Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Six Ways to Increase Your Contact Form Conversion Rate

Fact:  97% of your website visitors leave your site without ever identifying themselves.  Hey, they came to your site for a reason; most of them have a genuine interest in your product or service.  But only 3% every give you the opportunity to engage with them.

Not good numbers.

So, if you're sales team is only engaging 3% of your potential market, what would it mean to you if you could increase that number to just 4%… 6%… or 10%?

CharlesBevier is a web developer with a keen marketing mind and a strong background in the housing industry.  His company, Bevier Creative, has built websites for a growing number of builders. Charles suggests that to get more engagement from our website, the site should be, well, more engaging.  And the first place to look is on the Contact Us form.

The first thing you have to realize is that a visitor to your website can have many motivations when it comes to opting to use your contact form. It could be an employee of a competitor looking to move to your company; it could a potential game-changing partnership with another company; or it could be a lucrative new business opportunity; or even a customer service question that may turn a past client with a poor experience into a lifelong advocate. 

With all that riding on you contact form, don’t you think it’s worth spending some time on its strategy?  Here are 6 Tips to help capture those visitors.

1.  Keep it short and sweet

Many Contact Forms ask for way too much information before any relationship has been established.   Imagine a new lead walked into your office:  Would you start asking them qualifying questions before you introduced yourself, made sure they were comfortable with you, and established some rapport?  Certainly not!  So, why expect someone new to fill out a dozen fields on your contact form use to ask a simple question?

Instead, reduce the amount of fields in your form to as few as you can possibly have.  "Studies show that reducing the number of required fields by just one – from 4 down to 3 – increased conversion rates by 50%."  Forms that require simply the person’s name and email, plus a field where they can post a message or comment, have the highest conversions.

Sure, as salespeople we want all the qualifying information we can get; they want to give us as little as possible and maintain their anonymity until they're comfortable working with us.  Start with the bare minimum that allows you to continue to market to them, build trust and earn the right to gather more information over time. 

2.  Create Trust

Do you feel more comfortable talking with a real person or a featureless company entity?  So, humanize the interaction by being friendly.  Invite people to fill out your form.  Assure them that their comments or inquiry will be received and read by a real live person who is eager to hear from them and appreciates the contact. 

Most of us hesitate to fill out a contact form because we don't want to be inundated with spam.  So, take away their fear right up front.  Clearly state on your form that you respect their privacy and will never share their personal information with any third parties, and that you will never spam them yourself.  

If you're asking someone to fill out a form to subscribe to your newsletter, for instance, you might state:  "We'll add you to our newsletter list, but you can unsubscribe at any time and you won't hurt our feelings."

3.  Make it personal

Once again, people crave and respond to personal appeals. Moe than 30 years ago, the Beatles discovered they sold twice as many albums when they used personal pronouns in the titles and lyrics. I, me, my, mine. This is why Apple has followed their lead, with the I-phone, the I-pad, etc. I developed the website for the Log Homes Council and I created a general contact form for that site that’s entitled “Tell Me More.” It’s dramatically help increase that site’s conversions. Use similar tactics on your contact form, to help visitors understand it’s all about their needs. “How can we help you with your research” is another non-threatening way to get them to interact. 

4. Make it easy

Nearly every website has a Contact Us page, but the real 'meat' of our site is on all the other pages.  So, why not have your contact form available on every page, not just Contact Us page?  

Reduce 'friction' by making the form easy to understand as to what fields are needed and why.  Visually your site visitors should intuitively understand they way the form is designed and what they need to do.  For example, using one field for the prospects NAME instead of separate fields for FIRST NAME and LAST NAME makes the form easier to complete, reducing friction and encouraging more people to fill it out.  Consider the actual design of your form to make it easy, not awkward.

5.  Make it Mobile Friendly.

More people are viewing your website from mobile devises every day.  Your website might be optimized for mobile viewing, but is your contact form?  If you've ever tried to fill out a long, involved form on your iPhone or Android, you probably gave up - most do, including your prospects.  Make your forms simple and easy to complete from phones, tablets etc.  

Also, QR (Quick Response) Codes are a great tool to drive traffic to your website.  But think:  If a QR code is scanned, it is being done from a mobile device.  So, make sure that code takes your prospect to a site that is optimized for their mobile device, not one that is best viewed from a 27" computer screen!  Again, if you want more people to engage, you need to make it easy for them to do so.

Now is the time to start including your QR code on your business cards, literature and even your yard signs.  People really like using their smart phones so take advantage of it.

6.  Plan What Happens Next

In other words, plan out your entire engagement strategy before you ask someone to submit a web form.  Ask:  Why are they filling out this form, what are they expecting to happen, and what do I need to do to make sure they are happy enough to take the next step toward the sale?

The Internet is an instantaneous medium - people expect that when they click a button something is going to happen immediately; no matter what or when!  So, automate the first response.  Create an automated process where if someone submits a request for information, an email is sent out immediately and automatically to reward them for their efforts.  

Automated responses (called autoresponders) can be a simple 'Thank You' email to tell them that their request has been received and that someone will be contacting them soon, a link to download the information requested, or a welcome message for joining your newsletter list. 

Also important is to make sure that you have a process for recording and storing the prospect's information once a form has been filled out.  This can happen automatically using programs such as Infusionsoft, which generates web forms, processes automated email responses, and stores contact information directly into a robust CRM (customer relationship management) database.

In review, if you want more engagement from your website visitors, then be more engaging with your web forms by making them clear, understandable, easy to fill out, and inviting.  Create a strategy that offers people a compelling reward for their time.  You'll get more engagement, more leads, and more opportunities to make the sale.

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