How to Build a Better Contact Form
Best Contact Form Design
Don’t get me wrong, web traffic is one of the most important digital marketing measurables there is. In fact, web traffic sits right at the center of your digital marketing. Bringing people to the site, whether they found you through Google or they followed a link in an email, gives people an opportunity to learn more about you, learn more about your services, and ultimately puts them one step closer to becoming a customer.
But as important as web traffic is, it isn’t everything. Web traffic alone doesn’t keep the lights on or help you pay your employees on time. Sales do, and the way your website generates these is by people filling out contact forms and requesting appointments. All the web traffic in the world doesn’t mean diddly squat if not one of them filled out a contact form.
If the end goal of your digital marketing is to get people who come to your website to contact you, you need to prioritize creating contact forms that aren’t just attractive, but drive action and make submitting appointment requests as easy as possible.
But, what does the best contact form look like? Most people think of contact forms as this great big thing that lives on its own page with tons of fields from first and last name, email, home address, phone number, a place for comments, and on and on. That is the way typical contact form design has been for years.
However, we have seen great success with a different sort of contact form design. Instead of thinking of a contact form as a laundry list meant to collect as much information as possible, think skinny.
In recent years, contact form design has gotten skinnier and skinnier. Stripping out many of the once-thought untouchable fields of information, many contact forms are shrinking in an effort to keep them as short as humanly possible. But why? Isn’t all that information good? Well sure that information could be helpful to you, the business owner, but this is a measure taken for the sake of the submitter.
Instructions are a funny thing. People don’t mind taking instructions, especially if they are getting something in return. Asking for a name and email address in return for a consultation, sure thing. But instructions can quickly wear thin.
“Give us your name. Ok, now give us your email address. Now your home address. Great, now give us your phone number. And while you are at it, tell us what you are contacting us about.” You get the picture. Never-ending instructions can become incredibly tiresome and frustrating.
If a contact form has a dozen fields it can quickly turn off whoever is filling it out, easily getting them frustrated or bored halfway through it, deciding against the idea of completing the form. Keeping your contact form design to less than five fields (just enough information to start the conversation) keeps the process simple for those filling them out and avoids frustration.
Sure you may miss out on a small amount of upfront information, but surely you plan on following up anyway, right? You can always get the extra information later on in the process.
Whether it is choosing where to have dinner or buying a car, commitment can be intimidating. While filling out a contact form is a significantly smaller commitment than signing on the dotted line for a $50,000 car, it is still a commitment. The next step after filling out a contact form is most likely a conversation with someone about making a purchase of some kind, whether it is new floors or a new air conditioner. That is a decent sized commitment in my book.
But again, people aren’t all that into commitment if they don’t need to be. That is an advantage of keeping contact forms brief – filling one out feels like much less of a commitment. It takes far more effort to fill out 12 fields than it does three, and the time and information commitment is far less.
At the end of the day you have to remember one thing: for the most part, people are lazy and typically don’t want to put any more effort into something than they need to. Sure, if someone is really really interested in your services they are going to fill out as many fields on a contact form as you throw at them. But for the people who are only mildly interested, they may not be at that point where they are interested in that amount of effort.
Keep your contact forms short, and those people may be interested enough to say “what the heck, it’s just my email address.”
Short contact forms in action
Want to see the effect of shorter contact form design? Let’s have a quick story time about Tish Flooring.
Tish Flooring is a local, family-owned flooring company we work with here in Indianapolis. While they have a very nice showroom, that is not where they make their sales. Tish Flooring brings flooring samples into people’s homes so they can see exactly how it will look in their own home, a great sales method. This is where sales happen, so perhaps more than any other flooring company in Indianapolis, Tish Flooring relies on contact forms to generate a large part of their appointments.
For years, their primary contact form was this over-sized 10-field long contact form that lived at the very bottom of the homepage and on the Contact Page. Monthly submissions were ok, but Tish Flooring was looking for a way to boost the lead generation they depended so heavily upon without blowing up their site completely, heaping extra money into advertising, or changing their processes.
We identified the potential issues with the longer contact form design, especially as they entailed inviting a complete stranger into their homes. We also identified that even though many of the fields on the contact form were helpful for Tish Flooring’s sales guys, it was ultimately information that was not 100% necessary for setting up the first conversation.
So, without doing away with the more in-depth contact forms we added two new contact forms to the website. The first, a literally and figuratively “skinny” form that appears as a ribbon at the tippy top of every single page on the site only asking for their name, email, and phone number. The easy accessibility on every page removed the extra step of going to the contact page, giving visitors the chance to contact them at every turn without being too “in your face.”
The second was a popup. I know what you are thinking, popups are the worst right? Normally, I would agree. But we designed this one a little bit differently. Instead of immediately bombarding the visitor as soon as they hit the page and reappearing on every subsequent page, this popup only appears if you have gone past the page you arrived on and appears only if you have spent a certain amount of time on the page. Once you make it go away, it won’t appear again during this particular session, so it isn’t particularly invasive.
Both of these new forms were designed to be short, subtle, and help visitors submit a request for an appointment as easily as possible. These updates went up on the Tish Flooring site in April of 2018. In the 29 months that have followed, these small forms have made a big impact.
Of the 2,290 contact form submissions across the websites different contact forms in that time, 1,159 of them were generated directly from the mini contact form and the popup form. Over half of the appointment requests to the site in that time came from the newly added, shorter contact forms.
The growth in overall contact form submissions increased from 824 in 2018 to 1,029 in 2019. At the midway point of 2020, COVID-19 pandemic and all, contact form submission totals were on track for another significant overall increase.
The addition of shorter, focused, easier to locate contact forms on Tish Flooring’s website not only quickly emerged as their top method of collecting appointment requests, but has also helped their overall appointment requests grow as well. The small amount of information these forms asked for not not only makes them easier to fill out but less of a commitment for their visitors as well.
If your website leads are lagging and you are looking for a way to spark submissions, take a look at your contact forms and ask yourself this: Are they easy to get to? Is there fat you could trim to make the forms shorter?
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