[thelist] evidence against the 'how did you hear about us' question

Stuart Young drstuey at gmail.com
Sun Mar 4 22:57:44 CST 2012


I'm having a battle with the marketing dept who insist that a 'how did you
hear about us' question with a drop-down menu of options to pick from is
added to the lead generation form and that it is made a required field.

I think this will reduce the form completion rate and advocate not
including it, or at least making it optional, and/or making it be free text
entry rather than select menu.

The reason why a drop down is a bad idea is that it causes people to spend
time reading all the options presented and thinking about which one is the
most relevant for them when there may be more than one that is true, and/or
they might not remember when they first heard about us. If they are forced
to agonize over their choice they may give up on our form.

I have read that this means that many web users have trained themselves to
ignore those questions because of the cognitive burden and that if the
question is mandatory, they simply choose the first option on the list no
matter what it is and so such questions likely provide inaccurate data

However I am finding it difficult to find appropriate evidence to support
my position and so that is what I am asking thelist - do you have any
evidence against (or for) these questions?

I found this blog which is just the sort of thing I am after:


but all the other references I have found are small mentions in among lots
of other form design and conversion optimisation advice and so not really
appropriate for a marketing department audience.

Thanks in advance!

This is the gmail account of Stuart Young
Pt Chev, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand

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