A couple of months ago, while I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed, I came across a fun post from , the Co-Founder of Beam Content. Brooklin Nash Reading the post made me laugh out loud (I’ve been through the same experience!). It also reminded me of the classic lead generation tactic in B2B and . Attract prospective customers with the perfect bait (read: lead magnet), get them on the website, and ask them to fill out a form to gain access to the content. SaaS A classic move, for sure. But at the same time, a couple of things crossed my mind: Since when did filling out a form become a signal for buying intent? Are eBooks even the right type of asset to attract sales leads? Why is everyone still following the same inbound marketing playbook that Hubspot succeeded with in 2012? Are lead generation forms even useful in the age of the self-serve buyer? I’ve been mulling over these points since seeing the post, and there’s a lot to unpack. But first, story time. Drift: The First Company to Ban Forms Back in 2016, David Cancel, the CEO of Drift, called up Dave Gerhardt, former VP of marketing at Drift, one fine afternoon and told him to get rid of all the forms on their website. “I think marketing has kind of lost its way a little bit,” he remarked over the phone call. “We’ve lost the importance of a great story and truly connecting with people. We live in this world where it’s all about content, content, and more content. And SEO. And ranking for this keyword and that keyword. And algorithms and conversion rate optimization. Pieces of that stuff are still important to marketing, but overall, I think we’ve lost our way. Marketing today has become more about gaming the system and get-rich-quick schemes.” And so..Drift ungated all of its content assets and said no more forms. Naturally, you’d want to know if the strategy worked. Well, two years into the new scheme of things, and Drift was getting more traction than ever. What’s more important to note here isn’t just the improvement in numbers but what Drift used to replace the lead forms: conversation marketing. Now, I’m not going to get into the depths of the concept, but put simply, they used live chat and chatbots to acquire what they call Conversation-Qualified Leads (CQLs). Drift defines CQLs as: “people who’ve expressed intent to buy during a real-time, one-to-one conversation, either with a human or a chatbot.” Once they had the CQLs, their sales team took three days on average to reach out to the leads and deliver a demo, which is a decent turnaround time according to the industry average. No wonder Drift succeeded with the ‘No Form’ strategy. But the Problem Has Never Been Forms or How They’re Designed Someone who’s truly interested in learning more about your product/services won’t be deterred by a form with multiple fields. Maybe mildly annoyed but deterred? Highly unlikely. This is because the problem has never been the lead capture forms, how they’re designed, or when they pop up on your screen. The problem is actually the lack of proper lead qualification criteria; and lack of clearly defined ICPs and buyer personas. A lead coming through a whitepaper download isn’t ready to buy. But someone requesting a sales demo? That’s a lead qualified for purchase. So, once you’ve set the tone right on those two factors, you’ll have a better idea of how to define a “lead” for your company. And then, you can try any of the three methods below. So, What to Use Instead of Lead Forms? It’s actually not so much a question of “what to use” but “when and how to use” the lead forms. And I’m going to tell you four different methods (including lead forms) to do so. 1. Stick to forms with fewer fields When I say forms are useless, I mean forms with obnoxiously long lengths and too many fields. They’re a major cause of friction. In fact, of the 406 people who were surveyed after abandoning an online form, 27% cited form length as the reason for abandoning the form. So, definitely go for forms with fewer fields whenever you use’em. For example, Notion supports a freemium version for individual users. To encourage people to sign up and become freemium users, it uses a sign-up form of just one field: email address. That’s all. 2. Harness the Power of LinkedIn Today’s buyers like to move independently. And one of the channels they use to learn and research about products/services is social networks, and in particular, LinkedIn. With over 1 billion users, including senior-level influencers and executives, the platform is ripe with opportunities for making connections, expanding networks, and doing business the new way. There’s already a lot of data on the impact of social proof and advertising on consumers. According to , nearly 40% of B2B buyers rely on social media to help inform their purchasing decisions. That’s two in every five consumers. Social content is also and a fail-proof method of attracting traffic to your website. Gartner one of the top five sales enablement content What can you do to get leads via LinkedIn? One way is, of course, to share valuable, helpful content that helps alleviate the pain points of your audience. But other than the content, you should Connect and engage with posts published by thought leaders Get featured on podcasts and interviews Share behind-the-scenes and key product updates Identify potential customers using LinkedIn’s targeting features and start building rapport with them. 3. Score Product-Qualified Leads (PQLs) by Gating Product Demo If you’re going to gate any asset, gate your product demo. This is one of the best ways of qualifying leads quickly and speeding up the sales cycle. As you already know, B2B buyers have become increasingly self-serve in recent years. This type of access to the form will ensure your prospects enjoy a frictionless “discovery and research” phase. So they can self-evaluate and move further down the funnel without needing any nudges from sales. This will not only reduce the sales cycle but also make your job a lot easier.