“There’s no excuse for no contact form” said Elizabeth Able (ablereach) on my Top 100 Internet Blunders Committed by Businesses post. And Chris Lucas from iMedia recently wrote a great article about making your contact form work harder for you. He covers some basics like not to make your form intimidating and make sure you are doing something with the information details people give you.
But how does your contact form work for you—or does it even work at all? Of course, it important to provide a way for possible clients contact you, but why should they? A lot of businesses only have their contact form filled out by marketing people (aka glorified spam), if they ever get used at all. So how do you get people to actually use your contact form for the purpose you want them to?
- Decide what you want your contact form to do for you. It surprises me how many people don’t actually have a well-thought out reason. Why do you want people to contact you? Have a clear, defined purpose. If possible, write it down.
- Have a compelling reason for people to contact you. Now that you’ve figured out why people should contact you, make sure your site backs it up. If you want people to contact you about a quote or to set an appointment, clarify that at other points on your website. Make everything lead up to the ultimate thing you want your website to do: provide revenue.
- Make your contact form the simple next step. We live in a generation of ADD people (diagnosed and those of us who just neurotically multitask), so when some reads great content on your site and decides to contact you, make it easy. You want to be right there when someone has the impulse to talk to you. (So make sure you read Chris’s article, he mentions mechanics… the worst thing is to have a useless contact form and miss the window.) On certain pages where contacting you is the obvious next step, hyperlink to your form.
- Respond to your contact form in 24 hours or less. It sounds simple, but some people just put off responding or checking their contact email. If your contact form goes to a secondary email address (like mine goes to firstname.lastname@example.org) make sure someone is regularly checking it. Set it up to go to your outlook or other mail service. If you check your email at least once a day, you should be able to respond and make your customer feel loved.This can also help you land those time-sensitive opportunities.
- Reward people who use your contact form. After you’ve promptly responded, give your client something extra. It doesn’t have to be a free gift or a discount (but those are good ideas), it can be more creative, like offering a link exchange. But go the extra mile and watch more people contact you!
- Follow-up & Survey. Often the follow-up can be more important than the initial contact (ask your local sales guy where they get the most referrals). Its true, even online. Follow-up with people who’ve contacted you through your site. Even if its just to survey them. Ask them how they found your site, why they used the contact form instead of calling and if they were satisfied with your turn-around time.
Have you thought about the purpose of your contact form? I challenge you to write out a sentence about why you have one and what you want people to use it for. (Feel free to share!)