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A Simple Measure of Marketing Many Businesses Miss


How did you hear about us?

The answer to that simple question can provide tremendous insight as to what marketing investments, strategies and tactics are yielding results.

While many businesses don’t ask this question, they do ask so many other questions. The registration form for gated content, such as white papers or webinars, are great examples.  These forms are often quite lengthy and require ‘just-in-case’ information the business doesn’t even know yet how it’s going to use.

Many digitally savvy marketers will point out that in lieu of such a question, a variety of web metrics are inherently available through tagged links, analytics and marketing automation.  That’s usually true, but it doesn’t provide a long view or historical reference.


These metrics are usually geared toward campaigns or initiatives.  More importantly, they don’t account for offline word-of-mouth – where research suggests the vast majority of word-of-mouth happens.

Embedding that question in the very fabric of a business will provide revealing information over time:

  • How do most of your prospects find you?
  • Does this change over time?
  • Of the deals your business has closed, how did those customers find you?

Training the entire workforce to think about measurement requires both conditioning – so that it is instinctive across all business functions not just marketing – and developing a system to support the data collection.  It doesn’t have to be complicated: a simple field in the CRM system will do.

With the means to capture the answers, the question can be asked of both new and existing customers to develop a baseline.  At a minimum the question ought to be asked:

  • On every web registration form
  • During the first sales conversation or even renewal
  • After a customer support interaction (if appropriate)
  • Any time marketing or PR interviews a customer for content
  • At tradeshows and client conferences

With a little organizational discipline, marketing will soon aggregate enough data to have a pretty clear picture of how the business gets found.  The next step is to set about doing more things to facilitate just that.

I’d welcome the opportunity to hear how you found this post in the comments below.

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Photo credit: Flickr, Neil Cummings, Standard Measures (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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