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Getting people to "Contact Us"
franklin dematto




msg:382267
 11:37 pm on Oct 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

I run a small website targeting network security. From a commercial point of view, the site's goal is to get people to contact me, either via the online form, or the phone number (posted on every web page).

About 10% of the site's viewers click the "Contact Us" link (which to me seems a very high rate). But very few people actually bother to fill out the form! And even fewer pick up the phone to call.

I'm not sure what (if anything) I'm doing wrong. To me, the biggest turn offs on these forms are collecting too much info, and not having a clear privacy policy. But I only require name and e-mail, and have the policy clearly marked.

So, fellow WebmasterWorld readers - would you be kind enough to tell me what you think, or perhaps share your own experiences (what type of a rate should I expect?)?

[edited by: heini at 3:18 pm (utc) on Oct. 2, 2003]
[edit reason] see sticky [/edit]

 

Robino




msg:382268
 2:02 am on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)


I think that's fine. You may want to have, "not required" next to the phone number field. Also, and I'm not sure why, some people like to see your e-mail address so they can e-mail you.

Might want to make the phone number bigger and more prominent on the page. Could also include your hours of business too.

I like the privacy statement right on the page!

D_Blackwell




msg:382269
 2:24 am on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

If it's important then the phone number is not 'prominent'. (Not toll free either.) Neither is 'Contact Us' really.

(Why the drop downs for 'Customers' and Contact Us'? There is no sub-menu for either one.)

---Also, and I'm not sure why, some people like to see your e-mail address so they can e-mail you. ---

If I don't see an email address, I wonder why. It's worth noting that this form is no more than a fancy email anyway.

(If your Home page is important - there is virtually no navigation on the site which will return someone to it. {Hammer that back button!])

jimbeetle




msg:382270
 2:47 am on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

For the one site I manage that depends on contacts the mailing address, phone and e-mail were always in the footer of every page. For whatever reason, the contact page in the old design only included a choice between e-mail addresses and a simple form. The site never generated many contacts.

When the site was recently redesigned I changed the contact page to include all contact methods, in this order:

Full mailing address
All phone numbers (business, toll free, fax)
E-mail addresses for individuals
Online form

Now, this info (except for the form, of course), was, I said before, always in the footer of every page, but now contacts have dramatically increased, with many more by e-mail and the form.

I really don't know what made it work this time around (choice, trust), but consider giving all contact methods equal prominence on the page.

shasan




msg:382271
 4:11 am on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

At least you know where the problem is (your form).

If you can back it up, you could also try a different headline instead of Contact Us like YourBrand FastResponse or something cheesy like that. I think many people just want answers right away and a form kinda seems like sending their request into nothingness.

'We're standing by to answer all your questions in the quickest time possible'

stuff like that. It can only help.

My CDN$0.02

shasan.

wmburke




msg:382272
 4:28 am on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Frankiln,

In my "former life" I was in marketing for umpteen years.My advice is to declare your direct dial number underneath your logo & "specialized security solutions" on *every page, top l-hand corner, matching the text & maybe a tiny bit heavier in font weight than the text above it.

This tells your visitors that you not only welcome, but also expect a high volume of telephone contact. (IMHO, the almost incandescant lime green over on the right isn't exactly fitting into your color scheme and looks rather out of place)

Typical adwork is designed to appeal to an average intellect and response style of a 14 year old; your
prospective customers will be a tad more sophisticated but make it "Always there" and saying:

"It's OK to call me and get fast answers"..

Beware the _Call Us_ impression.. it tends to say "we're desperate, that's why you see call us".
Why else would one put a telephone number in such a prominent location?

HTH

franklin dematto




msg:382273
 5:17 am on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all the great responses so far, guys.

Ironically, until today, I did have the phone number and e-mail address, right before the form. (The mailing address is underneath). While I was working on this issue today, I took them out - I thought they might clutter things up, and distract the user from the form, which is usually the easiest way to go. I just restored the original, in response to what seemed to be a consensus.

wmburke - I have been meaning to get rid of that "lime green" # on the home page. But every other page has it in more appropriate black. I'm not sure what exactly you are suggesting. How does putting it in the left corner underneath the logo communicate better than the right side?

D_Blackwell - As far as toll free, I tend to think that people associate toll numbers with a small group where they will speak to someone knowledgable, as opposed to waiting on hold ten minutes to speak to a sales rep on a toll free. (For my target market, of course.) What does everyone say?

It seems that the mystery remains unsolved... Is there perhaps something wrong with another part of the site, making people inclined to look at the page but not fill out the form or call?

Or are my expectations unrealistic? Again, I get about 10% of users looking at the Contact page, but very few bothering to actually do so.

wmburke




msg:382274
 2:34 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure what exactly you are suggesting. How does putting it in the left corner underneath the logo communicate better than the right side?

Since your logo and Mission Satement are there (upper l-hand corner) then if the tel. no. is there as well, it tells the visitor (more subliminally than blatantly) that "This is who we are, what we do and we're ready to take your call - an intregal part of our business style / MO."

It also (IMHO) incorporates a professional-type apprearance - but that's a matter of style choice.

(The average human reads everything in an inverted S method, beginning w/ the top l-hand corner, to the middle r-hand section, then to lower-middle l-hand section, then to bottom r-hand corner)

There are studies that suggest this holds true only for right-handed filks, some that contradict this.

Nonetheless, I believe it's 80+ % that are r-handed, so your tel. no. would be among the fhird "item" that would register, and thereby very 'important'.

HTH..

sem4u




msg:382275
 2:38 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

You may want to put your phone number on the top of the form so that users have a choice of calling you or completing the form.

creative craig




msg:382276
 2:41 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is my own opinion but I would space out the address:

This is my
address and
this is my
postal code

Instead of having it on just the two lines. Small point I know :)

Craig

Fruit and Veg




msg:382277
 2:56 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

You could also try a HumanClick dot com type service, where the user clicks a button and you chat with them - if immediate satisfaction is what you're trying to acheive.

storevalley




msg:382278
 3:16 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I get about 10% of users looking at the Contact page, but very few bothering to actually do so

Remember that some of these visitors will be bots. Most of them are pretty unlikely to pick up the phone, although a few might email you ;)

A Runtime Error Has Occurred
Do you wish to Debug?

Line: 25
Error: Not Implemented

I get the above error on every page of your site. This might put some people off.

You may want to put your phone number on the top of the form

I'll back sem4u up here ... for the right service, this can work well. Make the phone number BIG!

Macro




msg:382279
 4:40 pm on Oct 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Sometimes people go to the contact page just to get some information on you - like which state you are located in. They don't always go there specifically looking for a contact phone number. They may not have any intention of contacting you. They could be competitors researching you, students collecting info for their homework... or as suggested before - robots.

franklin dematto




msg:382280
 1:12 am on Oct 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Remember that some of these visitors will be bots. Most of them are pretty unlikely to pick up the phone, although a few might email you ;)

Should have been more specific. 10% of human users - my log analysis software (custom built by yours truly) takes this into account.

So, the questions remain:

  • What are realistic expectations for "abandoned Contact Us pages"?
  • What factors determine whethere or not someone will decide to contact in the first place?
  • And, what factors determine if someone will carry out that decision and actually do so (other than the two biggies, overly invasive forms and lack of privacy policies)?

choster




msg:382281
 2:03 am on Oct 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I visit lots of Contact Us pages with no intention of actually making contact. Frequently I am looking for locations/directions, branches/regional offices, or service areas. Since the Contact Us link is usually at the top of the page but the street address is at the bottom or omitted, I go there first. It's faster than waiting till the page loads, then scrolling down to see whether it's there or not.

By the way it's staggering the number of businesses where location is centrally important (e.g. a new condominium) yet it takes two or three clicks to find the address and a map.

At other times, I am curious to know whether I'm going to be paying to have something shipped from Melbourne, Florida or Melbourne, Victoria, and also see if express shipping will be in order.

Sometimes it's just curiosity. A residential address, for instance, might be a good thing when looking for authentic local crafts, and neutral for lawyers or writers, but I'm suspicious of investing in pharmaceutical laboratories at 4321 Meandering Brook Lane next to the elementary school. :-)

At still other times, I am planning to write an e-mail but check the contact page to see if the address I am using will be the right one. Probably 95% of mail sent to our webmaster@ account is actually intended for customerservice@ or sales@, so I want to avoid delays if possible while the staff forward my e-mail around to the right department.

wmburke




msg:382282
 5:00 am on Oct 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

So, the questions remain: What are realistic expectations for "abandoned Contact Us pages"?

I'd suggest using a Contact us page like the one I use for our site (see user profile) that outlines who to contact for what, where and which modes are available, et al.

What factors determine whethere or not someone will decide to contact in the first place?

Ah, the most puzzling of all the holy grails in website marketing approaches and goals. Better you should ask..
"Why would two almost identically profiled 32 year old males buy a battery for their car from different stores? One from Sears, the other from the local auto parts store?

And, what factors determine if someone will carry out that decision and actually do so (other than the two biggies, overly invasive forms and lack of privacy policies)?

In sales,, as opposed to marketing, the 2nd most important of all is to create urgency; Do something now, contact us. Don't wait... Do it now.

Creating the sense of urgency in the prospective customer's mind requires that you have answered all their initial questions, made the buyer feel comfortable with your goods or services (in that yours are what they've been looking for, after all) and that to look further is counterproductive.

Suggestions

1) Some intense market testing. Have some of your associates browse your site, and pay close attention to their comments.

2) Mirror what your most successful competitors do, as re: look and feel of the site. Why re-invent the wheel?

3) Monitor your log files closely, or invest in Deep Metrix Live Stats (the live tracking is worth it's weight in gold) or WebTrends. Watch paths visitors take through your site, and where they leave from. If they leave without buying or contacting, their exit point would be be your starting point.

HTH

storevalley




msg:382283
 7:10 am on Oct 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

my log analysis software (custom built by yours truly) takes this into account

Good start. That'll make your analysis more accurate. Hopefully you've got a full list of bots in there too, rather than just the spiders from the main search engines.

What factors determine whethere or not someone will decide to contact in the first place?

And, what factors determine if someone will carry out that decision and actually

Assuming that the visitor is really interested in buying your product, time sensitive discount vouchers can work pretty well.

Another post here suggested looking at exit pages ... looking at paths visitors take through your site generally can give you some interesting insights into where things are going wrong.

The other thing I keep a very close eye on is phrases that visitors used to find the sites I deal with. This gives you a fair idea of how relevant people are finding your site to their needs.

sem4u




msg:382284
 9:59 am on Oct 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

>In sales,, as opposed to marketing, the 2nd most important of all is to create urgency; Do something now, contact us. Don't wait... Do it now.

This has got me thinking.

"Contact us today on ...."

"Speak to one our experienced sales managers on..."

franklin dematto




msg:382285
 3:48 am on Oct 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Wow! Thanks for all the great ideas guys, so far!

...and where they leave from. If they leave without buying or contacting, their exit point would be be your starting point

That's whats perplexing! About 50% of the visitors leave right away - no clicks. My feeling is that that's to be expected. The other half clicks around (BTW, almost all of this is in-text hyperlinks, occasionaly the top menu, and rarely the side or bottom links). I think that's great. There's not really more that I could ask for (unless I were to add more internal links).

Now, about 20% of those who didn't leave right away hit the Contact Us page - but not even 10% of them actually do so. Isn't something odd here?

I understand that many people might click the page and have no desire to do so, but rather, get the address, etc. But I can't accept that the vast majority are doing so!

Should I just accept this as normal, that people for some reason like to click on the Contact Us page, but don't actually do so? Or, are you saying that people's follow thru rate at that page is based on earlier factors, and that I need to do more to answer their questions, promote trust, etc.?

Sign me,
Perplexed

BTW, I'd love to hear anyone else's contact us rate, either as a percent of visitors or a percent of people who look at the contact page

shasan




msg:382286
 4:58 am on Oct 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Another way of looking at it is trying to get more people to the contact us page.

Your conversion rate is low on the contact us page, but increasing overall traffic coming to the page (assuming the conversion rate stays constant) will mean a net increase in actions.

Work in a link to contact us where-ever else you can on your site. Make it a call to action after product/service descriptions on the other pages.

This idea can obviously be extrapolated to the entire site.. i.e. more traffic to your site = more people to your contact page = more contacts.

Ideally you would work on a combination of both traffic and conversion rate, but if you're not having luck with one, there's always the other.

storevalley




msg:382287
 7:58 am on Oct 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

franklin ...

People generally only contact you if a number of factors come together ...

  • You are offering your products to an interested audience to start with (look at the search phrases people are using to find you with to verify this)

  • Your copy doesn't send your audience to sleep

  • Your copy motivates your audience to act (and act now) through (e.g.) fear of not acting. The fear could be that of losing a limited time offer, or some other dreadful fate

  • You are offering something unique, or at a competitive price. I looked at one of your services (priced at $750). The same service is being offered free by several other companies ... this gives them contact details of a potential client and prepares that potential client for the sale

  • Trust ... I am still hitting js errors on every page of your site. This would put me off a little. And I can't see any case studies or testimonials on your site.

Talk to potential customers in the real world. Look at some of your competitors online. Use the results to come up with new ideas and test them

Robert Charlton




msg:382288
 12:11 am on Oct 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

Getting people to "Contact Us"

About what? I'm not really a marketing person, but as I look at your contact form in the context of the basically empty page, there's really no call to action.

Why should someone contact you? To buy your services? Chances are they don't know enough from what's on the site to commit to anything. They might see contacting you as a step in that direction, and so they hesitate.

Make it easier for them. Give them something in exchange, maybe something free to request, like a white paper... Or offer some sort of questionnaire for them to fill out in preparation for a no obligation conversation about their system.

You've got to set the bar high enough when you do this, of course, so you're not just getting idle requests. I've resisted doing this in SEO, so I can understand why you might resist it in your field, but the fact is that if I get a call about a site, I usually take a look at it before calling back, so why not use that as a motivator to get the call in the first place?

I also feel that you need some sort of text message on the home page in place of (or in addition to) all those pretty photographs of handshakes and people conversing. I think that's overkill on corporate partnering imagery (that is by now just a cliche), and the page doesn't offer enough of substance about what you do.

Maybe make the images smaller, and get some description about your services... a short compelling introduction, and then the what and the why about each of your four basic service areas (maybe 25 words each). Furthermore, I'd put a very brief recap on the contact page.

Right now, you're costing site visitors an extra click for them to find out anything useful, and the contact page is completely in limbo, with no reminder of services unless you click on the form pull-down.

Just thinking out loud, but that's my reaction as I look at the site.

wmburke




msg:382289
 2:43 pm on Oct 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

The other thing I keep a very close eye on is phrases that visitors used to find the sites I deal with. This gives you a fair idea of how relevant people are finding your site to their needs.

Amen! As an SEO, for huge clients we sometimes use a call center in Tenessee; the agents there are not terribly sophisticated (no geographical insult inferred) Web surfers. We'll show them a product/abstract of product and track the search terms they assign when looking for it. People will surprise you re: what they see and what they assign as descriptors to search with..

"Contact us today on ...." "Speak to one our experienced sales managers on..."

IMHO, you'd be better served w/ something like:
"Questions? Special needs? We're available from X - X CST to answer your inquiries or help with custom solutions."

What factors determine whethere or not someone will decide to contact in the first place?

Maybe try a contact page like we use (see user profile, and the Contact Us button on every page) - Who to contact for what..?
________________

!Off topic:

my log analysis software (custom built by yours truly) takes this into account

I'd be interested in looking at this, could the poster contact me via sticky mail?

wmburke




msg:382290
 3:47 am on Oct 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Franklin;

Shasan and storevalley hit the nail "right on the head"...

Heck, they put it better than I have, and I'm supposed to be a former marketing guru.

Take everything they've suggested and run with it, you'll no be sorry.

ppg




msg:382291
 12:09 pm on Oct 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've been thinking about trialing a big ugly jump-out-of-the-page "call me" idiot button which links to a simple form asking just for name, company and phone no. I've seen it on a few sites in a similar marketplace. This might be worth a try for you.

Has anyone tried anything like this? Any results?

rcjordan




msg:382292
 2:38 pm on Oct 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

>I'd love to hear anyone else's contact us rate, either as a percent of visitors

I haven't calculated this in a few years, but the average used to be 2% of uniques would fill out our contact form.

>ugly

Now you're talking.

Since '95, I've developed some very successful lead-generating sites. On one, which generates some 20K tourism and relocation leads annually, we now ask so many 'qualifying' questions (45 fields, as I recall) that I'm amazed that anyone would take the time --but they do, even in this online privacy-paranoid era.

Rule #1: DISARM your contact page. Get rid of market-speak and calls to action. They are wary of you already, 'slick' isn't going to help.

Rule #2: Disclose everything to the point of over-disclosure. Make these points obvious and even emphasized rather than fine print. You have just seconds to gain their trust.

Rule #3: K.I.S.S. - Give them a checkbox or drop-down whenever possible.

shasan




msg:382293
 11:54 pm on Oct 9, 2003 (gmt 0)


Heck, they put it better than I have, and I'm supposed to be a former marketing guru.

woohoo! That piece of paper I got from university really works!

ppg




msg:382294
 11:10 am on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just a quick update - I tried out my call-me button on a bunch of new pages I recently uploaded, and it's been quite successful so far.

We've had more contacts from from people clicking on butt_ugly.gif than from mailto links and contact forms combined. Its the only bit of yellow on an otherwise predominantly blue site with a little red here and there. There were some raised eyebrows when I uploaded it (this is a corporate-type site) but no complaints now.

Recommend you give it a try if it would be right for your site and business model. The only problem I have now is getting the sales guys to call the leads within the 15 minutes I promise.

Also the main contact form used to be linked off the 'contact us' page. I've now put it on the main contact page together with the other contact info and theres been a significant increase in the use of that form too.

Conclusion: 'The Tipping Point' is right. Small things can make a big difference.

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