Ten years ago, contact forms weren’t very popular. I was even told that contact forms were mainly there because some people weren’t allowed to email from work. But today for most types of businesses, contact forms are one of the most useful tools on their website.
When you respond to a site visitor who submitted a contact form, it increases the chances of that person doing business with you. Think about it. Someone has visited your website, and they want to ask you a question about your business. They have gone to the trouble of typing out a question in a form. This is a win for you. You have captured the attention of a potential customer.
So what’s the problem? The problem is that many business owners don’t know how they work, and don’t know how to make sure they are working properly. Here are some answers to common questions and issues with contact forms:
Why can’t I just list my email address on my website?
What happens when someone who uses Gmail or Yahoo Mail (or AOL or any other online email service) clicks your email link? Their computer opens up their default email program (Outlook Express, Mac Mail or another one). But most people haven’t set up their email program to use their online email account, so they can’t send email from it. To use your email link, they have to copy the link, open their online email account and paste your email address into the “Send To” field.
That’s not making it easy for potential customers to contact you. But virtually anyone can easily submit a contact form.
Why should I direct forms to multiple people?
A medium sized business generally has one person receive forms, which are often sent only to that person’s email address. But if that person leaves the business, their replacement will often be given a new email address. But the contact forms keep going to the address of the person who is not there to receive the forms. This happens much more often than you would think.
If you make sure to always send forms to multiple addresses it greatly increases the chance that contact forms won’t be lost.
Why should I test my contact forms once a month?
Contact forms are sent to a wide variety of email programs, online email, desktop email, etc. In addition, there are many things that can go wrong. The problem is that if something breaks and forms aren’t being sent, you probably won’t realize it until you have lost potential business.
Send yourself a test contact form every month or so to make sure they are still being received.
What’s the best kind of email to receive forms?
The best and most reliable kind of email for getting forms is your internet provider’s free email service (@cox.net, @comcast.net, etc.). Just last year Gmail and Yahoo Mail changed their procedures for receiving forms, and for lots of our clients, those platforms started to reject email in html format, meaning emails with code to better organize the form’s information. So all of a sudden they weren’t getting their forms.
One solution is to send forms in plain text, which increases the chance of online email services receiving them. IMPORTANT: We find AOL email to be extremely unreliable for receiving contact forms. You should never use an AOL address for this.
Also, of you have an email address from Google Business, please let us know. We have to set up your server to keep forms from being seen as spam.
Hopefully this info will be useful to you, so you can make sure your forms keep coming in. Because contact forms are the lifeblood of small business websites, and we want to make sure you are getting the best results your website can deliver.