Rants & Raves
 
February 1, 2023
First contact. You want it or you don't.
 

Everything we do these days revolves around the internet. Whether it's conducting research, finding vendors, making purchases or chasing sales, we rely heavily on websites. What's surprising is how trying it can be to make personal contact.

 

All too frequently, contact details are hidden and the only channel for communication is an online form. Sadly, I've found that the majority of inquiries made via forms are rarely acknowledged or take way too long for replies. If I'm serious about making contact, I can either resubmit the form (hoping for a different outcome) or scrounge around for a valid phone number or email address.

I understand that nuisance calls and spam are on the rise and have become a worrisome distraction. That being said, it seems that legitimate inquiries, especially those that could be mutually beneficial, seem to start out with a high level of secrecy, distrust, doubt and irritation. Keep in mind that, should it take a little too long, or if it's a little too difficult, visitors will simply click away. All it takes is a few seconds and poof! They're gone.

It has always been my policy to provide easy access to Studio Spear via our website and social media pages. I also make sure to respond to any and all bonafide inquiries within a few hours. This being said, I'm very selective about who we work with and want to be sure the relationship will be rewarding right from the start. Initiating contact by dodging calls, avoiding emails and making it noticeably difficult to connect is not a great way to launch what could be the opportunity of a lifetime.

So what's the best way to proceed? How can meaningful interactions be created from the very start?

MAKE IT EASY
If you agree with the assumption that talking with people is an efficient and productive form of engagement, finding ways to enable the conversation as quickly as possible should be a priority. Knowing that a majority of first time encounters begin online, you can start by having clearly displayed "Contact Us" links on your website and social media pages.

Some people prefer to bury their contact details on the "About Us" page or even in small type at the bottom of the web page. At Studio Spear, every site we've built has a prominently positioned, highly visible "Contact Us" link right at the top of the page. If the agenda is to connect buyer and seller, we want to make it as easy as possible.

Of course, technology has become so advanced that spambots are easily scraping phone numbers and email addresses from websites, then repurposing them in ways that could pose serious security risks. So what does an open and honest marketer do to enable first contact?

EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY
Knowing that many people actually prefer forms, assuming you have an efficient methodology for prompt responses (forms can be engineered to send emails to several people in your firm), then make sure to include a form on your website. Even if all you ask for is their name, email and message, you'll have enough information to start a conversation.

Some people prefer the use of a "mailto" link to enable secure email communication. While they are not as secure as you'd think, there are a number of new technologies that successfully obfuscate your contact details without convoluting the way you communicate online.

Chat windows are worthwhile options as well but tend to be generic. In addition, depending on the time of day visitors enter your website, qualified operators may not be available, resulting in a less than satisfying outcome.

According to Jennifer Chan, Partner-Direct Client Services at Applied Imagination, one of Studio Spear's trusted partners, "There are many ways to connect website visitors with your company and create meaningful "first contact" experiences. Whether yours is a B2B or B2C connection will influence how a "Contact Us" page is engineered. While there are commonalities across a large number of websites, we take time to fully understand individual business dynamics and engineer websites accordingly."

MAKE THE CONVERSATION POSSIBLE
The bottom line is creating an online experience that's welcoming, credible, rewarding and memorable. Part of this process is making it easy for visitors to connect and discuss whatever's on their mind. While you may still end up with a few unwanted calls and emails, you could also end up with the deal of the century and the best client ever.

Jeffrey Spear is the President and Creative Director at Studio Spear. Along with his technical advisors and engineers, they have been developing websites and meaningful online experiences since the early days of the internet. If you're looking to enhance the impact of your existing site, update and expand content, or create altogether new user experiences, give Jeff a call: 866 787 8761 - or shoot him an email: jeff@studiospear.com