Are you currently using a generic contact form on your website?
You might want to reconsider that choice.
Generic contact forms, sometimes referred to by us as "toxic" contact forms, tend to generate lower-quality submissions. Serious buyers often prefer a contextual form with a clear action at the end, rather than a generic one.
Contact pages are a really interesting area of website design and user experience, I think. Where the conventional way of doing things may not be the best way, but it's quite hard for people to sort of deviate from.
So nearly every website will have a contact us link in the navigation and a contact us page with a form on it. And for many, many websites, that'll be one of the major, if not only, places where visitors to the website can get in touch with them without having to find a phone number or an email address.
But in all the experiences I've had, all the websites that I've worked on and looked at, I've always noticed that the quality of contact us page submissions is often far short of what we hope for.
We hope that buyers will use those pages to tell us that they're interested in working with us or they're interested in procuring our product.
But the reality is often that it's actually just spam and people trying to sell us services and trying to offer us things that we don't want and waste our time and some good things like job applications and other enquiries, but that nonetheless still don't tick the box of being buyers reaching out and contacting us.
So while we might still want those conversions, they're not the only conversions we want.
Why are contact us pages toxic?
So the hypothesis that I run is the fact that those contact pages are these generic catch all place where visitors have to at the moment they have an idea or they have a feeling like they want to express something to you.
- They've then got to navigate and find their way to that contact page, which might be one or two or three clicks and some scrolling.
- And then by the time they got there, they get there, they're looking at a page which is completely devoid of context.
- And if they want to submit a contact form and get in touch with you, they've got to explain completely why they're getting in touch with you.
And that just seems to chip away at the conversion rate and increase the frequency with which people abandon.
As a result, lots of businesses basically see that buyers never contact them via their website via that form.
And if they do contact them at all, then they do it via other channels. But experience tells us that in reality, the quantity is going to be far lower than it might or should otherwise be.
So we've for a long time thought and suggested that contact us pages are very bad at converting buyers into high intent leads while they serve a purpose that's very effective at getting spam submissions and other things that you might want but still don't grow the pipeline to take place.
What should you use instead of a generic contact form?
The proposal from us is that you either ditch that form, that page altogether. If people really want to get in touch with you about their service, they'll find a way. And moving the mechanism for buyers to contact you to other places and locations on your website.
Structured bottom of funnel conversion
Now, first and foremost, the best approach is to have structured, clear, bottom of the funnel conversion locations that communicate clearly what the expectation is and what the benefit is.
Talk to sales, book a demo, take a trial, etc.
Pages that are signposted, titled and labelled like that are better at getting buyers to express their interest.
Footer contact form
Another solution that we've seen work well in a number of cases is to have a contact form, a generic catch all contact form, but to include it on every page in the footer.
For a variety of reasons, it seems to get increased quantity of submissions compared to having it on a dedicated page off to the left, as it were, and an increased quality of conversions where it is actually buyers saying on this page, I have felt compelled to get in touch with you.
This implies to us it's about that page and seems to remove the barrier that prevented them from getting in touch previously.
So those two approaches together, highly structured, mutual give and get bottom of the funnel conversion pages like book a demo combined with a footer contact form, works quite well and covers a lot of different buyer needs and behaviours.
And if you think about that footer area of your website, it's not uncommon to see a subscribe to blog form there which is using up the real estate that you can use for this contact form.
And truth be told, not many people are subscribing to a blog on an SME company's website because most of those SMEs aren't in the publisher category, where their content is so regular, so high volume, so high quantity, so high quality that people actually want to subscribe to it for the content itself, meaning it's really wasted space.
And so a contact form which gets more buyers to express their interest is a much better use of that space.
Is a live chat or chatbot a good alternative?
An alternative to a contact us page or form for some is of course a chat bot or a messaging tool of some sort.
The logic being that website visitors prefer conversation over conversion, and increasingly so as things modernise and as technology advances.
And that whereas a form could be considered by some to be a high-friction method of lead capture or conversion, a natural conversation is lower friction.
And that might be true. The frustration for me and many others is that, sadly, those methods of lead visitor engagement and lead capture, just as often underperform, even more so than the standard contact form approach.
In B2B still, we find that in reality, not all buyers are that interested in having a scripted conversation with a bot.
Let's face it, it isn't a human in most cases, it's extremely robotic and structured, and they're wise to it.
And in some situation, they'd actually rather just very quickly type their answers into a form and be done. So we've seen it underperform compared to the bottom of the funnel form, as it were.
And then the other temptation that exists is that when we're deploying a bot or a chat based interface for conversion is we actually strip away all of the qualifying steps.
We remove so much of the friction that anybody and everybody can complete the process and get whatever's on offer. In lots of cases, that offer is time with a rep, but that time is valuable.
And if you strip away all of the hurdles that buyers would have had to get over when filling in a form to obtain your time, then you may see an increase in quantity, from having a chat based approach. But the quality can be very poor indeed.
So now you've got lots of leads, but they're very low quality and they're not going to go anywhere.
So I know for a fact I would rather have fewer high quality, high intent leads that have a high potential to become pipeline, a high likelihood of closing than a massive chat generated, rated low quality, time wasting contacts and conversions.