When you’re setting up a website for your business, there’s a huge amount to keep in mind. We all spend days agonising over the appearance of our sites. The colours have to be just right, reflecting the tone of your company. The layout has to be carefully thought out, ensuring the site is easily navigable. The rise of high speed broadband has seen the increase of all sorts of extra whizzes and bangs, from video backgrounds to robotic assistants and animated components. Without a doubt, there’s a massive number of questions we all have to ask ourselves, to make sure our sites are a positive reflection of what we do, and to encourage our customers to fill their trolleys.
However, there is one part of many business’s websites which is regularly lacking attention and care. The contact form on your website is one of the most important pages in your arsenal when it comes to targeting customers and turning intrigue into closed sales, and yet it is one of the components which is most commonly neglected. This could be for many reasons – a lot of people are so distracted by pimping up the rest of the site and making sure it looks flashy and tempting, they forget about the importance of the contact form, which is, after all, often the last page potential customers see and thus vital for forming those closing impressions. Perhaps we’re so used to seeing uninspiring contact forms, we forget how much better they could potentially be. Perhaps, because of the nature of the form and its purpose, we assume that anyone clicking on that page are already interested enough not to warrant extra effort.
We shouldn’t underestimate how important and how useful a well designed, carefully constructed contact form can be. As I just mentioned – they can create a lasting final impression, and this can be equally powerful as a first impression. Furthermore, contact forms are vital for the success of your business. They allow visitors a quick and simple method for expressing interest and getting in touch with you, and this is most likely to be the first contact you’ll have with your customers directly. They may be enquiring about your products and services, which you can easily turn into sales, and they may also be contacting you directly to make suggestions or ask questions which could lead to the improvement of your business and customer relations. As such, they are hugely important, and should be treated and designed with this importance in mind.
So, let’s take a look at why this part of your website is so vital for the growth of your business, and a few ideas of how to improve them to make the most of your contact with your customers. After all, who doesn’t like receiving fan-mail?
What does a good contact form do?
Contact forms are not just for potential customers. They are the primary way all types of people are going to get in touch with. Existing customers may want to send you words of praise or constructive criticism, jobseekers may want to enquire about getting involved with your business, and other companies might be interested in working alongside you. A good contact form keeps things simple and direct, and handily directs all these type of people to the same inbox. For almost any business, they’re the best communication tool you have. Here’s why:
- They’re dead quick and simple. Customers don’t want to have to search your site for an email address, copy and paste it into their email server, or go through any extra effort to get in touch. Competition online is ferocious, and this has led to the attention span and patience levels of the general public shrinking rapidly. A contact form can be filled quickly, and with a click of the mouse, customer’s messages can be with you in an instant.
- They help you know your customer base. This is really very important for your business. A good contact form should allow you to know where your customers are coming from, what type of people your business is attracting online, and what the denizens of the internet are looking for. From this, you can streamline your business to attract more of the same, and develop useful ‘frequently asked questions’ sections of your site. Good contact forms on new-style websites also tell you how your enquirers found your site – through social media, google, etc – something which is becoming increasingly important in the world of online marketing.
- Contact forms positively invite enquiries and suggestions. Not all of your customers are going to be instantly converted to your products or services, no matter how wonderful they may be. A contact form gives them the freedom to quickly ask questions or seek advice, thus allowing you as a business person the opportunity to dispel any fears or hesitations, or offer your own suggestions.
- They help generate leads. What business doesn’t want to close more deals? When people log onto your website, you don’t have a clue who they are, you don’t even know they’re looking at your information. Contact forms convert the anonymous into the known, and when somebody enters their personal details into the form, they are demonstrating a level of trust that you – as a salesperson – can build upon to form a relationship with them.
With all this in mind, don’t you want to include your own contact form, or take another look at your contact form, and ensure it’s doing its job properly?
Make sure your contact form follows these basic guidelines:
- It must follow the design of your site. You don’t want your form to look as though it has been tacked on at the end, as an afterthought. Make sure the design components of your site are carried through into the contact form, whether this means sticking to a colour scheme, keeping the same fonts and headings, or including some related images.
- Make sure it contains all the relevant components. You’ll need a space for their name and email address, and plenty of space for questions and comments. Lots of good sites nowadays are coming up with creative ways of making this seem like a less intrusive process. For example, instead of putting just ‘NAME’ next to the text box… why not try something friendlier, like ‘My name is…’?
- Put in a confirmation message. This is reassuring for the customer, they want to know that their message is getting through. So after they’ve clicked ‘send’, make sure they see a quick message telling them their message has been sent, and an approximate guess as to how long it will take for you to get back to them. This will leave your customers feeling comforted, and these sort of impressions really count.