What do you do when your website is not converting, your product is not working, and people are leaving you? How do you find out what’s wrong—so you can fix it?
Companies and leaders who deliver outstanding experiences for their website visitors and users know something you might not: that customer feedback is the number one driver to create long-term success.
Customer feedback gives you a glimpse inside your users’ minds, and you can use that information to improve their experience, reduce drop-offs, and boost conversions. While analytics tools show you what is happening, website feedback—feedback that you collect directly on your website—tells you why it’s happening.
This guide covers everything from how to ask for website feedback to building a better user experience with what you learn.
Website feedback is information obtained directly from website users—through on-page surveys, feedback widgets, and other techniques—to help organizations understand what people think (and how they feel) about their websites and landing pages. Companies combine this information with website analytics to improve user experience, increase traffic, and convert more prospects into paying customers.
The value of website feedback (what vs. why)
Why gather user feedback when you can see what people do through analytics tools, such as Heatmaps, Session Recordings, and old-school Google Analytics?
Because you need more to understand the whole picture.
What would you do, for example, if you noticed a huge drop-off on your order page? Analytics tools can tell you what your users are doing (e.g., 70% quit before completing the order form), but only website feedback tools can tell you why this is happening (e.g., the high shipping costs are freaking them out).
Website feedback sheds light on the bigger picture. The ten methods below will help you understand what drives visitors to your website, what barriers prevent some users from converting, and what hooks convince the buyers to take action.
Types of website feedback
Feedback can come in many forms, from on-page surveys to customer reviews. Here are some of the most common website feedback sources:
Website pop-up surveys
A pop-up survey appears in the middle of the screen, forcing visitors to take action (either responding or closing the window) before they can proceed with what they’re doing.
Pop-up surveys should be used sparingly since they run the risk of annoying people—especially if they require a lot of input. Try to limit these kinds of surveys to a handful of questions, and save them for exit-intent pop-ups—a survey used to figure out why a user chooses to leave a website. A pop-up on exit can be valuable for figuring out why customers leave your website without converting.
Website on-page surveys
On-page surveys take up a tiny amount of screen space and slide up from the bottom of the screen (like a chatbot). If you’re looking to survey your users without interrupting their user experience, we recommend on-page surveys (which we call Feedback Polls here at Hotjar).
You can ask on-page feedback questions in different formats (including open-ended and multiple-choice questions), and you can set the number of seconds it takes for the survey to appear after the page loads.
Website feedback widgets
A website feedback widget is a button that sits at the edge of a web page. Users click the button, rate their experience, and usually answer an open-ended question about how the company could improve their page. They can typically highlight the element(s) on the webpage they want to discuss, so there’s no confusion about what they’re addressing. At Hotjar, our website feedback widget is called Incoming Feedback.
While on-page surveys are great for learning more about issues you’ve already identified (the known unknowns), they’re not as good at uncovering those things you know nothing about (the unknown unknowns)—which is where the website feedback widget comes in.
Here's a great example:
You may think your product descriptions need improvement because users drop off your product page—but what if they’re leaving because they are ready to buy but can’t find the order button?
If it never occurred to you to include an order button next to every product description, you’d never think to ask about it. A website feedback widget could make you aware of this ‘unknown unknown.’
“Website feedback widgets are an easy way to be constantly listening, and I think they are the ultimate empathy tool. When you connect them with tools that let you see how people interact with your website (for example: session recordings), you elevate your analysis to the next level.”
David Darmanin - CEO at Hotjar
Additional sources for website feedback
On-page surveys and website feedback widgets are great because they help you get visual, contextual, and in-the-moment feedback without requiring too much extra effort on your end. But the following can be helpful as well:
Dedicated feedback pages: some websites include feedback pages, which users usually access from the contact page.
Community feedback: forums and community feedback tools (also called ‘receptive’ feedback) provide a space where customers can flag issues and offer ideas for improvement.
Product reviews: companies with a large customer base can learn a lot about their customers by giving them the option to review their products on their website.
The 7 best website feedback survey questions to ask
When gathering customer feedback, we recommend asking questions that revolve around the following themes:
Drivers: what drives users to your website?
Barriers: what prevents some users from converting?
Hooks: what hooks persuade other users to convert?
The following seven questions will help you uncover those drivers, barriers, and hooks.
Drivers: ask these questions on high-traffic pages and landing pages
How can we make this page better? This open-ended question can highlight issues you never even considered.
Where did you first hear about us? Website analytics can be misleading when it comes to identifying the source of some traffic. If someone hears about your company at a trade show or from a friend, they might Google it to find your website. Your website analytics tool will flag this visit as ‘organic’ search—even though the real source was word-of-mouth. And that’s why this question is helpful.
Why are you looking for [product or service] today? Users may be interested in using your product in ways you never even considered, and knowing more about their intent can help inform your marketing copy as well as future product development.
Barriers: ask these questions on pages that users most frequently leave
What, if anything, is stopping you from [taking action] today? Figure out what’s preventing users from converting so you can tailor your website toward countering any objections.
What are your main concerns or questions about [product or service]? By identifying specific objections to your products, you can counter those objections in your marketing copy.
Hooks: ask these questions after users convert
What persuaded you to [take action] today? This question will help you understand your unique selling points. For example, if your competitive pricing convinces people to buy, then you’ll want to double down on that unique selling point in your marketing copy.
Thanks for [taking action]! How are you planning to use [product or service]? How people use your products or services might surprise you. If you notice they’re using them in ways you hadn’t considered, that could very well change the way you market your products or brand your company.
10 use cases for improving your website based on customer feedback
How can you improve your website with the information you learn? Here are ten use cases along with some real-world examples.
Use case #1: improve the usability of your website
Why it matters: every time someone uses your website, they’re interacting with your brand. The more usable your website, the happier your visitors will be... and happier visitors are more likely to convert (and recommend you to others).
Use Case: Matalan, a leading fashion retailer from the UK, used Hotjar’s Incoming Feedback tool (along with some Hotjar polls) to identify usability pain points, and they redesigned elements of their website to address those concerns. When they A/B tested the new features, Matalan saw a 17% uptick in winning tests. In other words, getting website design feedback helped them create a better user experience.
Use case #2: redesign your website
Why it matters: we recommend making regular, incremental improvements to your website rather than doing a complete redesign, but this approach may not be realistic for you. If you require a complete redesign for whatever reason, collecting user feedback is a must.
How it's done: add the website feedback button on every page and a pop-up survey that appears when visitors are about to leave the site.
Questions to ask: use the pop-up survey to ask the seven questions listed above to uncover the drivers, barriers, and hooks.
Use case #3: increase conversion rates on your landing pages
Why it matters: High-performing landing pages can be the difference between losing and making money, which in turn means you can (or can’t) re-invest more into your marketing to bring even more people to your site.
How it's done: set an on-page survey to appear after five seconds on all high-traffic landing pages.
Question to ask: “Quick question: how can we make this page better?”
Use case #4: improve your homepage
Why it matters: your homepage is often the first experience people have with your brand, and it’s the place they go to understand what you do and what makes you special. By setting up an on-page survey on your homepage, you’ll learn more about your customers and figure out what draws them in at the very top of your funnel.
How it's done: include an on-page survey, on your homepage, that appears five seconds after the page loads.
Questions to ask:
“Did you find what you were looking for today?” (Yes or No)
If they answer “Yes,” skip to question #3
If they answer “No,” go to question #2
“Tell us what’s missing?”
“If you could change this page in any way, what would you have us do?”
Use case #5: boost your e-commerce sales
Why it matters: setting up a post-purchase on-page survey is so valuable to e-commerce companies that we recommend making it your top priority where feedback is concerned. You’ll learn a great deal about your customers’ needs and why they choose to buy from you. Then you can change your marketing copy to stress your unique selling points.
How it's done: add on-page survey questions—typically on the thank-you page—with the first question appearing right after people make their purchase.
Questions to ask:
“How would you rate your overall experience?” (Rate on a scale of 1-5) Note: This low-commitment question gets your foot in the door so you can ask other questions later.
Based on how they rank their experience:
If 1-3, ask: ‘How can we improve your experience?’
If 4-5, ask: ‘What did you love about your experience?’
“What almost stopped you from completing your purchase?”
Use case #6: understand why people leave, downgrade, or cancel
Why it matters: it’s important to understand why prospects leave your website so you can address their concerns, counter their objections, and win more conversions.
How it's done: add on-page surveys and/or exit-intent surveys to your high drop-off pages.
Question to ask: “What, if anything, is stopping you from taking action today?”
Example #1: HubSpot
HubSpot is a leading Customer Relationship Management platform that also offers online training and certification programs for marketing professionals through its HubSpot Academy service.
The answers revealed issues the team at HubSpot hadn’t even considered, and they adjusted their web copy to address those objections.
Example #2: Conversion Rate Experts
Conversion Rate Experts has helped giants like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook to increase conversion rates, and they actually coined the phrase ‘conversion rate optimization’ back in 2007. One of Conversion Rate Experts’ favorite techniques is an exit-intent survey that asks two questions:
“Quick question… did you find the information you were looking for on this page?”
Based on the answer:
If Yes, ask, “Great! How could we improve this page?”
If No, ask, “Sorry to hear that! Could you tell us what was missing?”
“Thanks for your feedback. If you’d like a response, please leave your email below. (We won’t use it for anything else!)”
“Research is a huge part of our success—it’s the bedrock of everything we do with our clients. We don’t guess what’s wrong with a web business. We find out. This is the job of our research department. The key question to address is ‘Why aren’t visitors converting?’ and we leave no stone unturned in finding the answer.”
Martin Stone - Head of Research, Conversion Rate Experts
Use case #7: figure out whether your pricing makes sense
Why it matters: if your pricing plans are confusing, it’ll be an immediate turn-off to prospective buyers.
How it's done: add an on-page survey to your pricing page that appears five seconds after the page loads.
Questions to ask:
“Is our pricing clear?” (Yes or No)
Based on their answer:
If Yes, ask: “Awesome! What was your biggest challenge, frustration, or problem in finding the right [product type] online?”
If No, ask: “What’s confusing about our pricing?”
“What’s the one thing we’re missing in [product or service]?”
Use case #8: improve word-of-mouth
Why it matters: customer recommendations amount to free, effective advertising, and the best way to figure out whether your customers like you enough to recommend you is to measure your Net Promoter Score (NPS).
To determine your NPS, ask your customers how likely they are to recommend you (on a scale of 0-10). Next, subtract the percentage of respondents who answer 1-6 replies (your detractors) from the percentage who answer 9-10 (your promoters). The result is your NPS.
How it's done: set up an on-page survey on your main conversion page(s).
Questions to ask:
The standard NPS question is very simple:
“On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend [company] to a friend or colleague?”
To get maximum benefit from the NPS survey, we recommend that you always ask a follow-up question—for example: “What was the main reason for your score?”—to understand the context behind people’s score.
Why it matters: a user persona is a semi-fictional character based on data you’ve collected about your customers. It reflects who they are, what they want to accomplish, and what may stop them from attaining it. User personas are extremely useful to grow and improve a business: they help uncover the different ways people search for, buy, and use products, so you can improve the experience for real people.
How it's done: add an on-page survey to a commonly visited page, like your homepage, that appears after five seconds.
Questions to ask:
“Describe yourself in one sentence (e.g., I am a 30-year old marketer, based in Dublin, who enjoys writing articles about website feedback.)”
“What is your main goal for using our [website/product]?”
“What, if anything, is preventing you from taking action?”
Example: rather than spending tens of thousands to hire a marketing firm, Smallpdf used an on-page survey to ask their website visitors five simple questions, and the answers helped them understand who uses their product. Smallpdf then used this data to build simple user personas, and they went on to study their ideal users in greater detail. By getting to know their users, they were able to implement changes that cut their user error rate significantly on a commonly-used feature and improve their overall NPS).
"With all the changes said and done, we've cut our original error rate in four, which is huge.”
Kristina Wagner - Interaction Designer, Smallpdf
Use case #10: understand the competitive landscape
Why it matters: it’s important to study your competitors’ websites, products, and pricing; otherwise, it’s difficult to sell against them. And while you probably know all the big players, you may be surprised to learn that your prospects are considering alternatives to your product that you’ve never thought about.
How it's done: add an on-page survey to your product page, appearing five seconds after the page loads.
Questions to ask:
“Have you looked at any other companies that offer [product or service]?” (No/Yes/Not yet, but I will).
Based on their answer to the question above:
If No, ask “Why not?”
If Yes, ask “Who else have you looked at?”
If Not Yet, ask “Who else do you plan to look at?”
Example: Michael Aagaard, international keynote speaker and conversion optimizer, used these survey questions to evaluate the competitive landscape at Unbounce. He learned that the vast majority (83%) of the company’s prospective customers were reviewing (or planned to review) more than one provider before making a decision (not too surprising). What did surprise him was that he learned about competitors he never knew existed.
“The second people set up a landing page; I tell them to start running a feedback poll. People think they have to start A/B testing right away, but I say `No!’ Do your research first, and you’ll do better testing afterwards.”
Michael Aagaard - International Keynote Speaker and Conversion Optimizer
Website feedback FAQs
Will asking for feedback annoy my users, damage user experience, and/or hurt conversion rates?
The truth is, you can’t really afford not to collect feedback. Unless you know what users think about your page and why they behave the way to do, you’ll never create an ideal user experience. In fact, there’s a good chance you’re already doing something right now that bugs them more than any survey or feedback button ever would.
If you’re really concerned that adding a survey or a feedback widget might affect conversions, start small and survey only 10% of your visitors. You can stop collecting data once you’ve received enough replies.
What’s a good sample size?
A good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 100 replies that you can work with.
You can use our sample size calculator to get a more precise answer, but keep in mind that collecting feedback is research, not experimentation. Unlike experimentation (such as A/B testing), all is not lost if you can’t get a statistically significant sample size. In fact, as little as ten replies can give actionable information about what your users want.
What’s the average completion rate?
Completion rate can vary a great deal depending on where you place the survey, how many questions you ask, and even what copy you use. Better qualified leads might be more inclined to leave feedback—so when you put a survey on your product or pricing page, it might get a higher response rate than one on your homepage.
In the end, though, try not to worry too much about your completion rate. Instead, focus on getting at least 100 replies.
How can I make sure my users give me honest and critical feedback?
First of all, consider adding “... and please be 100% honest” at the end of your first survey question.
Secondly, you’ll also get better data by focusing on people who have some level of personal/professional investment in your business and want you to improve your product, such as paying customers and prospects further along in the sales funnel.
How can I get more replies?
The following tips can increase your response rate:
Begin the first greeting with an informal, “Hey...”
Refer to your survey as “quick”
If you’re only asking one question, let them know up front by leading with, “One quick question…”
If you’re asking multiple questions, begin with a simple “yes” or “no” question to get your foot in the door, then follow it with an open-ended question
Focus on high-traffic pages
What’s better: multiple-choice questions or open-ended questions?
It depends. If you’re gathering feedback for the first time, focus on open-ended questions since you have no idea what your visitors are thinking. If you limit them to multiple-choice answers, you can’t learn what you don’t know… and what you don’t know will probably surprise you.
That said, making the first one a simple “yes/no” or multiple-choice question can get your foot in the door, increasing the odds that people will answer the open-ended questions that follow.
Of course, if you’ve already done your homework and you really know your users, you can go ahead and ask a series of multiple-choice questions without worrying that you’re missing something.
Could collecting feedback create a privacy/GDPR violation?
Every company’s situation is unique, so we can’t give you an answer that applies to every case. What we can do is tell you what we do to keep things legit here at Hotjar.
On the privacy page, we discuss how we track behaviors, not users. We do this by assigning each visitor a unique user identifier that lets us track returning visitors without tying their behavior to any personal information.
What if I don’t have enough traffic to get feedback?
Unlike A/B testing, collecting feedback is research, not experimentation. Even ten solid replies will give you somewhere to start. Beyond that, you can conduct informal customer interviews to gain insight into what potential customers want.
That’s about it! Now you should have everything you need to start collecting feedback, which is the first step toward optimizing user experience and maximizing conversions.
Have you ever conducted user feedback surveys or used a website feedback widget? Did your research reveal anything that surprised you? Let us know in the comments.
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