Your website is useless if its forms don’t work. As part of my job, I check forms. In nearly 50% of cases they don’t work.
For the last week, I’ve been working on various website forms. A buddy web developer has been working on one single form field field for the entire week. A form field is where you enter your name or your email or your phone number.
Listen to my rant (this page) as an audio podcast:
One of my clients emailed to say that Google got in touch. Google told them that their website could look better on mobile devices. Google went on to say;
- buttons are too close together for fingers to press
- form fields are too small to see on phone screens
- ptext falls off the edge of the page for mobile
and a slew of other (minor) things. Intriguing right?
So, should we get these things fixed for Google?
The short answer is YES – maybe over time. I’d look at some other things first. Like conversion.
Most forms don’t even send
Forms are the lynchpin of conversion. Your phone number is also important and should be displayed in a prominent position.
For example, on the site that just received advice from Google – things look fine. The buttons look fine. The text looks great (maybe it could be a little bit bigger for mobile).
Google’s job is to put the best value user experience first. Being number one on Google means being the first link on a search result page (here’s why being number one on Google is an expensive idea). They get a lot of pressure from companies. Imagine how many phone them up to say, “We’re not on page one of Google. What do we do?” I wouldn’t like to be that phone operator.
Back to the un-named company. They sell a product. They’ve got some excellent marketing happening. Free ebook PDFs – extensively written, in-depth client stories and tips that you can download. Each with a nice ebook graphic.
They’re on YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. It looks like they keep all those marketing outlets up to date. They keep their website up to date. Amazing! I’ve got 100+ clients, and I can tell you now that about five of them are keeping their website up to date. Keeping your website up to date is how the web works, people. I know, I know. Writing is the hardest thing in the world to do. You’re actually experiencing me writing an article by talking into a microphone and having most of it transcribed. Coming up with something from scratch is near impossible, and I truly believe this. The blank page is the biggest obstacle in the world.
Anyway, I’m invetigating this site. I’m looking. How can I contact these guys? No email address.
The form on your contact page
Does it look a bit lonely?
There’s one contact page.
They’ve got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven navigation buttons. Another six sub-nav options… They have 20 options. That’s 20 things you can choose. And yet, there’s only one way to contact them. Through a form. There’s nothing else on the page. Plus the form assumes you want one of say 3 services. They offer 20+.
What’s that about?
The Contact Us page usually has an address of where the company is. There’s no address. There’s a general enquiry form. Enter your name, email, your phone number, subject, your message and a tick box to say “yes, subscribe me to your blog.” There’s a CAPTCHA form and a capture. I’m not a robot. That’s good. That stops the spam.
Lead generating forms on every page
Don’t foget you are literally fishing. Don’t forget to bait your hook.
I recommend, if you’re really trying to get leads from your website, have a short form on every page.
You need to write content that’s going to make people want to get in contact with you. Why wouldn’t they if you’ve got such great content? Let us write great content for you! I try to write 1,000 word plus per blog post. Go in depth. Research the subject. Put your own spin on it. Be opinionated. Just write from the heart and make it so that anyone who gets even halfway through will want to fill in a form. You should have compelling writing.
A mere 5% of my clients create websites that make you want to contact them. They refresh content frequently. Some blog every week.
This (un-named) company I’m talking about is serious about blogging, but there’s only one way to contact them.
There’s no phone number. Anywhere on the site. I don’t know if they don’t have people manning the phones?
Sometimes people dump the phone numbers out because they don’t want to be called. They’ve just got a general inquiries form, which is fine.
Even general inquiries, when I have a pulldown menu, I’m inquiring about I want a new website. I’m inquiring about, I’d like some SEO on my website. I’m inquiring about I’d like you to run a Google AdWords campaign. I have a pulldown form so they can select those things. But I also have a field saying, I’m inquiring just to say hello, or I have another option, I have another offer.
With these forms, you can force people to address any arm of your business like SEO for me, or Google AdWords. I love doing Google AdWords campaigns for people. It makes them money and me. They’re all great, but it’s too company centric. You want people to be able to fill in the form if they don’t want your service. You want those people that are going to have the marketing funnel that I always imagine a huge hourglass, with lots of ants creeping up the top of it. And under the sand in the hourglass, you’ve got an ant line. Those things that make those little things and suck an ant in to eat the ant.
Well, I measure a marketing funnel like that with all these people walking across the top of the sand. But here and there, the sand is sinking and they fall into it, and they’re more interested in your product, a bit more interested than they thought even because they’ve written an article on your website. But they don’t want to fill it in yet.
I’ve suggested for these guys, not only should they have a form on every page, they should have a specific thank you for page. That’s not just good for tracking. It’s easy to track pages in Google Analytics, and clicks. Not just for that reason alone, probably mainly for that reason in a technical sense. But also once someone’s filled in a form, you should thank them. Not only should you thank them, you should tell them where you live. You should say, “Hey, thanks for filling in that form. We don’t get many people filling in our forms lately.” I see so many companies filling in their own contact forms just to see if they’re working because they’ve not had anybody fill the form in.
If they had enough forms or reason to fill the form in, which is pretty much every one of your other beautifully written pages, someone might fill in the form, but they’re not going to fill in a form if that’s what you’ve got on your contact page.
It’s probably a good idea to think, you’ve got a beautiful website, 20 pages, beautiful. They’re all beautifully written, and this PDF’s been made for the pages and you’ve outsourced some of that with your graphic designers and your computer programmers have written some special functionality for your website. That’s all lovely, but you’ve got to 30 seconds to one minute visit. Someone’s going to randomly land on your pages because it came up in a Google search result. No form on there, cool. No phone number, cool. If they read a paragraph of your beautifully written content, and it’s such a beautiful, lead capturing paragraph, then they’re likely not to click on your contact form. This is just have people think. They’re going to go somewhere else. Companies think that you put a website up and the money will roll in. Sorry, guys, I don’t want to be the harbinger of doom. But in about 2010, we had half a billion web pages up there. About 2012, ’13, we had, was it … Actually, in 2015. One billion web pages. That’s 2015.
I just looked at the figures, there are 2 billion web pages out there. Think of each page as a website, that’s a good way to think. 2 billion web pages and you’ve got one page and you haven’t got a contact form, you haven’t got a phone number. They are not going to click on your contact form, especially if you’ve got 20 other options out there as well and the contact button is just the word contact. When they go there, it’s just a form just for general inquiries.
The short and the long of it, you must have some way of people contacting you on every page of your website. If you’ve got a contact form on the right, keep it simple, don’t have 10 fields. People are more likely different in a three field name, phone number, email address, and we’ll get back to you within 48 hours in that field. Contact forms are so important, and there’s such strategy behind them and you have to keep testing and changing all the time. Not like most people that just leave their website to sit there.
In general, a contact form, it’s certainly a phone number in Australia, because we’re all a bit backward here. Phone number has to be on every single page, top right on your slider. I put prime numbers quite commonly above the contact form. It just encourages leads.
Also, don’t have to any specific questions on the contact form. Otherwise, it looks like you’re assuming a sale. A lead generating contact form is a name, email address and telephone number and thank you for filling in that form, we’ll call you back. All of this, these contact forms, these phone numbers, they all have to appear pretty much in every page. You’ve got to have some way, at least a phone number of people contacting you, maybe not on your gallery page. Well, maybe there as well. But before they scroll down the page … Think of mobile in that instance, like, on an iPhone. Don’t have a contact form too far down the page. People are more likely to scroll on an iPhone because they know that mobiles only shows a little bit of info, and they want to see what the rest of the page is. But on desktop, make sure your form’s top right, your phone number’s top right. Make sure it works.
There’s another podcast I did about forms. You can read that. But more than 50% of the sites that people get me to look at for SEO, more than 50%, think about that. I’ve looked at thousands of sites, the contact form doesn’t work, or it’s not clear that it sent a message. Or it sends a message but just refreshes on the form so people don’t know that its been sent. More than 50% on their contact form.
Final parting words, do not write in red as I’ve seen. Do not contact us on your contact form. No joke. I’m going to leave you with that. I’m going to let you laugh during the music. Have a lovely day, and make it easy for people to contact you for God’s sake. See you next time.
Edwin wrote his first (Harrier Jump Jet) text adventure computer program in 1982 during the Falklands War. He now builds websites utilising best practice, future-proof web development, marketing & SEO. He lectured for 15yrs+ at Curtin Uni where (in 2007) he was voted 5th best out of 2,500+ university lecturers in Australia. Now he wants to share what he knows.