Your site’s contact form is your potential clients’ gateway to booking you. A great contact form will leave users delighted and excited, eagerly anticipating your reply! A not-so-great contact form will leave users frustrated, disappointed and very unlikely to get in touch. So what can you do make sure these users turn into excellent-quality potential clients that are really likely to book you?
1. Make the form easy to use
Potential clients want it to be easy to contact you. Errors, too many fields, and confusing or unnecessary questions will make the user drag their heels and feel reluctant to get in touch.
Be sure to:
- provide clear “required” indicators (like red asterisks)
- provide clear error messages if a field isn’t filled out correctly
- only require what’s really required
Test, test, and test again. Test across browsers and operating systems. Ask friends to test and make sure that you receive the notifications. Are the error messages clear? Is the form easy to quickly fill out and submit? Does a 5th grader know what’s optional to fill in?
2. Only ask what’s required
The contact form should achieve these three things:
- let you know the name of the person you will reply to
- give you a sense of why they’re contacting you
- make it easy for you to reply to them
Therefore, these fields are mandatory:
- the user’s name
- the user’s contact information (more on this in a second)
- the user’s message
Anything else is superfluous. Yes, additional information can help you out, and can even help the user get more insight into your personality, but additional fields are above and beyond what’s necessary.
3. Define the best way to contact you, and the best way for the user to be contacted
I’m an email person, and I have always wanted to attract clients who primarily communicate via email. I’ve never required or asked for a phone number in my contact form – I don’t want clients who prefer to be contacted via phone.
Similarly, if you prefer to communicate via phone – mention your phone number on the page! Require the user to fill in their phone number, and make the email field optional. You’ll attract the kind of clients who are similar to your communication style, which will make your first chats significantly easier for each of you from the get-go.
4. Give them different ways to get in touch
The contact page is typically the first thing to get broken on a site. How many times have you visited a business’ website, only to find that their contact form is riddled with errors, garbled code, or worse – a blank page after you submit the form? You need to have a back-up plan: put your contact information on the page.
Since I like to be contacted via email, I include my email address. Because I like people to follow me on Twitter, I add my Twitter handle as well. If you like to be contacted via phone, include that on the page. No matter what, make sure there’s a backup way for people to get in touch, in case your contact form is broken! Yes, it means that people may not fill out exactly the information you need from the get-go, but this is better than getting no forms submitted because of a website error.
5. Give it personality!
The best kind of contact form will tell the user a little bit about you, and will help you see a little bit about the user. My favorite question to ask at the end of my wedding/union client contact form was: “What are you most excited about for your wedding?”.
I got the BEST responses. I saw people who cared about details, about their partner, about the family history involved in their day. I immediately got to know the people who were contacting me, instead of replying blind. I also got to weed out those who were not the kind of clients I wanted: people who cared more about the party than their union.
Asking the user to fill out a tidbit of information that will get them excited also helps them get to know you, and how invested you are in their details and personality. It’s win-win!
Successful contact forms will allow you to reply easily to your potential client, and help you weed out anyone you don’t want to work with. It’ll give potential clients an easy, pleasant way to get in touch with you. Start your relationship off on the right foot by creating a great contact form!
Want a contact form, but don’t know where to start?
Wufoo does a great job of collecting data, sending you pretty notifications, and generating stellar reports later. You can use it for lots of things other than contact forms, too! It also integrates into quite a few other applications (like MailChimp).
Gravity Forms is a powerful WordPress plugin that you can use as a contact form. Again, notifications are great, but its real power is the ability to review and reply to contacts from your WordPress admin area.
Contact form image courtesy of Kristen Steele.