Should you ask your customer how they heard about you?

2019-08-16

When tracking the effectiveness of their advertising & marketing, many small local businesses will simply ask their customers, ‘How did you hear about us?’. It’s only natural for them to try and figure out what is working and what isn’t. But does this method provide accurate data that you can rely on to make profitable business decisions? That is the real question!

The truth is, it doesn’t! Most customers don’t remember how they first heard about you and will give you an answer, any answer, simply to be nice.

Here’s a funny but interesting story highlighting the issue featured in AllBusiness:

A friend of mine told me about a survey they did once for an event they helped promote. They asked people how they found out about the event and over half of them said they heard about it on the radio. On the surface this sounded like great marketing feedback.

But there was one problem.

They never promoted this event on the radio. People said “I heard about it on the radio” because they wanted to be helpful and because they listened to the radio a lot. So, it made sense (to them) that they probably heard about the event on the radio.

This is why it’s important to accurately track the effectiveness of each advertising channel you use and each marketing strategy, as much as possible. You can’t improve that which you don’t measure after all.

For this reason, I’m a huge fan of digital advertising. I’m especially a huge fan of setting up Google Ad campaigns with ‘offline sales’ conversion tracking. This requires the business to use a CRM religiously, but the benefits are of this type of tracking can’t be overstated.

Imagine knowing exactly which keyword, ad, zip code/location, time of day, day of week and demographics generate the highest return on investment for your business. Having this kind of granular sales tracking in place allows you to easily optimize your Google Ad campaign over time to increase your return on investment.

The same is mostly true for any form of digital advertising, not just Google Ads. To my knowledge, I do not believe that level of tracking is possible with radio, television or newspaper ads but alas, I’m not here to bash these channels in this post as I know very little about them. :)