Why Isn’t Anyone Filling Out Your Contact Form? – @therichbrooks

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Your website contact form is potentially your best source of quality leads, so when no one’s using it, you’re missing out on a lot of potential business. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest reasons why your site visitors aren’t completing your online form, and what you can do about it so you can generate more leads and sales from your website.

This past week I was doing some outreach for a side project of mine: Streamline Marketing Workshops and our first ever Spring Conference. It’s a marketing conference for wedding professionals. I was contacting a number of wedding planners, venues, and other wedding professionals with information about the event through their contact forms.

Although many had completely functional forms, the amount of difficult I had contacting these wedding professionals made me wonder how much business some of them are leaving on the table.

Your website contact form is potentially your best source of quality leads, so when no one’s using it, you’re missing out on a lot of potential business. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest reasons why your site visitors aren’t completing your online form, and what you can do about it so you can generate more leads and sales from your website.

This past week I was doing some outreach for a side project of mine: Streamline Marketing Workshops and our first ever Spring Conference. It’s a marketing conference for wedding professionals. I was contacting a number of wedding planners, venues, and other wedding professionals with information about the event through their contact forms.

Although many had completely functional forms, the amount of difficult I had contacting these wedding professionals made me wonder how much business some of them are leaving on the table.

Not that this is a problem specific to the wedding industry. We’ve all struggled contacting the businesses behind websites.

If you feel that you’re not getting enough leads from your contact form, one or several of these reasons may be the culprit.

If you’re not sure if you’re getting enough people completing your form, here’s something you can do….

1. You don’t have a contact form.

This is a problem. Too many businesses choose an email link over a contact form. I’ve heard many reasons for this:

  • Setting up a form is too difficult.
  • Using a contact form is too difficult.

Back in the old days (the late nineties/early aughts) creating and configuring a form did require a certain amount of technical know-how. But these days, with drag-and-drop tools like Gravity Forms for WordPress or Wufoo for any type of site, anyone can setup a form.

Also, using a contact form isn’t too difficult if you don’t make it too difficult. In fact, I’d argue it’s simpler than an email link. When I click on a contact us link and it is secretly an email address, it opens up my Apple Mail, an app I never use. Then I have to close it, and assuming I still want to contact said company, I need to right-click the address, save it, head on over to Gmail, open a new message, and paste it in.

The other benefit that makes forms better than email is that you can guide the conversation. If it’s just an email link, someone can reach out to you without all the pertinent information, such as name, phone number, or reason they need your help.

Also, if you place your email on your website—even in the code that people can’t see—you are going to find that your email is harvested by spammers and hackers. If you’re looking for Canadian Pharmacies or Nigerian Princes, then by all means, put your email on your website.

2. Your contact forms don’t work.

Here’s the insane thing about contact forms and technology in general: sometimes it just stops working. There was an upgrade to your CMS, or your hosting company increased their security and suddenly your form doesn’t work.

Test your forms at least once a quarter, and if you notice a few days without any leads, don’t wait for the three month mark: go test them again.

3. Your contact form is hard to find.

This isn’t a game of hide and go seek.

If you want someone to contact you, make sure Contact is a primary navigation item. When driving someone to your contact form, make sure they don’t have to scroll halfway down the page to see it.

4. You’re asking too much.

You know that game 20 questions? This isn’t it. Studies have shown, and my gut and experience tells me, that the longer the form, i.e., the more questions you ask, the less likely it is that people will complete your form.

Most people are filling out your form because they need help, but they don’t necessarily need it from you. You have most likely only started the process of building trust with your site visitor, but that doesn’t mean you can ask for too much of their time.

If the form appears to long, or too invasive, people will leave and go to your competitor.

5. You’re requiring too much.

This isn’t the same thing. Form fields can be optional or required. Sometimes it’s a good idea to require a field to be completed, such as name, email, or phone number. Other times, there’s no need to require a field, such as how did you hear of us, social security number, or mother’s maiden name.

6. You care too much about formatting.

I’m the kind of guy who likes dots in my phone number. You know, 207.523.5141. So, I hate when I complete a form only to find out that the form can only recognize a phone number that has parenthesis and dashes. Such as, (207) 523-5141.

But I hit a complete wall the other day when I tried to complete a required field on when my event date was going to be. It was on March 31st and April 1st, but I decided to keep it simple so I just put in 3/31. After completing the form I was told there were formatting errors. I scrolled back up and the red error message said, Date Format Seems Invalid. Seems invalid? Are you not sure, or are you just being polite.

OK, so I put in 3/31/17. Hit submit. No dice. 03/31/17. Nope. 03/31/2017. Nuh-uh. 3/31/2017? March 31st?

No luck. Not only that, there was no way to determine what the right format was. Wonder how many people had the patience for that type of trial and error.

7. Lack of forgiveness.

There is nothing more frustrating that filling out a form and forgetting a critical piece of information—or not formatting that information correctly—and then being forced to start all over again.

If you do require a field, or require special formatting, make sure that if your site visitor screws up that you don’t make them play the whole level over again!

8. You didn’t incentivize them.

Show of hands: who here likes to fill out forms? One, two, is your hand up sir? OK, none. No one likes to fill out forms, we just like what’s on the other side of the forms, whether it’s a new website, e-book, or return phone call.

The purpose of completing the form should be clear and valuable to the visitor. It should be stated at the top of the page.

Sometimes all you need is to say Contact Us. Other times you may need to give them a free download, estimate, or promise.

9. Your button is rude and domineering.

Who of us likes to “submit?” Your button is telling us that our submission is required. Studies have shown that people are much more likely to Join, or Sign Up, or click on a button that says, “Send me amazing free stuff,” rather than rolling over like the form is the alpha of the group.

10. You’re using a captcha.

Captchas don’t work. Captchas are those indecipherable alphanumerics that you’re supposed to be able to read but bots can’t. It’s kind of like putting a fence around your house to keep out burglars.  The really good (or at least driven) burglars will simply pole vault into your lawn and meanwhile you’ll be keeping out your friends, family, and the UPS delivery man or woman.

I actually don’t mind the “I am not a robot” checkbox captcha, although I have no personal experience on how effective this is.

I’ve found that the Gravity Forms forms get almost no spam, or at least the kind that’s generated by bots. 

11. Your form sucks on mobile.

Forms are even less fun to fill out on mobile. What makes it worse is that a lot of times they don’t scale well on mobile, meaning that fields or even instructions for the fields require back and forth swiping, making this an arduous experience for your site visitor.

Make sure you test out all your forms on your smartphone before going public.

When to ignore all of my advice.

Everything up until now has been “best practices.” This is the standard advice I’d give any client.

However, there are times you should ignore some—but probably not all—of this advice.

If you have something of immense value, or you need to slow down the leads on your website (this is a legit thing I’m not being sarcastic…I think) then you should use your own best judgment.

Hubspot, for example, requires a lot of information when you’re downloading a white paper. Company information, # of employees, etc. However, those additional questions probably help weed out some of the lower quality leads that they may otherwise have to sort through.

So, what do you think? Did I capture all the reasons why you’re not getting any leads through your contact form? Any I forgot? If so, leave a comment in the show notes, or fire me off a tweet on Twitter…I’m at @therichbrooks.

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