Move Your Sales Along by Capturing Valuable Information Online
If you have a website, providing contact information to prospects and customers is a basic requirement. Companies who make it difficult or hide contact information can count on losing a visitor’s confidence in their product and service offerings.
The nature of your business and customer preferences should guide your thinking around the website design presentation of contact information:
- Businesses who expect customers on-site should provide location(s) listings with map links and directions
- Consultants who work in a flex office space or at home may choose to make email and telephone numbers the preferred method of contact
- Organizations that offer digital products or services can increase customer confidence by providing online forms, chat windows, special purpose email links, phone numbers and support ticketing systems. A mailing address may be provided for legal reasons
- Large consumer product companies should provide physical and mailing addresses, but may add online or downloadable forms, toll-free numbers along with specific contact information depending on needs
- Medical professionals should provide office locations, phone and email information, but may choose to forego forms for compliance reasons or in order to simplify contact management
- Professional service companies who depend on the internet lead generation should provide physical or mailing addresses, email, online forms and even 24/7 telephone numbers to best serve their customers. Legal and accounting professionals will provide their office location, email addresses, but may decide against online forms in favor of receiving inquiries or referrals from peers in associated specialties.
Taking your website design a step further with online forms
A website form can be used to gather information quickly in a consistent format that’s easy to share with your team.
Individual form fields can be “required” before a submission can be completed. Form fields can be conditional, and appear depending on a previous selection. Online forms allow you to capture information without providing your business email address. Unwanted spam can be reduced by adding Captcha fields.
A big advantage of using online forms is that submissions can be stored in a database within the site, exported to CRM systems, or email marketing software.
Choose from a variety of form fields
Individual form fields can be used to capture:
Name and email addresses – Visitors to your site may want to communicate with your company, but be reluctant to provide more than basic information. If they’ve found your company through a web search, a form that requires name and email can allow you to follow-up with the added benefit of building a permission-based email database.
Phone numbers – Requiring phone numbers simplifies making a “live” contact and will reduce the number of unqualified leads.
Physical addresses – If your business requires that you go to a customer’s location to provide service. Forms that capture physical addresses can save time and reduce logistical errors.
Company names and websites – Collecting a company name and web address will make it easier to learn about the company before you speak with them by phone or reply via email. Advanced knowledge can accelerate your sales process.
Notes and additional information – A text field with a limited number of characters will encourage visitors to provide more information to get you up to speed quickly and help determine if your product or service matches their need.
Preferences and needs – Dropdown and radio button list fields give visitors the opportunity to select from a number of choices to indicate their specific needs. A general contractor can include different types of projects and a car company could gather information about when a future purchase is planned.
Groups of dropdown lists can be assembled to create a summary of expectations, timing, budget etc. “Other” field options help collect information not shown in a predefined list.
Visitor interest in multiple topics – If your company offers several products, checkboxes and multi-select fields can be used to gather information about interest in a number of topics.
Text files and images – If you have company who requests or accepts files from customers, providing a file upload field may add convenience.
Using forms strategically within your website design
Header and Footer – “Join an E-newsletter” list, or “Quick Contact” forms with name and email fields in your website’s header or footer grab attention without interrupting visitor flow.
Pop-ups – Forms can be triggered to pop-up when a page is loaded or precise point on page is reached. Pop-ups are distracting, so it’s a good idea to provide a “close” button to enhance the visitor experience. “Cookies” can be placed to prevent the pop-up from showing more than once in during a specified time period.
Before and after service or product page content – Placing forms in close proximity to compelling content, calls-to-action or offers encourage visitors to act while they are “ready-to-buy” or “sign-up”.
Landing Pages – Landing pages are single page websites that focus a visitor’s attention on offers of webinars, downloads, whitepapers, assessments and more. Landing page forms are used to capture contact and other information. You can get around visitor reluctance to fill out lengthy forms by sequentially loading hidden fields as others are completed on subsequent visits.
Contact pages – In addition to providing your contact information, forms can be used to collect information which is sent by email or placed into a database managed separately from the website.
If you have a WordPress website, there are several plug-ins available to help you build forms. Contact Form 7 and Gravity Forms are among the most reliable and popular.
Sites that use premium themes may include form-building widgets you can drop-in or turn on from the theme options dashboard. If the built-in form doesn’t allow for customization, adding a compatible plug-in will solve the problem.
Content management systems like Drupal and Joomla, ecommerce platforms and website builders like Squarespace, Wix and Weebly also offer form-building functionality.
To learn more or hire our website design team to review your website’s contact information, we’re here to help.
About the author: Tom Weinkle is a founder and partner of Vortex Communications, a graphic and website design firm who offers brand agency services, graphic and WordPress web design, build, troubleshooting and training services along with search optimization, social media and inbound marketing services. Based in Miami, Florida, Tom has over 25 years of experience in branding and visual communications for the healthcare, medical, law, accounting, software, financial services and banking industries.