Your website’s primary job is to encourage people to use your services. How you invite them to do so matters—a lot. We see several common mistakes in this area of dog business sites. Fortunately they’re quite easy to fix.
Remove The Hoops
It shouldn’t be difficult for potential clients to ask about your services. If you’re asking clients to fill out forms in order to email their interest or questions, you’re losing some of them. This is a no-brainer. If I’m interested in your private training service or daycare, for example, I probably just want to ask a few questions to get a feel for things. Asking me to fill out a questionnaire—even an easy check box version—may make me question whether I have the time and energy to do this right now. It’s all too easy to decide to get back to it later or to check out a few other sites.
Wait to gather the information you need from clients until you’re a bit further along in the process. Asking for it upfront is like jumping to questions of marriage on a first date—too much too soon.
If you want to direct clients to an online form after they’ve signed up for a private training consult or boarding stay or other service, put the form on a hidden page on your site and give clients a link to the page. Still, in most cases it’s best to do a short pre-screen over the phone or via email and then a full interview in person. You’re more likely to get reliable information, to build strong rapport, and to avoid client annoyance when you ask them the same or follow-up questions over again in person.
Down With Contact Forms
Let’s just get rid of these altogether. Website behavior studies reveal that a significant portion of the population doesn’t like filling these out—and that many will simply leave a site that requires them for one that doesn’t. Long forms, as we said above, mean you lose even more people.
And asking for personal information such as phone numbers and addresses will reduce your potential clientele even further. Most people don’t feel comfortable sharing such info just to make an inquiry about services. Wait to ask for that sort of information until it’s pertinent. For example, when someone signs up for a class or other service online. At that point, they’ve made a commitment to you.
Your contact page should be simple and easy to use. Just invite potential clients to email or call. Provide your phone number and a live e-mail link they can easily click on.
If you prefer to hear from clients one way or the other, put the emphasis where you want it. For example, you might make the email link large and place the phone number, smaller, farther down on the page—or vice versa. Give people choices, but direct them toward the behavior your prefer.
Use the language on your contact page to reiterate your marketing message and to suggest the information you’d like people to include in their inquiry. A trainer specializing in working with families might say: “We’d love to hear from you. Tell us a bit about your dog and how we can help him become the perfect family companion.” The email link would follow. Or a pet sitter catering to elderly dogs and those with special health needs could encourage contact this way: “We’d love to keep your dog comfortable and happy while you have to be away. Email to tell us a bit about your dog’s special health needs and how we can provide you peace of mind during your trip.”
This is all your contact page needs—an invitation to contact you, and the information potential clients need to do so. Of course, a nice picture or two helps, too.
Make It Easy
Make it easy for visitors to your site to pull the trigger regardless of where they are on your site when they decide they’re ready. In addition to the contact page, include your email and phone number on every page on your site—preferably both at the top in the banner and then again at the bottom, this time with a call-to-action statement such as “Sign up for class today” or “To enjoy a calmer dog, email for a spot in our walking groups.”
In short, the easier it is for people to use your services—the fewer the hoops, the less information asked for upfront, the easier it is to take action—the more potential clients looking over your site become actual clients using your service.