First impressions have evolved from handshakes to hyperlinks, and contact forms are your company’s first impression online. Consider them your outstretched hand, waiting for a potential partner’s shake. While a welcoming contact form may be an afterthought when building your site, it’s an essential part of how your audience perceives you. The easier it is for your audience to reach you, the better your odds are of eventually establishing a relationship.
Filling out and submitting a form takes less time and results in less friction than picking up the phone or even sending an email. A contact form is an efficient, effective, and user-friendly way of communicating. Forms are ideally located as tabs in the main menu, the website footer, or the sidebar. Each user who stops by your site should see your contact form without having to search for it.
Placing your form in a highly-trafficked spot on the site gives clients the impression that your staff is available 24/7, and you can literally gather leads while you’re sleeping. Contact forms take the always-on-the-grind business owner to a new, more efficient level. How’s that for always being on the clock?
A major oversight that a lot of online businesses are still guilty of is not having a contact form at all. This is the gateway for business-related inquiries, partnership proposals, and requests for quotes. Each of these can turn a profit for you, but none are possible without a way to reach you. A simple email address splashed on the page will give the user little incentive and won’t provide enough information for you to determine if the visitor is a qualified lead, a concerned customer, or simply someone in the wrong place.
Having a dinosaur of a contact form — one that could be compared to completing a background check — is also detrimental. It creates skepticism in the user’s mind (How will they use this information?), and it makes your business seem hesitant about actually interacting with consumers (Why do I need to answer 15 questions before someone will call me?). Your users are always just one click away from the next site.
4 Tips for Customer-Centric Contact Forms
Most owners think that a user will simply pick up the phone, drive to the business’s location, or reach out via social media, but most people want the ease and convenience of a simple form to address any concerns or questions. If you are convinced of the importance of including a prominent form on the company’s website, then you need to also make sure it’s user-friendly and provides value for both parties. Here are a few tips for creating a customer-centric contact form:
1. Make it the primary form of contact. While it’s good to list a phone number and an email address on your website, the contact form should be the default method of communication. Think about who will submit the form, and in which circumstances. Users who have some sort of interest in the company (even if it’s to complain) should be welcomed by the contact form. Open communication is important for both the client and the company.
2. Keep it simple. There are a million options you could include within your form — everything from the person’s income to interests to the last time he was in the state of Montana. A clean form beats a cluttered one, and if you stick to the essentials, you will see much higher conversion rates. Offer a dropdown list, with options dependent upon the person’s need, and then hide unnecessary fields that don’t pertain to his choice.
3. Label fields. Make it easy for users to identify the nature of each field — and easy for your staff to determine what information it’s looking for. We’ve found that labels work best when placed on top of the form field.
4. Make it accessible. Design your site so the form is not only user-friendly, but also easy to locate. Place multiple links to the form throughout the site, especially on pages with a call to action.
Contact forms should be a no-brainer for any website looking to engage its customers. Forms signal that your business has thoughtfully considered client concerns and requests, and seeks to address these in a way that’s convenient for the user. Your clients shouldn’t feel that they don’t want to do business with you in the future because the process of contacting you was too confusing or time-consuming.
Contact forms give your website the professional look it needs to attract customers. They encourage user engagement and catalyze visitor-to-lead conversions. It also provides the company with data and information on common issues and concerns. Create an engaging, easily accessible, and effective contact form. Only then will you get the chance to make a real first impression with a great response.
Florin Cornianu is the co-founder and CEO of 123ContactForm, a leading online form builder that allows anyone to create web or mobile forms and surveys as easy as 1-2-3. Florin is a thought leader in entrepreneurship and technology, and he welcomes anyone to reach out to him on LinkedIn, Google+, or directly at 123contactform.com.
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