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How To Get Online Visitors To Complete Forms On Your Website

Written by Michael J. Russer on Thursday, 17 March 2005 6:00 pm
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Dear Mr. Internet,

     I'm finding that visitors to my site are sometimes reluctant, to complete the several forms I have there to collect information. Is there some way to entice them to use these forms?

Sincerely,

     Vickie Kimsey
     RE/MAX In The Mountains
     Franklin, NC


Dear Vickie,

Unfortunately most website forms offer very little in return for a prospect's investment, in time and information sharing to complete them. Ideally, each form on your site is tied to a "compelling offer." However, that is just the beginning because there is a very clever way to convert an ordinary web form into a powerful relationship-building tool in, and of itself as well.

Turning Web Forms Into Assessments

Web forms typically ask for contact information and perhaps, just a few multiple choice questions to get a better feel for the needs of the online prospect. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, there is so much more that you can do with forms, that make them inherently valuable to your visitors.

Assessments are very comprehensive forms that, if properly designed, will accomplish the following for you:

  • Allows the person completing it to come to their own conclusion that, there is a lot they have not considered with respect to their particular real estate needs and that you are the expert to help them with these issues

  • Starts building trust and a relationship between you and your online prospect

  • Provides you with much more information as to their unique situation and whether you even want to work with them or not

  • Initiates a dialog between you and the prospect, which is much more powerful than a simple request for more information

To maximize your assessment's impact and perceived value by your online prospects, well-designed and effective assessments typically share the following characteristics:

  • Catchy name -- perhaps an acronym that is both memorable and implies value

  • Perceived value -- a short blurb describing what value they will receive by simply completing the assessment

  • Reassurance -- include a paragraph in the beginning, that reassures your visitor that their information will be kept sacred and not shared with anyone

  • Open-ended questions -- which allow the visitor to express their needs and wants, much more than just clicking a check box

  • Personal dialog -- assessment questions are written in a very personal style, as if they were right in the room with you having a relaxed discussion

  • Immediate feedback -- the moment they hit the "Submit" button, they receive an e-mail acknowledgement, and a copy of what they submitted (people often forget how they completed any kind of form)

For example, let's assume your target market is sellers, and you want to use your website to generate more listings. I've created a sample "Maximization Of Value Assessment" (MOVA™) for online prospects that are thinking of selling their home in the near future. Click here to see this example assessment.

(NOTE: This form is a nonfunctional example only. "MOVA™" is a trademark of RUSSER Communications which you are free to use as long as you acknowledge this trademark at the bottom of your assessment form)

Compelling Offer "Mini" Assessments

When you provide compelling offers on your site, you need a form to provide a means for your online prospect to request the offer. A much more powerful approach is to give them a "mini" assessment (i.e., comprehensive form) that engages them even more relative to the topic of the compelling offer. For example, if you specialize in golf properties and your compelling offer is a recorded interview of several golf pros discussing the merits of the area golf courses, your mini assessment might include open ended questions about what they look for in a particular course or country club. All of which helps you of course, find them that "perfect" property!

Engage = Business

It only takes a bit of imagination to turn an ordinary request form into a highly interactive, engaging, relationship-building assessment tool. The primary purpose of your website is to generate business and the most powerful way of doing that is to provide every opportunity for your online visitors to eagerly interact with you. And, utilizing well-crafted assessments will do the job, and easily set you apart from your online competitors -- not bad for just a glorified web form.

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