When it comes to collecting prospect information and gathering online leads, contact forms have long been the standard used by businesses across a wide range of industries.
However, just because a lead generation tool is widely used, it doesn’t mean it is actually effective. Contact forms have many shortcomings that can cause potential leads to get lost along the way—through backend technical errors, user frustration with the form interface, or understandable skepticism that they’ll ever hear back from you.
The good news is there are better ways to collect information from prospects. As you improve this initial step of the customer journey, you will be far better equipped to qualify sales prospects and turn them into paying customers.
The trouble with contact forms
While adding a contact form to your website may seem like a tried-and-true method for collecting prospect information, real-world experience reveals this is anything but certain.
Quite often, contact forms ask for more information than is actually necessary. This can cause prospects to lose interest in filling out the form. If they aren’t sure whether they can trust your website, asking for too much information will make them suspicious and less likely to complete the form.
In fact, one survey found that the majority of customers don’t trust contact forms. When given the choice between a contact form and an email, 67.3% will use the email address to reach out to the company.
Part of this stems from the fact that customers doubt a contact form’s ability to actually send their information (and inquiry) to the right place. Many people don’t trust contact forms to work, in part because they rarely send receipt of confirmation. Even if your own company responds to these inquiries, many businesses don’t, further worsening the reputation of these forms.
Finally, there’s the issue of mobile users. Many contact forms don’t use responsive design, which can make them extremely difficult for mobile users to navigate and fill out. With mobile now accounting for 54.8% of web traffic, this could cause your business to lose a large number of prospects.
Forget contact forms—3 better ways to collect customer information
1. Give customers immediate contact with live chat
We live in an age of instant gratification. Quite often, prospects want immediate answers to their inquiries—or at least the knowledge that their information is being seen by someone. This is where live chat comes in.
While you may not have the resources to have an actual person running your website’s chat 24/7, you can give prospects the immediate response they desire when you add a chatbot to your website. Today’s chatbots are increasingly advanced, able to collect prospect information, answer basic inquiries, and even assist with tasks like completing transactions or scheduling meetings.
Tools such as ManyChat have made it easier than ever to add chatbot functionality to your website. A drag and drop editor lets users customize templates, trigger actions based on certain conditions, and more. A customized chatbot can pass prospect contact information on to your sales team, as well as any other details from the conversation that would be relevant to future outreach.
A well-designed chatbot can’t completely replace a living, breathing person, but it will give prospects confidence that their information has been received, and if their inquiry hasn’t already been solved, that a real person will be available to help them before long.
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2. Collect information while scheduling meetings
Many businesses, particularly in the B2B services industry, rely on scheduled meetings to better understand prospect pain points so they can create custom-tailored solutions and qualify leads. Messaging through a contact form typically requires several back-and-forth communications before such a meeting can be set up.
Wouldn’t it be better if interested prospects could schedule a meeting right from the get-go? A call to action encouraging (and enabling) visitors to schedule a consultation or book an appointment is far more engaging than a standard “contact us.”
This is where tools like vcita can make a big difference in your prospecting. This tool allows businesses to display their services and availability for consultations and other meetings. Instead of a contact form, you add a scheduling button. Prospects can view your available times and quickly set up a meeting via Zoom, phone, or even in person. Appointment reminders also reduce cancellations and no-shows.
With a self-service appointment booking option, businesses don’t merely collect prospect information—they ensure that they are engaging with warm leads because the prospect has already committed to an initial meeting.
3. Collect information with website tracking tools
You don’t actually have to require site visitors to fill out a form to collect basic information. Tools such as Leadfeeder connect with your website’s Google Analytics account to track which companies visit your website, as well as which actions they take while on your site. Better yet, this tool can also help users find contact information for website visitors.
By tracking the users who visit your site, you can prequalify leads based on the actions they take, as well as their characteristics. The data you collect can help you identify a company’s size, revenue, potential needs, pain points, and other vital factors that influence whether they are worth the efforts of your sales team.
Perhaps most importantly, determining who the decision makers would be for any actions related to your company and its services will ensure that your outreach targets the right person.
Generally speaking, a prospect that hasn’t made any effort to contact you is still in the early stages of the buyer’s journey. However, proactive outreach from your sales team could provide the information (or positive interactions) they need to be influenced toward working with your company rather than a competitor.
Be proactive in collecting prospect information
Prospecting is a challenging aspect of the sales process. But the reality is, you can’t hope that a contact form will work properly and get you on track to qualifying a potential customer.
Tools that allow you to more proactively collect prospect information will help you get in touch that much sooner and make it easier to funnel qualified leads through the sales journey.
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