5 Ways Your Potential Clients May Be Reacting To Your Contact Form (And What You Can Do About It)

Do you use a contact form on the “Contact Us” page on your website?

If so, check this list of common mistakes to see if you are making your prospective clients angry or just turning them away.

5 Ways Your Potential Clients May Be Reacting To Your Contact Form (And What You Can Do About It):

1. “That contact form is sooooo long! I feel tired just looking at it!”

  • Does everyone type at 60 Words/Minute like you? No. Most people I know type with one finger. A long form looks like half an hour of work to them
  • It doesn’t matter if some fields are “not required”. Visitors don’t notice the little asterix, and they feel obliged to fill in every field because of “form momentum”

What you can do:

  • Trim back your fields to the absolute bare minimum. Do you really need their postal address, physical address, all their phone numbers and date of birth? No you don’t.

2. “Bah! Another error message: ‘Syntax of field 624 is invald’? WTF?”

  • If prospects take the time filling in your form, click submit and they get an error box in their face they will get angry and hate you
  • It’s worse if your form validation script doesn’t highlight the field in red and provide helpful guidance so the prospect knows exactly what to do next. They will feel lost and confused
  • They will subconsciously ascribe these negative feelings to you. Is that the right way to start a business relationship?

What you can do:

  • Keep the form super short. Less fields = less potential error messages
  • Lighten up on the validation

3. “Does this contact form even work?”

  • This is a fear of the message not being delivered at all
  • Sometimes when you click the “submit” button does it feel like you are launching your message into space and you’ll never see it again? That’s because experience tells us that is exactly what we are doing. Sometimes the contact form is broken and no-one find out for months

What you can do:

  • Regularly test that the contact form is working

4. “How long will I have to wait before I hear back?”

  • Closely related to the fear of the message not being delivered at all is waiting an age for a response
  • Perhaps part of the problem is that most contact forms go to generic email addresses like “info@yourdomain.co.nz”. How motivated is the recipient of emails sent to this generic address to respond fast when the message isn’t even addressed to them? If Bob gets these messages, which will he reply to first: Emails addressed to Bob, or emails addressed to “info”?

What you can do:

  • Send your contact form messages to a real person not just “info” (yes, it may need updating when your staff change)
  • Make a promise in your email receipt “we will respond within 1 normal business day. If you don’t hear from us, please call our tollfree hotline”

5. “What did I say? When? To Who? I can’t remember!”

  • When you send a message from your own email system you can always check your “sent” box later to check:
    • That it was actually sent
    • Who it was sent to
    • The date/time
    • and most importantly: what you said
  • With a contact form you get nothing. Sometimes you might get an email receipt that says “thanks for your message, we’ll contact you soon” – yeah right.

What you can do:

  • Send the prospect a copy of their own message “here’s a copy of your message for your reference”
  • Let them just click on your mailto hyperlink so they can send their message from their own email system

What Else You Can Do To Improve Your Contact Form

Double check that you provide a clear “mailto” link for your email address like this: “sheldon@marketingfirst.co.nz“.

If you don’t, you may be forcing your web visitors to use your contact form and face all the problems listed above, or they may just give up and leave, and take their business to your competitors.

Got A NZ Business But Using A .com Website Address?

20% of google searchers see your .com result & think “how did that American website get into my search results? Google must have screwed up. Oh well, I’ll click on the next one”.

Use a .co.nz website address if you have a NZ business.

Even if your target customers are overseas, being a .co.nz adds to your brand story.

*The statistics in this article were made up for dramatic purposes 🙂

The First 4 Questions You Must Always Ask When Planning A New Website

  1. Who are the audience groups?
  2. What information do they want?
  3. What action do we want each audience group to take?
  4. How do we arrange the main navigation to give them access to that information and to take that action? (this is where we plan the sitemap)

Need More Help To Plan Your Website?

The task of planning a new website is one of my favourites, call me on (07) 575 8799 and we can brainstorm together.

– Sheldon.

Difference Between Unique Visitors, Visitors, Visits, Page Views, Hits. And Why You Should Care

First, the definitions:

  • Unique Visitors – The number of individuals who have visited your website. But, if a person on a dial-up connection disconnects and reconnects, they will be assigned a different IP address and therefore be counted as another unique visitor if they return to your website.
  • Visits or Visitors – The number of visits to your website. A single unique visitor could be responsible for many if about an hour passes between them taking action (eg they leave your website open on a tab in their browser and forget about it until they click on it an hour later).
  • Page Views – The number of web pages your website serves. So a single visitor may go back to your home page several times, or refresh a page, each instance counts as another page view.
  • Hits – The number of files your website serves. Every time your CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) loads, every time each image on your website loads, each time your php or html files load, all these count as 1 hit. So if a website has a lot of these items on its home page, a single page view of that home page may generate 40 hits. And if a website has very few items, a single view may only generate 20 hits.

Why should you care?

You should care because the method that you choose to measure your websites success is important.

You should care because there is a lot of confusion out there about which one to use, and especially when selling advertising space people will brag about how many “hits” they get, so now you know to ask them “what about unique visitors, or page views?”

Which one should you use? Unique Visitors? Visits? Visitors? Page Views? Hits?

Unique Visitors.

  • Hits is no good because you could double it overnight just by adding a few images.
  • Page Views is no good because you could have pages that need lots of refreshing (F5 on your keyboard).
  • Vists/Visitors is ok, but if one particular person comes back several times in one day because they keep getting interrupted, you really only want to count them once.
  • Unique Visitors is the best choice (and most webstats software reports that statistic accurately)

So the next time someone says to you “my website is so cool, I get 1000 hits a day”, you can say, “Whatever! I could put 100 tiny images on my pages and generate 1000 hits an hour! How many Unique Visitors do you get a day? That’s the only number that really matters!”.

And then they say “Wow, I’ve been such a dumb arse, how did you get so smart?”, and then you say “I learnt about it at Sheldon Nesdale at Firstbyte Websites in Tauranga, New Zealand, you should get his help with your website, he’s so skilled and very handsome!”.

Essential Steps for Building a Website That Generates Business For You

8 Essential Steps:

  1. Define the most important action that you want the audience to take. Is it filling in an enquiry form? Call your toll free number? Download an information pack?
  2. Make it dead easy for them to take that action. 1 click or 2 clicks. Not 5 clicks
  3. Make your forms super short. Ask for essential information only. Not their age, not their gender, not even their address (if you aren’t posting them something, don’t ask for it). And it doesn’t matter if some of your form field aren’t compulsory, if it looks too long it will turn people away
  4. Ensure your code is search engine friendly:
    • Clean urls like “this-is-a-page-about-how-to-do-stuff.html” rather than “index.php?ss=2&s=abc”
    • Clean html code, eg use H1, H2, H3 tags instead of heavily formatted paragraph tags
  5. A stripped down CMS for commonly updated content (like blog entries, articles, products). Lock down other pages so you’re not tempted to wreck them with crazy fonts and colours
  6. Write for the web” by formatting all your content with headings, sub-headings, short paragraphs (none more than 3 sentences), bullet points, numbered lists, and internal hyperlinks
  7. Follow usability guidelines, such as:
    • Hyperlinks that look link hyperlinks. Buttons that look like buttons
    • Breadcrumbs so when the users deep-link they can quickly figure out where they are
    • Disable the hyperlink in the navigation if the user is already on that page
    • And just about everything else website usability guru Jacob Nielsen recommends
  8. Choose a web site developer who knows about all this stuff

Other Important Things

  1. Ensure all your navigation is in one place (preferably displayed vertically on the left so it can scale as your website grows)
  2. Don’t have any animation or moving images at all. It distracts the user from completing their task

How To Write For The Web

Writing for the web is pretty simple on the surface, but the switch from writing for print to writing for the web is a difficult one for many people.

Here are some writing-for-the-web techniques to get you started:

1. Use long descriptive headlines, sub headings and sub-sub headings

  • People commonly skim read web content very quickly, and they are attracted to headlines to get the gist of the pages content

2. Use bullet points and numbered lists

  • Short, punchy bullet points are easy to digest, and divides content into easily managed chunks
  • There is nothing more boring to a user than a long paragraph of text, it screams “I’m too long to read!”

3. Use very short paragraphs

  • 1 sentence paragraphs on the web are fine (they are frowned upon in print)
  • 2 sentence, and 3 sentence paragraphs are good
  • 4 or more sentences in a paragraph is no good

4. Use internal hyperlinks

  • If you have another webpage that explains a phrase or idea in more detail, link to it
  • It’s good for the user because they know where they can go next, and its good for search engines

5. Use occasional bolding and italics to emphasise

  • But don’t over do it!