There is a heated debate going on and both sides feel very passionate about their case. The epic contact form vs. email address struggle has been going on for years and there is still no clear winner.
While there is no definitive answer to the contact form vs. email address question, there are some points to consider when building your Contact page. In today’s post, we look at the pros and cons of each to help you make this important decision.
Contact Form vs. Email Address – The Basics
Before digging into the contact form vs email address issue, a good place to start is to discuss the basics of a contact form and a posted email address.
Contact forms allow you to control what information is collected and then how that information is distributed throughout your business. They can come in many different sizes, shapes and colors and can collect as much or as little information as you like.
On the flip side is the email address. Sometimes a single generic email is provided, such as [email protected] In other circumstances, a list of people within the company are posted along with their email addresses. Either method is acceptable, and there are many examples out there of companies using both options.
Contact Form vs. Email Address – The Pros and Cons
When deciding which course of action you will take in the contact form vs. email address standoff, it’s important to know the pros and cons of each. Depending on the nature of your company, you may find that a contact form is the preferred method and in other cases an email address is preferred.
Here are some things to consider when deciding on your choice:
Strike While the Iron Is Hot
When a visitor is on your website, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to reach out to you. Recognize that when they navigate to the Contact page, they’ve already decided that they want more information or want to work with you. But also recognize that this decision could be fleeting, and you might lose them if it is too difficult for them to contact you.
When a visitor is on your website, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to reach out to you. Click To Tweet
To avoid this, you need to remove any friction points standing in their way. A contact form allows visitors to type their inquiries right into the Contact page. They don’t need to navigate to another page, so their attention is kept focused on your company.
When an email address is posted, the visitor must open their email client and copy/paste the address into their email. A simpler method is to have the email address hyperlinked, but this again requires another program to open up. Once a visitor is forced to navigate away from your site, the likelihood of them getting distracted increases. The email client may not be working correctly, or an interesting email in their inbox catches their eye and they move on to that, forgetting about the task at hand.
While you want visitors to reach out to you without jumping through hoops, you need to consider their preferences as well. Some people really dislike contact forms and will not use a company if that is the only method available to them.
The two biggest disadvantages of a contact form are that visitors cannot track their correspondence with the company, and it is very impersonal. An email address overcomes these hurdles. Users can track when they sent the email from their Sent folder. Additionally, users see a provided email as a sign of trust from the company. They don’t have to get vetted by the guard at the door (a.k.a. the contact form) and can send a message directly to someone in the company.
Posting an email address may makes things convenient for visitors, but it also makes that email address a potential target for spammers and hackers. Having an email address available will no doubt cause a lot of unsolicited email to come your way. This can clog your inbox and make it harder for you to sort through the legitimate email and the spam.
There is also the chance that your email could get hacked. In this case, your email address could be used to send out spam and/or viruses to your unsuspecting clients. This could be damaging not only to your reputation but also to your website ranking.
Build Your Email Lists
Another thing to consider in the contact form vs. email address debate is how each method can impact your business practices. In this case, this means your marketing.
Contact forms allow you to do a few things that will help with your email marketing. You can ask the visitor’s permission to send them marketing information right on the form. You can also mark each message as having come from your website, rather than from some other source. You can also add a question or two to the contact form, such as their city name or the reason for their inquiry. This information all helps when you are doing your email list segmentation.
A posted email address makes it harder to get this information from a visitor. Unless they specifically mention this information in the body of their email, you will not be able to fill in these gaps.
As you can see, there are pros and cons on both sides of the contact form vs. email address debate. Either method is acceptable. However, if you want the best of both worlds you can do what Claire Lempke suggests and use both. The choice is yours.
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