List Building: When to Require Lots of Information

Copywriters on my list have been finger-wagging me a lot lately.

And even some of my new coaching students are challenging my instruction!

It all revolves around the proper use of Form Fields. And believe me, those of you who are using them wrong are losing business.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last month I held a FREE webinar entitled, "How to Land High Quality, High Value Clients: 3 Transformative Secrets of the World's Most Successful Service Providers".

This is the information I asked of signups (those with an asterisk were required):

First name *
Last name *
Email *
Company phone
Address 1 *
Address 2
City *
State *
Zip *
Country *
Your occupation *
How did you hear about us?

Right after a promo email in February, one copywriter came to my Facebook page to politely register a complaint about having to give up so much information. He refused to come to my webinar because of it.

But I didn't want to spend time educating so I ignored it.

Then another, and yet another, joined his conversation. And then an email came directly into my inbox.

She said, "You ask for too much information. An email, maybe a name."

I could see that it was growing and I had no choice but to address the problem.


So I reluctantly stopped what I was doing and spent time to respond to my Facebook and email complaints. As briefly as possible, I explained where they were going wrong.

And while my argument was accepted as one would allow a friend to have their say, I didn't feel that I'd done a great job at convincing. I had neither the time nor the space to do an effective job of teaching.

So I vowed to write this letter... especially since my own coaching students occasionally fight me on this one.


Copywriters who want LEADS are erroneously listening to the marketing teachings of Internet entrepreneurs who want SALES.

Most of us who live in the online copywriters world know of the "big boy Internet gurus" who brag of having huge lists.

Many copywriters are, or want to be, Internet marketers. And they're listening to the teachings of the big boys, and they're getting it all mixed up.

Ok, so let's get some learning: what is the #1 obstacle of getting an Internet business going? Easy. It's building a list.

So this is the major pain point of the Internet entrepreneur who wants to build a very large list.

His intent is to make SALES, and the larger the list, the more the sales. Therefore he wants a low barrier to entry.

This is why he asks only for a name and an email. His strategy is to capture the name now, and analyze for demographics and psychographics later.

(As an aside, these very large lists are usually mostly made up of freebie seekers; one of my colleagues is an Internet entrepreneur with 80,000 names but only 7% are repeat buyers.)

Ok, now let's look at the...


For the coaching side of my business, my goal in collecting names is vastly different from the mass market Internet marketer whose goal it is to make direct sales.

I want leads. And NOT crap leads. Good, high quality leads that will convert well. I don't want millions on my coaching list!

A service such as mine would not survive millions of non-paying, low-quality tire kickers (people who want your work and knowledge for free, and have no intent to ever work with you).

Plus it would cost me a lot more to send emails to a million low quality prospects than a few thousand good ones.

So the lesson here is, if your goal for a promotion is NOT to sell a product, but to sell your services, you want a tight list of high quality leads who are really interested in working with you.

This is how you convert well. And this is how you are profitable.

Unlike the Internet entrepreneur, my goal was to sign up 12 new coaching students (which I did).

Not only must my prospects give me a lot of personal information to gain access to my Webinar, but they must also fill out a probing questionnaire and supply a bio and writing sample before we can go to the next step, which is a free consult with me.

Those who don't want to share their information in exchange for access to a presentation that took me 40 hours to build, are not good leads.

Neither are those who don't want to complete the paperwork that gains them a free hour of time with me.

Therefore my conversion rate is extremely high, and I rarely waste time on a bad lead.

Furthermore, by capturing physical address information I can do direct mailings, which are also very profitable for me.

One final point here: If I don't know who signed up for my Webinar, how will I make changes to fit the audience?

I have lots of copywriters on my list but I also have many other types of service providers. And in fact, the title of my presentation uses the words "service provider," not "copywriter."

In order to give my best presentation, I need to know who my audience is.


Copywriters, like coaches, perform a service. So they should ask for a lot of information. Certain information is crucial.

When you gain a lead from your website, you surely want to know the prospect's name, title, company name and website.

This allows you to go to their website and learn more about their company so you can respond to their inquiry appropriately.

How you respond has a lot to do with starting a conversation that turns into a successful close.

Here's the Form Field my coaching students use:

First name *
Last name *
Company *
Website *
Address 1
Address 2
Zip/Postal Code
* = required

Now here's something that will surprise a lot of copywriters who read this: you can tell the quality of the lead by how much information they give you.

Low quality leads give you only what they must. But high quality leads will give you all their information, even that which is not required.

Use this format and over time you will find this to be absolutely true, almost like clockwork.

And here's the advantage. For a low quality lead you now know not to put a lot of effort into a response. But for the high quality lead, you will study their site and carefully craft your response.

Perhaps you live in the same city. Or you did work for a similar product. Or you use their software. Or you have a Case Study that would interest them.

These days many copywriters understand they will do best with an offer to their target market... something like a White Paper that shows how the copywriter can raise ROI or solve a marketing pain.

I hope you have an offer, and that it drives your prospect to a Contact Page that has the proper Form Fields!


Even as I explain to my students the right way to set up your Form Fields, they cite studies that "prove" that the less information you ask for, the better.

In closing, I would like to point you to a MarketingSherpa study that proves this to be true.

But they also explain, as I have, that it all depends on your objective. Do you want high quality leads? Or a mass of names?

To see a cool competition between Long Form Fields and Short Form Fields, and MarketingSherpa's take on the results, visit this link for WhichTestWon:

And of course, to find out more about my coaching, visit:

Master Copywriter and Marketing Coach Chris Marlow has helped thousands of copywriters and service professionals land the high value, high quality clients. To learn more about how Chris can help you, visit

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