I was recently asked by a prospective client if “contact” or “inquiry” smart forms — you know forms that an individual can complete and submit online — made a website look dated. I polled a couple of website developer/designer expert connections, and the answer was “no.” I was very pleased to hear that because I think such forms afford both the visitor to and the owner of a website the following three key benefits:
1. Website visitors can share and website owners can learn how a visitor found out about their organization or website via a question such as the following with drop-down-menu answer options like the ones shown below (and in our form at the bottom of this post):
Q: How did you learn about us?
newspaper advertisement, link to your site from a social media post, search engine search, online advertisement, word-of-mouth, billboard, radio advertisement, TV ad, bus advertisement, train advertisement (note: when relevant, you should allow visitors to select more than one vs. forcing one answer)
Obviously, answer options should only include those marketing vehicles and tactics you are employing to drive traffic to your site. You can also gather more information about the effectiveness of certain marketing activities by including additional questions that would only be presented if a particular response was selected (known as skip patterns). For example, let’s suppose you were running several types of online ads or ads with several different messages, you could pose questions to gather more detail about the messaging or form of online advertising a visitor saw.
Before launching any kind of advertising campaign, it’s a best and critical practice to make sure you always have means, such as the above, to track which of the marketing tactics you employed as part of the campaign are most effective.
2. Visitors won’t abandon the process of reaching out to you because they get the message below when they click on a link to e-mail or contact you. Already having an Outlook program on my computer or that I access via an online e-mail service, I never know what to do when this message which encourages me to configure an Outlook e-mail account appears as a pop-up when I click on someone’s e-mail address. I’m guessing most website visitors don’t either, and likely just end up “cancelling out” of the process.
To make matters worse, some e-mail links don’t even contain the e-mail address that you can snag and then type into your mail service yourself after you initiate creating/ sending a new e-mail. Instead of a link that’s hyperlinked and labeled with an e-mail address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, the link may be labeled “contact us” or “e-mail us” and take one directly to the Outlook message above. The average site visitor is unlikely to know that they may be able to “right click” on that link to see what the e-mail address is behind the link.
Why wonder if your site visitors are going to be patient enough to figure out how to e-mail you or figure out your e-mail address? Eliminate that concern with an online form.
3. Avoid Phone Calls That Can Be Awkward For Both Parties. Some people aren’t phone people. Instead of gathering information from you via a phone call — which may seem like it requires or indicates some kind of commitment to buy your product or use your services, or may simply feel awkward or cumbersome — some members of your target audience may prefer getting feedback from you via an online inquiry about your product or service. The ability to submit an online inquiry simplifies the process of their conducting initial research before they invest in a product or service — allowing for answers to questions they might have about the product or service itself and figuring out whether your product or service is the right fit for them.
Having an online contact/inquiry form doesn’t mean you still can’t include a link to an e-mail address, it just means your making it easier for prospective customers to communicate with you in a way that might be more comfortable and/or less mentally or technically cumbersome — a win-win because you’re able to gather beneficial data from your visitors to help optimize future marketing budgets and activities.
Need help setting up an online inquiry form? Use our form to reach out for help.