Many times when clients come to us for website design they ask for contact forms. They expect that the information collected on the form will be emailed to them, and that they can use these emails for lead generation, order fulfillment, and other business processes. This is a relatively inexpensive part of website development, but one which has cost us headaches in the past due to problems, not with the contact form or website, but with the email server.

In many cases company websites are hosted using a shared hosting package or on a VPS where a hosting company manages the server and makes periodic maintenance changes to the server. Problems with email servers can occur. These can include coding errors, server moves that result in unsuccessful email delivery, problems where the mail server stops running for one reason or another, or problems where messages pile up in a queue and are not sent. There can also be problems on the receiving end of the email. In short, email is not a reliable method for capturing any mission critical information.

As a resolution to this issue Boomtown Internet Group recommends adding a database to the server and writing the information captured on forms to this database. In many cases, a MYSQL database is available with a Linux hosting package, and can be easily activated or installed. The real expense comes in programming a control consul for the client to view and categorize their contact messages. However even this expense is relatively small – perhaps a two day programming project – and should be considered rather than risk loosing mission critical information. In addition, data collected from the website can be categorized according to the lead page source, so that the client can discern which contact forms are working better than others.

Despite the expense, it is the recommendation of Boomtown that rather than loose any information that could be detrimental to your company through email, it is important for companies to consider the slight additional expense of writing information to a database rather than relying on email.

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