The whole point of most people's website is to generate more business or more interest in what you do or what you have to offer. You may have worked hard to ensure that your site has great content, is updated regularly and in well placed on Google. Basically, you have done everything that is required to meet the needs of your clients and potential clients, so why aren't you getting more enquiries?
How often have you heard people say that they hate filling in forms? It is bane of most people's lives and they certainly don't want to spend their free time completing complex forms just to gain more information about your product or service. It is for this reason that they should be as easy to use as possible and certainly not looking too complex or too intimidating. You need to ask questions but try to ensure that these questions don't make the enquirer or potential enquirers feel like you are invading their privacy.
What do I need on my form?
The form should be as straight forward as possible but you obvious need some key bits of information. It should go without saying that you need the following basic bits of knowledge about your client before you can progress:
- Nature of Enquiry
- A comments section where they can ask the question that they want answering
You may also want to include a telephone number as part of the basic information but this can sometimes be viewed as being intrusive with people wanting to respond as and when they feel fit, after all it is not always convenient to take calls all of the time.
Depending on the size of your company or organisation you may want drill down option regarding what the enquiry is relating to. The reason for this is to ensure that it is directed to the right person and that the question can be answered as quickly as possible.
On some forms you may request further information but the consensus these days is that information is usually requested in your response. This means that completing the form is straightforward and you have to basic details to start dealing with the enquiry. Anything that is too long will probably get 'put off until tomorrow' which in reality means that it will never get completed. Just get basic information at first or the bare minimum that you need to make that initial contact.
What should I avoid including on my enquiry form?
The basic rule is to keep everything as simple as possible. People are very wary about giving information out over the internet and this is for good reason. Too much information in the wrong hands is dangerous. The following information should never be asked for on an enquiry form:
- Mother's maiden name – why you would need this anyway is unclear but asking for this type of information will mean people will steer well clear of your site. Asking questions like this will raise suspicions and immediately getting people thinking of fraud or hackers – hardly the image that you will be looking to portrait.
- Credit Card or Bank Details – this is for a similar reason to above. Asking straight off for credit card details will make people suspicious even if your intentions are above board
- Anything Personal – income or health issues – ask later but they won't want everyone knowing everything about their personal details
- Any request for them to be included on mailing lists for something unconnected
- Anything potentially offensive
Many people, especially those in older age groups are suspicious of the internet and forms. It is common practice these days not include an email address, telephone number and even a postal address on website but many people still feel more comfortable contact people in this more traditional manner. Remember, your enquiry form and 'Contact Us' page is designed to generate business so make sure that you appeal to everyone. Yes, we know that it can mean that you get an increase in spam or more 'tyre kickers' but surely if you generate more business it will all have been worth it.
Reinventing the wheel is rarely necessary with many things in life so why not take a look at other people's websites who are in a similar industry to you. Your gut instinct will probably be similar to that of your potential clients so don't dismiss it and avoid any preconceived ideas. If you find an enquiry form frustrating or too complex, the chances are that others will do to. Likewise, if you are impressed with an idea that is may be 'outside of the box' perhaps you could replicate it with some minor adjustments to suit your needs.
Never forget the core purpose of your enquiry form. Human beings naturally tend to opt for the easiest option so try to ensure that it is you and not your competitors. On a final note, KEEP IT SIMPLE.