This is one question that continues to get asked time and time again. The internet isn’t exactly new, but they’re still is an unclear standard on what is best practice. While you may find some arguments for not having a contact form— spambots being the main culprit (easily alleviated with captcha), there certainly are a lot more reasons to have a contact form. I’m going to lay out some of the main ideas, and then you can make the decision for yourself what is best!
This hits the top of my list for one simple reason: it’s the most important! The user-friendliness of your website should always be at the top of your priority list, and a contact form definitely helps you in this area. When a user lands on your website, they want to be able to navigate your pages with minimal effort and certainly without having to do any thinking. If they need to contact you, adding in extra steps for them to achieve this will only result in impatient users that may result in them giving up contacting you altogether, and that’s rarely a good thing. Excellent web design removes barriers for your users, and adding a contact form is a great web design for this reason.
Typically, the alternative to having a contact form is to have an email address published on your contact page. “Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info…” This can be bad practice for a number of reasons, but most of all are spam. There are bots that troll the internet, harvesting email addresses from any website they can find. Your email then gets blasted with all sorts of irritating spam. No one likes to get spammed. It’s a time-waster, which is just bad for business.
Most contact forms will store all entries in a database for you to retrieve whenever you’d like. This can be useful for many obvious reasons, but it’s especially convenient to have all inquiries in one place. You can also typically export this information into a CSV file for sorting and tracking. It’s comfortable and efficient and much better than sifting through your email inbox, looking for that one potential customer who emailed you weeks ago. Lastly, if you want to see what your conversion rate is (if your main website goal is for people to contact you), you can easily do so by seeing how many entries to your contact form you have.
If you’re using a single email address for your users to get in touch with you, then it typically takes a few backs and forth emails for you to get the answers you need to see if you’re able to help them or how best to help them. If you use a contact form, you can ask those questions in a form field and get the answers right away, saving everyone time. You can even take it a step further with a premium form plugin and have the form go to different people based on the answers the user provides. For example, if the user has a billing question, you can have the way send the email to your accounting person; if it’s a support question, it can go to your support team, and so on.
In the world of internet marketing, a well-scrubbed email list is gold. Whether you’re selling a product or service online, or have a local restaurant or store, an email list to market to can be extremely crucial in helping you grow sales. There are many ways to build an email list, but an added method can be done with your contact form. We’ve all seen this before—You’re filling out a way to contact a company, or maybe you’re buying a product, and right before you hit that submit button, there’s a checkbox that states, “Subscribe to our email newsletter.” This can quickly be done with your contact form, increasing your subscriptions in a non-intrusive way.
When a user contacts you through your website, it’s nice to let them know that you received their message. A contact form makes this a breeze to achieve. It’s also an added way to get your business name (and your branding) in front of a potential or existing customer. It’s almost like a takeaway, brochure, or business card. It’s something they’re able to see later to remind them of the interaction. Having an automated email response at the top of a user’s inbox is a much better reminder that they contacted you than having to look in their sent email box (because how often do you actually look at your sent mail?).
Contact forms (or a robust form at least) lets you send auto-responses to multiple people or even your entire team. Maybe you offer priority support to customers that are willing to pay for it. Well, when they need assistance, it’s crucial that everyone that’s on duty gets notified so someone can tackle the issue as soon as possible. Not only does this ensure a rapid response, but it helps keeps everyone in the loop, so the whole team knows what’s going on.
If you’ve read this entire post, then you can see that there are more than enough reasons to put a contact form on your website. If you need just one more reason, then WHY NOT! On many of our sites, we actually put a contact phone number, contact email, AND a contact form. This gives the user a choice to choose the method that makes the most sense for them, supporting number one in our list— a better experience for your users.
We use and put on all of our websites, Fluent Forms. If you’re not familiar, Fluent Forms is one of the leading form plugins for WordPress. It does cost money, but very well worth it!