For my 200th article on BlogPrefect.com I wanted to cover some personal thoughts on Contact Pages, the specific question in the range of:
Do Contact Pages Provide the Right Clientele?
So why ask this question and why save it for my 200th article? It has a lot to do with the kinds of emails received on a regular basis through the contact page.
I’d always had this bleary-eyed feeling that my contact page would encourage people reading to get in contact because they wanted to interact further. They might want their say and they’d want to do it personally. The truth is, it’s never worked that way.
“I had a Dream”
Not quite as grand as Martin Luther King’s but on a blogging context, I had a dream that people would come to me for advice and a point in the right direction. That is what the contact form was for.
What I Received Instead
In the main I’ve received spam like I would on any other email account. The comical Nigerian, Chinese or Latin American mystical companies who would want to give me $10,000,000 to put in a bank account are just one of many spam emails I’d see on a regular basis. Since I switched over to FastMail to manage my MX records I’ve seen a massive reduction in that type of spam. Sweet relief!
Where people have used the contact page I have received Business Queries in the main and I’ll go onto explain my gripe with these.
Every month I receive 10 or so business queries that all follow a similar line. Those that pass the spam criteria normally originate from legitimate individuals but are very much a canvassing event. I have nothing against hustle so much, trying to make bank by door-stepping has been a process for centuries.
Here’s why it doesn’t work on me.
Cold emails are impersonal.
Essentially the process of writing in this way is cold calling and that will never have a great effect on me. I hate cold calling, it doesn’t work. It is that simple but it wouldn’t make a compelling article unless I divulge more on why.
Perception of Being Personal
An element of our social lives is being eroded due entirely to the use of technology. Whether you like it or not, you will engage in less person-to-person interaction now than you would have 10 years ago. Automation saves corporations money by reducing the amount of Humans needed in the process.
Everyone is aware that automation can be impersonal so there have been methods to try to personalise the experience.
Often you’ll find that in a mailing campaign that is targeted to a reader, you may wish to use the first name to address the person individually.
You can waste so much time by doing things wrong. First impressions mean everything.
Common Tropes That Tick Me Off!
“And by the way, you are doing it wrong.”
I’ve seen this statement in a number of different guises. I’m not sure it is always wise to imply that “you suck”. You certainly won’t engender a business relationship easily this way. People don’t take criticism well. I ran an experimental feature a couple of years ago on Blog Prefect and felt the hostility that coincided with it.
Too much truth hurts from strangers.
“I’ve been looking at your site and I think you could…”
I could but do I want to. There are two forms of thought on why I didn’t implement something a certain way.
- I tried it and it doesn’t work for my audience.
- I don’t have the money to invest in the exact system that will yield the result.
Therefore most pitches will fail. In 3 years of operation I have not once engaged with an email unless I’ve had some kind of natural conversation with the source.
Doing it Right
If you wanted to try to impress me or get in my good books then you’d have to work with me. You would have to engage in a simpler exchange.
Trying to co-opt me cold through email isn’t the best route. Start out with something simpler like a message over Twitter or a comment on my latest blog post. Spend the time to build a rapport with me and then maybe you can present your intentions with a warmer attitude.
Don’t Appeal to My Greed
People are greedy in this capitalist present but that doesn’t mean that I would jump through hoops for greed. What is important to me is helping people in the best way that I can.
There are many systems and tools that I mention that are often free and provide me no kickback, affiliation or pat on the back. I present them because I’m of the opinion they work well. I, like many readers, like to know how I can get something for free or for the least taxing exchange possible.
At present I don’t have “customers”. I sell no products or services. Therefore eliciting additional customers where I have none is pointless.
Read My Blog, Don’t Assume
If you were pitching too me, you’d actually have to read my blog. It sounds dumb but you guys don’t. I have the stats to prove it.
90% of the “sales clunge” that I receive through my inbox makes no effort to show any true insight. Worst still you make an assumption on the purpose of the blog without understanding the direction.
I May Not Be in the Right Place at the Right Time
So if you’ve bothered to work on a rapport with me you’ll know that you have to be patient and be a friend in the mean time. The friend requirement sometimes means helping me out or just being a friendly voice.
Writing a pitch email straight up will have no positive effect. I’m not motivated to look at or agree on anything without knowing that I can trust you to some degree. Actions speak louder than words but on the internet most of your actions are words.
I’m Not Your “Low Hanging Fruit”
As dark as that sounds. You will have to work harder.
Screw the Form
Write me something that doesn’t look like you copied and pasted. Let me know that you aren’t just some VA, copywriter or random citizen that was employed by a slack-jawed suit wearer to bait me into action.
As For the Future of the Contact Page
I’ve considered taking it down for a number of reasons but for a number of reasons I want to keep it active. I am therefore torn.
Reasons to Take it Down
- The removal will instantly reduce the amount of nuisance emails I receive. I have fully vetted and setup my contact form so that it reduces spam but there are still those who fall through the net on occasion. I could restrict more but at the price of alienating.
- It doesn’t perform its primary purpose. I had intended that people with genuine queries could talk to me about content, problems with their blogs and other conversations related to blogging but this never happens.
Reasons to Leave it Up
- It is important that if someone had a burning concern and didn’t want to whack my email in directly that they contact me some way.
- The contact page is an important pre-requisite in a complete Blog and I want to let people know that I can be contacted. I want to declare that I take community seriously.
In summary I would be leaving the page up but I am thinking about re-tuning the purpose of those emails.
Is My Approach Correct?
In performing research on other Contact forms I have noticed that they are set out in a very specific way. I would have to say that my contact page is lazy with a simple contact form and I need to do a bit more to direct activity here.
In a couple of weeks I hope to have bottomed out the changes to make this page a more useful entry point into conversation.
Other Sources on Contact Pages
In providing research on what is afoot I wanted to take a look at some of the high-ranking results on this issue. One that instantly stuck out was an article from BlogTyrant.
Another useful search result was from katharine-writes.com
It was interesting to read about whether you should or shouldn’t have the contact form and why throwing up just your email would encourage more people to contact you. My only concern there is that I’ve always tried to reduce the chances of spam by not leaving “mailto links” where bots can easily find them.
Another hugely useful article was written over at Barn2 Media by Katie
I was unaware of honeypots and there were some other useful inclusions on the list of 6 that were an interesting read, and which I may look to include in my contact form.
A contact page is something you need but you will always get individuals who will try to go for an easy win. I displayed in the image near the top of the page with the notion of a “driveby” in the subject line. It is very wasteful to cold call. Why not just do it right? It takes longer to cultivate but you are much more likely to hit pay dirt.
Being personal still rocks.
Care and Share
I will now ask for your aid in sharing my post. The bonus is that this is the 200th article by BlogPrefect over 3 years. I am happy to have reached this milestone in hopes that I’ve helped others through my observations.
I have changed my social media focus more towards Twitter in recent times because in terms of results I get more interaction with my audience than I would with Facebook or Google+. Therefore please feel free to share this on Twitter. You can also contact me there at twitter.com/blogprefect. I do of course accept shares wherever you’d like to push this content and all of the firm favourites can be found in the SumoMe share bar to the left of the screen (just look for the crown).
I am contactable through, funnily enough the contact page, via a DM on twitter, via this sites wonderful email address of headboy [at] blogprefect.com and through telepathic communication. Maybe not so much for the last one, it gives me a headache.
The comments are open so you are welcome to agree or disagree with anything I’ve written and point out any shortfalls or improvements that you think would be helpful to me or any other readers.
Featured image by Jarmoluk via Pixabay, edited by moi..