You might think that your website contact form is like any other. Actually, it is, and that’s the problem. Here’s the truth: all website contact forms are a barrier to people that want to enquire. No one wants to hand out their personal contact details online, and especially not to a company they’ve probably never dealt with before. And though many of us do, there are countless times when we don’t. And for some of the times that we choose not to complete a contact form, the form itself is what’s pushing us away.
An analogy with the retail sector
What would you do if you wandered into an electrical goods shop and before you could get to touch or feel the products, you were asked to provide your full contact details? I’m guessing you’d probably wander straight back out again. But this is what your contact form is doing – asking for personal information as soon as visitors are through the door and before they’ve had chance to sample your products or services.
The reality is that any type of contact form on a website is a barrier in the sales process. It demands personal information from the prospective customer before they’ve even spoken to you – i.e. while they’re still in ‘browsing’ mode. Even worse, if your website form asks for more information than you really need, you are just making the barrier bigger. Think about it, do you really need their full postal address? Or do you really need to know what product they’re interested in upfront?
And for particularly long contact forms (e.g. 8 fields or more), just the sight of the size of the form will put some people off, even before they have looked at what the fields are asking.
Contact forms ARE necessary, but we just need to make them less scary
I’m certainly not saying that you shouldn’t use contact forms on your website. You certainly should. They are in my experience a more effective enquiry generator than just listing a generic email address (such as sales@ or enquiries@). But the more simple and inviting the contact form is, the more effective it will be at generating enquiries. So for starters, only include the fields in your contact form that are needed for you to respond to the enquirer’s query, plus a non-mandatory ‘enquiry details’ type of field so the enquirer can elaborate on their enquiry if they wish.
Next, give the enquirer reasons to contact you. Vary your calls to action so different web pages have different forms asking the reader to contact you for a variety of reasons. These reasons might include ‘download a free research paper’, or ‘request your free sample’ or simply ‘have the latest brochure sent to your home’. All of these calls to action can direct your visitors to a contact form, but the visitor will feel like they are getting something in return for providing their contact details. It makes it less scary.
Now go and have a look at your contact forms. Are they asking for more information than they need to and and are you giving people reasons to contact you?Contact Forms, Websites