Monday, 19 April 2010

Improve your website – Use forms and not email addresses

By Jon Paget


I’ve spoken to a variety of people recently about their website’s contact page. No surprise there then seeing as we’re a web design agency.

However, what was surprising was the number of times people seemed happy to gloss over the contact us details.

There’s always plenty of discussion about the home page, the products and services pages, even the about us page! Then, almost as an afterthought, ‘we better throw a telephone number on there’ is often mentioned.

Now, some websites, indeed those selling online, may need less focus on contact details. But, many SMEs delivering a service want to engage with their prospects – and this usually means a phone call or a face-to-face meeting (usually arranged over the phone too).

So why is it that if this is one of the end goals of the website – to receive a phone call – that the how and whys of how to achieve this are given so little attention?

At this point, I'm at risk of getting carried away so I’ll focus on one specific issue facing businesses on the contact page: that of the form vs. email address.

Why?

Well lots of websites have an info@... email address on their website instead of using forms and it’s certainly the quickest and easiest thing to do, but is it the best?

The first thing to remember is that by providing an email address you open yourself up to spam. And if that’s not bad enough, each time someone contacts you on email it’s exactly that – on email. With a form you can not only ensure they leave certain key details (although too many fields can often put people off), your content management system will record every question or query that’s sent along with all the details your form captures.

There's also the impression that it leaves - you don't see many websites from larger companies dishing out email addresses. It's nearly always a form.

And, if you do receive emails from leads generated from your site and you disagree with the above, perhaps it’s time to realise you aren’t getting enough business from your website.

2 comments:

  1. All great points. I had a similar conversation last week about setting up my own website, and I was amazed at how much thought needs to go into it.

    In the past, I've always preferred to contact a web business by sending a direct email, because it feels like I've got more control than using a form. For some reason, I felt that a form was more likely to get sent to an automated responder, not a human.

    But now I think about it, that's ridiculous, as the forms and emails probably arrive at the same point, regardless of the route they take.

    Would there be any benefit in adding a line on the contact form saying 'don't worry, this form will be read by a human'?

    J

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Jon,

    It's becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to extract email addresses as people become more and more fearful of being bombarded with spam. I also think that anything a business can do to reinforce credibility will help.

    Therefore adding lines such as:

    "we won't share your content with anyone else" or "all the enquiries we receive are read and responded to by a member of our team" should be considered.

    ReplyDelete

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