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PayPal Integration: Improved Donations & Discounts

We started the new year with a number of updates to FormSmarts’ Advanced PayPal Integration.

Mix Donations & Regular Payments

FormSmarts now allows you to accept both payments for a fixed amount (e.g. membership renewal, registration fee) and donations (which amount is chosen by the contributor) on the same form. This feature is typically aimed at non-profits that would like to collect contributions on their membership form or when taking online registrations for an event. Feel free to try this demo.

Add a Promotion Code and Discount to PayPal

More Flexible Discount Codes

A discount code can now cover the whole amount of the transaction. This would come useful on an event registration form: some attendees to whom you have given an offer code will be able to register for free, while the bulk of delegates will have to pay.

SuperCart Update

In line with this change, we’ve also updated SuperCart to allow free registrations (or any other type of transactions) as part of a SuperCart session. So non-paying delegates can be registered at the same time as paying delegates, within a single SuperCart session.

Posted on February 18th, 2014 in payment form.
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How to Add Links and Basic Formatting on a Form & More…

Did you know FormSmarts allows you to include links on a form? You may also use bold, italic and underline for simple formatting.

Can't see this image? You're missing out something great!

Posted on November 28th, 2013 in online form.
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Introducing Form Builder v 3.0

Version 3 of the form builder introduces a number of new functions to the Forms Tab.

Rows in the Forms Tab are now selectable. Simply click on a row to select the corresponding form. That form will become your working form; the form which input fields are listed in the Fields Tab. Other actions like viewing a form, editing it, enabling a previously disabled form and grabbing the form’s HTML code snippet or URL will also make that form your working form. Your working form is saved across form builder sessions provided you use the same browser.

Forms Tab of the Form Builder v 3.0

A new Duplicate button in the equally new toolbar now allows you to create a copy of the working form, thereby deprecating the Form Cloning Tool.

We’ve added a “+” button that takes the user straight to the New Form section. This will be most useful to customers with a large number of forms. To avoid cluttering the user interface, the “+” button only shows up when the New Form section is not entirely visible and would require the user to scroll down.

Finally we’ve streamlined the navigation between the Forms and Fields tabs, providing direct access to the fields of any form by double-clicking on the relevant row in the Forms Tab.

Fields Tab of the Form Builder v 3.0

The most obvious change to the Fields Tab is a new toolbar above the list of input fields. Besides the new “+” button, allowing you to scroll down to the new field section, the toolbar allows you to directly access form-level functions in the Fields Tab: you can now view the form you’re working on, edit it, and get its URL or HTML code while in the process of adding fields, without needing to go back and forth between the Fields and Forms tabs.

Please let us know the changes you like and (more importantly) those you don’t like, and feel free to suggest any ideas that would further improve the form builder.

Posted on September 25th, 2013 in form builder.
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How to Track the Source of Leads

If you use online forms for lead generation, you will want to know the source of form submissions: from which page of your site a form was submitted, which social network or site the visitor came from, or which marketing campaign led the prospect to you.

Where was the form submitted from?

You can track the source of leads received via form submissions with the fs_ctxval context parameter, giving it a unique value for each source or campaign you wish to track. In this article, we show you how. If you need help setting this up, let us know.

Example 1: Form Accessed by Its FormSmarts URL

The simplest way to publish a form online is to allow your customers to directly access the form by its FormSmarts URL. To track the source of form responses, create a unique URL for each source or campaign:

  • http://formsmarts.com/form/lqh?fs_ctxval=Facebook-May-2013
  • http://formsmarts.com/form/lqh?fs_ctxval=Newsletter-May-12-2013
  • http://formsmarts.com/form/lqh?fs_ctxval=ABC+Conference+2013 (tip: create a QR code with this URL and print it on posters, flyers and stickers)

As you would expect, context values are collected by FormSmarts and shown in notification emails, online & PDF reports, exports to Excel and web API callbacks.

Example 2: Form Embedded into Your Site

If you manually inserted the code snippet for the same form into multiple pages of you site, follow instructions in this section to track leads. If you added the form to your site template, skip to the next section (for WordPress sites) or the one after (for other template-based sites).

Edit each web page where you embedded the form and locate the code snippet in the HTML source. Add the context value after lay=1 (or lay=2), as in the code highlighted below:


<iframe width="540" height="481" src="https://formsmarts.com/form/lqh?mode=embed&lay=1&fs_ctxval=Summer+2013+Conference+Registration+Page" scrolling="auto" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" vspace="0" hspace="0" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" style="overflow-x:hidden"><a href="https://formsmarts.com/form/lqh">Can't see the form? Click here</a>.</iframe>

Alternatively, grab a fresh copy of the code snippet from the form builder, edit the code as described, then add it to your site in the usual way.

Example 3: Tracking Leads on a WordPress Site

If you added a form to the template of your WordPress site, you can track the URL of the page a form was submitted from with PHP.

  • In your WordPress template, replace the form’s HTML snippet by the PHP code below
  • Paste the form’s code snipped given by the form builder between the single quotes as shown.

<?php
$snip = ''; // Paste form embedding code between single quotes
$url = get_permalink();
$re = "/[^\w\s,()\[\]*\/:\-.?]+/";
$ctx = urlencode(substr(preg_replace($re, "", $url), 0, 150));
print(str_replace("mode=h5embed", "mode=h5embed&fs_ctxval=".$ctx, $snip));
?>

Example 4: Tracking Leads on Any Site with JavaScript

You can do the same on any other sites with JavaScript:

<script>
var snip = ''; // Paste embed code here
var pth = document.location.pathname;
var re = /[^\w\s,()\[\]*\/:\-.?]+/g;
var ctx = encodeURIComponent(pth.replace(re, '').substring(0, 150));
document.write(snip.replace("mode=h5embed", "mode=h5embed&fs_ctxval=" + ctx));
</script>

Notes

This feature is included with all Business plans. Context data may not contains non-alphanumeric characters other than “()[]*/:-.? ” and may not exceed 150 characters.

Posted on May 27th, 2013 in form builder.
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Offering Discounts with PayPal Integration & Introducing Coupon Codes

FormSmarts allows you to offer three types of discounts to your customers on your PayPal forms: fixed amount discounts, percentage discounts and discount codes.

Fixed Amount Discount

  • Syntax: My Discount (-$5 USD)
  • Example form with a fixed amount discount
  • You may offer more than one discount, but not more than there are paid items selected.

Percentage Discount

  • Syntax: Discount Percentage (-25%)
  • Example form featuring a discount rate
  • You may only add one discount rate to a form
  • Percentage discounts are not supported on SuperCart forms
  • If you’re offering a fixed discount on the same form, both may not be selected at the same time

Discount Codes

Last but not least, FormSmarts now supports discount codes. With discount codes, the buyer will only get the fixed amount discount if they enter a valid coupon code.

Buyer enters coupon code to get the discount on PayPal checkout page

  • Try this example with the discount code FSCP-DEMO

To offer discount codes on your forms:

  • Add a text box to your form selecting the data type Letters + Numbers
  • Create the discount code on FormSmarts with the API Console as shown in this video.
  • Promo codes must start with FSCP- and may only contain alphanumeric characters and dash.

Posted on February 1st, 2013 in payment form.
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How to Have Users Pay Once for Multiple Registrations or Orders

A little known feature of FormSmarts’ Advanced PayPal Integration is SuperCart. This feature allows a user to submit multiple online forms that include a payment and pay once for the total amount at the end, thereby providing the buyer with a better ‘shopping’ experience and reducing the seller’s PayPal fees. Let’s review two typical uses of SuperCart.

Note: This article discusses an early version of SuperCart. Although it content has been updated and is still relevant, please also read our introduction to the SuperCart Shopping Cart.

Online Registration Form Allowing Several Registrants

Use Case 1: Event Registration Form

The first typical use for SuperCart is to create an online form to register attendees for an event. For illustration purposes, I’ve made a registration form for a conference. We want each attendee to be able to choose a different registration package, pick the seminars they would like to attend and optionally add an accommodation package. With SuperCart, a user can register multiple delegates by submitting the registration form for each one, then pay for all of them at once. In the illustration above, we submit the form once to register Pat selecting the standard registration option, then again for Jim, opting this time for a premium registration and adding accommodation. We then proceed to PayPal to pay for both registrations. This short video shows how this works in practice.

Use Case 2: Order Form

Another common use of this feature is to create an order form allowing a buyer to purchase several products or services while being able to customize options for each one. I’ve built an order form demo to allow customers to configure and order goods (greetings cards in this example). Each product can be customized based on the options selected on the order form. With SuperCart, the buyer will be able to order as many products as they like by submitting an order form for each one, then pay for all of them at once.

How to Create a SuperCart Form

While understanding the concepts behind SuperCart may not appear straightforward, building a SuperCart form is easy:

  1. Set the Return URL of the form to the URL of the page the form is embedded into. If you’re using the standalone form, enter the FormSmarts.com URL given by the form builder instead.
  2. In the Form Details screen, set the On Submission option to Integrate with PayPal using SuperCart.

If you haven’t already done so, remember to set up your PayPal account for Advanced PayPal Integration.

When You Should and Shouldn’t Use SuperCart

Set up your PayPal forms with SuperCart whenever you would like to allow a buyer to pay once for multiple form submissions and providing a single form would affect the form’s usability because each registration/order has too many options or you expect someone will submit more two or three registrations/orders. If it’s unlikely buyers will submit more than one form you should use a regular payment with Advanced PayPal Integration instead.

Posted on January 4th, 2013 in payment form.
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Introducing the New Mobile Form Platform

We’ve just released our new mobile form platform and we encourage you to try it out now from your smartphone or tablet.

  • Form navigation is optimized for touch screen devices with a virtual keyboard
  • If supported by the device (browser), a different virtual keyboard should be provided depending on the type of data to input. For example, when a phone number field is selected, the device will show a phone dial with large numbers. When moving to an email field, the keyboard will show the ‘@’ and ‘.’ keys at prominent positions.
  • Form adapts to the size of the screen and form layout changes when switching from portrait to landscape mode (or conversely)

Mobile Form FormSmarts

To access the mobile version of a form, use the URL http://m.f8s.co/your-form-id or add ?mobile=yes to the FormSmarts.com URL of the form.

e.g. If the URL of a form is http://formsmarts.com/form/lqh, you can access its mobile version at http://m.f8s.co/lqh or http://formsmarts.com/form/lqh?mobile=yes

Once the platform goes out of beta (i.e. public testing phase), FormSmarts will automatically serve the desktop or mobile version of a form depending on the client device.

Besides the iPhone and iPad, we’ve tested mobile forms with a wide range of Android smartphones and tablets, as well as BlackBerry devices. Please share with us your experience using mobile forms with your own device.

Posted on September 28th, 2012 in mobile form.
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How to Lead People to Online Forms from Printed Material

Here are two easy tips to increase online form conversion from paper material: bridge the offline-online gap by allowing people to register for your next event, pay their membership fee, or sign up for your newsletter on the spot from any poster, brochure or printed document.

You are probably aware that you can easily share a form with your user base by email or on social networks using the FormSmarts.com URL that comes with each and every web form. What you may not know is that FormSmarts has two features that allow you to share online forms on printed material.

Using QR Codes & Short Form URLs

You can and should take advantage of the dramatic increase of the number of smartphones and tablets in the last few years to give people a convenient way to access your forms on the spot with their smartphone (or tablet) by either scanning a QR code that will lead them straight to your form or by typing a short URL (for those users that don’t yet have a QR code scanner app on their device).

You’ll find the QR code and short URL (e.g. f8s.co/lqh) of each of your forms in the Form Publishing Options screen of the online form builder.

Printed material where you should consider printing the QR code and short URL of your forms include: posters, invitations, printed newsletters, ads, brochures, job specifications, tags,… and even t-shirts.

Send us a picture of printed media where you use a FormSmarts QR code or short URL and you could win yourself a free Pro subscription! The best three entrants will be chosen on Jul 31, 2012 and will get a 1 year Pro subscription and their picture published on FormSmarts.

Posted on June 25th, 2012 in form builder.
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How to Integrate with FormSmarts API

The Event Notification API allows you to have FormSmarts send a machine processable ‘push’ notification message to a script on your website (or for that matter to any URL) to process the information that has just been submitted through one of your online forms. You can use the Event API (a.k.a. Web Hooks) to integrate FormSmarts with your database, website or any online service or application.

How to Integrate

Whereas this feature is mainly targeted at developers, creating a script that does something useful with the data received from FormSmarts is actually not difficult. The API is fully documented with examples in PHP.

  • You first need to create a program/script to process form data and upload it to your web server. Data is sent in JSON format, which is supported natively by all modern programming languages.
  • Then register the script’s URL with FromSmarts
  • Whenever a form is submitted, FormSmarts will send the data submitted through the form as well as other data pertaining to the form response (e.g. payment information if the form involves a payment) to the URL you have registered.

Have a Great Idea?

If you have a great idea about how you could use FormSmarts API, let us know: we have several Business Starter subscriptions to give away.

Posted on May 31st, 2012 in form builder.
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Engage Users via Twitter & Facebook to Increase Form Conversion

FormSmarts allows you to better engage with your user community by adding a social component to your online forms. The assumption with social networks is that a user is more likely to perform an online action such as filling out a form, registering for an event or sign up for a class if she knows that her friend or colleague has already done so.

Online Forms Get Social

For each form, FormSmarts allows you to set up a message template that will be used to post an update to social networks when the form is submitted. The message can incorporate any information entered on the form.

The user’s expectation when filling out online forms is that the information submitted will only be disclosed to the form owner, and you clearly need to ensure you don’t leak personal information (more about this in the last section). We define two types of input fields on a form. Those which will be populated by information which—taken out context—is so general that it can be safely disclosed, and those which should be kept private. In the example below, we deem First Name, City and Country as public, while all other fields are deemed private.

Post a Twitter Update When Online Form Submitted

How to Set Up FormSmarts to Post Twitter Updates

First connect your Twitter account with FormSmarts to allow FormSmarts to post tweets on your behalf. You will be taken to Twitter for authentication and asked to authorize FormSmarts to post updates using your account. You will only need to do this once. Note that FormSmarts will not have access to your Twitter password. Once this is done, Twitter will send you back to FormSmarts.

Next click on Twitter Feed Setup in the Form Details screen of the form builder. Enter a short text using placeholders $1, $2, $3,… where you want the value of the corresponding input field to be inserted. Use $1 for the value of the first input field, $2 for the second, etc., in the order fields appear on the form.

The Online Form Creator's Twitter Setup Screen

Posting Updates to Your Facebook Wall

When someone submits a form, FormSmarts can post an update to your Facebook wall via the Twitter App for Facebook. First set up FormSmarts to post updates to Twitter as described in the previous section, then add the Twitter App to your Facebook page or profile. We will add native support for Facebook if there is demand—please let us know here. (Note: if you ended up here while looking for information on integrating an online form to Facebook, read this).

Respecting the Privacy of User Information

Protecting the information of your users is of paramount importance. When someone submits his information via an online form, he does it with the implicit understanding that his personal information will not be disclosed.

  1. Add a privacy note on the form (like on this demo) to ensure people understand that some none-personal information will be posted to social networks. Say what information will be published.
  2. Make sure you’re using the correct placeholder (e.g. $1, $2,…) in the message template. Remember that $1 will be replaced by the value of the first input field in the order they appear on the form, $2 will be replaced by the value of the second input field, etc.
  3. If you change the order of fields on the form, don’t forget to update the message template with the correct placeholder name.
  4. Always test the form after setting up a Twitter feed or changing field order.

To further prevent the leak of confidential information, FormSmarts will not publish Twitter updates for SSL secure online forms, even if this has been set up through the online form builder.

How to Disable a Twitter Feed

If you no longer want FormSmarts to post a Twitter update when a form is submitted, simply erase the message template in the Twitter Feed Setup screen (pictured above) and save changes.

Posted on December 13th, 2011 in form builder.
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About the Form Builder Blog

The Online Form Builder Blog is published by FormSmarts, a web form service providing all you need to create a form and publish it online in minutes. FormSmarts makes it easy to build a form and embed it on your site. You can then get form submissions by email or store them on FormSmarts and download an Excel report. Learn more about the many other benefits of FormSmarts.