Ways to Help Your Visitors Get in Contact
One of the key parts of an effective website is providing your visitors with a way to make contact. There are many options and opinions on how to do this but here are a few pointers that you should should consider.
Probably the cheapest and fastest way for somebody to contact you 24/7, e-mail has become synonymous with Internet usage.
To build trust do not use a hotmail, yahoo or aol e-mail address. What you should do is set up a mail redirect with your host so that the address on your website looks like firstname.lastname@example.org rather than email@example.com.
There are some sneaky programs that go sniffing for mailto links so it’s a good idea to disguise your email address. If you check my code you will see how I do it. This useful guide gives you lots of other methods: www.csarven.ca.
Another important call to action. It allows customers to check information on the website, chase up orders and get immediate help. Having a telephone number on the site also adds credibility to your business.
Of course, if you are working from home you may not want to give out your private number but you always have the option of a second line or paying for a freecall or lowcall number. But note that a landline number is far more trusted than 08 anything.
This is another credibility builder. It shows that you are not anonymous and if you are providing goods it gives the buyer some confidence that you are contactable.
If you work from home you may not want to give out your private address so it may well be advisable to invest in a business address. I’d give you a link but there are too many to choose from, search for ‘business address’ to get a good selection.
If your customer uses a webmail account or is not sat at their computer your mailto link won’t work for them. They could cut and paste your e-mail address but if it is disguised as detailed above then this is not always possible.
The simple solution is to set up a contact form. But make sure you sanitize the form to reduce the chances of being hacked. If you are using a CMS (like wordpress) there are loads of contact form plugins that have all the necessary validations and controls.
Make sure your contact details are on every page – at the very least include an e-mail link and telephone number. The bottom of the page is where visitors expect to find them. But if your call-to-action is for the visitor to get in contact then put the contact details at the top of the page and even in the main content as well.
In the UK it is mandatory to include your contact details somewhere on the site. You may get away with leaving them off but it doesn’t help your credibility and if somebody ever makes a complaint to the trading standards then you could end up with some explaining to do (like why you are running a business from home). The out-law has more information.
There is also a legal requirement to make sure your whois details are correct. You can opt-out of displaying your details but this only applies if you are a non-trading individual. If you get it wrong you could find your domain blocked, so don’t upset the men in black.