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This article addresses the most basic of marketing concepts, making it easy to contact you. It is the sixth article in a series on the web marketing that will increase the conversion rate of web site visitors, to web site buyers.

 For most businesses, purchasing your product or service online is not viable, which makes earning the trust of your site visitor and obtaining permission to continue the dialog the primary goal of your web site.  That means your web site visitor has to contact you using one of four different methods:

  1. An inbound phone call to your business
  2. Submission of a contact form or a mini-contact form
  3. An e-mail with an unstructured request
  4. A physical visit to your place of business

Give them your phone number over and over

Telephone leads, or “call ins,” are generally of a higher quality than other methods of initial contact based on the overall close ratio.  Callers are typically more action oriented and are in a buying mode.  Therefore, your web site needs to provide your phone number over and over in a legible font.

 For example, on our web site (www.schipul.com) we interviewed our site visitors about their experience after visiting our site.  Although we thought our phone number was displayed prominently on the home page, we were told repeatedly that they were unable to find our phone number quickly.  So we added it a second time, and added the toll free number separately for good measure.  At this point it was on the page three distinct times.  And yet our visitors continued to respond that they could not find our phone number!  It took four (4) listings of for the phone number to become ‘obvious.’ Our current page includes our local phone number four (4) times and our toll free phone numbers two (2) times.

Toll free phone numbers and response rates

Classic direct marketing (Hopkins, Caples, Bird) states repeatedly that toll free (1+800 in the US) telephone numbers will increase your response rate.  It has been our experience that this is true for remote clients.  But you must also list your local phone number in close proximity on the page to your toll free number or you will actually *reduce* your response rate for your local geographical region.  This paradox makes sense if you think about it; who wouldn’t rather do business locally if everything else is the same?  Your local phone number indicates to your intelligent visitors where you are located geographically, if even in the country!  Even if your prospect never sets foot in your office, they know it is an option and that gives them plenty of marketing “warm fuzzies”. 

Contact FORMS increase response

As discussed in web marketing article 1, Internet users are very impatient and very intelligent.  They typically respond in a direct marketing manner and are willing to read relevant content at great length if they are interested. This response is very different from image marketing and commercials which are more interruption based marketing that needs to entertain to hold the attention. 

The challenge with the direct marketing response is that as soon as your visitor has obtained the information they are seeking, if they intend to contact you at all, they want to do so immediately!  A contact form that is one click away is still slowing your visitor down, and if you slow them down, you risk losing their interest.  How many web sites have you visited that were full of content you needed, but that you left without taking any further action?  OK then, let’s make it easy for them to contact you with a mini contact form in the margin and a full contact form one click away for the detail oriented.  In addition to your phone number and an e-mail link of course.

With contact forms, requiring limited data on the form typically increases your response rate.  A good sales person should be able to continue the dialog working with what they have been given. Something is better than nothing, right?

One exception on the length of the contact form is the insurance business and similar businesses where there is a greater response rate if your site visitor feels you fully understand their specific needs.  A long quote form is appropriate to convey this.

“Include some selling copy in the coupon” – David Ogilvy

We interpret the above comment from Ogilvy as “continue to sell on your contact form.”  Repeat the offer or description of the reason they are contacting you at the top, or perhaps as default text in a form text box field.  Something as simple as “Contact me about marketing my brand online” is fine.  If that is why they are contacting you, they will leave your text.  If they are seeking a job or looking for an investment opportunity, they will change the default text while still appreciating your focus on the customer.

Put your address in text format on your home page

If your site visitor arrives at your home page with the intent to contact you by telephone, contact form, e-mail or by writing a letter, they wish to do so immediately.  So put your address in text format on your home page so your visitor can copy and paste the information into Outlook or ACT! or whatever contact management software they use.  Putting the physical address in the margin or the footer is fine, as is repeating it at the top of your “contact us” page in text format.  Perhaps include a vCard (vcf format) file as well for your more tech savvy visitors (intelligent, remember?) so they can add you to their contact management software with one click. 

Some things to look out for

Avoid “portal sites” that offer to send you leads and charge you per submitted contact form. Besides keeping you busy with RFPs to price sensitive shoppers and paying lead generation fees, you won’t find much of a benefit.  Why hide behind a directory listing service that doesn’t reveal the name of your company?  While there are exceptions to this rule in security sensitive areas, for most businesses this is sound advice.

Always include a privacy policy on your web site.  Just the mere existence of the link in your footer will increase your response rate because users understand you value their information and will not be careless with it.  

Summary of how to make it easy to contact you

Your web site offers four distinct ways to begin the dialog with new customers and continue the dialog with existing customers.  You have approached your site visitor with humility and provided all relevant information they are seeking.  Now make it easy for them to contact you through easy to access:

  1. Telephone numbers
  2. Contact forms (mini and full)
  3. E-mail links
  4. Physical address of your place of business in an easy to copy format.

 

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