“But, you don’t do that on your website!” was the accusation recently levelled at us. The customer was right, we didn’t put our contact form on an inner page, there it was front and centre on the homepage. So how is this like attending a dinner party? So, was this a case of do as we say not as we do? No, definitely not: the reason for divergence from our own use of forms is simple. Consider this real-world example: You’re at a dinner party, you’re enjoying a nice chilled Chablis and the finest Waitro, err… you’re host has to offer. As you sit there you strike up a conversation with the interesting chap to your right, “Hi there”. “Hello“ your fellow guest replies (a little too loudly and a little to forced). “So, how do you know Sandy and Danny?” you continue, eager to keep the conversation light. “Give me your name, address, phone number – all mandatory“ your neighbour then levels a flat stare at you. “Errr…. OK, I’m, errr… hahahahaha, funny, you’re funny.” You try to lighten the mood. “Before we continue this relationship; Name, Address, Phone number?“ this time your fellow diner keeps his eyes dead ahead, steadfastly spooning in Tiramisu and chewing. “OK, well, lovely to chat…” and you turn to your fellow guest on the other side (and subtly shift your chair away from Mr. Scary next to you.
Offline relationships give you the blueprint
The point I’m trying to make is simple: if you look anywhere in the offline world humans gauge their relationships, their interactions and save their most intimate thoughts and spend their “quality time” with those who they have spent the longest getting to know. Commerce, by its very nature, has to circumvent the years of getting to know someone and has developed lots of subtle (and not so subtle) ways to speed the process up, however, circumventing the initial “hi-how-are-ya” is just rude. Imagine another scenario: You walk into a store and find a salesman, and said “We’re thinking of using ::insert product or service here:: can you tell me more?” and then at that point the employee got out a pen and paper and said “name, address, phone, email”. You’d immediately start to ask questions “why do you need that?”, “Can’t you just give me some answers?”, “Where’s the nearest exit?”.
So, why is this the case?
Why is it that in both examples given above you’d consider doing Anything but give the person your details? Because the other party to the conversation had leapt way, way too far down the process and it would “feel” unnatural to you. The same is true on a website, the web is beautiful and fabulous and we think it is genuinely revolutionising human interaction, but you cannot overturn millions of years of evolution and hundreds of thousands of years of human interaction and expect 21st Century Homo Sapiens to react differently than our forebears. We crave personal interactions and genuine connections, asking for personal information that is to early in the process of getting to know each other is not going to be as fruitful as developing a relationship and then asking for information.
Fan the flames of desire, for you AND your products
Only once someone has indicated their interest should you nurture that spark, and fan the flames until it is a desire that burns to know more and be in closer contact. Plus, the higher the product or service ticket price then the longer the burn on the relationship building. In fact you probably need to follow this process:
- A free item to give away
- A low value/low risk transaction
- Additional value added without being asked
- Exclusive offer only to customers – limited edition or restricted sales
- Then – Introduce the high ticket premium product
Sure you can use the web to start the sales process but you need to start slow and lo and build, there are always exceptions to rules, but what there is not an exception to is the human who you wish to sell to, they will have certain expectations and requirements. The more pressing and urgent those requirements then the quicker you can move through the stages, but a high value item being sold to corporates could take several months of nurture and development and may include several people.
If you want to speed up the process, slow down
There’s no shortcut and having a form filled with mandatory fields and several drop downs is likely to lower your response rate to almost zero (especially drop downs, just don’t do it). So, where do you put the form? It depends and it need to be tested. Do not place the form where you think it looks best and be done with it. There’s a definite step by step series of “micro yeses” that you need to achieve and any one wrong step will cause friction in the mind of your prospect. Asking for their details too early is one such friction. If you put the response mechanism in front of the prospect before they are ready for it and you haven’t warmed your lead up a little then you’ll sabotage the process. Your form gets positioned where the user will be ready to fill it in and not before. Shoving it in at the top of the page because “So and So does it” is wrong, placing it “above the fold” is wrong. For a start can I ask, where’s the “fold”? My PC screen is perfectly flat, and so is that on my mobile, my tablet and my laptop, these day people will scroll if people aren’t then your page is poorly designed and laid out incorrectly.
One by one, step by step
Conversion optimisation is a step by step process that is malleable and adaptable and has to be split tested but there are certain “rules” that have to be used to ensure you start in the right place. Your website is a conversation in the mind of the reader, you are positioning yourself and readying them to respond in a manner which benefits your business or organisation. In conclusion: Put your form on your website where the conversation has led the end user to the point where they are thinking “I need to know more about this”… You’ll find you get more submissions and more enquiries. You may have to guide the conversation a little and build to the point where it encourages an interaction (a call to action no less) but this is going to get you the desired outcome and reason to have a website, more leads! If you want to know what we can do for you and you’re wondering “Is my form in the right place?” then why not get in touch with us and ask for a free evaluation of your form placement?