The Most Powerful Question in eCommerce: How Did You Hear About Us?

by Bryan Teo

The Most Powerful Question in eCommerce: How Did You Hear About Us?

In the vast and ever-evolving landscape of eCommerce, understanding the intricacies of customer acquisition is paramount to success. Among the myriad of metrics and analytics tools available to businesses, there exists one simple yet profound question that holds immense power: "How Did You Hear About Us?" (HDYHAU).

For some, this might be your first time hearing about HDYHAU surveys or post-purchase surveys in general, while the rest of you may have seen them before and wondered “why do companies ask HDYHAU?” To answer those questions, we’ve written this quick guide to HDYHAU questions—what some consider “the Michael Jordan of Survey Questions”.

“How did you hear about us?”, “Where did you hear about us?”, “How were you referred to us?”. The question can take many forms but its purpose and results remain the same.

While this query may appear eerily straightforward and simple, it can prove to be the anchor in your attribution modeling surveys. These survey responses can help you unlock actionable insights into the complex web that is consumer behavior that can fill in your attribution models.

From identifying the most effective marketing channels to optimizing your target audience segmentation, the answers to this question can help guide eCommerce merchants towards strategic growth and sustainable profitability.

In a previous guest blog with Right Side Up, we introduced HDYHAU surveys, but in this essay, we will delve deep into the significance of HDYHAU and explore its role in shaping marketing strategies (particularly multi-channel campaigns), understanding customer preferences, and driving business success in the digital age.

Through a comprehensive analysis of its impact and implications, we aim to unveil the true power of this deceptively simple yet profoundly transformative question in the realm of eCommerce attribution.

The current data collection landscape in eCommerce

In today's dynamic eCommerce landscape, data informs the decision-making for businesses across all industries. It serves as the lighthouse in the choppy waters that is eCommerce. The value of data in actionable insights and trends cannot be overstated.

In the realm of data, we have third, second, first, and zero-party data. These are big data that eCommerce merchants or other stakeholders can utilize for their business purposes. While each form of data has its pros and cons, zero-party data is the newest form of data that features characteristics to address concerns with the older forms.

Zero-party data comes as a means to tackle rising privacy concerns and regulations and also provides the most accurate data due to how it's collected. It is a safe and reliable form of data and one that many businesses add to their current mix of data.

There are many various ways to collect zero-party data. Attribution modeling surveys, or more specifically post-purchase surveys, have emerged as one of the most vital tools for marketing attribution within the eCommerce landscape.

These surveys play a pivotal role in understanding the customer journey beyond the point of purchase, providing valuable insights into the effectiveness of marketing channels, filling in the gaps in your attribution models, and more.

By asking "How Did You Hear About Us", they enable your eCommerce brand to capture feedback directly from consumers after they've made a purchase. They can gain deeper insights into what drove their buying decisions, allowing for more accurate attribution of sales and marketing efforts and optimization of their strategies.

Why "How Did You Hear About Us" insights are so important today

Amidst all the fanaticism over quantitative metrics today, there is a tendency to overlook the value of the qualitative aspect of data — such as direct insights from consumers. By fixating solely on numerical data, businesses risk neglecting valuable insights that could significantly impact their strategies.

Not only that, relying on older methods of data collection is also insufficient. First-party data has been the holy grail of data sources, and rightly so. Businesses have long relied on it (in the form of cookies and pixels) to understand their customers.

However, with rising privacy regulations, some means of data collection are slowly being more restricted. These regulations make the need for compliant data collection to be of utmost importance in today’s digital age.

These methods alone are not sufficient as it doesn’t provide a clear enough picture of your customers. In our current landscape where we have access to a wealth of information, traditional data alone only gives you macro-level insights to your consumer.

So why stop there?

It is recommended to collect a mix of data that consists of your traditional first to third party-data, as well as zero-party data, to get a full understanding of your consumer and their conversion path. This will enable your eCommerce brand to optimize an array of things, such as your checkout process, your customers' buying experience, and more.

Optimizing your data collection mix

This is where the concept of zero-party data and insights from HDYHAU survey questions come into play. Zero-party data, characterized by voluntary and transparent information shared directly by consumers, offers a complementary perspective to traditional data metrics.

By integrating both quantitative and qualitative data sources, businesses can gain a comprehensive understanding of their audience and tailor strategies to meet their evolving needs effectively.

In essence, leveraging HDYHAU data alongside conventional quantitative metrics such as conversion rates and Average Order Values (AOV) enables businesses to unlock a deeper level of consumer insights, ultimately driving more informed and impactful decision-making in today's competitive marketplace.

Here’s how having HDYHAU data can help: Imagine analyzing your brands AOV over time. Great, everything is going up and to the right. But layering attribution data from your HDYHAU survey over those metrics gives you a clearer picture: people buying after hearing about your brand from a friend have a 30% higher AOV than your average customer.

The additional characteristic of HDYHAU data is that it is not just quantitative, but qualitative as well. Post-purchase surveys like Fairing’s offer various formats to conduct your surveys, which would include multiple-choice questions that would allow your business to collect quantitative data, and open-ended follow questions to drill down on a HDYHAU answer.

These usually take the form of an “Other” option in the HDYHAU, or follow-up question. This enables businesses to gather deeper qualitative data if needed. Providing customers with the right HDYHAU options in your survey is also critical for you to get accurate answers on, well, how they heard about you.

Why do companies ask “How did you hear about us”

HDYHAU survey questions earned their prominence in attribution modeling surveys as they serve as a direct avenue for customers to articulate their initial touch-points with a brand or product. Not only that, they’re also integrated into the customer journey seamlessly so as to create as little friction as possible, allowing for high response rates.

This data provides crucial insights into the effectiveness of various marketing channels and marketing campaigns. As businesses strive to understand and optimize their customer acquisition strategies, the data received is the key to deciphering their marketing attribution and to fill out their attribution models.

Without the data, a business would be blindly attributing two different campaigns with equal credit based on surface level information. However, with insights from an attribution modeling survey there is a clear use case. It changes their understanding of their campaigns’ performance. This could guide them to make the necessary changes and accurately attribute marketing performance to each individual campaign.

Businesses use different attribution models, but most rely on having a first-touch source of data, which can be augmented with HDYHAU data captured in attribution surveys.

Having such information helps to measure past efforts, and also acts as guiding lights going forward. Businesses can get a grasp of what does and does not work for their consumer, and pattern their future marketing campaigns accordingly.

Where do eCommerce brands ask “How did you hear about us?”

Before we dive into the details and strategies of HDYHAU, we have to first cover the landscape that the question takes top billing in: attribution modeling surveys.

Attribution modeling surveys, which include the likes of post-purchase surveys, are important tools that businesses can use to increase revenue and sales. From first-touch, to last-touch, or even multi-touch, without data, businesses can only theorize where their attribution lies. The purpose of these surveys are to fill in these gaps and provide businesses with the necessary information to understand what their attribution is.

HDYHAU questions are hence the most powerful and a go-to tool here because of its directness and simplicity, and is the first question businesses include in their surveys.

These surveys are served right at the point after customers have completed their transaction, or post-purchase as the name suggests. There are several reasons for this and it’s not just for the sake of convenience.

Firstly, it allows your business to directly tie those attribution data points to a specific order made by the customer which will make it easier to clean and understand the data later on.

Secondly, it asks your customers when they are in a state of mind where they’re most receptive to being surveyed. This is the point in their buying journey where they’ve made their purchase, and are awaiting their shipping information. They’ve gone through the marketing funnel and have indicated their interest in your product or brand. So for these consumers, they are more likely to answer and we have a higher likelihood of getting good responses.

Finally, your store and your product are fresh in their minds. The reason they purchased today, whether it was a recommendation from a friend or a podcast ad, would be clearest in their minds as your eCommerce brand asks for immediate feedback.

Running an attribution modeling survey for your business

There are two common ways that your business can implement such a survey to gather important information needed to help elevate it. One way would be through email or text blasts that would be sent to all your customers using general information you’ve collected. There are many services that make this possible (such as Hubspot or Yotpo) that would make this process more efficient for you.

However, this method tends to have low response rates. Customers tend not to reply to such queries after they’ve made their purchase—when’s the last time you’ve answered a survey over email? Compounding low open rates of a survey email with even lower survey completion rates leaves brands with simply not enough data to make decisions.

Another way to ask “how did you hear about us” is through softwares like Fairing. These are post-purchase survey applications that are easily integrated with your eCommerce platforms, and can aid you in gathering immediate feedback and collating data within minutes.

For a more detailed understanding of how to integrate it, check out this step-by-step guide or resource pages such as Fairing’s Shopify integration page.

Putting your "How Did You Hear About Us" survey answers to use

We’ve spoken about how HDYHAU questions and attribution modeling surveys can help you gain valuable insights. Let us now go deeper into how you can utilize the data.

The survey questions are vital to businesses because they can provide quantitative insight into your sources of growth. Incorporating insights from zero-party data into the analysis of quantitative attribution data from platforms like GA4, Shopify, or Woocommerce can revolutionize how you understand your customers.

“25% of your customers found you through word of mouth”, where else would you be able to get this information?

By juxtaposing direct attribution data obtained through zero-party data with the numerical metrics provided by analytics platforms, businesses will be able to get a more comprehensive understanding of which efforts in a multi-channel campaign are working.

Taking Shopify analytics’ metrics like conversion rates and AOV, zero-party data can help to uncover the underlying motivations behind the customer’s behavior or their specific product preferences, and this will be critical knowledge that will be the guiding light for the next marketing or sales strategy.

Weezie, a luxury towel brand, were looking to make sure their investment in creating a quality referral program was worthwhile. By integrating Fairing’s Post-Purchase Survey into their store, they managed to attribute around 35% of their business to word-of-mouth referrals, confirming their hypothesis and allowing them to optimize their 7-figure advertising budget further.

"How Did You Hear About Us" versus other survey questions

We’ve established the various strengths to HDYHAU surveys and survey questions and how they stand to benefit your business. However, as DTC survey experts here at Fairing, we know that there is a sea of questions which you want to consider including in your survey. These questions fall under specific categories such as attribution, personalization, and more.

While each business has their own set of obstacles and need different data to solve these obstacles, in the eCommerce landscape, a majority of businesses still prioritize HDYHAU questions in their surveys. The reason for this goes back to the very fundamentals of marketing, which is the marketing funnel, or more specifically the awareness stage of the funnel.

The awareness stage of the marketing funnel is vital for merchants—where they're trying to get their brand name out there in a crowded marketplace. HDYHAU questions will help your business identify how to solve any awareness gaps, which is also most important to businesses of smaller scales.

Fortunately, the beauty of post-purchase surveys such as Fairing’s is that you’re able to ask more than one question that you find will present your business with critical information. By integrating Fairing’s post-purchase survey into your store, you will be able to set-up any number of questions as you deem fit to get data from consumers who have just purchased from you. However, we wouldn’t recommend bombarding your consumers with too many questions—to keep the process simple.

Fairing’s Question Stream contains features that make the process seamless for your business. It has been designed to be able to ask multiple questions to enable you to gain insight into a variety of areas. Additionally, it also presents your customers with questions one at a time so as to prevent overwhelming them which would lead to an exit.

The Question Stream also allows for targeting and segmentation where you can choose who is shown which specific question. This has been important as it prevents customers from having to answer any redundant questions that don’t apply to them.

These are consumers who have the highest likelihood of answering your survey questions, and hence why our entire database boasts a 50% average response rate. With the integration of Fairing, your business will also have access to our proprietary integrated pool of questions to help craft your surveys. These questions have been reviewed by a survey methodologist for accuracy and are written to reduce bias.


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