Forms in Ontraport are one of the key ways you can gather information about your contacts and other business records. They’re also the primary way you’ll sell products using Ontraport. Getting your forms just right means you’ll be able to get the right data from the right people, avoid creating duplicate records, accurately track contacts as they navigate through your site, and sell your products and services to your customers.
In this forms basics video, we’ll break down the different components of forms so you can set them up correctly every time. Let’s get started.
Let’s start with the general framework of forms. Forms are composed of fields and a submit button [hover over each]. Any time the submit button is clicked, the data is sent to Ontraport where it’s either saved as a new record or added to an existing record.
The data from the forms ends up in the corresponding fields in your database, as you would expect. So the First Name your visitor added is put in the First Name field, and the Email Address is put in the Email field and so on [show first name on field, then show first name in contact record].
At the same time, a number of other things can happen in response to a form submission, based on the settings you configure in your form. For example, you might want the person who filled out the form to be sent to another page, which we call a thank you page [show thank you page]. Or, you may want that visitor-- now a contact in your account -- to be added to a follow up automation so you can send them a series of emails or a text message [show them being added to automation map]. Another thing you might want to have happen is to notify someone on your team as soon as a form has been submitted, so that they can follow up with that lead [show a task being set up]. All of this and more can be set up in your form settings.
In Ontraport, forms do more than simply collect information though. They’re also at the heart of Ontraport’s contact tracking features. Tracking is super powerful and provides you as a business owner with so much information at your fingertips. You can see: which pages your contacts are visiting, when they show back up on your site and what they click on, what ad they clicked on, and more. So, with a good understanding of how forms work, you can easily collect all sorts of useful data for your business.
For now, there are three main things we want you to know about forms in Ontraport:
The different kinds of forms you can set up,
How merging contacts works, and
What the form settings are for
Let’s cover these now, starting with the different kinds of forms. In Ontraport, there are a few different ways you can display forms to your audience, so I’ll show them to you now. A form might be embedded in a page, like this [show]. Also, it might pop up when you click a button, like this [show]. Sometimes, you might want a form that pops up when people first visit a site or when they’re about to leave [show]. Other times, you might want a form that sticks to the bottom of a page, or hangs out on the side [show].
Or, you might want to collect all the information in one go, like this [show]. And other times it makes good sense to split the form up into steps, like this [show]. All of this is possible in Ontraport, and you’ll learn all about how to set it up in the coming videos. Be sure to watch the next one on ‘when to use each form builder’ so you’re always using the right tool for the job.
Alright, let’s switch gears to talk briefly about how merging contacts works. One of the most frustrating things about using a CRM is ending up with multiple copies - or records - of the same person in your database. That leads to all sorts of issues and confusion, so let's go over how Ontraport identifies contacts and merges their records using forms.
We actually created a whole video called ‘Updating existing records using forms’ because there are a lot of fancy tricks you can use to make this process seamless and slick, but for now just understand this:
Whenever someone fills out a form and adds an email address that already exists in your database, then Ontraport will consider those to be the same person and will overwrite the existing record with the information that was added to your form. For example, if you have a Jim Dough at Jimmy@jamesdough.com in your database, and he fills out another form on your site at some later point using the same email address -- but this time he puts James Dough as his name instead of Jim… Ontraport is going to overwrite the previous record where it said Jim and put James in the first name field.
The same is true for all other fields. This is really useful for allowing people to update their records in your database. But, things go sideways if Mr. James Dough comes back to update his information, or buys another product, and he uses a different email address… because now Ontraport won’t recognize him and we’ll make a new record for him instead of adding to his old one. Since everyone has multiple email addresses these days, this kind of thing happens all the time. [show creation of a new contact record]
Fortunately, we have really good ways to avoid this problem, and that’s exactly what you’ll learn in the video called ‘Updating existing records using forms’ later on in this course. So be sure to check that out later.
The last thing we’ll cover briefly is what all the form settings are for, because no matter which of our form editors you use, the settings are all pretty much the same. So let’s dive in…
You’ll find form settings in different places depending on the editor you’re using, and we’ve got a video for each editor that will walk you through that part. But once you get to settings, here’s what you’ll find there [show each one]:
Opt-In settings control whether a contact is single or double opted in. These help guarantee that the contact information you’re getting is genuine.
The ‘Send Contacts Here’ setting controls where a contact is sent after they click the submit button.
Conditional Redirects is a special tool that enables you to send contacts to different landing pages (or Custom URLs), based on something they said on the form. For example, let’s say you’re an auto-shop offering deals on basic car maintenance. If someone indicates that they’re looking for an oil change, you could use this feature to send them to a page specifically about the benefits of getting an oil change from your shop. If they said they needed to get their brakes checked, you could send them to a page all about the processes you go through to check brakes. This allows you to further personalize the customer experience.
Below that is Manage Form Fills. This section allows you to add contacts to automation Automations, just by submitting the form.
Next, under “Notification and Routing” you have the option to send a notification to an email address of you choose, when someone fills out a Form. You can also have the form dictate who will be the contact owner for that particular record.
Advanced features allow you to address very specific use cases with your forms. These include multi-step forms, using hidden fields, and updating existing contact information. Take a look at these videos for more information.
Finally, forms also have hidden fields, which allow you to submit information that your contacts will not see. This is usually for capturing information that is passed through the url, rather than submitted by the contact themselves.:
And that wraps up our form basics overview! In our next series of videos, we’ll take a tour of each of our form types and how to style and configure them. We’ll also dive into Forms on Ontraport Pages, Ontraport Forms, and Legacy Forms. We’ll also address some specific uses for our form tools including: Multi Step Forms and Multi Object Forms. Finally, we’ll tackle some of the more complex features in a series of deep dives. Now that you’ve got a handle on how forms work in general you’re ready to learn when to use each specific form type. See you there!