I know I bang on about how the more simple your request and enquiry forms are, the more people will fill them in, but I’m not going to stop until we rid the B2B world of full-page forms where every field is “mandatory”. In the last couple of days I came across a really good idea …and a really bad one. The good one was this: a company was offering me the chance to join its mailing list, and to do so, all that it asked for was my name and email address. Perfect. The form was just two lines, and I was more than happy to fill it in.
When I’d pressed “submit”, however, something really smart happened on the next screen. The company offered to post me its latest catalogue, and to get this, there was a new form to complete, this time asking for my company name and postal address. Purely optional, but quite acceptable from my point of view. The “name” field was already complete, using the information I’d entered on the previous screen. Again, only the relevant information was asked for, and I was therefore much more inclined to give it. Finally, after giving them my address details, on the next page, I was given a third offer, again optional: would I like a representative to call me? If I did, then there was a new field, for me to enter my telephone number. What a smart way to collect all of my information, justifying the reasons at every stage.
Compare this to another website, which inspired me to write this. I clicked “send for more information” and was taken to a screen titled “Contact Us”, which I realised was the sole response form for the whole site. Not only did it have 13 name and address fields to fill in, but there was a box at the bottom where I had to tell them what I wanted information about. What? I’ve just clicked a link on the page about that product! You know what I want information about!
And my favourite bit of all? Amongst the 13 name and address fields to fill in was one which asked for my fax number. Seriously. My fax number. I wouldn’t have been surprised if there’d been a drop-down box asking which stagecoach messenger service I preferred. I swiftly left.