Web Forms vs Inbound Phone Calls: A Practical Comparison

An effective online lead generation strategy can only be tested in two ways. First is the quality of leads being generated; think about conversion rate. Is your current rate high enough or painfully low?

Second measurement of effectiveness is the consistency of generating sufficient new leads daily, weekly or monthly.

Unfortunately, if the current performance numbers in these two dimensions are not impressive at all, then something different need to be done.

In this case, the need for improvement depends on how urgent it is.

When it comes to online lead generation, you could be dependent on web form submits like many other business owners or marketers.

Besides, it is also possible that you have phone numbers on few pages in your site. However, you still have no idea of how many phone calls are coming from your website visitors.

While there is nothing wrong with web form lead generation, this post will explore the comparative difference between web forms vs inbound sales calls.

At the end you will have greater insights on specific things that can be done to improve your online lead generation strategy.

Online Lead Generation Form Types

  • Contact Forms

Depending on how your forms are configured and purpose of contact, anyone that spares some minutes to fill out your contact form is considered a lead. This is the most common type of lead generation form used across many websites.

Most useful forms often have multiple text fields that help to filter your prospects’ purpose of contact.

  • Service Quote Request Forms 

Most people who get good results from their sites have this one. These are forms that are created to direct prospects on how to request the exact services they need or quote for specific services.

This one is common among offline service firms in the solar, insurance, painting and other niche markets.  See sample below.

painting services lead generation

  • Lead Magnet Opt-in Forms

These types of online lead generation forms are mostly used to give something of value to website visitors in exchange for their contact information.

Think about ebooks, white papers, case studies, webinars etc.

Regardless of the type you use, it is either you are tracking form submissions or not. And that depends to some extent on your website traffic volume.

Like all other analytics use cases, form tracking helps to make informed decisions and improvements where possible.

And if you have some relatively good traffic volume, doing some form A/B testing will make it easy for you to identify what works better than the others.

For example, you may want to test form submission page copies or text fields.

But why compare web form vs inbound phone calls in the first place?

Well, it’s a mobile first world we live in. And this has lots of meanings and implications in different contexts.

For instance, it means that a great percentage of the purchases that end up on desktop or laptop originate from mobile devices.

According to Google, 70% of people who search for specific products or services on mobile devices often make phone calls at the same time.

‘The phone call has been the backbone of sales for decades and it is still a driving force today. But it is not easy. Not everyone is a cold calling Pro who knows how to immediately capture a prospects attention on the phone.’ – Ramin Assemi, Close.io

In the search spectrum, Search Engine Land reported that 60% all searches now happen on mobile devices. Without doubt, this includes searches for keywords within your niche.

Social Spectrum: On Facebook alone, 90% (934 million) of their daily active users comes from mobile. Regardless of your location, some of these people belong to your target demographic.

Email Spectrum: Kayla Lewkowicz of  Privy once reported that 56% of email engagement now occur on mobile devices. So if you don’t have an automated email marketing strategy in place, think about this.

Web Form vs Inbound Phone Calls: The Key Comparative Difference

#1: Conversion Barrier 

In our fast paced world of impatience and instant gratification, any online lead generation strategy that puts demanding responsibility on prospects proves less effective.

When you read case studies of single vs multiple page check outs, you’ll understand more of what I mean here.

Thus, the main fact is that less is often better.

In many different contexts, many people are not just comfortable giving out their personal information – name, phone and email. So whether you are using free strategy sessions, white papers, quote request or others, it is really important to lower your conversion barrier.

Web Form: In other to qualify leads, most people often use intimidating multiple form fields and long CRM hooks. Practically, this increases the typing work to be done, required time as well as conversion barrier.

So asking for personal information from cold website visitors won’t get you the conversion rate you desire.

Phone Call: In most contexts you can think of, it takes just a single click-to-call button to get connected to a sales rep. Just as a testament to this, Invoca’s data revealed that phone calls convert 10X more than online generated leads.

#2: Lead Quality 

When it comes to effective lead generation strategy, quantity is never a solution to all of the problems at hand.

In simple offline settings, pouring water into a leaky bucket understandably leads to waste. However, in order to avoid the undesirable consequences of empty lead generation pipeline, many people still believe that generating more leads is all they need.

inbound lead lead generation funnel

Hence they continue to invest resources in generation of low quality leads.

Unfortunately at the end of the day, all they get is low or flat zero ROI. Sure you want desirable outcomes better than that.

Web form: Regardless of the lead magnet you use, it is easy for anyone to visit your website, fill a form, download stuff and walk away. In that case, both qualified and unqualified leads are filling your pipeline.

Phone Call: In high ticket service niche markets, many decision makers still prefer phone conversation before fixing appointment (online/offline), requesting a quote, making reservation or payment.

Thus, picking up the phone to call remains a real proof of interest in specific product or service, not your free lead magnet. The other important thing worth noting is that the lead quality is often higher when these inbound leads calls in from paid search or organic SEO.

#3: Lead Drop Offs

Irrespective of your optimization intelligence and experience, majority of your prospective leads will still drop off the web form. In other words, the web form page view and completed form submissions can never be equal.

If you are an inbound lead generation consultant or marketer like me, you may also leverage some retargeting strategies to increase conversion rate and ROI.

But even when all of these things are done 100% correctly, drop offs will still be happening in your lead generation pipeline.

online lead generation strategy

How long does it take on average for you to follow up on web form generated leads?

Web form: Based on the concept of customer journey, it is very obvious that all of your qualified prospects won’t be ready to convert into leads or paying customer at the same time.

Hence, lead nurturing takes time. And then along that journey, many things happen against your conversion goal.

Even at the point of generating leads with a web form, whole lot of things can just cause the drop off to happen. Some of the causes include the form field conversion barrier identified earlier.

Inbound Phone Call: With phone calls, the conversion cycle is often shorter. And there are fewer incidents of drop off.

Depending on how fast you are following up after form submission, you are likely to have even higher drop offs if you wait long than 5 minutes to contact web form generated leads. Thus, in this context, InsideSales found that only 29% of web leads are properly contacted.

Think about the difference between customers choosing when to discuss their need vs you calling them at an odd time of the day.

According to DialogTech, a mobile marketing services provider that helps to trigger phone calls from web forms, calling web generated leads before your competitors often result in 238% difference in conversion rate.

With these facts about lead drop offs, you now have even more reasons to integrate inbound phone call generation in your overall marketing strategy. Let’s explore how to get started doing that.

inbound phone call generation

What is the #1 driver of inbound phone calls in your own business?

Google Adwords Call Extension

When you do a search in Google for product or service related keywords, the PPC ads you see very often is enough to tell you that not all businesses are using call extension now. And if you have been using Google adwords advertising without it, this is the time to pay serious attention.

Remember that right now, mobile traffic is growing strongly in all dimensions – search, email, social, video etc.

Call extension is a simple feature of Google adwords that gives advertisers space to add specific phone number or click-to-call button to their ads.

Obviously, the intent is to attract inbound sales phone calls from qualified prospects as at the time of searching for the product or services they need.

This feature works in two ways.

If the people viewing your paid search ads are from mobile devices, they see a click to call button within your ad. Thus, every call is counted as a click, just like clicking to visit landing pages.

At this level, conversions are counted based on set call duration. And to get maximum inbound calls from this option, you should set your ad to be mobile preferred.

In the instance that your ad was created to run on both mobile and desktop devices, your phone number will display in the search results.

Hence, prospective customers can choose to call right away or visit your landing page.

Google Call Only Campaigns

This is the type of ad that has no destination landing page attached. The singular objective is to generate inbound calls or leads from paid search marketing. After seeing your PPC advertisement, the only option the targeted prospects will have is to call your phone.

Regardless of the sources from which you deliver traffic to your web forms, the lead quality can never be equal. Moreover, the conversion cycle or duration can hardly be equal as well.

Interestingly, if you have call filtering technology in place, the quality is bound to be higher than what is obtainable from web forms.

Based on my experience, the best way to get maximum ROI from call only campaigns is to do some deep keyword research, use local keywords and conduct A/B testing.

With professional keyword research, you will be able to choose the type of prospects to attract based on purchase intent.

Mobile Specific Adwords Campaign

In addition to location and keywords, you also have option to choose mobile preferred for your adwords campaign.  This is a simple feature for telling Google to run your search marketing advertisements on mobile devices only.

So in a case that you are not using call extension, the best you can do is to add click to call buttons in your mobile optimized landing pages. With that a certain percentage of your mobile search traffic will then start calling.

Think of what you could get from generating 1000 – 10,000 mobile search visitors over a 30 days period. Question, how much is a single conversion worth in your business?

Here is a sample landing page with click to call button.

Remarketing List For Search Ads

google adwords remarketing list for search ads

Whether you are aware or not, there are just too many reasons why the majority of your website visitors will leave without converting into leads or customers.

This fact also applies all through whether you are generating a great volume of mobile search traffic or not.

Think you are alone on this? Think again.

In the eCommerce world for instance, one study found that close to 89% of online shopping carts are abandoned by shoppers.

Remarketing list for search ads helps to reach and bring back qualified visitors within minutes, days or weeks or even months after leaving your website.

To a lay marketing man, the next question is how?

When people visit your website and leave to continue their search for specific product or services, this adwords feature enables business owners to reach out to them within 540 days period.

That is the maximum number of days that a remarketing list can be valid.

This is how remarketing list for search ads work. You generate a piece of code and paste in your home of other pages. As people visit the page that carries that code, they will be added to your list.

For example, if I visited the HR training page in your website, you can use remarketing list for search to show me more reasons (additional value propositions) why I should invest in your training – within 540 days after leaving that page.

By leveraging mobile search traffic in this context, you’ll be positioning your business for maximum phone calls from high quality leads.

A simple test research with high value keywords will let you find out if there are advertisers in your niche using these mobile marketing strategies right now. If not, learn to do it yourself or hire an adwords consultant to get you started right away.

To implement an effective online lead generation strategy through remarketing, you should consider splitting your budget between Google adwords and Facebook.

So that when people leave your site and land on both sides, you can as well reach them when the time is right. Obviously, being visible in multiple channels maximizes your opportunity to win the sale from ready buyers.

Integrated Call Tracking

how call tracking works

As I observed in one of my blog posts, competing without data is just the same as walking in a crowded marketplace with closed eyes.

Someone once said that: ‘half of your marketing efforts are not working. But the problem is which half’.

Obviously, the half that doesn’t work often wastes scarce resources – time and money. And to a whole lot of people; identifying that half is a very big challenge. That is why constant testing has been identified as a winning strategy.

Beside the problem of waste, increased insights from marketing analytics help to allocate budget to strategies that drive bigger ROI.

That is what data driven optimization is all about.

And that is where integrated call tracking comes in the context of inbound sales call generation.

While Google adwords tracking serves some people, there is a whole lot of other third party call tracking software providers that serves in the mobile spectrum.

With integrated call tracking, the data layers that help to extend marketing insights include the following:

  • Online campaign tracking: track phone calls from different online marketing channels
  • Keyword tracking: Identify the keywords delivering the most valuable calls to your business
  • Offline call tracking: measure the outcomes from your TV, radios, posters, bill board ads etc
  • Location tracking: Pin point the locations delivering the most conversions
  • Facebook pages: if you are active on Facebook, you can measure week to week outcomes
  • Call routing: route inbound sales calls to the appropriate location or sales rep
  • Call recording : gain competitive insights from prospective customer conversations

These and more are the key features you can expect from a complete call tracking software. Don’t just rely on adwords call reporting only.

Mind you, a simple hint can lead to revenue boosting optimization without spending a dollar at all.


Finally, the fact is that human to human interaction often works better in many different marketing contexts. This is why a lot of businesses still value phone calls more than website visits or email addresses meant for downloading free offers only.

Think about the issues of customer objections.

The effectiveness of addressing them in an interactive conversation cannot be equally same with written texts on a web form.

So when you look at web forms vs inbound calls, think about the conversion barriers, conversion cycle, lead quality and drop offs.

And in the context of search engine marketing, setting strategies to attract people when they have proven need for your services will certainly improve your lead generation strategy.

Even right now, you can take some time to do some test research within Google and your niche. Use some high value keywords, do a search, visit some landing pages and see the people using some of the strategies discussed here in your niche.

Share your lead generation experiences or challenges in the section below. How is your web form working for you right now?

You can as well join our Facebook group – The Search Tribe to discuss, discover and leverage working strategies to attract only the people in need of your products/services – Now.