Let’s talk about the art of the contact form.
Though often overlooked, your contact form can make or break whether or not a lead reaches out. It can also save you hours of time, weed out the people you don’t seek to serve, and even provide you with marketing stats & insights that you can’t get anywhere else.
Does that sound dramatic? It’s not!
While a contact form could never market your business for you, establish your brand, or make your work desirable, it IS the first step in your client experience.
So… it means a lot.
Let’s dive in on how to optimize your contact form so that you can get better leads and acquire your dream clients.
Many of you are probably thinking—Sarah, I know I need a contact form on my website, but where and how do I create one?
Most website platforms like ShowIt, Squarespace, and Wix have contact form options on their platform. When someone fills their information into your form and hits submit, it will send a notification directly to your email inbox with the contents of the message. These simple forms are great for people just starting in their business because they’re usually included in the website platform subscription.
However, as soon as your business is bustlin’ enough to warrant using a third-party client management system like Dubsado or Honeybook, I would highly recommend embedding a contact form from there instead.
For example, my contact form is embedded directly from Dubsado, so when someone fills out my form, a new client “profile” gets created for them automatically within the program. From there, I can easily send beautiful proposals, contracts, and invoices to my new client, and keep track of all their info for later. Read this blog post about project proposals to hear a little more about that process!
**Note: if your website is on ShowIt, I recommend using a third party platform for client management regardless of where you are in your biz. In my opinion, ShowIt is the best platform on the market (and it’s the only platform I design on for a reason!), but you’ll have more contact form options if you embed it from a system like Honeybook or Dubsado.
So, let’s say you’re creating a contact form. What should you even put on it? This might be a hot take, but as a general rule, I’ll say this:
The less “in-demand” your business is, the shorter your contact form should be.
If you have the luxury of being picky about which clients you take on, then by all means, make that contact form LENGTHY. We’ll get into it more below, but you’d be surprised how much you can tell from a contact form submission about the kind of person your new lead will be to work with.
But if you’re just starting out or don’t have the luxury to be picky, I’d suggest making it as short and easy as possible to fill out.
Regardless of where you are in your biz, here are….
Among the list of non-negotiables are NAME, EMAIL, and if you offer any in-person services, LOCATION. (For my online business friends, location really doesn’t apply to you. But if you’re a wedding professional, interior designer, photographer, etc, location’s gonna matter.)
You may also want to consider…
Such as INSTAGRAM and WEBSITE. If you’re a B2B business owner (such as a social media manager, website designer, copywriter, biz consultant, VA, etc.), you may want to stalk their online presence a bit! However, keep in mind, if your job is to help them with their online presence, they’re probably coming to you because they need your help. Don’t make these fields required in case they don’t have anything to show yet.
Regardless of industry, you’ll need to know…
What Services They’re Interested In
Most service providers offer more than one related service. If that’s you, you’ll need to know what they’re interested in purchasing from you! On my contact form, I’ve got this listed checkbox-style, and I’ve made it so that they can select more than one. That way, when we eventually hop on a call to chat more about the project, I know how to lead the conversation.
And if you’re looking to learn even more about the client’s vision…
Ask Them to Elaborate
Depending on the kind of service, you might set up a long-form answer field and ask them their vision for the project, their goals, why they want to work with you specifically, or for just a little more detail. Whenever I get an inquiry on my site, this is always the most interesting section to read. You can really tell by people’s answers what their intentions are for the project, what they might be like to work with, and if they’re your kinda person.
Next, you might include everyone’s least favorite question…
Budget and Pricing
While you may find it cringe to ask people for their ideas about budget upfront, this is hands-down the most time-saving question. (And it’s even more time-saving for both parties if you list your prices on your website. Here’s a whole blog post I wrote about why you should definitely do that.) TL;DR, there’s nothing more awkward than being on a call with someone who can’t afford you. Nip that in the bud right away by getting a confirmation that they can afford your services in the first place.
I’ve seen the budget question approached in many different ways on various contact forms, but here are some common ways to ask about it if you’re nervous:
- What’s your budget? [Their short answer here.]
- Check this box to affirm you’ve reviewed my services and pricing. (Shoutout to BTL for this one.)
- What is your budget range? [They check whatever budget range boxes you’ve set up in your form.]
If you’re a wedding or event professional (or something similar), asking about timeline is necessary. Obviously, you need to know when the event is!
If you’re something else, you might still find it useful, but it’s not always necessary. Use your best judgement about whether or not this question is necessary for you. If it’s not, leave it out! One less question for people to fill out will bode better for your contact form in the long run.
And for your own info…
How Did You Hear About Me?
Remember in the intro of this blog post where I said you could track your biz stats via your contact form? THIS is what I was talking about.
I love to learn how people found me on the internet, because it lets me know which of my marketing efforts is making the most difference. Then, at the end of the quarter or year, I can go back and say “okay, 25% of people found me from TikTok, where as 50% of people found me from Pinterest—maybe I’ll invest more time and resources into Pinterest, then.”
No matter where you are in your biz, this is an incredibly useful question and a non-negotiable in my eyes.
Lastly, you might include…
Other Fun Qualifiers
If you’re running a personal brand or your style is just a bit more casual, it might be fun to include a question or two that’s just for fun.
For example, my friends over at Duo Collective have the cutest question at the end of their contact form; they say “what’s your favorite thing to sip on that fuels your day?”
I love this for a couple of reasons; firstly, because a big pillar of Duo Collective’s brand is beverage-based, meaning that even though they run a marketing agency, a lot of their messaging is about coffee and mimosas and cocktails. So their contact form question remains incredibly on-brand, while also being a conversation starter that lets potential clients know to expect a more casual and personable experience.
A Few More Tips and Tricks
A lot of people think that just having a contact form on their contact page is good enough. However, I would also strongly consider putting a direct contact email on your contact page as well, because you truly never know who wants to email you. I’ve had really cool podcast opportunities, brand collaborations, press stuff, and interviews that I’m 97% sure I wouldn’t have gotten if I didn’t have my email on my contact page. (Because obviously, those people aren’t going to fill out my design project form!)
And lastly, you should always say SOMEWHERE how long you expect it will take you to respond to the inquiry. You could put this on your contact page, a custom thank-you page, or in the message after the contact form gets submitted. You can say something along the lines of, “Thank you for inquiring! I’ll get back to you within 48 business hours.”
She’s an Art, Not a Science
The art of the contact form can take a minute to master, but the great thing is that you can always change it, tweak it with the seasons, and make it better. Don’t be afraid to try new questions, see what’s working and what’s not, and make it your own.
And if you’re looking for a new website (and contact form, at that), you know where to find me!
Hey, I'm Sarah Kleist.
Brand builder, website designer, and performing artist on a mission to help creatives and business owners step into their digital spotlight.
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