I don't have any A/B data to prove this, but I tend to think web forms that don't require an e-mail client will increase e-mails due to the lower barrier for communication.
For Contact Us forms, you need a verify e-mail follow-up. You end up getting a lot of false e-mails either as pranks or bad spellers. email@example.com would require the sender to have an e-mail client, or a browser add-on that sends them to their web based e-mail account. This significantly removes the chances of a bad FROM e-mail, but not completely. I've been known to incorrectly type in my FROM address sometimes on my e-mail client.
I prefer the contact form because your data is uniform and you can require certain information from the customer. You can have a webform export to any database for future email campains also. Mine goes directly into salesforce.
I like the web form instead of the email link, because if they click it and launch their email application, then they might get distracted checking their email and forget about making a purchase with us...
So evident reply !
Of course a contact form is NECESSARY !
I can only say how I feel about it personally... I don't like it when there's only a form. Mainly because, on average, it seems like sites with forms reply back to you a lot less than ones with a specific email address. I have no idea why. Maybe because somebody built them the site professionally, then the owners don't care. I was ready to buy materials from a site the other day that claimed to be in business for 15 years, yet they had no email address anywhere, and I finally found a contact form buried deep in the site. The "contact" page provided neither. I left and did not buy.
I don't use a contact form unless I absolutely HAVE to contact the outfit and there is NO other option.
But then I'm a cranky old man, sooooo.... :)
When I added a contact form to the page where my email address is, the number of inquiries increased. People seem to prefer the contact form. And as don1ddg said, the form is very useful if you want the user to provide certain information in a particular way.
When I'm on the other side of it, I somewhat prefer to be able to use an email address because I can format the email the way I want and don't have to work in a little textbox. But if they want specific information, I appreciate the usefulness of a form that shows exactly what they want.
|I don't use a contact form unless I absolutely HAVE to contact the outfit and there is NO other option. |
As a user, I quite prefer filling out a form than using an email address. If I have to launch my email program I end up getting distracted. Plus I can always leave a fake email address if I just want to leave a nasty comment ;}
I am with SteveWh on this, I prefer a form on my site but prefer to see an email address.
When I first built a web site I put my ISP based email address on as a mailto. I ended up changing addresses because of the volume of spam.
Forms on my site get used comparitively little as most customers are regulars who have the address off printed matter or my own regular mailouts.
I went about it a little differently. I placed a simple email form, just email address and comment, at the bottom of just about every page. I tell the customer to let us know if they're having difficulty finding what they are looking for or if they have any questions. I even made their email address an optional field, so it really was a way to just let us know what's going on.
My goal was to make it as easy as possible for people to contact us via email, so they wouldn't feel compelled to call. I don't even tell them that they're sending an email. I just tell them to let us know what's on their mind by filling in the form.
Our email volume went way up, and phone calls went down. 99% of people fill in their email address. Some don't have a clue what their email address really is, and we are never able to reply. That's rare though.
Before this, we had a simple email address with a mailto link.
If a user does not have a mail program registered on their system or never uses it (for example, someone who only uses a gmail account) a mailto link fails (e.g., there's no mail program for the browser to open, or the user may see it as an unexpected "pop up".) Form required.
If only takes a short amount of time for spammers to collect your email address from a mailto link on your site and bury your legitimate emails in junk. Form required.
Customers will email you with a problem and don't provide enough information to prompt a correct answer. Email forms guide them to asking the right questions. Form required.
Email itself requires a valid email address to send from. Many spammers submit emails just to get your email address. A form can be configured with a no-reply address from your domain as another layer of spam protection, and it makes no sense to configure your live email program with a no-reply address. Form required.
Actions by users in forms can be used to round out a statistical analysis of your site. Form required.
The "auto response" you send to clients when they submit a form can be used as another marketing piece to provide them information without having to create a template in your mail program.
Form required on business sites. :-)