As a website owner it is critical that you know your audience. Hundreds to thousands of people visit your website each day, how much do you actually know about them? Most websites are built around assumptions. Usually website owners are pretty accurate in their assumptions of their target audience. That said, it is much more empowering to have real data to back up those assumptions. One way to prove your assumptions to be true, or to confirm that you made an incorrect assumption, is to capture data from your website visitors.
Capturing data from your website traffic doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Yes, people are sensitive about what information they give others, but when the right questions are asked and the right incentives are offered, most people are happy to provide insight into who they are and what they are interested in. The best way to accomplish this task is to use online forms for capturing data about your website visitors.
In this article I will cover the benefits of using online forms, explain how to use online forms to achieve your data capture goals, provide tips for using online forms, list examples of online form software that can be used for your website, and discuss possible ideas for leveraging online forms which you can implement on your website.
An online form is a software product that collects data from people online and stores it in a database for website owners to retrieve and use to learn about their customers. You’ve probably used online forms many times and I’m sure most of the people reading this article are very familiar with what online forms are. That being the case, we’ll keep this section of the article very short.
Online forms are used by savvy website owners to collect data from website visitors. A few examples of the data collected from online forms are as follows, but not limited to:
Below is an example of an online form.
Online forms, when used properly, can be HUGELY beneficial to website owners. Online forms can give website owners insight into the people who are visiting your website. Below is a list of the major benefits that you will receive if you decide to use online forms on your website:
What do you think of this list of benefits? Do you have other benefits of online forms that you think should be included on this list? If so, we hope you will take time to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Using online forms is quite easy these days with all of the out-of-the-box online form software that’s out there. We will get into some of the top form software on the market today a little later in this article. In order to use online forms successfully you must first think through exactly what you want to accomplish by using online forms, what data you want to capture, why you want to capture it, and most importantly, what you’re going to do with the data once you have it. You should have a plan for using the data PRIOR to even collecting it. Far too often website owners collect data from their website visitors without having a plan ready for how they will use that data. What usually happens when you don’t plan for how you will use the data, the data just ends up sitting there and it never gets used. Why go through the effort to collect data from your website visitors if you’re not going to use it for anything?
Below are the steps that I recommend you take when thinking through how you will use an online form on your website:
Once you have a plan for both your form and what you will do with your data, you can begin to think through how you will implement your form and where on your website to implement it.
Once you’ve taken the time to think through your plan for using online forms on your website, it’s time to implement the online form. This process can be pretty easy depending on what software you’re using to run your website and what online form software you use. Some website developers may even choose to create their own online form and not use online form software. That works too. You have much more control this way. That said, those who code an online form themselves will usually spend more time setting it up and maintaining it then those who use third party software. Either way will work fine. It’s really up to you on which route you choose.
No matter if you use online form software or you code an online form yourself, the steps to implement the online form are very similar. Below are the main steps that you should follow when putting an online form on your website:
It may seem like a lot of steps, but truthfully, once you’ve done this a few times, it’s actually pretty easy to setup and launch an online form for your website.
Now that we have gone over everything about planning and launching an online form, let’s take a look at some of the top online form software on the market today. Below is a list of some of my favorite online form software. I would recommend that you do your research, figure out your needs, and then pick a form software that will allow you to accomplish your goals.
Any of these online form creation tools will help you build high quality online forms for your website.
At this point you should have all of the information you need to get started building an online form for your website. Remember take time to think through your online form campaign to ensure you have a plan for building a quality online form. Once your plan is ready, it’s time to start building your online form.