Ever tried finding your company? Having recently spent a number of hours trying to source contact details for companies I knew only by name, it’s an exercise you definitely should try.
First off, try to find your company using Google. Don’t do anything fancy, just type in its name, click to search “in New Zealand” and see what comes up. If you don’t show up on the first screen, then you need to put some serious thought into search engine optimisation for your website. While that is a story in itself, there really isn’t any point coming up on page three if everyone looking for you abandons ship on page one.
Next, try the same using the white and yellow pages. It can be interesting to discover how your company is classified – if it appears at all. If the information about your company isn’t there or is incorrect, it’s up to you to change it. No one cares until they try to find you.
Fortunately, I found websites for most of the companies I was looking for, but then the fun really began. You start by playing ‘hunt the contact button’. The best sites have ‘Contact us’ in their top navigation; the worst hide it in the small print at the bottom and require scrolling and magnification for it to be discovered. It’s not a given that someone who doesn’t know the contact is there, will have the patience to find it.
Having found the ‘Contact us’ page, my frustration has quite often only just begun. It is incredible the number of contact pages that have no email addresses on them. I know we’re all concerned about being ‘spammed’ but, as I was about to become a genuine customer, my email was exactly the sort you would want to receive.
It is not difficult to obfuscate an email address in the backend of your website to render it useless to spammers. Nor is it difficult to set up a simple form that enables someone to enter their basic contact details, a free text field for the email and some form of verification by typing in random letters to avoid spamming. This is a little more sophisticated than just a ‘click here’ email response, but doesn’t present too many impediments.
That is unless you decide to require your respondents to fit a number of predetermined categories. Unless I was seeking Jobs, Tech support or Accounts, some sites left me with nowhere else to go, and I would put money on no one taking responsibility for forwarding it to the right person if I sent my sales enquiry to Accounts.
Emailing aside, too many of the ‘Contact us’ pages were short of useful information. At the very least, I was looking not only for an email address, but also a contact phone number and street address so I could make sure it was definitely the firm I was looking for. Even better were the sites that gave me the name of an actual person to contact and their area of responsibility. I was then able to contact those companies with the confidence I was engaging with someone who could help me. The currently popular concept in the online realm of ‘less is more’ shouldn’t be carried through to the point where it stops people finding you.
The whole point of having a website is exactly to help people to find you easily. Once they find you online, they generally want to be able to carry that through to finding you in person.
Bob Pinchin is the director of Sway.tech, a specialist communications house for technology companies. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org