Daniel Alves is the design director for the small business web design division at the digital marketing and web design company, 352 Media Group.
If you’re like most business owners, getting leads online is the main reason you created a website in the first place. Sure, you may have a stellar SEO campaign, a beautiful design and an über low bounce rate, but without a well-planned contact strategy, you can’t turn those pageviews into conversions.
Online conversions aren’t just for ecommerce websites. In fact, most businesses use their websites to initiate one-on-one conversations. By personally engaging a contact, you are more likely to turn that contact into a customer. So, what’s the trick?
First, you need to understand that most people don’t want to give their phone numbers or email addresses to yet another website — the thought of spam is horrifying. And it’s not just privacy hawks who shy away from contact forms; most websites only achieve a 2-3% conversion rate. Furthermore, people don’t want to have to worry about waiting for a return phone call to address their problems or questions. They want to get the answers they need with as little effort as possible.
Follow these nine tips to make your website design and customer service more approachable, and thus, gain the trust of more customers.
Go with the Flow
Website usability is built on convention. Follow tried and true design strategies to ensure that your users can move through your site as easily as possible. Remember, the less effort, the better.
- Use the words “Contact Us.” It may sound boring or generic, but the phrase works. (There’s a reason exit signs don’t use the words “leave” or “depart.”) People don’t read your site — they scan — and they’ve been trained over time to instantly recognize those two words.
- Place contact info and phone number at the top, right corner of the page, where it’s expected. Also, make sure to include your phone number as an HTML, not an image. That way, a mobile user can tap the phone number link and launch into a call immediately. When mobile browsing eclipses desktop browsing in two years, nearly everyone will need that instant access. While you open yourself up to potential spamming, the benefits certainly outweigh the risks.
Make It Easy
A user must already overcome an internal battle in order to share her personal contact information. Your job is to remove as many obstacles as possible so that she makes the leap.
- Keep contact forms simple. While it may help to get a full profile of your visitor by asking pre-qualifying questions, it can be very intimidating for that user. Ask for as little information as possible and require only that person’s name and email address. If you seek other information, such as phone number and address, make it optional.
- Create one-column form fields for quick contact. It helps to put form labels directly above form fields. Usability studies show that users who filled out these types of forms saved time by only having to move their eyes vertically, not laterally.
- Don’t be afraid of large input boxes. While considered a design trend, large input boxes are not only more fun to fill out, but also force you to limit the number of fields on a contact form.
- Give visitors a clear action button. Because people read from left to right and top to bottom, place the final action button in the lower-right of the form. Give the button plenty of weight with a standout color.
Trust goes a long way with online clients. People fear that their contact information will get dumped into a huge database that marketers can access at will. By making your contact form unique, fun and reassuring, your user will know there’s a human on the receiving end and, therefore, be more likely to share.
- Have some fun. Nothing eases people’s worries better than good humor. Why not spice up your contact form with some personality? Not only will it give your users a laugh, but it will also make your contact page more human. Consider a witty introduction or quirky photo.
- Make a promise. Tell your users that their information is safe, that you won’t share it with any third party. Place this promise right next to the submit button; that way they’ll experience a nice aftertaste upon opting in.
Offer Instant Chat
Instant chat has been around for quite some time, but has traditionally only been used by the customer service departments of large Internet companies. Now, many low-cost services enable your users to reach you instantly wherever you are.
- The future is instant. Perhaps the lowest website threshold is instant chat. It requires the user to supply little, if any, personal information and allows you to provide quick and personal customer service. Consider giving one of these services a chance.
LiveChat: Unlike other services, LiveChat offers a range of innovative features and third-party integration modules. You can use Facebook to gain access to your users’ social media profiles, Skype to elevate the chat into a phone call and Join.Me to perform a screen share. LiveChat also offers a free trial that makes trying this service a no-brainer.
Olark: Another promising contender, Olark features a beautiful and seamless user experience, great reporting tools, CRM and Helpdesk integration, and it works with just about any IM client. Plus, you can live chat with a customer straight from your mobile phone. While not as feature-rich as some of its competitors, Olark is an efficient and inexpensive solution that fills the needs of most businesses.
How has your company improved its contact forms and its customer service? Has it strengthened your business? Please share in the comments below.
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