This is a guest post by:
Greg Narayan. Greg is a professional blogger and developer currently residing in New York. If you need an online presence, he’d be happy to help you decide where to blog. Get more from Greg on Google+.
Most of us offer some sort of service on our blogs. Whether these are reviews on a product, a product itself, or just our expert advice, blogs offer real value to the user. So it’s only natural there should be some communication there, between blogger and user. Real communication builds trust and often leads to closing a sale.
You can post a comment, you can chat on Twitter, but nowadays (and this ain’t new) the best way to reach out is via customizable contact forms. In this post let’s look at how to use forms wisely to make yourself reachable.
Understand what the user wants
As you plan out where your forms will go, it helps to know what your users will ask for. Here are the most common requests you’ll see:
Users will ask general questions about your service. Let’s say you run a financial advice blog, for example. These blogs are BIG on questions, so you’ll get questions on home mortgages, student loans, retirement plans, and literally everything in between.
Product specific questions
If you sell a product, let’s say an eBook on financial planning, you’ll get more specific questions. Things like “How do I download the eBook?” and “Is the eBook free?” Even if you’re really clear on the details and make an FAQ section, you’ll still get those questions coming and you’ll surely want to field them quickly.
It’s possible folks will contact you for networking opportunities. Your schedule may look busy now, but you’ll still want to hear about that new gig on a bigger website or a live event someone wants you to attend, or even speak at! These requests are just as important as those above.
So depending on the type of request you expect to receive, you should place the contact form in a different location. Let’s take a look.
Where to publish forms
Contact Us Pages
If it’s general advice you think you’ll be fielding, creating a “Contact Us” page on your blog or website is a great idea.
It’s simple, but nearly everyone messes this up!
The problem lies in design and here’s the solution. You want to add rich form features to make your form look appealing, and avoid just a white box with a few blanks. Add things like:
b. Brand logos
c. Specific call to actions, like “Join the discussion here!”
Doing so will get a lot more attention on your form. Really, it will. Another idea is to put a few statistics on or near your form, things like # of people that have used the form, number of visitors daily, even number of subscribers using a form. Adding a social proof component to your contact page can really boost the feedback you get.
About Me Pages
The About Me page is a really personal way to say “Hey, feel free to reach out to me” on a blog. If it’s networking request you want or expect, an About Me page is a great place for the form.
Why? Because on this page people can get to know you, which allows them to direct specific networking questions in your direction. You know, the kind you actually want?
Or, if it’s highly specific product-related questions you plan on receiving, a landing page can be a good place for your form.
Landing pages are excellent tools for highlighting product features and enticing the user to join in and make a purchase. If you put a form right smack dab on the landing page, you can field questions virtually in real time as the user considers your offer.
You’d be wise to tackle these questions straight away, because your user’s wallet won’t be out forever.
How to get people to your forms
So now that you’ve designed specific pages with contact forms tailored to your specific expectations, it’s time to get people over to those forms. Here are some strategies for increasing form usage:
a. Link to your forms in content
b. Again, use highly direct call to actions (“Interact with us here!”)
c. Give your contact pages SEO friendly links so more people arrive at them organically.
d. Put links to these pages in your menu tabs, sidebar, and all around the website.
You may find it best even just to tell users to use your forms if you have a live, public facing business. Heck, actual conversation still remains the best tactic for quick results.
There’s no point in waiting for users to just contact you. People have busy agenda, and often times need a little reminder. Plus, social interaction has long since proven to increase leads, conversions, and sales, so get out there and start using forms to better your business.
Post any questions you might have in the comments!
Image courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos