Let’s be honest… about our Contact Forms

It's time for some true confessions.

Maybe it's just me, but tonight I tried to catch up on my contact form entries. You know, the form on my contact page where people send me notes and stuff.

And as I went over them, I realized I likely need to change my contact form.

But first, let's talk about the whole reason we have contact forms – or at least keep them around.

Why I have a Contact Form

I have a contact form so that if you can't reach me any other way, you can reach me thru my site.

But here's the thing – I'm much more likely to have my attention caught by twitter than by a form. Seriously, it's so much easier and focuses people and their initial message. Short and sweet.

I have a contact form so that if you have a question, I can answer it – if I have time and the answer.

But here's the thing – I'm more likely to answer questions when there's an appropriate incentive, which is why people reach out to me on Clarity (where they pay by the minute).

So you see, there's virtually no reason to have the form there. I could give you links to Twitter and Clarity and we'd likely connect better.

Reviewing my Contact Form Entries

So as I reviewed my contact form entries tonight – catching up on three weeks of backlog (from traveling and taking a break from my blog for a week) – I noticed a trend.

And then I went back further – several months back – and confirmed the trend.

Here was the rough breakdown:

  • People who had questions they wanted me to answer – 50%
  • People who had products they wanted me to review – 35%
  • People who had projects they wanted help on – 5%
  • People who wanted some coaching – 2%

The trend I noticed was that 85% of the contact entries didn't think of contacting me as a transaction where we both got something.

One-Sided Transactions

So I'll make my true confession here.

I'm not interested in one-sided transactions. They don't feel compelling to me.

Of course I'm interested in things that challenge me – questions that are deeply complex and inline with something that I would learn from – or that provide an opportunity to collaborate on an interesting project.

But 85% of the folks that submitted a contact form (not you, mind you, other people) were simply looking to have their needs met without thinking of me or my time.

And that's not interesting. At all.

The Goal of a Contact Form

I'm of the opinion that the goal of a contact form isn't simply to create an easy way for people to reach you. I think the real value of a contact form is likely the articulation of what motivates a site owner and how to best engage them.

Contact forms, after all, are all about engagement.

And to that end, we should stop worrying about which plugin we use, and spend more time helping people understand what we care about. That way they can create interesting opportunities.

Then maybe my contact form will be filled with hundreds of interesting contacts, where 85% are excited to follow up with.