OK when something happens twice in the span of a week, it’s officially a theme. Test web forms frequently. Your leads are hard won and too important. Don’t let your tech to get in the way.
Even if you’ve made no changes to the form, other changes can interfere. Over the span of the last week, I’ve seen personnel changes in the business and scripts elsewhere on the website cause problems. Watch your step: double check that your forms are working well and going to the right place, at least monthly.
Why Use Forms?
What do you want people to do when they visit your website? If you want them to get in touch, you need to give them a way to do it.
Sometimes small businesses like to post an email address on a website as a contact method. Yet, email addresses on websites are hard to track. Your analytics script will only track whether the person clicked the email address (to open a message to you). It will not track the actual email being sent, because the message is sent from the visitor’s email program, not from the website.
I also personally dislike pop-ups, where a link opens in another program (such as a PDF or email app). I find the context shift jarring.
Web forms are trackable. Your web analytics can track the form submission as an event or can track visits to a “thank you” page.
Web forms are easy to deploy. Although I happen to like Contact Form 7 for WordPress, there are lots of options, free and paid.
Why Test Web Forms
Yet, like everything internet marketing, web forms are not set and forget. It’s basic quality control to check the forms at the site’s or the form’s launch. While it may seem redundant to keep verifying that all is well in the weeks and months after the form has been published, it’s a critical business process.
Cautionary Tale #1 – Personnel Change
A few months after the launch of a website, a team member moved on to another role with a different company. His email address was where the web form submissions went, and so became, unintentionally, a dead letter box. A prospect contacted this company after not receiving a reply from the company.
- Clean up your email accounts at personnel transitions. Don’t let untended email accounts cause communication bottlenecks.
- Use role-based rather than “personal” email addresses for critical business processes such as leads and communications.
- Avoid having a single point of failure in a key business process.
Cautionary Tale #2 – Script Conflict
Yesterday, someone contacted me via LinkedIn and let me know that she had tried to use the form on this site and it had not worked. Although the form did work, her message stayed on the screen after she hit “submit”. So she got in touch another way and let me know. I was able to debug the issue and the form gives useful feedback again.
How to Test Web Forms
- Inspect their settings – review where the form contents go (to a database? to a person?)
- Send a test email and verify it is received by all parties and systems.
- Check that the form provides useful feedback/confirmation.
- Do this monthly. I set a repeating reminder in my task manager.