It’s no secret that I have an affinity for Formstack. The more I think about missing portions of my marketing program, the more I turn to Formstack to meet those needs.
Current Form Usage and New Data Processes
First, I use Formstack to run our blog newsletter subscription program. Building this form was easy; our blogs run on WordPress, and we simply took the embed code from our completed form and placed it on the blog. The existing API between Formstack and ExactTarget has made it a dream, as email lists are populated automatically, and the same API triggers a welcome email to my new subscribers. Automation at its best – no need to get a developer or IT involved!
Next came a bigger project: using a Formstack form to build out an online email communication request. This time we built the form out from scratch. This took a while to get right, but not because Formstack is hard to use. This process was a bit difficult because the form was built by a committee. But Formstack has made that easy too with its new Approval Workflow feature. You can collaborate on data within the app to build out the needs and functionality.
Speaking of functionality, the forms really are only limited by how organized you are. There are many logic choices available – from changing the flow of questions, to determining who gets the submission based on answers, timing or whatever else you can think up and remember. The flexibility of Formstack is only limited by the user’s creativity and organization. If you can think it, you can probably do it with Formstack.
Next, we started using forms for contests. Who would have thought that this was possible? While running an Oscars watch party contest, we set up an online ballot and drove submissions to the form through social media. At the end, determining the winner was, in true Formstack style, easy! The tool holds all of the submissions in a backend database. We simply exported the submissions into Excel, put the correct answers on the first line of data and sorted! Boom, we could count the number of correct answers, determine the segment they were playing for and evaluate the tie breaker question.
Reducing Workload and Gaining Insight
I will admit that there have been skeptics. Our IT department questioned me at length when I had the email request form added to our intranet, wanting to know who is responsible for mapping the fields to our database, who is responsible for updating and maintaining it — all of those things that imply, “I’ll do this for you, but I don’t want any more work.” The forms are “dynamic,” meaning that they live at Formstack. Any changes I need to do, I do from the Formstack dashboard, and if the form is embedded on a landing page or linked to from a clickable link, the edits and changes are instantaneously reflected.
One surprising benefit we found: analytics. Sure, as marketers, we all love analytics, but Formstack takes it further, and provides something they don’t even know about … who you’re missing! We run analytics on all of our forms, showing drop off rates and such, which has helped us refine forms, but the heatmap has really helped us the most.
We have a form that is linked from a landing page that helps you determine your degree. In less than 30 days, we had over 38,000 pages views on the degree finder. But when we looked at the heat map we noticed something, complete sections of the country weren’t looking at it. Some were big markets, some were no man’s land … but our PPC team looked at this data and used it to refocus Google-ad spends to different geolocations and we started to see the heat spread.
“Fill Gaps in Your Marketing Efforts with Formstack”
So while there is a form for that, there is an invaluable tool in Formstack that has helped us attract a whole section of our audience we didn’t know we were missing. So I challenge you to not only build forms, but to make a marketing tool that can fill gaps in your marketing efforts with Formstack. We did … and we were only looking for a WordPress plug in for newsletter subscriptions when we found them.
About the Author
Kirk R. Gray (@kirkrgray) is a Formstack customer and has been doing email marketing for more than fifteen years. He works for a major online education provider, and operates his own blog – browserspencer – providing unique real world insight into email marketing best practices and offers solutions/consulting for the problems facing email marketers in a mobile-age. When not blogging, Kirk enjoys living in Washington, DC with his partner and their two dogs – Browser, a corgi and namesake of his blog, and Oly, a Jack Russell. He’s also a huge fan of Broadway theatre and theme parks (especially Disney World!) and an advocate of online education, holding multiple degrees from online universities.