"How did you hear about us?" (HDYHAU?) is one of the most important things to ask your new prospects. An increasing number of companies get initial inquiries through their website thes days, and will often ask the question there.
(Although many are still just asking prospects to send an email to "firstname.lastname@example.org" - and thus losing a major opportunity to qualify their prospects and/or measure their marketing ROI!)
While HDYHAU? is a great question to ask, there is little consistency across the Web about the possible ANSWERS. Here's one typical example:
"How Did You Hear About Us?"
Drop-down options include:
Can you tell what's wrong with these options?
1. Article-Print vs. Article-Web? Who cares where the article appeared, especially since most hardcopy articles are also published online? Is there a company or PR firm out there that genuinely cares anymore whether the ink was hardcopy or virtual? (Hmm, that's a potential subject for another blog entry!) Is there a company or PR firm out there that would change their communications strategies based on the number of replies to "Article-Print" vs. "Article-Web"?
2. "Company Website" - If they are AT your website then the prospect has ALREADY heard of you, eh?
3. Notice that the list is ALPHABETIZED? "What's wrong with that?" you might ask. One word reply: LAZINESS. It's no surprise to learn that a certain number of prospects will simply check-off the first option to appear within the drop-down menu. Thus in the list above, "Advertisement" may edge out all the other options. That will make your ad firm plenty happy, but you'll get a more ACCURATE perspective if you program your website to dynamically mix the options for every unique visitor.
Better yet: forget about the drop-down list of options for the HDYHAU question!
Instead, provide the same options in such a way that all options are visible at once (for example, in a 3X3 column - 3 options across X 3 options down), and have each option be accompanied by a radio-button. The question then becomes: "How did you hear about us? (Check all that apply)" When ALL options are visible at once and equally easy to select, the prospect is more likely to provide the ACCURATE answer.
Don't believe me? Don't think it's worth harassing your Webmaster? Think again: anecdotally, when one SHIFT client made these changes they soon realized substantial & sensible differences in their ability to determine their marketing ROI!
Marketing measurement is a great idea. Do it right. Make the commitment.