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Contact Forms Offer Great Value for a Website

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Above all else, your website needs a way for someone to contact you. I'm surprised sometimes how difficult some jewelers make it to find a simple contact page or a phone number. It seems silly, but just last week I was reviewing a website that had an absurdly tiny link to the contact page hidden in the footer of the website.

I'd like to detail some of the more important things I've learned about a website's "Contact Us" page.

Most important is to have it easy to find. Don't tuck it away in the footer of your website and nowhere else. Sure, the footer is still a good place, but my previous testing always showed that 11% of all website visitors would click on it when you put the link prominently in the top right corner of your website. In other words, put it in the website's header.

You should never put your email address plainly on your website. Your Contact Us page should include your physical address and telephone number, but not an email address. Your contact page should be a form that the user needs to fill out if they want to email you. Showing your email address plainly on the website is an invitation to email scraping systems that want nothing but to capture addresses and send you spam email.

Contact forms need to have at least 3 fields: Name, email address, and comments. You can have other field, but you always need at least those. You should also make these 3 fields required.

Speaking of required fields, the more you require the less compelled a customer will be to fill out the form. I've not done extensive testing on this, but in my own experience I've always found that more people are willing to fill out a form when you have fewer required fields. You could even forgo the Name field as required, but there's no sense in someone contacting you through a form if you can't reply to them via email. People send messages all the time without introducing themselves first; a "Name" field is still a really good idea since they may forget to "sign" their message at the end. But let them decide if they also want to give you their last name.

If you send out monthly email newsletters, you should use every opportunity to sign someone up to it. Even if you have a newsletter signup box on your home page you could use your contact form to gain a few more followers. Include a check box on your contact page that allows a user to sign up for your email at the same time they are sending a contact request.

You have to give the user an incentive for signing up to your email newsletter. A message that says, "Yes, sign me up for your email newsletter to find out about the latest events and monthly specials" should do the trick. The customer needs to opt-in to your email newsletter, so make sure this check box is unchecked by default.

Another important feature of your Contact Us form is a CAPTCHA feature to prevent spam and hacking. CAPTCHAs usually appear as mangled or warped letters that only a person could read. This is a security test to ensure that only human visitors will actually submit the form, and not spamming bots that are submitting spam where they can, or trying to hack into this website.

Without the CAPTCHA, you will open yourself up to a flood of random emails that will look like jumbled words. You may think they're annoying, but they are there to protect you. Think very hard before declining one. Some website development companies won't give you the option to decline; it's as much a burden on their servers as it would be for your email client to burst.

My final recommendation regarding your Contact Us page is to make sure you read and reply to the messages sent to you. Most of my jewelry customers will receive a message from their contact page at least twice a month. If you are not receiving messages from your website at least that many times you should find out why. Perhaps your email address is wrong, or perhaps the form is broken, whatever it might be you just need to get it fixed.

The younger generation, i.e. your bridal customers, would rather text message or email than talk on the phone. Your Contact Us form is paramount for your website.
AT: 08/07/2012 10:25:27 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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