Michael Russer, a.k.a. Mr. Internet®, is CEO of Russer Communications. He is a leading speaker and author in the real estate industry and has been writing about Internet marketing and virtual outsourcing since the dawn of the commercial Internet.
Turn Your Web Forms Into Business Generators
Can’t get customers to fill out your online forms? Then maybe you need to change your approach. Here are three strategies to get customers sharing.
March 1, 2008
Your Web site forms are the most direct way for your site visitors to contact and interact with you — they are literally the doorway to new online business. Unfortunately, this door is slammed shut on most agent sites.
But getting prospects to complete your Web forms with accurate information is not difficult.
Here are three proven strategies that will have your visitors actually excited about filling out your forms. Keep in mind that these assume you are giving your visitors something of value in exchange for completing a form.
Strategy 1: Tell them they don’t have to complete it!
One of the biggest mistakes that Web site owners make with their forms is insisting that a visitor provide full contact information. This is the old gate keeper mentality that essentially says: “I’ll give you the information you want as long as you tell me who you are.”
This simply does not work well with the online consumer who initially enjoys the anonymity the Internet affords them. In fact, putting in this type of requirement can drive them away, or many consumers will blatantly enter false information.
So take an entirely different approach. Put the following copy above each and every form on your site and watch what happens:
“We understand that you may be in the information-gathering stage and may not be ready to open up about who you are or your real estate needs at this time. If you are not comfortable providing all your contact information that is perfectly OK. Just enter your e-mail address so we can send you the material you requested.”
Note: On your Web form, the e-mail address should be the only mandatory field.
Human nature is a funny thing. Tell people they have to do something and they’ll dig in their heels. Explicitly tell them they don’t have to and chances are they will complete all of it — with accurate information.
Strategy 2: Reassure them of their privacy.
Privacy is extremely important to online consumers. The more you can explicitly reassure them that their information will be kept safe and not be abused, the better. In addition to the copy in Strategy 1, add the following on every form:
“Please be assured that your privacy will be kept sacred and your information will never be shared with any third party.”
Strategy 3: Give them visual cues to complete your form fields.
It’s been shown anecdotally that if your form fields have a pale yellow text area color, online consumers will often take that as a cue to complete the field, even if it is not mandatory to do so. Another aspect of this is to have your Web designer make your forms visually appealing and fun to use.
Form design is one of the most overlooked areas in Web design with potentially the highest payoff. Don’t settle for plain vanilla forms. A little thought invested into the design of your Web forms can give you a big return.
A couple of years ago I created a very special kind of form called a MOVA Assessment. This was by far my biggest form and it was designed to engage home owners who were thinking of selling their home. (Click here to see an example.)
Note: This is a live form on the Web that has been pre-filled in for demonstration purposes. See what happens when you hit the “Submit” button at the bottom.
This form incorporates every aspect of the three strategies mentioned above — and it works! I’ve discovered that when home owners complets this form, there is about a 95 percent chance they will turn into a listing.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Now just imagine you are a home owner thinking of selling. Review your form and the questions it asks, and just as importantly, how it asks them. As a potential seller what are some of the conclusions you are coming to about the practitioner that supplied this form? And, was it a burden or opportunity to take the few minutes to do it?
The forms on your Web site shouldn’t be an intimidating barrier to having online consumers engage with you. Instead, make them your welcome mat, a friendly inviting threshold that will help turn casual visitors into serious clients.
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