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When running your business you need a way to build your client database as well as create a simple and efficient way for potential clients to contact you.
Creating lead or contact forms does this and allows you to gather necessary information early in the conversation so you don't have to waste your customers' time emailing back and forth over simple questions.
My contact forms have taken several years to evolve. Over this time I've optimized them to be as efficient as I can and to ask all the most important information without being too long. Here's my take on the best ways to implement lead forms.
What questions to include on the contact form?
It's important to ask for a name. You don't want to be confused about which inquiry goes where.
Their email. You'll need this to respond to their contact and to have a unique ID for your clients. Using name and email is a great way to remove duplicate records by combining on these fields.
An optional question requesting their phone number. Asking for a phone number is asking for a pretty big commitment, but it's a helpful field in case it's the best way to reach your clients. My suggestion is to make this field optional, but offer the opportunity.
Consider adding a question on the way they prefer to be contacted. Email, phone or text? It doesn't work for all businesses, but if you plan on setting up on contact tracks or just want to know, it might be that extra touch that makes them feel heard, if you really take their preference into account.
The reason for their contact. It's nice to offer the option to check a box or select from a dropdown. It eliminates some of the pressure.
If your business runs on deadlines include a field that requests the deadline or the date of their appointment.
An open text field asking for more details is crucial. It depends on your business whether you make this required or optional, but give your clients the opportunity to offer more information.
Ask them how they found you. The reason to include this in your contact or lead form and not at a later stage in the process is because you want to ask while it's top of mind. Most people won't forget if it's a referral, but they may not remember what they Googled to find you.
Permission to contact them in the future and sign them up for your newsletter. Depending on where you live this can be necessary. In some parts of the world. simply by using your contact form, individuals agree to receive communications from you. In other places, you have to ask for permission to contact them. Make sure to check your local laws to remain compliant.
So what do you do with contact forms?
There are some options and ideas for how to make the most of your contact form now that you've set it all up!
Include it on your website contact page. Rather than putting just a phone number and email on your contact page, give your customers an obvious, easy to use contact method.
Place it on a pop-up accessible with a single click from a button present on every page of your website. If you think your customers are less likely to make it to your contact page, this tactic will make it clear they can reach you from anywhere.
Or place it in the footer of your website so no matter what page your visitor is on the contact form is just a scroll away.
Place it on your social media websites as an easy way to reach you from multiple channels.
On a landing page for a promotion. Consider making specialized forms and pages to use for special offers or events so you can track the response to those specific promotions.
Where should the contact information go?
So now that you've got great contact/lead forms and they're in all the right places, ready to collect all this great information, what do you do with all of that?
First, make sure that all the contact forms are sent to your email.
You want to make sure you can respond quickly to all your potential clients.
When you're setting up your forms designate some of your fields to map to the subject line so that you always know what the emails are generally about.
Consider setting up auto-responses if it fits with your business model to respond right away and follow up on their request. Sometimes you know based on certain selections that you will need certain questions answered. You can build an email that is customized to incorporate information from the contact form and ask the appropriate questions based on the contact's selections. This speeds up your response time, allows your customers to have a better experience and makes your business run more efficiently.
The second place you should be storing your contact information is some type of customer relationship management software. You can decide to set something yourself using Excel or MS Access, or even your email account. This will have limited capability to track information about your clients. My recommendation as a small business owner is to look for a project management software that has a CRM component built in. I chose 17hats for mine. There are tons of options out there, but consider how well the one you choose will integrate with the rest of your business.
By storing all of the contact information in one place you can easily reference every client's individual contact as well as summarize the information and look for trends and patterns that can help your business.
Lastly, you should be sending contact information to your newsletter list! Your email list is a great way to reach out to people who have made contact with you and keep them informed on what you're up to. Make sure you get permission to add people who fill out your contact form on your email list, but then send them over to your email software. I personally use Flodesk for my newsletter software. I have a welcome email campaign for people who sign up for it. And I have a monthly newsletter that goes out to all my customers and interested contacts, where I keep them informed on what my business is up to!
Whatever you do make sure you collect the information from the contact forms somewhere. It would be such a shame to waste great customer insights.
Make sure all your data collection, website, CRM, newsletters and data management and analysis is compliant with privacy and security laws in your region and the regions of your customers. Seek legal counsel if you're unsure.
Do you have contact forms set up? Where do you collect the information? Do you have other creative uses for them?