Always Use a Contact Form on a Small Business Website
Without a contact form visitors are less likely to reach out
July 30, 2018
If you're like most small businesses, your website has one primary goal - to entice a potential customer/client to contact you. Often this is accomplished through a contact form, but when a contact form is not provided it can make that initial contact less likely to happen.
Contact forms have several important advantages over a simple email link on a website:
A contact form helps direct the inquiry and allows a business to collect key information up front, like what kind of service the person is looking for, what budget they're working with, their timeframe, how they might prefer to be contacted further (email/phone), and can even allow the user to attach helpful photos or documents.
A contact form is expected on business websites. So, when there's no form to be seen, it can feel a bit less standard - even less professional. Plus, businesses sometimes display multiple email addresses on their website, leaving the choice up to the potential customer who now has to decide which one to use. These are simply additional bumps in a road that you want to keep as short and smooth as possible.
A contact form allows people to contact your business without adding a greeting. It may be a small thing, but it can be awkward for them since they have no idea who they're sending the email to. Yes, a minor issue, but at a critical time like the moment of contact on a website, why have any hurdle in the process and risk having them quit and move on? A simple contact form eliminates this hurdle.
A contact form offers instant confirmation. When someone sends an email to a business, they don't know whether it got there - until the business responds. And, since many small businesses are slow to reply to email, often this means the potential customer is left waiting, or worse - sending a follow-up email. Now, clearly this can be avoided by being more responsive to email inquiries, but a form can actually provide some nice instant confirmation for a potential customer in the way of a confirmation page. This lets the user at least know their inquiry didn't get lost in cyberspace. What's more, simple autoresponders can be set up to provide a great first impression of responsiveness by a small business.
A contact form helps you know your website is working. When you get a contact form submission, it tells you that your website is being found, and is compelling enough to entice a potential customer to take the time to reach out to you. That's good to know. And if you're not getting enough (or any), that's good to know too.
There are no downsides to using a simple contact form on a website. Even providing one that asks for name, email and a comments/message box will do the job. More advanced fields (being careful not to add too many) can help qualify a potential customer/client, drop out spammers and those who aren't serious enough to provide key info (a valid phone number for example), and can even help the customer understand what your business will need in order to work together.
Never just use an email addresses on a website. Always offer your potential customers and clients a contact form, and who knows, maybe they'll reward you for it by filling it out.