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Online forms enable businesses to create a standard form where other people can enter their details (saves on data entry via phone calls) at any time of the day and from anywhere. The data is captured in a database and can be acted on via a group message (like a mail merge) or by a customer service or sales agent making contact to follow-up.
Microsoft Forms is just one of many online form builders and is included in most versions of Microsoft Office. You can read about some of the other types at the bottom of the page.
Online forms are used for almost anything where you need to collect someone’s details. According to Microsoft the popular, trending uses include:
- Employee satisfaction surveys
- Office facility request form
- Community volunteer registration form
- Competitive analysis study
- Attendee confirmation survey
- Post-event feedback form
The beauty of online forms is the ability to have customers or staff enter their details and choose the options they want no matter where they are or the time of the day.
Embedded or via an Email Link
These forms can be emailed as a link or embedded into a website or social media page to make them easy to access. An email link is easy to create with a couple of clicks but embedding the form into a website takes a little more effort.
To embed the form into a website you need to have admin and publishing access to your website (we offer WordPress training courses to help with that). The benefit of this is that you can direct more people to your website and increase website traffic and conversions.
One of the biggest goals for a business website is to convert anonymous website visitors into real people and the best way is by using an online form. In our Selling Your Property real estate agent case study a form is used to capture leads from vendors who are interested in selling their property.
Data Entry and Database Building
Once the data is entered into the form and submitted several things can happen:
- A thank you message is displayed (or you can be redirected to a confirmation page)
- An email confirmation message can be sent to the customer
- A notification is sent to the form administrator and collaborators
- A database of contacts and information is gathered
The most important thing about your online Microsoft Form is that you build a database that you can use to take action on. Depending on the purpose of the form your actions will be different.
In our real estate agent case study the Microsoft Form is used to convert website traffic into leads that are then contacted by the sales agent.
Actions after a form details are submitted
Once the details in a form are submitted the real work begins. It’s the starting point for a chain of events that has a pre defined purpose and below are some of the important actions that happen as a direct result.
- An email confirmation reassures the customer that their details have been received
- Respondents know that they can reply to that email address if they want to follow-up
- A dedicated thank you page can be used to display important information, contact details or the next steps for the person to take
- A dedicated thank you/confirmation page can be an important website traffic analytics metric for the marketing department
- A text message can be sent to the customer to confirm they actually submitted their details
- The customer details can be placed into a CRM ready for a sales or customer service person to make contact
Using the Online Form Data
Lead capture for real estate agents
In the real estate agent case study the agent would follow their sales pipeline process of meeting with the vendor, inspecting the property if possible and then preparing a market appraisal with an estimate of the value of the property that takes into consideration comparable properties that have been sold recently.
As each of these steps are followed the customers moves further down the pipeline until they either become a client or decide not to use that agent.
Scheduling meetings and presentations
Office Admin staff can use the information to schedule meetings in Microsoft Outlook and invite attendees. These Calendar Invites can contain meeting details, the address of the meeting and the details of all participants making it quick and easy for attendees to know where they are going and reply with their availability status.
If you are using the form as a survey you can collect responses from participants which can then be used to make decisions about anything that needs to be changed or to find out what people are loving. You can then present the results visually using a program like Microsoft PowerPoint.
Requesting and Placing Orders
If you use the Office Facility Request Form you can act on the information to schedule resources and also evaluate which resources are used the most and why. We teach you how to perform this analysis using Pivot Table and Pivot Charts in the Advanced Certificate in Excel Course (308)
Other Form Builders
The information in this section is created for your reference only and not included in the Microsoft Forms course. This information is designed to give you a wider understanding about the type of form builders that are available and widely. We also hope you’ll see different benefits in using the different categories of form builder.
Other Online Form Builders
Online form builders enable you to sign in to a website to create and manage forms, just like Microsoft Forms. They have the advantage of not requiring any other system to work (like the WordPress ones below). Some examples are JotForm, Typeform, Wufoo and Formstack (we use Wufoo).
Email Subscription Forms
Email subscription services like MailChimp, Aweber and CampaignMonitor.have the ability to create forms in a similar way to Microsoft Forms. When you use these forms you are enabling the email marketing software.
When you use a professional form builder you can connect that form builder app to your online services such as Xero for your accounting, Hubspot for your digital marketing, Mailchimp for your email marketing etc. This way enables you to collect the information once and have it automatically input into your various other systems.
This topic is not included in the course but mentioned here as a reference.
WordPress Online Form Plugins
WordPress has it’s own marketplace for plugins (apps) that work within a WordPress website. Some of these form builders are incredibly powerful and flexible and many of them are available on a Freemium model. One of the most popular is called Gravity Forms but they do NOT have a free version which means you can’t use it to just practice with.
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