I have discussed why you should consider NOT having forms on your website. I will now share reasons why forms can be good!
I’m finding lately that I don’t want to be “as intimate” with a company or person, by sending them an email. Sometimes I just want to send a quick note. Once I used a form because the email we had on file wasn’t working, so I was hopeful the form would at least get the message to the right person. And yes, sometimes I’m in a hurry or just plain too lazy to “craft” an email or open my email program, so the form seems really easy to fill out basic info, find the right drop down, and slap a few lines of text and press “send.” (Plus if I’m not at my computer, I don’t have my slick email program that sends from my regular email…it sends from a webmail version of my email which is a different address..)
I use forms on my Thomas Consultation website for a few reasons. One – there is basic information I need for certain services, so I might as well get the information through a form rather than open-ended email, requiring a few back and forths. Two – when you want to give something away, you usually hide it under a form, so you can at least collect the persons contact info. I do this for my Introduction to search engine optimization download. I used to just have the MP3 floating out there and then realized I had NO idea if people were listening. The joke is I hate newsletters and am bad at maintaining customer databases, so when I say I won’t use your email, that’s an understatement. That administrative stuff is not my forte…it’s a form of torture!
So back to the positives of using a form. To me the best of both worlds is unless you’re having someone sign up for something SPECIFIC (a product or class with dates/times), I recommend having the form AND your email visible. That way people who hate forms can still get in touch with you, and those who may be at work and have no access to their personal email can still email you.
You may just want to test your forms if they are new, if you’ve made even a tiny change, and perhaps even monthly (or as soon as you see a drop in expected email forms) to ensure they are working. And do NOT assume your webmaster is good at testing changes.
Last paragraph here. Ignore if this is too confusing, but another reason for a form is the information can actually be stored in a database, if set up that way, which automates customer lists. Instead of getting an email in your inbox and having to copy and paste the contact information it’s already ready for you to use.