Automotive Marketing Professional Community for Car Dealers and their Managers
So you have your advertising campaign microsite, dealership blog or some other website set up with all the necessary features that automotive consumers want to get their hands on, so you think... But what about generating sales leads and phone calls?
You have to be prepared to field the questions and concerns of your prospective car buyers, and nothing really does that better than a form. In one simple form, you can open your dealership up to constant feedback, while still maintaining an air of privacy and professionalism that a simple contact page can't do.
However, not all form builders are created equal.
While they all seem to have some basic parts, there are
special details and customizable options that make each
builder unique. Here are eight great form-building options
to choose from — find the one that fits you and your
Sometimes, it's best to take the Occam's Razor approach to app selection, and Google Docs is definitely the simplest option out there for form building. Already rolled into your Google Apps package, this free service has seamless integration with Google's other apps, including Gmail and spreadsheets. Simply choose one of the seven question formats, which include a simple text option as well as scales and multiple choice, and then frame questions to get the feedback you need. Google will not only record all responses, but tabulate everything into helpful and visual analytics for each question.
Google Docs is a simple answer, and it unfortunately only comes with those simple features. Unlike other services, Google doesn't offer branching questions, custom visuals or ecommerce integration, which means that it can leave users wanting more. You can't find an easier form builder, so if you're looking for bare bones, this is ideal.
You know a form builder has credentials when big-name brands are using its services, and with clients like Twitter and Y Combinator, Wufoo has some serious supporters. Wufoo's interface is a seamless drag-and-drop system that allows for total customization and logo integration (including customized CSS, for dev-savvy users), meaning your form will tailor to your aesthetic needs. There's even payment integration with PayPal, which makes for seamless ecommerce forms if you're keen on selling merchandise on your website.
Unfortunately, all of these options don't come cheap. Wufoo does offer a free option, but its offerings are weak: You can only manage three forms at a time, and the service will only record the first 100 entries in a given month. In order to access more, you have to upgrade to a paid plan, starting at $14.95 per month. And if payment is really what you're looking for, be prepared to shell out nearly $30 for a mid-range plan. It's definitely an investment, but Wufoo's loyal companies and highly praised customer service experience make it enticing for those with a bigger budget.
If you're looking for optimum flexibility and scalable options, then FormSite is a great choice.
This application allows for a fully-customized form with more than 40 data fields to be either embedded into an existing site or built as a stand-alone questionnaire with a FormSite address. There are plenty of premium features available in the free version, including QR code integration, social sharing of form information and storage space to host attached files on forms. In a few simple clicks, you can have a great looking form to serve practically any customer experience need.
The largest issue with FormSite is the anemic results tabulation. With the free version, you're allowed five forms, but you can only see 10 results per form. For a highly trafficked company website, scaling up to paid versions is an absolute must. The most popular option, the "Pro 1" plan, offers 1,000 results per form for a relatively inexpensive $20 bucks per month. This option is ideal for smaller companies looking for professional forms and premium features at a low cost.
If cost is your biggest issue, then FormAssembly may have everything you need. Rather than a simple drag-and-drop interface, FormAssembly relies on a fully customizable free-form layout system — which ensures that users can control not only how the form looks, but also how the content is presented to a consumer. It's also very international-friendly, automatically reading a customer's server location and translating to one of more than 30 languages without any extra work involved.
Where FormAssembly really sets itself apart is pricing. It not only provides unlimited forms for free users, but FormAssembly also offers a pay-as-you-go plan for results. This offers the ultimate convenience for startups that are unsure how much traffic will be coming from feedback or forms — just pay as much as you think you'll need (as low as 5 cents per response) and pony up if more results are needed. There's even a guarantee against spam and junk responses, which means there will never be a wasted response. Traditional pricing plans are available too, starting at $14 per month, but you can't go wrong with FormAssembly if you're looking for a small response set or running a limited survey.
Apps fans, rejoice: FormStack is easily one of the most connected and integrated form builders out there. It certainly keeps up with the pack by offering brand-friendly, customizable forms with a quick drag-and-drop interface. But it sets itself apart by offering third-party integrations with some of the most heavily-used web apps for small business. FormStack plays extremely well with WordPress and TypePad for websites on CMS platforms, builds businesses with BatchBook and Zendesk integration, and even ports financial transactions into FreshBooks for account management and invoicing. With these connections and many more, FormStack snaps in to a company's app workflow and automatically kicks into high gear.
However, FormStack is only free to users for a 14-day trial period. If you're looking for a long-term form, be prepared to shell out some cash. The starter plan, at $14 per month, offers a decent database of results and a few forms for flexibility. But if your company is particularly design-oriented, you may find the restriction on customized templates a reason to upgrade further.
Are you a WordPress user? Then you can't get a more seamless user experience than Gravity Forms. Specifically designed to be used within WordPress, Gravity Forms embeds itself into the backend of the CMS and automatically blends with the design of the website without any extra tinkering. With unlimited web forms on a given website and no restrictions on results, Gravity Forms is the simplest way to create a form without leaving your website. And, since it's license-based, all of the forms and results are hosted on your own site — meaning that your forms and your data are solely owned by you in perpetuity.
There's plenty to love about Gravity Forms, and its pricing system is very attractive. A year's worth of unlimited forms for a website begins at $39 per year, averaging to a wallet-friendly $3.25 per month. Renewing users also are privy to a special re-sign discount, so your second and third years cost less than the first. One issue with the system is that prime add-ons are premium, so don't expect to seamlessly integrate ecommerce unless you're ready to pay $200 for the top-tier service.
If ecommerce is what you're after, then JotForm is your best bet. Payment integration is available for all plans — even the free version. Simply drag and drop the payment tool of your choice (options include PayPal, Authorize.net and Google Checkout) into your form, and JotForm will take you through a setup wizard to ensure everything flows smoothly. Combine the ecommerce ease with a wealth of data storage to drop in pictures, and you have a merchandiser's best friend at your fingertips.
Pricing is also friendly too, with the paid plans beginning at $10 per month. That extra cost expands storage to 10GB and allows for 1,000 ecommerce transactions per month. All in all, it works out to less than a penny to implement a customizable grassroots ecommerce system.
ReFormed invites forms to step into the world of HTML5, providing a dynamic and interactive form-builder that creates robust forms with a designer twist. Forms that are created within reFormed follow a fully-formed template — even radio buttons and drop-down menus have creative tweaks. The result is a form that looks and feels not only native to a website, but a step beyond traditional HTML forms. It's also incredibly cost effective, costing a mere $13 for a perpetual license of the product. If you're looking for custom options on the cheap, reFormed is the way to go.
However, it's not necessarily the most user-friendly tool on the web. Because of its close ties with jQuery, newbies to programming may feel intimidated by the way the interface requires the implementation of code-friendly language and knowledge of the way the form interacts with other programming. Companies may want to leave implementation of reFormed to a more technical person on staff to ensure no form-building headaches occur.
Do you have a form builder that you rely on for your dealership's website? Share with your ADM Professional Community colleagues using the comment box below.