Contact Form vs. Email Link: Which is Better?

Dear Rich,

Do I need a contact form on my website or can I get by with just an email link for people to contact me? What are the benefits of a contact form?

Wondering in Windham

Dear Wondering,

A contact form is the right tool for online lead generation. There are a number of advantages that a contact form gives you over a simple email link:

  • Better contact information capture: with an email link you’re at the mercy of the sender to share the pertinent information you need to evaluate the lead. With a contact form you can encourage or even require the visitor to provide the information you need, from name and phone number to the time frame for a buying decision.
  • Better conversion tracking: when someone completes your contact form they are directed to a thank you or landing page. If you’re measuring conversion rates on your website (as you should be), this makes it easy to track when a visitor becomes a prospect on your website, and helps you track where your best traffic is coming from…Google, an ad campaign, your blog, etc.
  • Easier data entry to a contact database: At flyte we have our website contact forms automatically populate our online contact database, saving time and reducing errors that occur when you have to copy and paste new leads into your contact database.
  • Reduced spam: When you put your email address on your website, you attract email harvesters–programs that scrape email addresses off the web for spammers to use. The best way to reduce the spam you get is to make sure your email address never gets put on your website, either visibly or hidden in the code of the page.

And maybe this is just web developer snobbery, but personally I find that a contact form is more professional than an email link on a website…maybe because I know it’s slightly more complex to add a contact form to a site. (Yeah, that’s probably just snobbery.)

Rich Brooks
Maine Web Developer

7 Responses to “Contact Form vs. Email Link: Which is Better?”

  1. Elisa Doucette

    Rich – Do you think the contact form is best for all forms of contact with a company or just lead generation & collection?

  2. therichbrooks

    Elisa, well, we also include our mailing address and phone number…after all, I want to make it as easy as possible for people to contact us. However, in a battle between contact forms vs. email links I feel that the form wins out every time. If you have multiple contacts at a company you could always use a pulldown menu of people that will direct the form to the right person.

  3. John Brandt

    I don’t disagree with you on most of your points, Rich, but the one about “reduced spam,” I can’t agree with. The contact forms pages that I have created have always resulted in spammers sending messages via the form (usually just a set of random letters and characters). CAPTCHAs will reduce/eliminate the spam, but CAPTCHAs may also prevent people with disabilities who use screen readers from being able to use the contact form – so generally I don’t use them. Also, the use of good e-mail spam filtering has reduced the annoyance level of e-mail spam to a minimum.

    You other points are good. I would add that providing check boxes and drop-down items where the visitor can check off what they want/need/are interested in makes the contact form method faster than having to send an e-mail

  4. therichbrooks

    John, we don’t use CAPTCHA (annoying!) and still we’ve ground the amount of spam to only spam from people, not bots. For some of our forms we use and for other forms we have our own scripts that have some built in anti-bot algorithms built in. (I can’t tell you any more or I’d have to kill you.)

    Compare this to putting your email address on the website and I definitely feel you’ll get a lot less spam. If people are getting a lot of spam through their contact form it’s probably time to see if there’s been an upgrade to the script, or to try a new script. Spam is a constant battle between good and evil. ETERNAL VIGILIANCE!

  5. Jonathan Roseland

    I think that Twitter and social media are the most power tools available for lead generation. I’d like to share a method that depending upon your industry you can generate between 10 – 30 hot leads daily off Twitter using this technique. Do you need a lot followers? None, actually. Here’s a link, please let me know what you think

  6. Nick Stamoulis

    A contact form is definitely the way to go. You definitely have more control of the situation if you use one. As you mentioned, if you use a contact form you determine what information the sender is giving you. By just sending an email it’s likely that they will leave out important information and time will be wasted by following up, sometimes more than once.