Create a contact form that gets filled in

in Business Hacks

by
Sophia Eribo (ser)

How to get customers to leave their real details

"Be well, do good work, stay in touch."

Garrison Keillor

Two things have happened recently that have got me thinking about contact forms. Firstly, there's what our Lead Manager Nic told us during a team meeting about lead automation. A large number of people who come to our website and register to download free Odoo apps claim they are based in Afghanistan. Perhaps some of them are, the odd one or two, but judging by the range of international-sounding names and speaking to our consultants about Odoo's clients, I am safe in saying at least 95% of those who choose Afghanistan don't live there.

For the second source of inspiration for this blog we jump to London - more specifically the Digital Marketing show. I was warm, personable and smiley as I asked a gentleman to let me have his details so we could get in touch with him later. He was just as friendly until I showed him a piece of paper. Then he got quite grumpy, even though he was interested in Odoo apps.

Now, what is it these two stories have in common? Contact forms.

Whether it's the type we often find on websites or a more traditional one involving pen and paper, both instances were about persuading people to let us have their information.

We found out that size does matter! When we went to the Digital Marketing Show, we asked people to fill out our contact form - the first one in the picture on the left. One week later, we took a different contact form to the Business Start Up Show - the one on the right. Guess what? By cutting down the amount of text on the form by a third (and therefore the amount of information we asked people to give us), 68% more forms were filled in. We also increased the size of the font on the form.

Information is Power

You need to get as many details from the people you meet at shows and exhibition or those that come to your website so that you can pass on quality leads to your sales team. But, you don't want to frustrate, scare or tire these potential customers by putting them through an unnecessarily long or annoying process.

While a contact form is all about getting information like name, email address and phone number, a bit of thought does have to go into the design.

Minimize the number of fields. With an online contact form, don't ask for too much. Think about what information you need right away, what you need to get the ball rolling, what you need to qualify a lead. With this in mind, really think about what fields are essential and choose carefully. You can always ask for more details later on down the road. What we did with the second version of our paper form (picture above right) was remove the "Comments? Feedback? Questions?" Then, while talking to the people we met, we tried to get as much verbal information from them as possible and quickly write it down on their form after they had left - you will need good memory skills for this.

Strike the right tone. I'm not the first (and surely won't be the last) to praise this Contact page done by Music City Unsigned. The company operates in the cool, independent music scene and their Contact page is something their target audience will respond well to - the photo, the icons and even the font choices. Contact forms don't always have to be serious. Think about your audience and make yours appealing to them. Don't be afraid to be different, it will help you stand out from the crowd.

Contact works both ways. Remember this exchange of information is a two-way street. The people that you ask to give you their details should be able to find yours just as easily. For physical contact forms on a piece of paper, adding your company's details will make the page too cluttered - that's what traditional business cards are for. For the contact form on your website, it's a good idea to include all your details - your address, phone numbers and you can even add a map like we do.

That's not to say that we're doing things perfectly at Odoo. It's also a good idea to put your social media buttons on your contact page so that people can connect with you via Facebook, Twitter and whatever else you're using. You give people the option to reach you in more ways and you might increase your number of followers and fans.
In conclusion, be enticing, be bold, be charming and funny if you can - and don't overwhelm people with a contact form that asks for too much. Importantly, be reachable yourselves.

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