I met a new service provider over the phone last week. After a few days working with my new contact over email, delivering documents and exchanging questions and answers, there came a time when I was ready to add him to my address book.
I didn’t have him on the phone with me when it occurred to me to add him, but I knew I had a few emails from him and I had already been to his website, so I was certain I had the information I needed.
My first step was to find an email from him where I was sure I could find his number in his signature. Sure enough, there it was, but I couldn’t click to copy it because it was embedded in a nicely formatted image. Sure, it looked nice, but I couldn’t access the information and couldn’t copy it directly into my address book. I use an electronic address book on my computer, and like anyone using Apple Mail or Outlook, I have the ability to right-click on an address to easily add it to my address book. Not in this case, I was forced to retype all his contact information.
As a second attempt, I visited his website to see if I could access or copy any information from there. Nope, same problem; there in the footer of his website was the same nicely formatted image featuring his contact information nicely embedded into a graphic featuring a beautiful sunset. Useless.
Like many businesses, I do most of my communications over the phone or on my computer, and with over 50 percent of Americans online these days, so are most consumers. So it makes sense that I would take a moment to think about how my contacts may be trying to reach me.
In my business, I am in contact with a fairly limited number of people, but I want them all to have direct access to me, so I make sure to include an electronic copy of my name, business, email and phone number. This makes it easy for them to add me to their electronic address books, and to synch this information with their smart phones; right where I want to be when they think about calling me.
The same advantage can be taken on your blog; make sure you are providing a way to contact you that is appropriate, and accessible. Many businesses and consumers are looking to your site to quickly find or copy information they need in order to better work with you, if your contact information is hidden, or inaccessible (for instance embedded in an image so that it is not independently copy-able), then you are adding another roadblock for your customers and adding barriers to getting connected.
There are reasons you may want to make information inaccessible, and in those cases embedding information in an image is appropriate. For instance if you post your email or phone number online in a normal format you may be susceptible to scrapers; robots that look for this type of information to glean and export to spammers.
For most blogs and online marketing sites, I recommend using a contact form that automatically emails contact information to you, where you can then respond with private information in an email or followup call. For bloggers, a contact form is an easy addition to your site and a great way to make sure you are accessible without divulging private information to the Web.
Either way, it is important to remember that your blog has a purpose, and that is to engage your audience. Once you determine what level of accessibility you want to provide to your customers, make sure you are providing easy ways for them to get in touch with you.
Listen to the Corporate Blogger Tips Podcast of this post: