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

Will willthemoor at gmail.com
Mon Mar 5 07:15:15 CST 2012

You are right and they are wrong! Tell them some guy on the Internet said so. 

Or, set up an A/B test. There are a many ways to set one up. Google's web optimizer works pretty well and is free. Like I said, you are right but that's not to say there isn't considerable value to your organization in knowing where your referrals are coming from and where to best spend marketing dollars. So maybe it's worth it in the end but really only a test will prove it out one way or another. 

You can probably successfully argue to only run the A/B test if there is no referrer and not show the field at all if you have a referrer other than common search engine or webmail domains because you already have your answer. You can include the referrer as a hidden form field. 


On Mar 4, 2012, at 11:57 PM, Stuart Young <drstuey at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> 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
> anyway.
> 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:
> http://www.wizardofads.com.au/sarahripleywrites/2011/7/25/where-didnt-you-hear-about-us.html
> 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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