Whether in a direct-mail package or online, an order form is an important part of generating leads and sales. A killer letter, brochure or e-mail message is important for getting the ball rolling, but the order form is where you actually capture the customer's valuable information or make a sale.
If the order form doesn't pull its own weight, the customer could lose interest, and a poorly designed order form can actually kill the sale, leaving the customer frustrated and your pockets empty.
Keep the following tips in mind to design effective, easy-to-use order forms:
1. Restate your offer
Sometimes there's an interval between when your customer reads your e-mail or direct mail and when they actually respond. Or, in the case of direct mail, a lot of recipients will trash the whole mailing and just hang on to the reply form. That's why its important to restate your offer on the order form. For example, if you are offering a free trial, you can keep customers interested in your offer by including a check box and some well-crafted copy such as, "Yes! I Want to Save Hours of Time and Organize my Personal Finances. Please Send Me a Risk-Free Trial of Your Get Organized Desktop Software."
2. Don't ask for extra information
Some businesses make the mistake of asking for too much information from a customer right off the bat. While a travel agent may benefit from finding out how many times a year Mrs. Smith vacations and where to, it's best to save any market research questions for a later time, when you are further along the buying cycle with a customer. On an order form, stick to the information necessary to make the sale, i.e. name, mailing address and billing information and wait until you have a satisfied customer to ask for more detailed customer information.
3. Keep forms readable and writable
If you find that you are squeezing your copy and design into smaller and smaller font sizes just to get it to fit on a client's online order page or mail form, it may be time to go back to the drawing board. For the best response, it helps to use fonts that customers can read easily, preferably without the use of their reading glasses. Also make sure you give them enough space to respond. To test your forms for ease-of-use, ask friends or coworkers to fill out the form and share their thoughts on what could be improved.