Paul Saffery - IT Director

Paul Saffery

2nd October 2014

SilverDisc Clients Safe From ShellShock Bug

1. About The ShellShock Bug

Forms are a key component of most websites. They can either provide a pleasing, quick and straightforward experience, or they can be very frustrating, damaging your potential clients' user experience and opinion of your brand.

Many of us have experienced frustration with forms that:

  • are unnecessarily long
  • don't provide clear examples of the format for data like phone or credit card numbers
  • make compulsory many more fields than those we are willing to disclose
  • crash or timeout, making us lose the data we have entered
  • request fields that are not relevant to our territory (i.e. US state and/or ZIP code)
  • are multi-page and provide no feedback as to how many more pages there are
  • don't provide valuable feedback, on screen or via email, that the data has been submitted
  • are not usable on touch devices

A well thought out form should become an efficient and seamless vehicle for our clients to contact us via our website.

Many websites disclose clients' email addresses, which can be easily harvested by spambots. Forms give website owners a mechanism to allow clients to contact them without having to disclose their email address. They also give you the potential to distribute emails among the different company departments depending on clients' form choices.

2. Form Challenges

2.1. Get the Form in Context

Many websites offering an assortment of products and services still have a single generic contact form, typically linked to from the header and/or footer of the website. Clients visiting a specific product page click this link, leave the product page to visit the form page, and then have to remember details about the product they were viewing while writing their enquiry.

It is far better to provide a contextual form, that is, a form presented to the user on the product page. The user not only will be able to stay on the page, but will also give us the opportunity to enrich the submitted data with contextual information, like product name, description, price, web referrer, client's IP address, etc.

2.2. Context-dependent Email Destinations

You don't necessarily need to send all enquiries to the same email address to get that department to distribute them in your organisation. You should be able to define the destination of your leads depending on the nature of the product or service the client is enquiring about.

2.3. The Thank You Email: A Marketing Opportunity

The "Thank You" confirmation email, apart from telling the client that you have received their contact and tell them the next steps, gives you an opportunity to promote your products and offers straight into your potential clients' inbox. Better still if you manage to make your "Thank You" email personalised, greeting your client by their name and telling them which product they enquired about.

2.4. Feed Leads Straight Into Your CRM and Audit Workflows

Are leads clogging up your inbox?
You should be thinking of a solution that will provide you with regular reports telling you who has contacted you, when and why. Wouldn't it be better still if the leads were fed into your company's CRM system?

2.5. Lost My Emails .... Lost Leads, Hacked Email ... Stolen Leads

Your clients' information and interests is precious to your business.
Leads that only exist in your inbox have proved to be a very fragile and unmanageable solution.

3. Form Processor: The SilverDisc Solution to Your Forms

As an experienced marketing agency, we at SilverDisc recognise the key importance of getting it right with forms and lead management. We have therefore developed the SilverDisc Form Processor solution. Here we describe some of the things we can do for you using our technology. All you need to do is post us the form data.

3.1. Custom Email Wording and Layout

Each time we process a lead, we send out two emails, one to the enquirer and one to your company. Each email can be custom worded, branded and personalised. We can even decide who should receive the email depending on the actual data posted from the website, a feature we call "Portal Mode".

3.2. Daily Backups and Regular Reports

Don't worry about losing or disclosing your lead emails. The Form Processor database is backed up on a daily basis, and optionally we can generate and send you regular reports with the leads you have received. These reports can be sent to you by email and also accessed online, by you or others in your organisation, using your own personalised account. The web solution includes a backlog of historic reports.

3.3.  Keep Your Website - Let the Experts Do Your Forms

You are not happy with the forms on your website?
SilverDisc's Form Snippets to the rescue!
We develop your forms within Form Processor, and give you a JavaScript code snippet. All you have to do is insert the snippet where you want it in your website's HTML code, and the form will be rendered directly on your website from our servers.

3.4. Spam Monitoring

Tired of getting all those spammy leads?
SilverDisc monitor your leads traffic. If we detect abuse, we will analyse the cause and activate rules to address the attack, whether it is from a specific IP address or following a specific form-filling pattern. The rules will flag the offending emails as "SPAM". Spammy emails will still be sent to our system for two reasons:

  • To keep a proof of the attack
  • So that we can unspam, and send you, false-positives (emails flagged as spam that turn out not to be spam)

If we detect an increasing number of false-positives we will be able to refine our spam rules.

3.5. Special Solutions: Lead Feed and SMS's

Speak to SilverDisc about configuring a custom feed of leads. This could be a great way of feeding the incoming leads into your CRM system and/or your call centre. We can probably arrange one for you.

Additionally we could probably send you leads (or at least a short "heads up" version) as SMS messages!

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