I read an article the other day which discussed how to improve the tracking of visitors on your website. I seriously disagreed with one of the suggestions. It said that if you have an email address on your website, you don’t really know if people used it, so you should only use a contact form, whose users you can measure and track. In your website visitor analytics, you can see that a visitor from source X used a contact form, whereas you can’t really see that they used an email address.
That really is a defeat for commercial common sense. The article was promoting making life less convenient for some customers, in order to get more data about them.
Let’s step back a bit here. Surely easing the procedure for customers to do business with us is the primary function of our website? There should be no compromise on that. Tracking what visitors do might be important, but it should never get in the way of customer interaction. And some customers just want to send us an email. They have their contact details in the email signature, and sending an email is far easier to do than filling in a form. Also, they get a record of what they’ve sent.
I could even set up an email link which anyone could send with two clicks: one on the page, and a second in their email client. Something like this. Who doesn’t prefer that to filling in a form?
Contact forms are fine: by all means, nudge people who don’t care how they get in touch to use them. But always put your email address as an alternative to the form for those who prefer it. The customer is always right.