Read any online marketing book, blog, or journal—Practical eCommerce included—worth its salt, and you’ll be told to “know your customer.”
In ecommerce, getting to know your customer and building rapport with that customer takes time. It also takes an exchange of information that is often more than just transactional.
One of the many ways that you can affect customer relationship building is via contests, content, or other services that shoppers register for or provide information for via a web form.
With this in mind, let me introduce you to FormSpring. FormSpring enables ecommerce merchants to build contact forms, surveys, landing page forms, transactional forms, and more that are easy to integrate, require no software, and demand no coding skill. So, for being so simple and easy, I am awarding FormSpring four out of a possible five stars in this “The PeC Review.”
“The PeC Review” is my weekly column designed to introduce you to the products and services that I believe will improve your ecommerce operation. This week, let’s take a look at FormSpring.
The Art of Form Creation
Let’s face it. Creating online forms is not really that hard. Most every basic HTML book covers the topic. And there are thousands of online tutorials that explain the finer points of form construction. But form creation is also as mundane as it gets in website design, so much so that even experienced designers and developers often have homemade shortcuts so they can avoid drafting forms from scratch.
You can almost think of form building like loading paper in the copier. It has to be done, but it is nobody’s favorite job. FormSpring takes this mundane, even boring, task and makes it a whole lot faster and easier. It’s business is that simple.
Forms in Minutes
Using several ready-to-go form formats, a speedy AJAX interface, and some templates, FormSpring can help you generate a form for a contact form, a campaign landing page, or a survey, in two or three minutes—if you’re slow.
Easy to Output
FormSpring offers forms in five ways.
- URL Link. FormSpring gives you a simple form URL to paste on your site or in emails. Your customers can follow the link and fill out your form.
- TypePad Integration. FormSpring also has a widget for the popular TypePad blogging tool that many online merchants use.
- HTML. If you want an entire page you can get that.
- Form Forwarding. This one requires a bit more HTML knowledge but it is still pretty easy.
A form wouldn’t be much good if it didn’t track and report data. FormSpring has a nifty reports page that lets you review raw submissions, take a look at a snapshot of the responses, download the data as a Microsoft Excel file, a CSV file, or an RTF file, and share it via RSS.
Custom Form Creation
FormSpring also allows you to create custom form templates—even allowing you to control some of the HTML and CSS and upload images—so that you can create forms that match your brand. This feature is not available in the free version and is one of the reasons that I think it is worth investing a bit to get one of FormSpring’s paid packages.
When I reviewed FormSpring, there were five available packages, starting with a free account that allowed you to create three forms and enjoy just 50 submissions per form. The Starter package is $14 per month and lets you create a total of five forms. The Max, which represents the high end of the package price range at $159 per month, gives you more forms and options than you could easily use.
To me, the best value for ecommerce seemed like the Professional package that is priced at $29 per month.
FormSpring has a very straightforward and simple product. But it has executed that product well.
When I am reviewing services like FormSpring, I often face a challenge in terms of complexity. Should I judge or rate complex services more highly than I do simpler services? Put another way, can I give four stars to both a great crème brûlée and a great cheeseburger?
For me the answer is “yes.” What FormSpring does is not rocket science. But it does it very well. It may be a cheeseburger, in terms of the complexity of what it does, but it is a great cheeseburger worthy of the four stars I have awarded it in this review.