What’s that word? Stay with me and keep reading. For now…please indulge me while I dig into the marketing magic of a good form.

My background is in direct-response marketing. I began in direct mail and database marketing. Two disciplines that still today, are the foundation for much of the professional success I’ve had since. Think of content marketing – making sure you’re speaking to the right audience is critical. Email marketing too – when done with intention and a long-term view, the back end of your email database is the foundation of communication streams.

With that in mind, here’s a form I came across recently served up to one of the nonprofit LinkedIn company pages I manage:

LinkedIn Missed Opportunity

Do you see the problem?

We’re a nonprofit, and none of these choices are appropriate to our situation. We’d love the opportunity to capture leads too. The principle here as I said above goes back to my training in database marketing. On their end, nonprofit pages should be coded separately and either not be served this option in the page setup, or they should create a drop-down choice using “Other” then allow for a custom CTA button.

Yes, THIS is the one simple word.

Strategically, this would be their best move as a first step because they would gather user intelligence, and I’m very sure since they have an ongoing campaign targeted to nonprofits, they’d see soon enough that ‘donate’ or ‘support’ or ‘volunteer’ would warrant its own menu item.

Very often, I encounter personal and business forms where none of the prescribed choices are appropriate for me. A personal example that happened recently was when I tried to change the credit card on file for my Apple account to my new bank account details.

There was no option to ‘change,’ only ‘update’ or ‘delete’ and since the expiration date had expired, it kept kicking back the change saying because I had a subscription tied to that credit card, I couldn’t delete it. (This was the only option that made sense to me.)

Sure enough, when I logged in from my computer, there was the option to change with instructions that have to be carried out on my phone.


This is another instance where ‘other’ would have served both parties well. Because, I would have not been frustrated/wasting time and I would have told them why (“bank change” this is important trackable marketing information for them). It’s really all just thinking through the user experience.

How did you hear about us?

Great question and one that should be asked everywhere possible (but not made a mandatory field). For a global event I’m involved in through my new nonprofit board work, I’ve added this field to our registration forms so we could begin to better understand what was driving attendees to events.

They’d just run their first-ever paid LinkedIn ad campaign with a small $100 test. The exposure, clicks, etc. look to be pretty good for a first effort, but did it work?

Here it’s crucial not only to ask the question but also to have an ‘other’ option at the end of a list. This, in my opinion, is better than having a list that would be either too generic (‘social media’) and not meaningful or too long (listing every possible option). You’d likely see answers such as ‘LinkedIn’ rather than ‘social media’ when input by a user.


A good form is part of the foundation for marketing attribution. It’s often the place of that critical first touchpoint when a prospect self-selects. Use the opportunity to gather as much marketing intelligence as you can taking a long-term view of how that information will help improve your marketing by incorporating ‘other‘ into your forms.

Pro tip: Become your own customer and fill out the forms on your own website to see if any changes are needed to better align with your long-term marketing goals.