.
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