man starting a Google search on a laptop
Findability is the foundation of any successful digital customer experience. Here are some tips on how to ensure customers can find your content PHOTO: Benjamin Dada on unsplash

In late October, Google rolled out a lead form extension for its search ad campaigns. Online lead forms remain an important means for businesses to gather preliminary information from customers. 

In their earliest iteration, lead forms were designed for customers reaching businesses on a desktop or laptop computer. But as mobile and tablet phone usage grew, lead forms needed to adapt to provide easier methods of filling out information on smaller screens. Customers on mobile devices want to complete tasks quickly. A form that may seem OK on a laptop becomes unwieldy on a smartphone and too often, the ensuing customer frustration can lead to the loss of a potential sale.

Getting Started With Google Search Ads New Lead Forms 

Google's form feature is designed specifically for search users who are signed into their Google account. When a given user searches a company, product or services, they'll see a call-to-action ad for the lead form extension. The call to action will have a phrase such as “Get quote” or “Apply now.” When the user clicks on the ad, a Google-hosted form appears, pre-populated with their contact information. This lets the user submit the form with a single touch.  

The lead form operates like other search ad campaign extensions Google offers, meaning administration of the lead form details is handled through the Google Ad Manager. The lead form appears as a choice among the "ad extensions" list. Selecting “lead form extension” from the list brings the user to a page where they select the call-to-action and enter the extension text. (First time lead form extension users must review and accept the terms of service to activate the feature. There also must be a privacy policy on a dedicated webpage.)

Next comes the actual form. Here you enter the headline, business name, description, information being requested, and — as part of the terms of acceptance — the URL of the privacy policy page. You can create the form submission message as well.

Lead forms can be added to existing campaigns. If the form is meant for a specific audience, you can set all bidding and targeting options by the campaign associated to the lead form.

Related Article: Google Rebrands AdWords and DoubleClick to Google Ads

A Boon to Paid Search and SEO Strategies

The lead form is a significant development from a paid search and SEO perspective. For paid search, it provides another functionality choice, making a campaign more relevant to the audience while gathering associated information at the specific instant. For SEO, the lead form does more than add information to a search result related to your business, product or service. The form adds utility to the SEO appearance. It replaces the traditional landing page with an actionable feature that is convenient for would-be customers. 

The end result is faster generation of quality leads from customers initial searches. The lead form shaves a few seconds off the time it takes for customers to make a connection with your business, which is a great benefit considering the impatience of most customers on mobile devices.

The lead forms provide an option to import the data into an analytics model. You can download leads into a CSV file or via a web hook integration (Google notes how to set up an integration, along with other extension settings, on the Google Ads Help setup page). One critical note to keep in mind is the timing of the download. The leads are only stored for 30 days maximum, so keep track of how and when the lead form campaigns are being run.