Lately, I've been thinking and reading a lot about marketing lead generation. For many companies, the economy has really caused slumping sales. Some are responding by stepping up their sales efforts, and the most intelligent companies are improving their web sites to generate more leads.
Companies typically have a single contact link or button at the top or bottom of their web sites. But why make your readers hunt for a place to contact you? By putting a short, simple lead generation form beside or at the bottom of your web pages, you're giving people an easy way to make contact.
Many web designers will argue that you don't need the form -- that it "junks" up a design. If that's the case, ask them to create a second version of a key web page (perhaps a whitepaper download, a sales page, a product page, etc.) with a form included and use a testing tool like Google's Website Optimizer to test the page with the form against the page without. This head-to-head comparison will reveal which is more effective.
In nearly every case I've seen, the page with a form will generate more leads than a page without a form. There are exceptions, such as requiring that someone fill out a form before downloading, viewing or listening to content.
By placing lead generation forms on key pages of your company web site, you might just be able to thrive during this recession.