For most websites, the contact form is one of the primary calls to action for a user to do. Additionally, most websites spend the least amount of time developing their contact form even though they a great source for lead generation. Whether the form lives within the sidebar of the website, or stands alone on the contact page; more often than not this piece of real estate is often over looked.
Contact forms remind me of a pair of socks. You like them. You use them. They are comfortable. Over time, you just keep rolling with them even though they should probably be tossed aside for something new that might be better than what you have.
When you built your website, what did you spend time on?
Think about it. You spend time on strategizing the homepage. Time writing the content. How much time was spent on the contact form?
If you spent little to no time thinking about your contact form and blindly following web form best practices maybe you should take time to freshen it up?
Why a Contact Form is Important
Web contact forms are used for a variety of reasons. They can be used to entice users to sign up for your newsletter, contact your business with a question, or even to get access to a download. It is ultimately the first major step a visitor can take to initiate a conversation with you and your business.
Therefore, it is a must that your website has some sort of contact form. I am willing to bet you do. But are they getting the most out of your contact form?
Optimize Your Contact Forms
Ideally, your contact forms should ask for the least amount of information as possible. Acceptable minimal criteria for forms are name and email address, and in some cases just an email address. Depending on the nature of your business you can ask for a phone number or business name. However, you shouldn’t be asking for someones mailing address on a generic contact form.
You are not going to mail them a reply, are you?
When a user arrives at a contact form that asks for too much information, there is a very good chance they will leave your site and go somewhere else (like a competitor). Therefore, you must look at ways to optimize your contact forms. When looking at your form fields, you need to ask yourself if it is absolutely necessary to include it on the form.
If your business responds to form submissions with a phone call, there is no need to inundate your website visitors with unnecessary requests for information. You can simply ask for these pieces of information when on the phone and ultimately update your CRM with this data.
Reducing the form fields has been shown to significantly increase conversion rates. Basically this means that more of your website visitors will be willing to submit the form on your site. More form submissions can mean more business!
Don’t Forget the CTA
Aside from looking at which form fields you should or should not use, the call to action, or CTA is the most important component to the form. This text is what will give your visitor that final nudge to send them your information.
Excellent CTA’s tell the user what will happen when they push the button. For example, instead of saying “Submit” on a form to access a discount, your CTA could say “Get The Discount Now”. By starting with a verb and tying the benefit into the button/text, users will be reminded of what they need to do and what they get by completing the action.
Using “Submit” on the form is probably the weakest and laziest approach you can take. Feel free to spice it up with something different and monitor the results. This is something you should always be testing.
This Ain’t Your Momma’s Contact Form
Let’s face it, contact forms have been around as long as…well for quite a while. And whoever created the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, surely could not have been referring to contact forms?
Let’s take a look at some fresh contact form examples that break out of the normal best practices approaches.
Basecamp Contact Form
Basecamp is a company that is always testing various parts of their website, and their contact form is one of those pieces. Don’t be surprised if you visit the site and see something other than what I have shown.
Starting at the top, you will see that Basecamp uses real numbers to show the amount of companies that signed up within the last week. While your business may not have these type of numbers to flaunt, it is something to consider when presenting users with a form.
Below the headline you will notice three bullet points. These bullet points drive home the cost, risk, and requirements in three simple sentences. This reminds the user what the benefits are of their service.
Front and center in the page is a drawing of a person. While at first glance the person is simply pointing to the top of the form, which is a very good practice in that they are driving the visitors eye towards the action they want them to take. The real magic happens when you complete the first field and click on the second field. The person’s arm now points to the second form field and will ultimately point to the rest as you complete each one. Be careful though, if you skip one, the person’s face goes from a smile to a concerned face! I have uploaded an animated GIF that illustrates this in action.
One of the first things you may notice is that their form is not restricted within a bounding box. This is against what is commonly seen across most websites. By doing this, the form becomes part of the page and allows the main CTA to stand out more by not competing against a background color of a bounding box.
The form also keeps the fields to a minimum, asking for as little as they can. This helps the user not feel overwhelmed or even uncomfortable by having to enter so much information. Additionally, they have pre-filled the form field with sample information which helps show the user what type of information they are looking for. It helps to clear up any potential confusion.
Finally, the CTA text starts with a verb and tells you what the result will be from clicking the button. In this CTA, the user will be able to start their two month free trial. This CTA also reemphasizes the first 3 bullet points we covered previously, which helps ensure the user is going to get what was promised.
Mario Petrone Contact Form
While the contact form example for Basecamp above is for a larger company, let’s take a look at the individual business owner. This example is for Mario Petrone, who is a web designer. Naturally, his website is going to be different than most websites you see. That is a good thing. Your business needs to be remarkable, and your website should be no different.
Mario’s form breaks away from the contact form you find on most sites. His approach was to make is appear as if it is a post card that is being sent. Pretty cool, right?
On the left, like a standard post card, you have a large area to write whatever is on your mind. While on the right, is where you put your details of how to get a hold of you for a reply. This approach, Mario gets the information he wants in a way that is sure to be remembered by the website visitor.
One thing I would change, or at least test is the CTA. I think it would make more sense to say “Send It” as opposed to “Post it”.
Ciked Contact Form
Our approach was to concept it after Mad Libs. I was a huge fan of Mad Libs back in the day and thought it would be fitting to use it in our contact form. Mad Libs tells you a story, where you fill in certain details. To me, this made our contact form more of a conversation and less of a stale process for the user.
The form positions the user to tell us their story. It has them tell us not only their name and contact info, but what services they are interested in as well as the best way to contact them. This simple process makes the experience a seamless and memorable process for the user.
Need to Freshen Up Your Contact Form?
Nobody really likes old socks, do they? Sure they might be comfortable, have holes, and what you are used to…but maybe you are missing out on something better? The same can be said for contact forms.
With so many things vying for attention, your customer can easily overlook something that does not make a positive impression on them.
Make your contact forms fresher than a new pair of socks by re-evaluating your approach. As seen by the contact form examples above, there are a myriad of ways to tackle your web form.
If you are struggling to get the most out of your contact forms, let’s talk.
Or if you know of a site that should really consider overhauling their contact form, send them a link to this blog post.
photo credit: Sharon Drummond