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Why You Need More Than a Simple Contact Form

Online Forms For Your Website

No matter what industry you are in, if you’re running an online business, having more than just a simple contact form can really make a difference in your client intake process.

Putting together systems and processes is something most entrepreneurs struggle with, I know I have. But once I took the time to really look at the holes in my client system and got them fixed, my life became a lot less stressful.

The part of my process I want to talk about today is the very first step in client intake: your contact form.

It can be an easy thing to skip right past, by either just putting a buy-now button on your sales page, or using a simple form that only asks for name, email and message.

Why That Doesn’t Cut It

The reason those easy-fix options aren’t working for you is that they result in a lot of back & forth emailing or worst-case scenario, taking money from someone upfront who isn’t quite the right fit for you. And both of those situations aren’t ideal.

If you’re a service-based entrepreneur, getting more information up front is a must.

This allows you to find out from first contact if the potential client that’s inquiring is the right fit for you, that you can help, and that you want to help.

If you’ve thought of hiring me before (or are planning on it), you’ll see that my “Hire Me” form asks for more than just your name, email & message. This means I get to know you and your needs right off the bat, and can make a better informed decision from the first email on whether we’re a good fit for each other.

So think about all the questions you normally ask someone when they first reach out to you. Can you add any of those to your contact form to save yourself at least one extra email? (Because we all know your inbox is already busting at the seems!)

Other forms you may need to streamline your process

Intake Questionnaire

After you’ve decided to work with someone, you may need to get more information from them in order to provide your services. If you’re a coach, you may need to know where they are at and what they need help with most. If you are a therapist, you may need them to confirm your terms & conditions. Having all this in one convenient online form makes it easy for both you and your client.

Feedback Form

I’m sure you already know the importance of testimonials. You’ll also likely want to get some feedback from your client once your work is complete in order to improve or adjust your services. Having a form on your website to make that easy for your client to provide, makes this sometimes awkward part of the process better for both of you. Here’s an example of the form I send to my clients.

Blog Interview Series

You may have considered (or already done) a series on your blog of written interviews. It’s a great way to make new connections, get more reach from social shares, and introduce your readers to new people. Instead of sending a Word or Google Doc with the questions, you can use a form on your website and simply send them the link with the questions. Here’s an example of a form I use for an interview series I have on The Freelance To Freedom Project.

So where could you streamline your process by adding an online form?

How To Create These Forms

I use a couple different forms in my business, but my absolute favorite is Gravity Forms. It’s a premium WordPress plugin that makes is super easy to create & customize multiple forms on the fly. The forms are all created right in your WordPress dashboard, and the responses are sent to you via email (with a copy remaining on your site).

Some other options are:

Typeform (used on my Hire Me page)
Google Drive Forms
Wufoo Forms

As Gravity Forms is my absolute favorite, and it’s well worth the $39 price with how much you’ll end up using it, I’ve created a tutorial to show you just how easy it is to setup and create forms. (And if you decide to grab one of my last custom website spots for 2014, you’ll get your own GF licenses and I’ll set your forms up for you!)

Let me know in the comments what kind of forms do you use to streamline your process and are there any above you’d like to add?

-Leah

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Thanks for sharing your feedback form example, I’ve been thinking about adding this myself so it is useful to see an example!

  • Janet

    Good idea of putting your follow up form on your site – I’ve been using Typeform but like this idea better! Thanks! :)

  • Intake forms with a lot of detail are what keep client calls exciting. When a new client signs up for my copywriting services, I send them a detailed questionnaire (about 25 questions) that tell me what I need to know as a base about their brand and clients.

    It means the first call we have to discuss the copy is far more efficient since we’ve covered the basics in the form.

    Excellent advice, Leah.

    • Leah

      Yes, I totally agree! Thanks for sharing your process!

  • Oh, this is so much easier than what I have been doing!! :) I embedded a Survey Monkey form. Not ideal… question: is Gravity Forms the only option for WordPress plug in? It looks great, but I was hoping to start with something free.

    • Leah

      There are certainly a few others. A popular one is Contact Form 7 but it’s a lot more technical to customize the fields. Gravity Forms is well worth it if you plan on doing a few different forms (plus it integrates with things like your Newsletter service so you can have people added to your list after they fill the form). Otherwise non-plugins would be your other options: Google Forms, Wufoo Forms, Typeform, etc. You can still embed those on your site, but you edit and control them on the developers site.

  • If you use 17hats (which I do and highly recommend), you can embed a lead capture form from 17hats right onto your website. It’s like the forms you mentioned above, but it automatically sets them up as a contact in 17hats- another step saved! :)

    I have a question, though- what about clients who don’t come from your website? Example: I get a lot of great clients through Upwork. That means they post a job and invite me, or I find the job and apply. Usually they don’t give all (or any) of the info I need in their job posting, so there are a few back and forth emails to get the info I need before we jump on a consult call.

    Any ideas how I could streamline this? Thanks!

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All the instructions she provided allowed me to do things on my own, and her willingness to help if I didn’t understand something. People take my business more serious as my website is much more professional.
Carlie Fitzpatrick
Leah Kalamakis
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