Forms vs. Links: The Final Smackdown

By Andy Crestodina

Ladies and gentlemen, coming to you live from the Internet Arena: the WWW Client-Conversion World Championship.

In our last issue of the Orbiter, we talked about the importance of conversion—the process of turning visitors into customers.

This month, we’ll uncover the best tool for making that transition seamless by pitting the E-Mail Link against the Contact Form in the ultimate face-off.

A 7-Round Showdown: Forms vs. Links

In the red corner, the former featherweight junior runner-up: the E-Mail Link.

In the blue corner, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world: the Contact Form.

Let’s get ready to RUMBLE!

Round 1: Spam

Posting an e-mail address can invite spam. Spammers write software that works the way search engines do: they “scrape” the Internet looking for e-mail addresses. When you use a form, the e-mail address isn’t visible; it lies within programming code that spammers can’t grab.

Round 2: Specific info

Wouldn’t you like to know more about your leads from the get-go? What are their interests and concerns? Do they prefer phone or e-mail contact? You can gather key information from Web-site leads if you just think to ask. An e-mail link doesn’t make requests, but a form can ask for anything.

Round 3: Saving

Ever had a problem with a misplaced e-mail? Did it get blocked by your filter? Problems with your disk quota? Server issues? E-mail just isn’t 100% reliable. But everything submitted on your site can be saved. It’s a great backup. Every now and then, you can take a look and make sure you’ve seen every entry.

Round 4: No e-mail program required

We’ve all done it: You click on an e-mail link from a computer you don’t usually use, and an unfamiliar e-mail program pops up on your screen. Suddenly, you feel out of place. You close the program and forget the idea of contacting that Web site. A form, on the other hand, requires nothing beyond a browser. It’s a friendly, functional tool for any visitor working from any computer.

Round 5: The thank-you page

When a visitor fills out a form and clicks Submit, you can show your gratitude with a thank-you page. This is another chance to mention your company’s products or services. But beyond the opportunity for additional marketing, this feature makes something else possible:

Round 6: Tracking

How many visitors clicked on that e-mail link? Hard to tell. How many visitors filled out that form? Just look at your traffic stats. Every visit to your thank-you page started as a submission to your contact form.

Round 7: Polish

Any high-school kid can make an e-mail link. But established, qualified firms do things right. A form is a clear, clean way to establish your professionalism and simplify communication.

Do you smell what the Form’s got cookin’? After all, while the Contact Form may not be the most important page on your site, it is the page that pays the bills. It’s the hinge point where visitors are converted into clients.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our winner. And the next move is yours: scrap the E-Mail Link, enlist the almighty Contact Form, and smackdown your competition.

To view the original article in its entirety, copy and paste the following link into your Web browser:

About the Author: As a Principal and Strategic Director at Orbit Media Studios, Andy draws on his knowledge of marketing, usability, and interactive design to lead strategic planning for the firm and its clients. Orbit specializes in Web, print, and video design & development. Orbit Media Studios

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