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Contact Forms: How To Make Them Work For Your Firm

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When it comes to potential new clients, lawyers can’t get enough information. They want to know every detail about the client from the first introduction, and generally want to know if the client is a viable lead before ever interacting via phone or email. This can lead to one of the questions I’m most frequently asked when designing websites: can we capture more information from our contact forms than just name, phone, and email? Generally the answer we give is no, and here’s why.

The goal is to get the lead. Period. While firms obviously want quality leads, sometimes quantity is required to find the perfect client. And all the data proves what you probably guessed: conversion rates decrease with the addition of contact form fields, whether they are required or not. One company saw a 120% conversion rate increase when it reduced its contact form from 11 fields to just 4 fields. Most studies indicate the highest conversion rates are found when website contact forms only utilize 3 fields, so it’s important to ask what information you truly need versus what you want.

What You Need

A company really only needs a name and at least one method for contacting a prospective client. While most data indicates asking for a telephone number causes a 5% dip in conversion rates, most lawyers know they have a better chance of signing up a new client if someone from their office actually speaks to them instead of trading emails for days/weeks/months. For the legal industry, we generally recommend requiring a phone number for exactly this reason.

Which brings us to question that usually follows when I tell clients they can’t have 700 fields in their contact forms: can’t we just make them optional? A new eye tracking study found that none of the participants paid attention to whether a field was “optional” or “required,” even amongst a variety of designs made to indicate such to the user. Generally, participants either fill in ALL of the fields or NONE of the fields, choosing instead to abandon completing the form because they perceive every field is required. This means listing even a few extra fields in your contact form will correlate to a significant decrease in the number of leads generated – even if those fields are optional.

If You MUST Have More....

In instances where you absolutely, positively MUST capture additional data, then opt for dropdown menus or radio buttons wherever you can use them. Use smart defaults where appropriate (for instance, if most of your leads are from Texas, have the state field default to Texas). Keep contact form field titles as clear and concise as possible. For example, if you are looking for clients based on a car make, model, and year, include the car models in a drop down menu and the model years as radio buttons:

Always make sure to provide a clear explanation of “what happens next,” such as the example above. There is nothing worse that filling out a form, hitting submit, and then wondering if/when/how the next step occurs. Telling the visitors who complete your contact form that you will contact them alleviates the uncertainty and demonstrates your authority.

A Few Other Suggestions

Speaking of hitting “submit,” never ever use SUBMIT on a contact form. Forms using “submit” have an almost 3% decrease in conversion rate. Instead, use the text on the button to provide a clear call-to-action (CTA in marketing lingo). What are you providing to the user? Why should they go through the trouble of filling out this form? What is their value reward? Let the user know exactly what they will receive in return for their information – in this case, a free consultation. 

Finally, keep testing your forms. If you are seeing a very low conversion rate, change the CTA or the color of the button. Try making field titles uppercase or bold. Once you have a successful contact form, be sure to track the source of each conversion (we like this Wordpress plugin the best).

Sidebar 3a73165 About Lisa Hopkins

Lisa Hopkins is a WordPress fanatic and loves statistical analysis of website performance. She also works in graphic design, and enjoys making websites that are both visually appealing and technically advanced.


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