This weekend, I set out to review another 11 sites that had asked for my “Six Quick Fixes” web site review. These sites are all sizes, all industries, and all levels of good, bad and ugly.

So, want to know what the biggest, most consistent mistake is?

Lack of fill-in forms for prospect capture. A web site without fill-in forms is like a bank without any money. There’s no point in putting up a web site if you’re not going to formally collect prospect information.

This entails more than just offering prospects your email address somewhere on the site in hopes that they’ll go to the trouble of contacting you. Fill-in forms are not an option – they are a necessity. The only entity more valuable than a prospect is a loyal buyer. You’re not going to get those loyal buyers if you don’t fill your funnel with prospects from a proper prospecting device.

It’s time to dump any reference to email contact on your site and here’s why:

When you ask someone to just email you, three dire mistakes occur:

A. Just because someone has emailed you through a provided email link does NOT give you permission to market to that prospect in any way, shape or form. Yes, you’re allowed to answer prospects’ question. Beyond that, you’re legally not allowed to send another e-note to them – EVER. If you were to do so, they have every right to report you as a “spammer” and it takes just a handful of “spam abuse” notices to shut your web site down entirely. Believe me, the “spam police” do this.

A fill-in form formally asks for their information and should, at all times, include an optional check box just before the SUBMIT button that says something such as: “I’d like to receive more information and sales notices on your (fill in the blank here).” Nowadays, the mysterious SPAM police are beginning to check fill-in forms for those “permission” check boxes. If you don’t have them, they can just as easily shut you down until you comply.

B. When you only give prospects the ability to e-mail you, you’re throwing away tremendous leverage to collect required information that you wouldn’t otherwise receive in an email. Aside from the fact that this is the beginning of their pre-qualification process to work with you, you’re receiving information that can automatically flow into several cells of an online database.

In contrast, when you relegate them to simply emailing, you might not even get their first name, let alone their last name. How in the world are you going to add this to your prospect database or CMS (Contact Management System)?

C. OK, say you’re letting prospects email you. Let’s focus on the transfer of that information to your CMS. Nightmare. You’ve just tied yourself into doing a manual transfer job as no software on earth is 100% capable of automatically extracting your prospect’s first name, last name, email address, company name and reason for contacting you from the email message they’ve sent you.

More importantly, how can you be assured that you’ll catch every one of these incoming emails? What happens if your computer crashes, your email system goes belly up or alien ships take over your email address book? What happens to those e-mailed leads if they’ve all been steered to your VP of Sales who suddenly decides to work for the other guy across town?

By attaching your simple fill-in forms to their own online databases, the information is transferred smoothly to a back-end, protected database and remains secure. OK, I’m heading back in to the site reviews. I might be posting more notes in the next couple of days, so be sure to click for RSS feed on this blog to receive more tips and tricks.