In this article, we’re going back to basics, ‘contact 101’!
I see so many VA and transcriber freelancers/businesses on their websites and social media with no apparent easy way to get in touch. I’m not quite sure why, but perhaps just a simple oversight, fear of spamming, work-in-progress issues, and there are of course many non-obvious, easy to miss options on social media.
Often, raw contact information is either not present at all or is hidden deep within the website or page, requiring time and effort to locate – time and effort, in actuality, that people usually have no capacity or patience for. It’s well known – and well researched by Google – that if pages take too long to respond (ideal loading time for an e-commerce site is around 2 seconds) visitors can become tired of waiting and give up. This is a real eye-opener and hits home the perceived attention span of today’s typical internet user.
Therefore, it’s really important for you to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find your contact info to ensure that you don’t miss out on any new sales or enquiries.
Contact forms can be your best friend and your worst enemy. Some people might not want to fill in a contact form at all. Check out this article from UX Collective on Medium.com to find out about their study on user preference and get an sense of what people favour.
If you’re using a contact form or intend to, one that’s easy to use and non-intrusive is likely to be best, i.e. name, company name, email address. Simple, quick. You’ll have an opportunity to pick up further information from enquiries later on once you’ve opened up the communication by email.
Contact forms can be technically problematic and glitchy from time to time – particularly if they’re set up with a plugin at the back end of your site which requires updating regularly. Messages sent via the contact form can get filtered immediately into spam or your trash folder. If you’re not monitoring your own website, instead relying on a developer – someone who might not monitoring website running on a daily basis – then this situation has the potential to negatively impact the speed and reliability of your communication.
What do you actually think about contact forms? Are you using them simply because others are doing it and you feel you should, too? How do you really feel about using contact forms yourself – particularly when you want to communicate about something as important as a service enquiry?
Emailing versus contact form
Some people prefer emailing directly so they can flag a message, or snooze for follow-up. This is particularly nice as it then becomes ‘sticky’, i.e. they will potentially retain your details for later. With a contact form, this isn’t possible – the person fills in the contact form, a little message appears (hopefully), á la, “Thanks for your message, we’ll get back to you.” And that’s it. Unless the person makes a reminder to follow-up, but it’s more likely that they’ll be expecting you to do the responding, and thus you can see how the communication can easily become lost into the ether.
It’s understandable some website owners might be wary of putting their contact details out there for fear of being attacked. Don’t let your fears get in the way of making actual sales or new contacts. Be proactive. Consider setting up an email account solely for enquiries – you can monitor it and filter out spam. Consider not hyperlinking your email address, leaving it in ‘plain’ text for people to cut and paste – according to UX Collective’s study of 307 people, 25.8% actually prefer this method.
So don’t miss out on any communication – offer an email address as a first point of contact, and if you can’t part with a contact form then offer both – email address and contact form. Even better, provide a business telephone number too and people can speak with you immediately! In a competitive market, it’s imperative that you deal with any enquiries quickly and efficiently.
Lastly, don’t forget there are legal considerations to make about collecting data via email or contact forms. Further information on GDPR is available in my e-book, The Home-Based Typist. It also contains a wealth of information in an easy step-by-step format on how to get your freelance transcription career up and running and beyond, delving in depth into topics such as marketing and where and how to find the right clients for you.
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