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While you may not know the technical term “Captcha,” you certainly know what it is. If you’ve spent any amount of time online, you’ve come across those tiny little text images that are nearly illegible. Captchas are a byproduct in the fight against machines (or automated bots) that troll the internet completing forms and randomly posting blog messages. While they may be a necessary evil, marketers need to make their captcha user friendly.

What is unfortunate is that most B2B lead generation programs have implemented Captchas with little regard for the customer experience. Asking the user to decipher a skewed image goes against the basic principle of making the customer experience as easy as possible.

The solution to this problem is relatively easy when you evaluate both the technology and how it influences the user experience. It starts by understanding that bots are looking for forms and see only code, not how it is displayed on your screen. This includes hidden variables that are not displayed through browsers. By hiding a variable and using it for validation upon submission you can determine if the form was completed by a person or machine. (If the field is not empty, a machine entered the data because a user viewing your form through a browser would not have seen this field.)

This process removes the need for a Captcha and enables you to easily filter out a large percentage of malicious entries. But it’s not perfect. Google Chrome and other browsers are starting to auto complete forms for users based on stored information. For these people, there is still a chance that this hidden field will be populated.

To sidestep this hurdle, adding a validation page after submission will do the trick. This page may include a review of their own personal information and require a second input, or you could simply ask them a yes or no question such as “Are you a machine?”

The important thing to remember is that this extra step is only necessary for those individuals that trigger the extra validation. For the majority of your users, they will simply follow the normal process and be satisfied with a customer experience that doesn’t require them to jump through hoops to contact your organization. And making life simple for customers and prospects will improve the results of your lead generation programs.