Classic Forms User Guide

  • Updated
Forms are a great and easy way to capture registrations, survey responses, and much more. While we recommend using New Forms whenever possible, there are some cases where you might prefer to use the Classic Forms Composer.

Disclaimer: This article relates to Classic Forms, a legacy feature unavailable for new accounts. If you need information on using Act-On Forms, see Forms Composer User Guide.


Get Started

  • To start a new Classic Form, go to Content > Forms > Create form > Additional options > Build a Classic form > Create

  • To edit an existing Classic Form, go to Content > Forms > Classic Forms filter > (select Classic Form) Edit

Step 1: Layout

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In the Layout step, you set up your form, including the fields. At the top of the page, you'll see four drop-down menus.
  • If you have established a default stationery and logo in your account branding area, these defaults will automatically be applied to your form. If you would like to make a change to either one, simply choose another stationery or logo via the drop-down menus. Using the Font and Size drop-down menus, you can apply a particular font and font size across your form.

All new Classic Forms contain two Smart Content blocks:

  • Section Heading – This is a Rich Text block that contains instructions or a description of the form
  • Name & Email – These are the First Name, Last Name, and Email Address fields for the form

Hover over either of these Smart Content blocks to see four options: 

  • Click Edit to modify the labels, specify restrictions and requirements, and determine the column names
  • Click Delete to remove the Smart Content block and all the fields it contains
  • Use the Move option to move a block. Simply click and hold the Move icon to drag the block to the desired area.
  • Click New to insert any of the other 20 Smart Content block options:

After choosing and inserting a Smart Content block:

Click Edit to customize the block's content. Most Smart Content blocks have three editing options:

  • Display Settings – Contains fields that hold data that your end users will see. They may also modify the data's display characteristics.
  • Input Validation – Allows you to add validation options to your text input fields, such as applying content restrictions (e.g., 'cannot be blank') or making the fields required or not
  • Data Field Names – Data from your form is also provided in a list. A new list is automatically created if you don't associate your new form with an existing list. The data field names you create here will be the column names in the list, but will not be exposed to end users. In many cases the labels that users see and the data field names will be the same, but they don't have to be. For example, the label of a form field may ask readers, 'What is your favorite color?' The corresponding field in the Database list may be named 'Color' for simplicity.
    • If you've already defined your standard field names, select the database icon and simply choose the column name you have already specified. You can also choose to enter the column name directly into the open field.
      Classic Forms User Guide 01.png

Under the New button, there are five pre-configured blocks at the beginning of the list (First & Last Name; Title, Dept, Company; Phone Numbers; Name & Email; Street Address). These have a blue person icon because they are associated with a person's information. These frequently-used data fields are included as pre-made blocks to save you time. The additional blocks include:

  • Rich Text Section block – The Rich Text Section block is the most versatile block. You can input text, insert images, link to documents, forms, and websites, create tables, and much more. Click Edit to access the Rich Text Editor inside the text block. Three rows of standard text editing icons help you customize your text. Six additional Act-On-specific icons assist you in accessing links to Act-On materials, insert personalization fields, and create layout structures for complex content.
  • The One Line Text and Side-by-Side Text blocks are essentially the same, except one is a single-column format and the other a two-column format. Use these when you need to gather only one or two pieces of information. With the Side-by-Side Text block, you can make one side required and the other side not required. With either option, you can choose multiple validation rules, such as:
    • Cannot be blank
    • Should be a number
    • Should be an email address
    • Should be an email address, not Hotmail, Gmail, AOL, or Yahoo
    • Should be an email address, not role-based
    • Should be a US phone number
  • Use the Paragraph Text block when you want to ask a question and give people the ability to respond in paragraph format
    • Enter the label and select an input field size (small, medium, or large) and indicate whether the field is required or not
    • Provide a field name by either entering the name or making a selection after clicking the Database icon
  • Use the Date field to capture date entries. A variety of date formats are available.
  • The Radio Buttons and Check Boxes fields operate similarly. Radio buttons allow only a single selection and check boxes allow for multiple selections to be made.
    • For both radio buttons and checkboxes, first, enter a label and then choose either a horizontal or vertical layout ranging from one to four columns.
    • The wording in the Labels field will appear on the form. The wording in the Corresponding Values field is the data that is pushed into the signup list. Again, indicate whether or not the field is required and provide or select the column name.
    • The Check Boxes field allows you to choose how the values are shown in the list. If a form respondent chooses multiple values, you can specify whether these values are separated by commas or semicolons in the list.
  • The Drop-Down list allows users to make a single selection. If you will use these same selections again in another drop-down list question, select the Save Template option. The next time you insert a drop-down list, simply select Load Template, select the template you wish to use, and your drop-down list, with its choices and corresponding values, will automatically populate.
  • The Confirm Value and Confirm Password blocks mask data entries, ensuring that important information is properly validated. Users are prompted to input a value twice and the system will confirm whether the entries match. One common use of this is the request to 'Please enter your email address' / 'Please confirm your email address.' The system will display a green check mark if the two values match and a red one if they don’t. With the Confirm Password block, Act-On will mask the characters in both the Input Value and Confirm Value fields.
  • The File Upload field allows users to attach a file to their form submission.
  • With the Time and Place block, users can download meeting or event details onto their calendars. You can insert a description of the meeting, time, date and duration, meeting location with a map, and any additional conference details you wish to provide. All of this information will be saved to their calendar.
  • Hidden fields can be used to pass data in the background of the form. For example, the field name could be 'Lead Source', and the field value 'website'. This is useful information in your CRM. When linking the form to an email campaign, make sure the Hidden field has the same column name as your mailing list. If you select pre-fill then the system will auto-populate data from your Marketing list into your Signup list.
  • Use the Captcha field to help catch spam bot submissions.
  • The Submit Button field allows you to choose a custom button the user will click to submit the form. Align the button to the left, right, or center, and move the button between Smart Content blocks to position it in the location you choose.

Click Submit in each Smart Content block to ensure your changes are saved.
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Advanced buttons (top):

  • CSS – With this feature you can customize the CSS of the form itself to alter the branding of the form
  • SEO – This feature allows you to include a description of the form to help it appear higher in search engine results
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Step 2: Settings

After inserting and editing your form fields, click Next or 2. Settings at the top of the page. This step allows you to specify what happens after a form is submitted.

  • Under General, provide a title for your form and a description. Use terms that will help you easily identify the form and its purpose. This will be useful as you build a library of forms that you reuse.
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  • In the Response Page area, you choose what the user will experience after they submit a form. There are four options:
    • Show This Message – You can craft a message directly in the editor. The message will display with the same stationery and logo that you defined for your form. One common example: 'Thank you for taking the time to register for this event. You will receive a confirmation email shortly'.
    • Redirect to URL – You can insert the URL of any web page and the user will be directed to it once their form has been submitted. For example, you can insert your company’s home page if you would like to redirect people there. This URL should be secure (HTTPS). More Info.
    • Show this Landing Page – You can direct the user to an Act-On landing page you have created. For instance, if the user has registered for an upcoming event, the landing page can provide them with more event details.
    • Show Another Form – You can direct users to another Act-On form you have created. This is ideal for creating a multi-page questionnaire or survey.
  • Customize the appearance of your Response page by specifying how the Response Display will appear. There are four options:
    • Same browser window
    • New browser window
    • The whole browser window
    • The parent browser window
  • You can also have a Confirmation Email sent to the user after they submit the form. One example might be to provide additional information to someone who registered for an event or to provide a document download to fulfill an offer made in the form for submission.
  • The Signups to (CRM) option lets you set the system to automatically push submission data into your CRM. It is important that your form fields map to your CRM fields; the labels must be the same, including spelling and punctuation (watch out for variations such as 'e-mail' and 'email'). If, based on the email address, a respondent does not already exist as an entry in your CRM database, Act-On will capture the person's data as a lead. When selecting the checkbox to Push Signup Data to (CRM) when someone submits this form, additional options will appear. The options you see depend on which CRM you use.
    • Overwrite existing Signup Data in (CRM) – This option directs Act-On to find the existing record in your CRM database and overwrites its data with the form submission data. If you don’t want all fields to be updated, you can specify only certain fields to be overwritten by selecting Use signup list’s push settings to select fields.
    • Add a Note to (CRM) – When selected, Act-On will automatically document the user's activity history to note that this specific form was submitted.
    • Add to a Salesforce Campaign – This option groups the individuals who submitted this form into a Salesforce campaign. Act-On will display all of your existing CRM campaigns alphabetically, or you can choose to create a new Salesforce campaign within Act-On. Once you select the campaign, you can then specify which member status should be reflected on the record. You can also dynamically assign form submissions to Salesforce campaigns using a hidden field or appending a tag to the end of the form URL.
      Classic Forms User Guide 05.png
  • Capped Signups – Select this option to place a limit on the number of people who can submit a form, such as a registration for an event. Once the limit is reached, users can be redirected to any URL you define in replacement of the form.
    Classic Forms User Guide 06.png
  • Suppressed Domains - Users can now reject form submissions from domains listed in the Domains Suppression List. When used, any form submitter using an email address with a domain that matches the domains in the “Domain Suppression List” will not be added to the “Sign Up List” and the submitter can be redirected to any URL or Act-On Landing Page.
  • Expiration – If this is left blank, the form will not expire. You can fill in an expiration date, and a URL redirect page that will be served instead of the form after expiration.
  • Alerts – Fill in email addresses for those individuals who you want to be notified when a form is submitted. The email alert will contain all the form submission data for reference.
    • Form submission alert filters for sales users – Sales users can receive an alert when a form is submitted by a lead or contact assigned to them or located in their sales territory. Lead/contact ownership can be defined on the Sales Prospects section of the Account Lists page. Prospect territory of interest is defined on the Report Content Settings page, located on the More menu of the Website Prospector report.
    • GeoIP information - Users can choose to include prospects' GeoIP information (e.g., company/ISP, area code, state/province, country). GeoIP information is also used to suggest the location of anonymous prospects in the Website Prospector Report and is based on the current location of the prospect. While this information can vary from known contact details, it can be useful in providing additional information in forms that are not collecting these values.
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  • External Double-Post URL – Select this to post the form’s submission data to another URL; just enter the external URL here.
  • External Web Analytics Support – If you use a web analytics service (such as Google Analytics), you can also use it to track visits to this form by inserting the appropriate tracking code snippet. If you have multiple pieces of tracking code, separate them with a semicolon and one space (e.g., 123this; 456that). If you want prospects to this form to show up on your Website Prospects Report, be sure to add the Act-On website tracking code in this field. Get the code here: Settings > Other Settings > Beacon Settings.

Step 3: Finish

This step lets you determine what data will be collected and where the collected data will go. Also, this is the only place where you can save your form.

  • By default, submitted data will go to a new list, as shown at the top of the page. The New List Name will automatically be generated to reflect the name you provided for your form in Step 2. The corresponding list can be found under Contacts > Other Lists > Form Submissions in the Default folder. When creating a new Signup list, you will see four columns: 
    • Form Label is the label users will see on the form. It is displayed here for convenience.
    • Form Field Name is the data field name you specified when creating the form fields. It is displayed here for your reference and will be the title of the columns in your Signup list.
    • Create List Column? has default settings to create a column for each form field. Simply uncheck a box if you don't want Act-On to collect the data.
    • System Usage is where you can designate how each field will be used. For example, which field will be your contact’s email address, first name, or company? Many of your fields may not have a system usage, especially if they are custom fields.
      Classic Forms User Guide 08.png
  • Form submission data can also be collected in an existing list. To do this, select the Existing List radio button and the Select hyperlink. All of your Account lists, Marketing lists, Signup lists, and Webinar lists will be displayed. Hover over the list you would like to add the form submission data to, and choose the Click to Select link. If your form submission data will go to an existing list, you will see three columns: 
    • Form Label is the label users will see on your form. It is displayed here for your convenience.
    • Form Field Name is the data field name you specified when creating the form fields.
    • List Column Name is the column your form field will submit to. Act-On will attempt to match any form fields you have on your new form to existing columns in the list you have chosen to push form submission data to. If Act-On can't match the columns (e.g., if the column does not exist or the names are too dissimilar) a new column will be made. If a new column is made, both a green plus sign and a yellow warning sign will appear next to the List Column Name.

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  • The Always Append option, when selected, creates a line record for each form submission. Otherwise, existing records in the list will be updated if the person submits the form again. Act-On uses email address association to locate existing records.

Once you have mapped your system usage for the new list or mapped columns to an existing list, click Save.

Preview and Edit Options

Navigate to your new form under Content > Forms > Classic Forms filter. You have the following options:

  • Edit > Layout > Preview – Select this option to view your form as users will see it.
  • Edit – Select this option to make changes to any part of your form in the LayoutSettings, or Finish steps.
  • '...' More actions > Duplicate – Select this option to create a copy of an existing form to be used as a template for making a new form. In this way, you can produce a new form with minor adjustments without creating it from scratch. Keep in mind that when a copy of a form is created, all form settings are also copied exactly. Usually, certain settings need to be changed in the new form. Some of these may include:
    • In Step 1, change any field label if needed. Add, delete, or modify field labels and data field names as appropriate.
    • In Step 2, give the form a new title and make edits to any of the settings as necessary. Remember to edit any confirmation email the original form may have had.
    • In Step 3, with copied forms, the form's data automatically goes to the same list as the original form by default. Make sure to change the list where the form submission data is going if necessary.
  • '...' More actions > Move to folder – Select this option to move the form into another folder to help keep your forms organized.
  • '...' More actions >Delete – This option allows you to completely remove the form. If you delete the form, the Signup list will still exist.
  • Public URLs – To access, select a Classic Form > View report > Details tab (upper left) > Additional Settings & Reports > Edit Public URLs.
    As soon as a form has been created and saved, the system automatically generates a default URL. If you plan to promote the page, you can create public URLs. 
    • This link allows you to generate as many unique URLs as you like. Use these as trackable links so you can see which sources generate the most form views and submissions. You can also generate SEO-friendly URLs by shortening and customizing them.
    • Be sure to test your form as many times as necessary. Copy and paste the form URL into a new browser window (or just click Test) to test the form. Fill out the form as though you were a new user. Make sure the form submissions are being captured. If you are pushing or overwriting to your CRM, follow it through and make sure the changes are reflected.
    • Here, you also have the option to get the HTML code for the Act-On form and embed it within your own (non-Act-On) web page or blog. Within the HTML code provided are additional instructions. These instructions are separated from the HTML code by a double line at the top and bottom.
    • To get the form HTML code, simply hover over the Public URL title and click Get Code.
  • Classic Form Reports – To access, select a Classic Form > View report.
    • Report tab > Form performance – See traffic to your form and the views and submissions from each source. You can also download submissions by source or download all submissions for the form, regardless of the source.
    • Actions > Clear performance report – Click this to clear your form views and submissions, and reset them to zero. It's a good idea to use this option once you have thoroughly tested your form and it’s ready to start capturing true customer data.
    • Report tab > Form performance – See responses to preset choice questions (in the Radio Button, Check Box, and Drop-Down List form fields) in graphical format. This will allow you to easily see how many times each choice was selected.
    • Action > Download submitted data – Click this to download submitted data.
    • Details tab > Submission List > View List – Click this to automatically open the list the form data was being submitted to in Database view.
    • Details tab > Additional Settings & Reports > Enable Payments > Edit Settings 
      Enable E-Commerce – Select this to collect payment with the form submission. If selected, Act-On will not document a form submission until payment is completed. See the article Enabling the E-commerce Feature for more information.
  • View Salesforce Push Errors – see View Salesforce Form Push Errors.

Publishing Your Form

Classic Forms are live as soon as you create them. Act-On hosts your form so it can collect the data, integrate the data with your CRM, and report your results. If you are distributing your form as a link to be clicked (via email or online advertising, etc.) then you simply need to create one or more URLs to place in appropriate locations.

If you want people to be able to go on your website and fill out the form, you must integrate the form into your site. There are four ways to integrate an Act-On form into your website:

  • Conduct a double post from an existing form on your website to one you’ve created in Act-On.
    • Note that if you do this, you can continue to use your own forms while also receiving the benefits of using an Act-On form. See the article Posting External Forms to Act-On for further information.
    • Using the Import function, enter the URL for the form. Act-On pulls the form in so that the form is double-hosted on both your website and on Act-On.
    • Note that by default, the submission logic is to the same database the form was feeding. You can check a box to have the data populate your Act-On profiles instead.
  • Add an iframe with the Act-On form directly onto your web page.
    • Some HTML knowledge is required for this option. You'll add code to the relevant area of your site that looks something like this:
      <iframe src="[PUBLIC_URL]" width="[WIDTH]px" height=""[HEIGHT]px"/>
      Make sure to fill in the Public URL with the one for your form, and the width and height that make the most sense for your page.
  • Add a link to your website that goes to your form's Public URL.
  • Insert the Act-On form’s HTML code directly onto your website.
    • HTML knowledge is also required for this option. You can copy the source code of the Act-On form and paste it into your site, but some changes will probably be needed for optimal look and feel.  

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