On their own, forms can be powerful tools for your organization. From collecting information to facilitating support tickets, standard forms can be quite useful to businesses of all sizes. However, tapping into the true potential of forms typically only happens when you broaden your gaze and recognize that other software and other tools can play a role.
Why? Because in today’s competitive markets, businesses don’t rely on any individual software in a vacuum. More often, different tools and software are part of the fabric of a business, and putting all of those tools together is critical to getting the most out of your digital investments. The software that makes a business hum has to work together, and that includes the website and its included forms.
This post will explore how forms can be the glue that binds different applications in your business, allowing for the sum to be much greater than the individual parts.
How Far Can You Go With Forms?
It is common for people, even developers, to think that forms are a simple tool for collecting simple information. Nothing could be further from the truth. Forms are about more than just collecting contact information or support inquiries. For some ideas on what forms can be used for check out our article “Five Uses for Forms You Haven’t Considered”. Forms represent the first domino to fall in workflows, processes, and tasks that can impact an entire organization. Forms can turn simple data and information collection into new structure and process, improved efficiency, and increased revenue.
Thinking About Forms as the Tip of the Spear
For starters, forms can (and should) be seen as part of a larger picture with regard to how software can help your business. Literally, every task in your business can be addressed by software. Oftentimes, the best way to start a software-based workflow is with a form. Forms take data or information and can pass it along to the right department, employee, or database for the “next” necessary activity or action.
How Do You Push Even Further?
However, forms can do more than simply pass data and information from one place to another. For starters, forms can contain conditional logic that guides the person working with the form down a specific path. Are you looking for sales or support? Are you submitting a file or entering the information by hand? Conditional logic with forms works like a navigator, making sure that the interaction by the user follows a logical path. For an in-depth explanation on form logic check out our article “Complex Logic in Forms to Drive Your Business”.
In addition to conditional logic, forms can unlock even more possibilities when integrated with other applications in the business. This is where APIs come in.
What is an API?
If you are interested in getting the most out of your digital investments then it is crucial that you explore the utilization of Application Programming Interfaces, or “APIs.” An API is defined as a software intermediary that allows two applications to interact with each other. Most APIs are documented so that engineers and programmers can tie together different applications. APIs allow for the secure flow of data between different applications in a way that works correctly with both affected tools.
APIs allow applications like Gravity Forms, Ninja Forms, or other form software to tie into other applications. For example, if your organization uses an ERP system like Oracle or SAP or a CRM like Salesforce or Hubspot then an API allows your developer to connect those systems to your website.
By integrating a form to another application via an API, you can collect information and data with the form and then pass it to another application that is critical to your work. In many cases, there are existing integration between form software and tools like those mentioned above. And if those integrations do not already exist, then the existence of an API makes them possible if you have some software engineering resources or an engineering partner.
What Can API Integrations Do for You?
Once you start to see how APIs can integrate with your forms it gets clearer and clearer what possibilities exist for other applications and APIs. For example, a person that enters their contact information into a web form on your website can be not just added to Salesforce but also checked against your order database to check if they are a past customer. If they are not a past customer, an API can add their name and email address to an email marketing sequence. If they are a past customer, an API can send them a one-time “repeat customer” promo code to use on their next purchase.
Internally APIs can be similarly powerful. An employee can enter a vacation request via a form, choosing a specific time to be away from the office. With an API, that information can be passed to the manager approving the time off, then along to an ERP system that reduces their available vacation time, then to the payroll system to note a “Holiday” pay designation for that time. All of these things can happen through software because of APIs, saving a number of employees valuable time and energy.
Taking A Full View of Forms in Your Business
The best way to leverage the power of forms is to take stock of the applications you use every day and consider how they work in concert. What activities are your employees still doing manually to bring applications together? For example, are paper forms still being entered into a system by hand? Are orders still being transferred manually from the website into the inventory system? Are employees still logging into multiple applications and tools to do their work?
If so, it is important to realize that all of these tasks can likely be handled with APIs that bring those systems together. As mentioned above, APIs reduce the burden on your human resources, freeing up time and minimizing potential error.
When integrated with forms, both on your public-facing website and internally, APIs allow both customers and employees to have a better experience with your company. No one likes friction or frustration. Combining the power of forms and APIs reduces both.
Finding the Right Forms Agency to Lend a Hand
Over the years businesses of all shapes and sizes have leaned on Bet Hannon Business Websites to connect their websites and forms with other mission-critical applications. Our focus on Gravity Forms and WordPress mean that we possess both experience and expertise in handling this very specific software and the integrations businesses need to continue growing in the right direction. If you are curious about how forms and APIs can work for your organization or team, contact us here for a free consultation.
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