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Improve your website and receive more enquiries – focus on forms

Each web page has a distinct lack of one very important resource. Space. Your above the fold space (anything that you can see without having to use the scroll bar) is crucial as this is what will be seen by most of the eyes visiting your webpage (research tells us that ‘we – internet users’ don’t like scrolling).

Of course most web pages will want/need a call to action in an attempt to get the visitor to act. This might be as simple as moving to another web page or as crucial as clicking the ‘add to cart’ button. One of the most important (and common) call to actions is the way in which visitors are encouraged to ‘contact us’.

There are a number of ways this can be done and here is a break down to these options along with their pros and cons.

1. An email address

The simplest, easiest and most cost effective. By simply using an email address it’s a very visual and quick way of someone from your website contacting you. However there are drawbacks. Emails can be read and recorded by crawlers or robots (programs that scan and mine email addresses from across the web). This can lead to you being inundated with spam/junk mail.

At Art Division we encrypt any email addresses that are visible on the website. This means that when a crawler program or robot sifts through the code they’ll see one email address (which will be a false address) whilst the webpage continues to actually display the correct address.

The other problem is that there is no organised way of recording the enquiries that you receive. If your website initially sends you an enquiry a day, this may be manageable. However, as leads and enquiries increase it relies on your ability to manage and organise the emails you’re receiving to your inbox.

Finally, providing you’re the only one with access to your emails, it means you will be the only one who is able to access these enquiries and leads.

2. Form (to email)

Of course you can introduce a form (which many websites do) to capture certain information. Forms vary greatly. Some will just ask for your name, email address and enquiry. Others will ask for far more information. Some will require certain forms to be filled in before you can proceed. Even the way forms are used differ – from signing up to email newsletters to being able to download resources or access new areas of a site.

Using a form in conjunction with email means that you can capture specific information but will be sent that information on an email. This removes the problem of enquiries missing off vital information such as phone numbers or details about enquiries but it won’t remove the problem of managing enquiries if you start to receive a large number.

Whatever you use a form for you should think carefully about what you’re trying to achieve and how it will affect the user before implementing them on your site. After all, get it wrong and users will be put off from filling the form in, regardless of what you’re offering them.

Web users have become very protective over their email addresses and so the first thing to note is that they must perceive real value in what you’re offering otherwise they simply won’t commit to sharing their details with you.

Secondly is the consideration of making too much information required (usually denoted by an asterix).

If someone believes they have to invest too much time into filling in a form they’re far less likely to do so (we’ve all clicked away from a webpage when we realise how long something will take us to fill in).

The real answer for success with forms is to customise each form for each web page where a form is required (incidentally a form doesn’t need to appear on every page and can be detrimental if this is the case).

For example, two typical calls to action may be a ‘contact us’ form on the contact page and a ‘send us an enquiry’ form on a product or service page. It’s not rocket science to realise that what’s required from these forms is very different and therefore the questions and the capture boxes which are used on these two forms should also be different.

The length of a form doesn’t have to be as short as possible, as some people will tell you. The most important thing to consider is how relevant the information you’re requesting is to the page the form is on.

3. Form (saved in the content management system & email)

This is the final option and can help greatly in the management and archiving of leads and enquiries. If the form is linked to a database in a content management system (CMS) you will receive a copy of the enquiry via email but will also have a copy stored within the CMS which can be accessed by anyone who has the log in details for your CMS. This will also serve as an archive should ever loose, misplace or delete the leads received via email.

If you have any questions about how to get the most out of your landing pages or regarding web design in general why not contact us.

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