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The 15 best website survey questions to ask customers in 2019

February 14, 2019 by Fio Dossetto

Nobody knows more about what your users want than the users themselves. So why not ask them?

Regardless of what type of website you’re working on—be it e-commerce, SaaS (software-as-a-service), blog, or magazine site—surveying users on the page will give you the feedback you need to improve the user experience for your audience and increase conversions for your business.

In this quick guide, you’ll learn where on your website to ask questions, which survey questions to ask, our favorite survey question examples, and how to get started using an online survey tool like Hotjar.

Table of contents

What are website surveys and why are they valuable?

A website survey is a way for businesses to gather feedback from visitors about their experience of a website and find ways it can be improved.

Website surveys can take different forms, from small slide-ins or pop-ups in a corner to full-page overlays, but they all help website owners and managers collect qualitative insight that sheds light on the ‘why’ behind user actions.

Where on your website should you ask survey questions?

When you run a survey on your website, the questions you ask are important, but so is the place where you ask them. For example: a landing page is a great place for a survey asking people how they found your site, but not the best one if you're looking for feedback on the website experience as a whole.

Before you start picking survey questions (and we’ll have you covered in just a few paragraphs), think critically about what you want to accomplish and where the best place to ask your questions may be:

  • What pages are crucial to your business?
  • Which over- or under-performing page(s) could most benefit from additional insight?
  • Where in the conversion funnel have you spotted a leak that needs investigating (funnel analysis will help you with this)?

Thinking about ‘where to ask’ before you get started helps improve your chances of getting truly valuable insight that you can action quickly, instead of unhelpful answers that won’t lead to improvement.

Here are five likely candidates: 

1. Homepage surveys

Homepage surveys can be great for getting users’ first impressions of your site—but use them carefully so they don't distract people and/or disrupt their journey so early on.

Let's give you a practical example of a homepage survey we've used at Hotjar. We recently worked on a brand project to update our messaging and visuals, and created and tested several variations of the homepage. Anyone who landed on the homepage, whether it was our existing version or one of the variations, was asked this question:

homepage survey question

This question, asked 15 to 30 seconds after people landed on the page, helped us learn more about what worked and didn’t, so we could refine our designs at each new iteration:

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A FEW RESPONSES FROM OUR HOMEPAGE SURVEY

🏆 Pro tip: if you think a poll on the homepage may be too invasive, there are other ways to collect user feedback. For example, we use an optional “feedback” widget (our own Incoming Feedback tool) on the right-hand side of the page that allows users to leave quick feedback if they want, but doesn’t disrupt their journey with a pop-up.

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2. Landing page surveys

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Landing pages are targeted entry points to your website that can be key pages for conversions, so getting their content and structure right is well worth your time.

This is where an on-page survey can help: while data points like conversion rate will give you a black-and-white view of how your landing pages are performing, asking questions will help you color in the data and find out what’s still missing, what’s not crystal clear, and what’s stopping people from continuing their journey across your site.

🏆Pro tip: consider triggering a survey only when visitors have spent 30 seconds or more on the page or scrolled halfway down. This solution will help avoid distracting people when they are first reading the page, and also give them time to determine whether they're able to find the information they need.

3. Success page and post-purchase surveys

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Success pages are a great spot for a quick survey because they target users who have just performed a desired action (e.g., signing up for a newsletter). Asking questions at this stage helps you dig into the details and learn more about what you're doing right, why people choose you over competitors, or whether there's anything that almost put them off.

Surveys on success pages can be triggered as soon as a confirmation message appears, ensuring that the user’s journey is complete and fresh in their minds. This is especially valuable if you sell products or services: for example, a post-purchase survey run as soon as a customer has completed an order will help you determine what (if anything) almost stopped them from converting, so you can address the issue for everybody else.

4. Surveys on pages with high exit rates

High exit rates may indicate that users are not getting what they want from a page. By asking a few questions on problematic pages, you can learn more about why people are leaving your website.

If exit rate is not the best indicator of success for your site, you can also poll users on pages with poor conversion rates. The principle is the same: take a page that’s underperforming, and ask your users why.

As with landing page surveys, it’s a good idea to trigger surveys on any pages where you want users to complete an action (such as a pre-sales page) after a set time or scroll length. That way, you'll avoid distracting users before they’ve read the content.

5. Surveys on cancelation, downgrade, or churn pages

If you run a SaaS website or subscription service, you’ll likely have customers who wish to unsubscribe or downgrade to a lower pricing tier.

Asking a quick question or two after users cancel or downgrade can give you important insight into what made them quit, and help you improve retention rates in the future.

🏆 Pro tip: word your cancelation questions carefully so users are able to freely give negative feedback. One way to do this is to explicitly encourage honest feedback, like we do in this example:

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Start understanding what users want

Sign up for a free Hotjar account and set up a website survey today.

Free forever. Get started!
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10 survey questions to ask on your website

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Now that you've thought about where to place surveys so you can most benefit from user feedback, it’s time to start asking questions.

We believe you’ll get the best insight from open-ended questions: questions that let users answer in their own words instead of just selecting from multiple-choice answers.

Here are ten open-ended survey questions you can use as a template on your website: feel free to copy, re-word, or expand on any or all of these.

Question Where to add survey
- Where exactly did you first hear about us? Homepage / Landing page
- Did you find the information you were looking for on this page? Landing page / Product page
- What’s the ONE thing missing from this page? Landing page / Product page / Pages with high exit rates
- If you could no longer use this website, what is the ONE thing you’d miss most? Landing page / Success page
- How easy was it to complete your purchase? Success page / Post-purchase page
- What was the main concern or fear you had before purchasing? Success page / Post-purchase page
- What was the main thing that persuaded you to purchase? Success page / Post-purchase page
- Where you looking for anything today that you could not find? Pages with high exit rates
- What could we have done better? Cancelation, downgrade, or churn pages
- Was there anything specifically that made you cancel? Cancelation, downgrade, or churn pages

5 more examples of usability survey questions from our own website

When it comes to surveying users, we practice what we preach. Here’s a look at five usability questions we ask our website visitors and customers.

1. What nearly stopped you from becoming a customer?

We ask customers this question in a post-purchase survey immediately after they sign up for a paid Hotjar plan:

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We lead up to the question in two steps:

  • first we ask “How would you rate the payment experience?” on a scale from 1 to 5
  • then we ask an open-ended question to get more information

Only at this point, after the person has already been primed to remember what they liked or didn't, we make sure to ask what nearly stopped them from becoming a customer. This helps us learn more about how to improve the payment process and spot any potential issues that might be stopping other website visitors from converting.

2. What’s the main reason you are downgrading/canceling?

This question is ideal for a SaaS company or any business with a subscription revenue model, but you could pose a similar question to people who unsubscribe from an email newsletter.

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We use a simple multiple-choice format for the main question ("What's the main reason you are downgrading?"), and then use an open-ended question (“Please explain why you are downgrading in your own words”) to get a better understanding of how users feel.

We get such valuable feedback from this survey that we made it mandatory for all downgrades/cancelations. Here are just a few of the responses we’ve received, which we later used to refine our product and pricing strategy:

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3. How likely are you to recommend our product...?

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We ask our customers the standard Net Promoter Score® (NPS) question when they are logged into their dashboard. Referrals and word-of-mouth marketing are really important for us, so we ask a couple of follow-up questions (see point #4 below) to get as much insight as possible. 

Here is the kind of responses we receive, which help us determine areas of improvement and expansion for our product:

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A COUPLE OF RESPONSES FROM OUR NPS SURVEY

4. What should we do to WOW you?

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One of the best ways to get happy customers is to go above and beyond what they expect from you. We use the "If we could do anything, what should we do to WOW you?" question as one of our follow-up NPS survey questions so we don't have to guess what our users truly want from us.

5. How helpful is this article?

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A QUICK SURVEY QUESTION FOR BLOG POSTS

Many e-commerce and service companies, ourselves included, use blog posts and articles to educate customers and bring in new users. But it's not always easy to know from just quantitative analytics data if content is providing real value to the right people.

To get more insight, we ask blog visitors if our articles are helpful on a scale from 1 to 5, then follow up with an open-ended question to find out why our content is or isn’t helpful for them. You may have seen it on this very page! The responses we get help us shape our editorial calendar and write more articles our readers and customers want.

Set up a website survey with Hotjar in 5 minutes

Editor’s note: to set up a survey that shows up on your website pages like the ones we showed you in this article, you need to use the Hotjar Polls tool. The Survey tool is for stand-alone surveys on their own, separate page.

STEP 1: Click “Polls”, then “NEW POLL”

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STEP 2: Give your poll a name

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STEP 3: Choose where you want the survey to appear

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You can select which devices to have the survey on (desktop, tablet, or mobile), and specify which URLs it will show on.

STEP 4: Add your questions

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You can pick different question types, including multiple-choice or open-ended questions.

If you want to ask different follow-up questions depending on how users answered, use the conditional logic feature to specify what users get asked next:

STEP 5: Customize the survey design

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STEP 6: Choose how the survey is triggered

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STEP 7: Click “Active” then “Create Poll”

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At this point, your website survey is live. As soon as visitors start submitting their feedback, their answers will appear in your dashboard. It will look something like this:

hotjar dashboard

That's it. Thanks to feedback from your users, you will be able to tailor your website, products, landing pages, and messaging to improve the user experience and (ultimately) maximize conversions. Give it a try!

Start understanding what users want

Sign up for a free Hotjar account and set up a website survey today.

Free forever. Get started!
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PS: 8 tips for writing better website survey questions

1. Use simple language

Avoid jargon and technical words whenever possible (unless you clearly explain them), to make it easier for new or less experienced users to understand what you're trying to say.

2. Don’t ask multiple questions in one

Give your customers one question at a time, and never add an “and why?” option at the end—if you want to know more, ask a separate question instead.

3. Keep the number of questions to a minimum

Shorter surveys will have better completion rates and show your users that you respect their time.

4. Ask open-ended questions

Closed-ended (i.e., multiple-choice) questions will help you quantify the feedback, but open-ended questions give you insight in your users’ own words and will help you find errors or surface ideas you haven’t considered before.

5. Avoid loaded or leading questions

Phrase questions neutrally to get honest feedback and avoid getting only the answers you want to hear.

6. Start surveys with an easy multiple-choice question

Starting with a question that's easier for users to answer will increase the chances of people actually completing the survey.

7. Experiment with different questions

Keep experimenting with different questions in your surveys and you’ll keep learning what delivers the most actionable insights.

8. Test your surveys on colleagues before sending them out to your customer base

Doing a trial run on your colleagues will help you spot errors or identify ways to improve questions before they go live.

Read more: good survey questions help you get clear insights and business-critical information about your customers. Here is a complete guide on why survey questions matter, and how to write them to get maximum value out of your visitors’ answers.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.

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Fio Dossetto

Fio manages editorial production at Hotjar, generally over-uses em dashes, and makes sure we publish specific, actionable pieces—with a sprinkle of our signature style on top.