Forms

From Net-Results Support


Forms 101

Web Forms are used on web pages all across the Internet as a way for a person browsing a site to enter and send information, usually to the owner/operator of the site. They play a vital role in Marketing Automation because they allow you to collect data, such as email addresses and interests, from both prospects and existing customers. This data collection not only makes it possible to target and nurture them, but also to do so in a relevant way. In addition to that, form capture is one of the two ways Net-Results links website visit activity with actual contact information, and it's one of the quickest ways to start seeing measurable value from this system.

Web forms comes in many shapes and sizes, and with varying degrees of complexity. Forms are the go-to tool for newsletter sign-up, Contact Us pages, and site login. They are more convenient and compatible than using a "send us an email" link, and offer significantly more functionality. For creation, people experienced in HTML might write the code for them (usually referred to as hand-coded or hard-coded), or a Content Management System (CMS) like Wordpress may offer a plug-in (such as Gravity Forms) to generate or build them. They may load as the content/body of a web page, in the footer of every page of your site, or be summoned using something like a Lightbox upon clicking a button. In most cases, Javascript is used to validate that the data being submitted is complete (all required fields are filled in) and correct (for formatting, such as making sure a phone number looks like ###-###-####). Other factors can also make a form more complex, such as what happens when the form is submitted.

A popular tactic where forms are used in Marketing Automation is called Gated Content. This means that certain desired content, such as a downloadable white paper or case study, is "gated" behind a form; a person must submit the form to gain access to an asset. This quid pro quo becomes even more effective when you use features like Progressive Profiling because each time they want to download something you can collect more/new data from them. Submitting the form will trigger the asset download directly, or it may route them to a Landing Page (or Thank You page) that then links to the asset, or it may send them an Email with a link to the asset. All three are effective for tracking, so it's very much a matter of preference and convenience as to which is implemented.

Practical Application

Net-Results provides three primary options to collect data via web forms: Web Form Mappings, Form Builder, and our API. Despite the goal being the same for all three, the implementation and scope are very different for each one.

  1. To capture from simple/basic web forms that are already part of your website, Net-Results uses Web Form Mappings. Forms built by plug-ins such as Gravity Forms are usually compatible with this feature because they adhere to standard web form conventions. However, while Web Form Mappings will work for most web forms, it is not ideal for a form that appears on every page of your website (such as a Newsletter Signup in your footer). Specific compatibility, setup, and usage notes can be found on the Web Form Mappings article.
  2. To create and deploy new forms either on your website or on a Landing Page, we recommend the Net-Results Form Builder. In addition to features such as Progressive Profiling and field Prepopulation, Form Builder forms have the ability to take various immediate Form Actions. These Form Actions are a significant time saver because they allow you to do things like sending an email and syncing the contact with your integrated CRM system without setting up a separate Campaign to do so.
  3. If you have very complex forms, and it would not work to replace them with Form Builder forms, the API is the best way to go. This route requires some customization and code work, but offers tremendous capability in the way of "massaging" (or manipulating) the data prior to it reaching Net-Results.


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Required Setup

To utilize the Progressive Profiling, Prepopoulate, and Inline Validation features of our Form Builder forms on your site (not on Net-Results Landing Pages), you will need to "point" a subdomain to us.

This is done by adding a CNAME record to your DNS "zone file" that points to forms.cdnma.com.

If this sounds complicated, don't worry; all it's doing is re-labeling part of your website to tell a browser that the content lives elsewhere. All you need to do is choose a subdomain such as:

  • forms.yourdomain.com or
  • www3.yourdomain.com

It can be any subdomain--as long as it's not already in use for another purpose. Whoever administrates your DNS can create the CNAME record, and you'll enter the subdomain you chose into Net-Results after clicking the Get Source button.