I’ve had two requests in the last week for the following:
“How can we have a form that people can use to request a copy of a download, and then we can follow up later? I just want to use a spreadsheet.”
There are a number of autoresponder-type systems that allow you to create a form, where a mailer is sent day 0 (when they sign up) and then follow up emails are sent on the days that you specify after their sign up. This helps you to provide additional information, downloads or requests to contact you should they require more information. This is automated and requires very little in the way of manual human intervention and can be very useful. Mailchimp offers automation, as does aweber. If you do a search for ’email autoresponder’ or similar you will find a slew of options.
For those that I spoke to, they didn’t want to sign up for yet another service, and just wanted a simple list that could be leads generated from their website, where multiple users could view or share for follow up.
After a brief discussion, the solution that resulted requires:
- A WordPress website, and the installation of the Google Forms WordPress Plugin.
- Google Forms, and installation of the Form Notifications Add-On
Steps – Google Forms
- Create your form. If you are not sure how to do this, Google have a tutorial here. It can be a survey, however in this case a 3-5 question form is probably all you’ll want. Note: Make sure you specify that the email and name fields (at a minimum) are required fields (users MUST fill them out).
- Install the Form Notifications Add-On. To do this you need to open your form, click the Add-ons menu and then Get add-ons. You can browse the add-ons store, or search for “Form Notifications” Add-on. Click to install the add-on. (More help is available here if that was too brief)
- Configure your Form Notifications Add-On. Click on Add-ons –> Form Notifications –> Configure notifications. A sidebar on the right hand side should appear.
To configure the sidebar:
- Notify me. This is to notify you, or anyone you specify, that the form has been completed and the spreadsheet where the answers are collected has been changed. If you want a notification every time the form is updated, change “Send notifications after every” to 1 (the default is 10). If you expect a lot of response on this, then you can adjust accordingly. The higher the number, the lower the email frequency.
- Notify respondents. Specify which field contains the respondent’s email address (note that it is a good idea to make this a required field). Then compose the email they will receive. This is very simple with little personalisation. There are more sophisticated solutions should you want something with customisable fields, however the goal of this is to keep it simple. See the screen shot for more detail on how I filled this out for one client.
- Save and click on View Live Form. Enter values in to your form and make sure that it works the way you want before you integrate it in to your WordPress website. (You can use it as a link as-is, as well)
- Make sure the form is public. Untick the box at the top of the form that says “Require login to view this form” – otherwise your form will only be accessible to those that have a password, and won’t be able to be viewed when embedded on your website.
- It’s a good idea to use data validation on your form, especially for email addresses. Fortunately Google Forms makes this relatively easy to do. See the screenshot below when setting up your fields.
- Click on view responses and make sure the data that is appearing is what you expect. This is the spreadsheet where your data is captured.
Steps – Wordpress Website
I am assuming you have a WordPress website and have some familiarity with its navigation.
- Ensure the Google Forms plugin is installed. If you are not sure how to install plugins, refer under the heading “Install a Plugin using WordPress Admin Panel Search Option” at this page for more information. The plugin you are searching for is called “Google Forms”. Once installed you should see Google Forms in the left hand menu of your WordPress Admin (it appeared under “Comments” in my installation).
- Select Google Forms –> Add New Google Form
- Fill out the New Google Form Page. The page pretty much explains itself, but here is some information that I found useful:
- Form URL – this is the link from the step above when you saved and clicked on View Live Form. If you need to, go back to the form above and copy the URL.
- Confirm URL – you can leave this blank and you will get the standard Google message. Alternatively you can set up a thank you page on your blog (Pages –> New Page) and then copy and paste the URL of that page here.
- Style – I prefer to select ‘redirect’ for this as I got some weird behaviours for ‘AJAX’ with my template. Your results may vary.
- Email – I left this off as I am using Google Forms to do this. You can use the plugin to do this – up to you. It suited me to use Google Forms so that the email address was collected in to the spreadsheet.
- Reset form cache – I ticked this while I was making tweaks to my form. Once I had the tweaks done, then I unticked this box.
- Validation – you can choose to do validation here or on Google Forms side… just remember that the name of the field here has to exactly match the name in the Google Form, and it’s case sensitive.
- The rest you can fiddle with to determine if the settings suit you, however these are the minimum considerations for getting the form up and running.
- Publish the form. Click Publish 8-|
- Get the form shortcode. You will need to embed this in another page to view the form. To do this, from the menu click on Google Forms to see the summary page of all the forms you have created so far. Copy the appropriate shortcode – it should look something like this:
- Paste the shortcode in to your page or post. Just paste it in, publish the page and view and you should be able to see your form.
I like to put the form in a column format, which you can do using CSS, or tables (depending on your level of expertise).