Create Web Based Forms
Collecting Customer Information
Engage with the Market
Small business owners need to engage with existing customers and the market at large and do so by creating web based forms. These can be posted online to web pages, linked to in email marketing campaigns, and included in customer support requests. Developing a variety of input forms can be costly when developed internally by a software professional. Now with the advent of what you see is what you get "WYSIWYG" software tools the average entrepreneur can make their own online forms easily.
A few of the more common uses of creating a form includes: market research, data collection such as emails, customer feedback, contact us web pages, requests for product information, gathering internal company information from teams, and many more. If your business is not actively leveraging website traffic and existing customers for information on a regular basis check out how to do it below.
Gravity Forms & Wordpress
If you run a site on wordpress look no further than Gravity Forms. For most websites you will be able to get the functionality that you are looking for in web based forms with the ones provided by Gravity. They have built in a large number of very useful add ons that expand the capabilities of your traditional information gathering web forms online into a very useful tool that allows you to maximize growing your business online.
The add-ons that are ready to integrate into your forms include:
- Campaign Monitor
- Paypal Standard
- Paypal Pro
- User Registration
They also have an integrated version that works with the popular sales tool Highrise.
Zoho Creator - Best of Breed Online Forms
The easiest and most cost effective solution available to small businesses is the Zoho Creator solution. It allows for a 100% WYSIWYG form creation process with the capability to write additional lines of code if desired. Zoho Creator has a free trial so you can create an application and test it thoroughly before choosing to purchase a monthly plan. The free plan is perfect for most and likely will serve your immediate needs with no need to pay. The free account gets 3 apps and up to 1,000 records. The lowest monthly plan is $25 per month and allows you to build an unlimited number of web based forms, maintain up to 10,000 records in the databases and store up to 1GB of data. This should be sufficient for any start up company and small business for conducting normal business activities.
Benefits of Zoho
- Drag and drop feature. There is several types of buttons that are easy to drag into place and name them according to the purpose of the form. Ex. Single Line, Multi Line, Email, URL, Dropdown, Checkbox, Multiselect, Date & Time, and more.
- Reporting. Use the reporting tool to manipulate the database and create reports to analyze the data and responses that have been entered into the data fields.
- Captcha in forms. Easily turn on captcha technology to require each person inputting data into the form to enter a random combination of letters and numbers in order to reduce the likely hood of spam in your dataset.
Using Zoho Creator for WYSIWYG Forms
Build Email List for Newsletter
The most widespread use on the internet of a basic input form is collecting emails to build a list for sending out a newsletter or other types of communications. This can be as simple as a single line form that is embedded into the sidebar of a blog or webpage. While you may need or want to capture additional data on potential customers than just an email address, this alone allows you to build a list of individuals within your industry that are interested in what you are doing and talking about on the site. By developing a regular monthly, weekly, or even daily newsletter, a business can quickly build a strong following and establish itself as an industry leader. Many small businesses have been very successful at cultivating business leads by providing consistent high quality information to the market through newsletters and the best way to build a database of people to send emails to is to build your own through an online form on your website.
Some companies pay lots of money to buy lists of emails and then tend to be outdated and the individuals really don't want to hear what you have to say. When you generate your own list it can be very valuable and it will establish your brand in the market if you can deliver interesting and unique content in your messaging and not just spam your lists. Zoho Creator has a "Captcha" service built into the web form in order to eliminate the possibilities of web bots filling out their emails so you can be confident that those registering on your site are real people.
Conduct Web Survey's
Learn from potential customers through web survey's that you can develop on the fly with easy to create online forms. By incorporating dropdowns, multi select, and radio select fields you can ask your potential customers questions about products and services and get a standard response back. Use the reporting tools to then create visual display's of the information. This type of feedback from the market is invaluable for entrepreneurs that are expanding and growing a new business. It is always great to know what you are looking to find out about your business when creating a new web survey such as is the price right. However, it is always good to also provide an open field that a customer can write in there own thoughts, requirements, recommendations, as you may be able to service their specific needs and find out what the market really wants that you have not offered yet, or marketed appropriately.
Acquire Customer Feedback
An excellent use of web based forms is extracting customer feedback from your existing client / user base. An easy method of reaching customers and asking them for information about there experience with your products and services is to send an email with a link that directs them to the online form. This can be included in the automatic response that you may already be sending out to customers when an order is placed or a regular update email that may be sent to customers.
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Other Web Based Solutions
While Zoho Creator is one of the easiest solutions to use for the average small business owner since it is based on a WYSIWYG platform with drag and drop tools to build the web apps. There are other solutions available.
Hire Developers - Hiring your own developer whether that is a local software professional or posting project requirements on sites like oDesk and Guru can help you find a person that has the skills necessary to create a very polished and personalized input form. If you go this route try and make sure that the can use the same format for additional questionnaires that you will want to send out out or place on the website in the future. It is always better to build off a single template versus having to code each variation from scratch.
Jot Form - Is another drag and drop form builder. The tool has many different options available to select from including built in payment gateways that can be configured to the company accounts. The Jotform solution also has suite of survey creation tools for building the perfect web survey to gain accurate user feedback.
Wufoo - Easily generate a web form with custom branding, instant notifications, payment integration and spam prevention components. While some creator tools will require you to embed the form into a webpage to make it appear as a company branded app, with Wufoo you can quickly build your online survey's and feedback submission process with a company logo and other personalized characteristics.
Google Drive - While Google Docs is one of the best online solutions for documents such as word processing and spreadsheets, it does also have a forms capability. The product does not have many robust capabilities, however if you are on a very tight budget and need to just have something functional to engage with customers this form can be emailed and will allow you to get that done. There are better service out there, but Google does have a basic tool for the job.
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