Adam T. Sutton

‘Do Not Contact Us’ Forms

April 6th, 2010

As a reporter, I will contact a company through any means necessary. I prefer using a phone number or an email address for a specific person — but sometimes I’m stuck filling out a ‘contact us’ form.

I’ve filled out more contact forms than I’d like to admit. I really dislike them. About a quarter of them do not work, and I’m never sure if my messages reach my intended audience: the marketing department.

Some common problems I’ve seen:
o Errors after clicking ‘submit’
o Tiny message length limits (such as 200 characters)
o Bounced emails in response
o Claims of ‘improper formatting’

Even worse is after receiving an error, you can lose your entire message. I learned long ago to write messages in a separate program and to copy-and-paste them into forms, in case I need to resubmit.

I’m just a reporter trying to get a marketer on the phone — can you imagine if I was a dissatisfied customer? My frustration level would skyrocket. If I was a potential business lead, I’d likely leave and never return.

‘Contact us’ forms are similar to social media in that they provide a way to receive customer feedback — which is very valuable. Broken ‘contact us’ forms send a clear message: “we don’t care about your feedback. Don’t contact us.”

But I’m sure that’s not true. You must care about your customers’ feedback. Their satisfaction keeps you in business.

So if you have a minute, check your website’s contact forms. Make sure they’re flexible, easy to use, and most importantly, that they work. A small effort can go a long way in preventing customers from walking away for good.

Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

Categories: B To B Ecommerce, Branding, Consumer Electronics, Ecommerce Eretail, Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Networking Evangelism Community Tags: ,

  1. April 7th, 2010 at 04:52 | #1

    Great post! Another supreme annoyanc is when people insist, contrary to RFC2822, to use a webform instead of abuse@ to be able to send email about a given issue on a network. At least with email, you get an immediate bounce if the address doesn’t work; with a webform, into the abyss, more often than not.

  2. April 9th, 2010 at 13:10 | #2

    Here’s another one:

    A regional grocery store chain that shall remain nameless has big “Become a Fan on Facebook” badges all over their site, but their contact form states in BIG RED LETTERS, “Queries sent through this form may not be reviewed due to high volume of traffic.” Um…staff your customer service channels?

  3. April 12th, 2010 at 16:41 | #3

    Great post Adam. Contact Us forms are certainly annoying because of the uncertainty of where the e-mail will end up. Will it go to the right person? Will it go to a person at all? If it goes to the wrong person, will he or she forward it to the right person? Just thinking about it annoys me!

  4. April 13th, 2010 at 13:19 | #4

    Agreed. A contact form with poor usability is worse than no contact form at all.
    At a minimum, websites should always offer both a contact form and an email address for those users that simply prefer email.
    In the end it’s all about the user.

  5. April 13th, 2010 at 15:36 | #5

    Personally, I would greatly prefer an email address.

  6. April 22nd, 2010 at 19:31 | #6

    Well said. Sometimes, Contact Us form goes in as the last thing in the campaign, and it is taken for granted. But, it’s so critical to make sure returns from marketing are captured and frittered away.

    Thanks Adam!

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