Data powers the world. I know you thought everything ran on electricity, but really it’s data. And data collection is the secret to a truly valuable and powerful small business web design. I don’t mean creepy data collection, but prompting respondents with a form and cleanly formatting their responses.

Formstack is an online form builder used by everyone from universities to general contractors to market their services and streamline back-office processes. By default, Formstack sends notifications and data to your secure database. But you can do so much more by hooking up web apps like Constant Contact and WebMerge.

Automate Email Signups

Fishbowls and clipboards are great real world email and business card collectors. But manually entering the records takes valuable time. Instead of punching in the data, create a custom branded landing page on your website. Embed a short Formstack form to collect name, email address and areas of interest and hook it up to your email marketing system. Way better than a fishbowl.

Segmenting your lists and passing collected data to your email service and customer database are the foundation of successful inbound marketing strategies. Roundpeg uses the Constant Contact integration to automatically add people to different lists based on the marketing download they picked from our site. If you don’t want to use inbound marketing tactics here, always make sure customers get an immediate reward for signing up. This could be a discount code, a coupon or something else valuable.

Want to take email signups further? Grab a tablet computer when you go to tradeshows, hook it up to WiFi and load the signup page on your website. Voila! Instant, interactive digital signage. Be sure to take a tablet stand too.

It’s easy to integrate your forms with Constant Contact and other popular email services like MailChimp, Emma and AWeber. Formstack can even send your data to popular CRM tools like Salesforce and Highrise. And email’s not the only thing enhanced with a custom form. Online payments are better too.

Collect Payments Online

You don’t have to sell t-shirts, electronics or books to make money online. What if customers could schedule AND pay for service appointments online? What IF volunteers could sign up for events, request info and donate using beautiful, secure and easy to use landing pages? All of this is possible.

Formstack integrates with PayPal to enable secure credit card processing right on your website. Other payment integrations are also available, including and First Data, two of the largest payment processors.

But integrating payment with your form is just the start. The trick is to use special calculating fields to charge customers based on the options they select in the form. This works great for everything from event registrations to ordering deli party trays. With FreshBooks and Google Spreadsheets, you can even automate aspects of  your accounting.

Go Paperless (And Back Again)

What’s one thing you wish you could do without paper? Let’s brainstorm a few things together.

  • job applications
  • time cards
  • patient intake forms
  • peer reviews
  • customer satisfaction surveys
  • appointment booking
  • customer support tickets

Converting these interactions from paper-based to online saves resources and streamlines the process of getting and organizing data so you can actually do something with it. Formstack’s data organization options allow email notifications to be routed based on customer responses and data can be saved to an online database within your account. It’s easy to view and analyze data right there, but it you can export CSV and Excel documents as well. You can even encrypt the database if you need to.

Once your data collection goes paperless, you’ll never go back. But there’s plenty you can do with that data once you get it, including printing it. PDF is a popular document format used to make printable event tickets, case studies and other documents. With the WebMerge integration, you can take important data collected with a Formstack form and return a custom formatted PDF with that data.

This is especially useful when your users and customers need an easy online interface, but the required output is a printable document. We’ve recently used this integration to create a point-of-sale webpage that automatically prints order slips. You could also use WebMerge for your event registration, producing a printable PDF ticket just like the big online ticket sites. Wasting paper never looked so good.

Extend Your Integrations

Got a fantastic idea for a Formstack project? Don’t see a built-in integration to make it happen? Make your own. Formstack includes access to an API for custom programming. Anything your friendly, neighborhood programmer can dream of is on the table. But maybe you’re trying to avoid that level of customization. Try using Zapier.

Zapier is a platform for making connections between web apps like Formstack, Podio, Zoho CRM and others. You only pay when Zapier performs a task for you. For example, you might create a Zap (a connection between apps) for Formstack and CheddarGetter. This app (and a hundred others) doesn’t have a native Formstack integration, but it could be the perfect solution for your recurring billing needs. Don’t fret or pay a programmer big bucks. Set Zapier to update CheddarGetter when folks pay their renewal online.

Formstack is the power behind email signups, online ordering, service ticketing, job applications and more. It’s not just email signups and surveys. Don’t be scared of data, do so much more.

Once you’ve implemented Formstack and started to gather leads, you’ll need a way to reach out to them. Check out our 6 easy steps to email success and start building your plan: