Why and How You Should Set Up Personalized Emails for Your Forms

With more people doing online activities these days, there’s a big chance they’ve probably come across online forms when making online purchases, signing up for email lists, or even just giving feedback about a product or their most recent customer service experience.

Online forms are commonplace on websites, landing pages, blogs, and it’s fun to think that 74% of companies use web forms for lead generation, with 49.7% stating online forms are their highest converting lead generation tool.

Sadly, some folks feel that some online forms aren’t really useful for them. To them, forms might just be there to get information and they’re not going to get much from that interaction. Some forms might even be a pain to fill out especially if there’s way too many fields or that they can’t access it through their smartphones. There’s a lot of reasons why not everyone likes forms, and we shouldn’t add more by coming off as impersonal. 

This is why in the digital space we have today, personalization is now more important than ever. People are looking to connect with their companies and be able to reach out and not just be another number on a statistic. Forms that take the extra step to engage with their subscribers benefits not only from a customer experience, but allow to develop a relationship for the long term.

Personalized emails are important, here’s why

There’s a huge win here. Did you know that people often return to a website if the company reaches out to them through email to re-engage with them after submitting to a form? Surprisingly enough, while some form builders do send automated emails after form signups, there isn’t really much to make a more personalized approach.

87% of consumers admit that having more personalized experiences, both online and in-store, would increase brand loyalty and help with them sticking around. While automation is important, you need to make sure it doesn’t come off as just another email. Emails are one of the best ways to reach out to interested parties, keeping them up-to-date on new content, special promotions and offers you’re running, as well as new products or features launched. 

Which type of emails deliver better email engagement rates?  In a world where everyone opts to send HTML emails, a plain text message does stand out. Plain text existed before HTML, which explains its simplicity and a more direct, personalized approach to messages.  Did you know that plain text emails has improved click-open-rates of 11% over HTML? Also, with a statistical significance of 86%, plain text surpassed HTML in click-through rates at a higher 8%.

This is why FormKeep makes it a point to collect the necessary data for your email marketing efforts simple and easy. From creating a simple contact form (or any other type of form for that matter) you can send campaigns to submission to help drive traffic to your website and make an opportunity to re-engage with people after they’ve left.

How to personalize your forms using emails

Let’s go with an example. 

Say you made a simple contact form for your fresh apples delivery business. 

You have the standard fields: email, message, a few drop down menus to categorize the reason they’re reaching out, order numbers, name and contact information. 

When the emails come, you’d want to confirm to your customers that you’re on the job. Unfortunately, a simple “Thanks for your email. We’ll get back to you soon” won’t do any good. This is a sure fire way to get bad customer feedback, or them not going back to your site ever again. 

So, we need to automate and personalize, but how can we do that when we haven’t even read the emails? Using FormKeep, we offer liquid tags. This is a way to call information found in the forms your customers send emails with. 

Let’s start with a proper greeting. How about adding the customer’s name? We can do that by adding a {{submission.name}} tag. Other bits of information like their {{submission.order_number}} can be called in a similar way, and be just added to your email. Let’s say Rodger has sent in this message to you and filled out the Name field like so:

But wait, what if they put in their full name? Luckily, liquid tags let you manipulate how to read them, and some simple tricks can be used to solve problems. If the given name is more than 1 word, a code like Hey {{submission.name | truncatewords: 1, ""}}! lets you find the first word in the name, and use it like a first name. 

Now, while “getting back to them” is what we mean, customers want to know if you really understood their problem. Well, if they used the Reason drop down menu in your form, we can add a {% case submission.reason %} condition in our reply to give different sets of advice. Tada! Your emails can now provide apologies for Technical Support, or thanks for a Sales Inquiry. 

Now some customers don’t have time to waste, and rush their emails to us. Information is key when finding out what the customer wants, so if they haven’t given you important information, you best let them know. You can check {%- if submission.order_number == "" -%} (if their submission’s order number is blank), so that they can get back to you even before you read their incomplete email.

Finally, formatting your emails show your customer that you wanted to be sure they can properly read the email. While fancy pictures and HTML can be added using FormKeep, you can also use markdowns to style up your plain text. Not everyone appreciates a cluttered, overly dressed up email, so simple symbols and font styles are encouraged.

As a bonus, Formkeep also allows for some simple math and scripting, so there’s enough functionality here to make billing calculations, randomized quotes, and holiday greetings.

Here’s the final personalized email that we’ll send back to Rodger:

The biggest takeaway here is that you can help form connections with your subscribers with just one simple tactic: personalization. And this goes way beyond just addressing your customers or prospects by their first name – there’s so much more you can do when you take that extra step to re-engage with people who took time to fill out your forms. 

Oh, and here’s the complete Formkeep code that you can copy paste into the Emails tab for your own forms!

Hey {{submission.name | truncatewords: 1, "" | capitalize }}!	

We've got mail! Thanks for sending in your question
{%- if submission.order_number != "" -%}
  {{submission.order_number | prepend: " for your order #"}}
{%- endif -%}
.

The entire team has gotten a copy of this and it's been printed out and put on the CEO's desk for his nightly customer review in between reading the Wall Street Journal.

{% case submission.reason %}
  {%- when "Billing Support" -%}
     The billing team has been put on notice that you need some help, they're on their way!
  {%- when "Technical Support" -%}
     We're sorry about that, we're so busy growing sometimes our code gets ahead of our heads, we'll look into this immediately.
  {%- when "Sales Contact" -%}
     We're so excited that you're looking to do more with our product, we'll be in touch today!
  {%- when "Refund" -%}
    Oh noes! Please let us know if there's anything we can do to make this right, we're looking into your account now and will
    reply with the details soon.
  {%- else -%}
    We'll get back to you soon with a thoughtful response and possibly a crayon drawing from our kids (who are stuck at home here anyway with us!)
{% endcase %}

## Thought of the day
{% capture secondsOfNow %}{{ 'now' | date: "%s" }}{% endcapture %}
{%- assign random = secondsOfNow | modulo: 5 -%}
{%- if random == 0-%}
An apple a day keeps anyone away, if you throw it hard enough.
{%- elsif random == 1 -%}
If you never tasted a bad apple, you would not appreciate a good apple. You have to experience life to understand life.
{%- elsif random == 2 -%}
Millions saw the apple fall but Newton was the one who asked why.
{%- elsif random == 3 -%}
Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.
{%- elsif random == 4 -%}
For an apple you can't reach up and pick, you have to climb that tree; the tree won't bend down for you!
{% endif %}

## Your Message Summary
_(we'll ignore any typos of course!)_

- Message: {{submission.message}}
- Reason: {{submission.reason}}
- Order Number: {{submission.order_number}}
- Name: {{submission.name}}
- Phone: {{submission.phone}}


You can add images <img src='https://formkeep.com/images/formkeep_logo_email.png' width='128px'>

FormKeep 2019 in Review

Thank you for making 2019 a great year for us! We’ve been listening hard to all the great feedback from our customers and we have been regularly releasing new features and improvements.

Below we’ve highlighted the more interesting changes this year driven by your needs. Thanks for all the feedback and keep it coming! Please send anything you’re looking forward to seeing in 2020 to support@formkeep.com.

File Upload Support

Your forms can now upload images and documents directly to FormKeep and we’ll take care of them. The email notifications will include a link to the uploaded file, or you can send them directly to third parties for additional processing.

Form Designer

This year a lot of effort was spent on delivering a simple and easy to use Form Designer, allowing you to quickly create forms and start collecting submissions from your customers immediately.

Collaborators

Many of our larger customers who have many people working together wanted a simple way to share Forms between their team members. Under the Collaborator tab on a Form you can now control who has access to edit the form, or just have access to the Form submissions.

Slack and Google Sheet Integrations

These were two of the most popular requests from our customers, so we’ve integrated directly with them, making it super simple to send your submissions to these providers. We continue to support thousands of other integrations as well.

Server Side Validations

There’s a lot of ways to protect against spam and we’ve added a commonly requested way to specify which fields need to be filled out. Combined with our industry leading spam solutions, validating this on the server-side allows you to protect better against spam bots and scripts.

Email Response Tags and Attachments

We’ve expanded your ability to format automatic response emails by supporting replacement tags in the body and subject fields. This allows you to include information from the Submission into the response. You can now also attach a file to be sent directly to your customer.

New Pricing Plans

Last year we introduced some entry-level price offerings. Some customers asked for a simple HTML form to email support without all the integrations and other bells and whistles. On the flip side, we’ve also added pricing support for large scale customers who need thousands of forms under a single account. We’re happy to talk about any custom needs you may have, just reach out to support.

Everything Else

We make constant improvements to the site every month, these are just the top feature requests that were driven by our customers. Thanks to everyone for their feedback and continued support.

Please let us know what you want to see in 2020 at support@formkeep.com

Podcast: Go Deep on FormKeep and Furious Collective’s Venture Production Model

This week thoughtbot featured Furious Collective in their weekly podcast called Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots.

In this podcast, David Kloba & Rob Meinhardt, Co-Founders of Furious Collective, discuss the mindset and methodology of their venture production studio, recount their adventures over the past year of growing FormKeep after having acquired it from thoughtbot, and offer advice to founders preparing to sell their product or company.

FormKeep Named to List of Top 20

 

Today, FormKeep was named as one of the top 20 form builder tools by Hubspot.

At FormKeep, we believe web designers, marketing teams and customer specialists have better things to do than write another boring form backend. With FormKeep it’s easy to design a simple form and post data to the FormKeep backend.

To learn more about how to save time and effort by using FormKeep, visit formkeep.com. To learn more about HubSpot’s Top 20 Best Form Builder Tools for 2018, visit https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/form-builder-tools

Bridge the Gap Between Tech and Non-Tech

In the software industry, project managers and marketers want to get things done quickly, without the complications of bureaucracy. They want the business to grow, money to pour in and more and more new things to be implemented and revolutionize their company. Some of them want to become rich and famous, well – at least in their well-delimited sphere of marketers and managing staff.

Developers on the other hand want to focus on one task at a time, write amazing code that changes the web and servers, be challenged and tackle some of the most difficult computer science issues and solve them, and especially – not get constantly interrupted and distracted by endless trivial requests. “Programming is best done “in the zone” — a (pleasant) state of mind where your focus on the task is absolute and everything seems easy. This is probably much like “the zone” for musicians and athletes.” says Morgan Johansson who calls himself a “professional software tinkerer”, senior.  

A while ago on Quora someone asked programmers what they thought when hearing the phrase “I just need a tech co-founder.” A lot of rage almost instantly started pouring on from there as more and more techies joined the thread. “The[se non-tech founders] just care about equity,” commented cynically one developer. A couple of comments down, a CEO calls programmers “arrogant”, to which comes the response that non-techies should stop being so defensive, and everybody has ideas, let’s see how we put them into practice or rather, who puts them into practice for us.

Soft Skills Aren’t Lesser Skills

As newer startups have commenced building more diversified teams with an increasing overlap in capabilities, there still remains a sense of mistrust between tech and non-tech, a confusion about how to assess a person’s “soft skills,” attributes that enable them to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people, the widespread assumption that these skills are inferior to “hard skills” – specific, teachable abilities required occupationally.

If programmers are able to understand “soft skills” as competencies, they may be more likely to appreciate their value and the potential of having a non-tech person on their team. Capabilities of this sort may be the ability to make difficult connections, among ideas and concepts that are at least apparently unrelated, an understanding of one’s place in the world, the ability to critically assess how systems work (and fail), an openness to learning, a “mental playfulness” as Bill Watterson calls it that allows one to “wander into new territories” even if unsure of what they may find.

Many in the tech-world undervalue soft skills: this is most evident in the belief that artificial intelligence (extremely capable at hard skills, but not so much at soft skills) will be the solution to all mankind’s problems. Google’s Director of Engineering Damon Horowitz, who studied artificial intelligence with a specialization in natural language processing, said that it was while studying philosophy that he came to realize that no matter how much he improved upon it, the AI system itself had its limitations and the changes would not be incremental. He says his focus then shifted from assuming that machines could resolve all of our problems to looking at how they could “facilitate human problem solving” instead.

One can argue that this expansion of the mind is also connected to the ability to have a broader or “macro” view of things. For instance, Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, said that through studying philosophy at Oxford, he wanted to “strengthen public intellectual culture.” Caterina Fake, founder of Findery, knew she wanted to create something around the idea of community and the sharing of stories through art. The acknowledgement of different kinds of capabilities is a necessary first step to bridge the trust gap between tech and non-tech.

What Do you Wish Your Boss Knew?

Most likely the director of your company is a non-tech figure. The manager who’s the people’s person / with people’s skills – or so you’d hope at least – and who’s really good at marketing the product and getting it out there, in the eye of the storm. But you, the dev, have your ideas and contributions too, to the management of the business – at least internally. Some of the best contributions a developer could bring to the non-techies’ team and managers to bridge the gap would be:

Empowering the non-techies to do technical work by teaching them or encouraging them to learn tools that are easy for anyone to learn. From how to use Photoshop and Illustrator Essentials down to using tools such as FormKeep to generate forms or bringing minimal edits to the stylesheets, these situations are win-win. Win for the developer which won’t have to come back on editing and re-editing or correcting typos that can be identified and fixed in a second by the non-tech, win for the non-tech in terms of adding hard skills to his trade. It might seem such a tiny thing, a change of size of the typeface, color, or other tweaks that may seem irrelevant and yet save you from having to dig through miles of code, while someone from the non-tech team that has stumbled upon the discovery while doing the QA testing could edit it there and then.

Helping them understand that perceived output is not the same as actual output. A poor developer will write unsustainable code, and then jump around from one bug to the next, spending nights and weekends in the office and impressing their superior’s. A good developer will spend time thinking about the problem (which from an outside perspective can look like daydreaming). They’ll write clean, stable code, clock out at 5pm, and appear lazy in comparison to the first developer. Yet the latter developer is infinitely more valuable to the company than the former. Unfortunately, this can be very difficult to perceive from the outside, especially for those not already tech-oriented. Engaging in discussions with developers about these issues can help to understand what it is developers do all day, and help form a good instinct for evaluating employees.

Problem pattern matching. Getting your boss to learn coding is a big ask, and takes away from more important things they could be doing. Getting your boss to learn how to think like a coder, on the other hand, is beneficial to everyone. Thinking like a coder is more often than not a simple game of matching problems with known solutions, and knowing when to apply which solution. With enough involvement in project details, your boss will eventually come to know the most common solutions.

Assist with the interviewing. This one is really a direct corollary of the contribution right above. Your developers might just be the right figures to help you select new personnel, especially when it comes to positions that can be difficult to understand from the outside. Although developers and designers, for example, can often be at odds with each other, a good developer can identify a designer they’ll get along with, and vice versa. Involving the developers can ensure you’ll have the right questions to ask to figure whether the interviewee is a good fit or not.

Recognize merits. Recognize when non-tech makes efforts to learn about the tech world. A little bit of gratefulness goes a long way, and it’s important to positively reinforce any behavior you want more of. If your manager is learning HTML, or the marketers are learning Photoshop, that helps communication between you and balances the workload. If they have trouble, help them out in a way that lets them learn for next time – don’t just speed through the job while their eyes gloss over.

Learning to Think – An Independent Task

If you are a non-techie, odds are you might have more initiative towards taking tasks that push you out of your zone of comfort. Therefore perhaps the approach of Caterina Fake, oil painter and linguist turned techie entrepreneur, doesn’t seem so alien after all. She wanted to “translate” her training as an artist onto the web, and in the end programming languages, apart from being logical and mathematical are, precisely how their name goes, languages. More than learning to code, the long term goal for non-techies is learning how to think like a coder.

Developing a sense of logic in fact is not only mathematical – a science logics was a part of the human sciences for thousands of years, a branch of philosophy. It teaches and involves the use of precise and formal methods of thinking, such as abstractions, boolean logic, number and set theories so you can solve problems in an air-tight manner. One of the best ways to understand the human mind is to try to replicate it. Topics like AI, machine learning, natural language processing are not just part of computer science but also biology, psychology, philosophy, and mathematics. Damon Horowitz, Director of Engineering at Google, suggests that most of the evil in the world comes not from bad intentions but from “not thinking.”

What developers want most of all – to solve problems – could be the key to solving this gap. Creative problem solving is a skill considered both “hard” and “soft”. As such, it’s a key part of the lives of both tech and non-tech. Understanding that both camps are using the same skills in different ways can help the communication across the gap. The big difference is that while tech uses creative problem solving to solve technical problems, non-tech uses it to solve human problems.

That said, the best programmers are those who use creative problem solving to solve both technical and human problems at the same time. They’ve realized that the software that they’re writing is for people, even if it’s just the back end of a complicated system or a protocol that no one but other developers will ever use. They write documentation because it’s important. They help people use their code. They’re willing to go the extra mile and deal with a bit more complexity to give the people using their software the right solution. This is the point where techies’ and non-techies’ best intentions should converge, in the People First Axiom, because this is the goal that can ultimately bridge the gap.