Complicated Contact Forms Are Counterproductive
What’s your job title? Where do you work? What’s your cell phone? Exactly what do you want from me? If you’re feeling a little (or a lot) defensive and annoyed at this point, you’re not alone. That’s how every potential client feels when encountering a contact form, only to find that they must offer realms of personal information in order to ask a simple question.
The contact form is a useful part of your website. It exists to make it easy for people to initiate contact. It becomes a liability, however, when it discourages site visitors from reaching out to your firm. Asking for too much information is a guaranteed way to turn away these interested folks and lose the opportunity for a new client before you’ve even had a chance to say hello.
The reasons for requiring extra information are often logical: capturing leads, directing inquiries to the appropriate team member, market research and other worthy goals. The problem is that requiring the information often incurs a steep cost that renders the request worthless, i.e. you wind up without the information or the potential engagement.
Demand my number? I’ll move on to another firm. Some feel the same way about email but are happy to share their phone number. Rather than risk losing the opportunity to connect, firms should make their contact forms as simple as possible.
Do you need anything more than a name and email address or phone number? Not really. It makes sense to offer a place to explain the current need or question, but mandating fields that gather data about employment, job title or seniority won’t pay off. Same goes for asking how site visitors first heard about your firm; you might like to know these things, but the risk of alienating new contacts is greater than the potential benefit of requiring the information.
If you want people to contact you through a contact form, let them decide what and how much to share.
Of course, you could include optional fields for all the stuff you’d like to know. That might allow you to gather useful tidbits but again, the cost of a complex form – even one where most fields aren’t required – is that fewer visitors will choose to use it.
With a simple form you achieve your original goal of encouraging site visitors to reach out to your firm. In doing so you boost the likelihood that they will eventually want to give you more information, choose to sign up for your newsletter and decide to become your clients.
If, on the other hand, you make these decisions for them, you won’t gain much of value (another name for the email list, but one who immediately marks your communications as spam, perhaps) and you will significantly reduce the chance that they’ll use the form at all.
Keep the contact form simple, and offer it along with an email address and phone number for those who prefer to reach out directly. Only then does it fulfill its main objective: making it easy for potential clients to contact the firm and thereby increasing the number who do.