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How to create exit-intent surveys (that don’t bug your users)

Pop-up surveys might come off as annoying last-minute grabs for attention. But with the right approach, they’re invaluable tools to understand why users leave your site and engage them for longer.

This guide gives you a step-by-step process to create effective exit-intent surveys, helping you get the insights you need to improve user retention and reduce drop-offs, whether you have an ecommerce site or a digital product.


Trying to figure out how to create exit-intent surveys that don’t rub your users the wrong way?

Follow these steps to quickly launch an exit-intent survey on your website for free and collect valuable customer feedback:

  1. Hotjar’s exit-intent survey template: find a ready-made template to kickstart your survey creation

  2. Survey types: get familiar with different survey options 

  3. Question customization: learn about different survey question types and why combining closed-ended and open-ended questions gets you the best insights

  4. Design and accessibility: understand the significance of creating an appealing and accessible survey, with tips on how to incorporate branding for trust and familiarity

  5. Targeting strategies: learn which pages to place your exit-intent surveys on and strategies for targeting the right user segments to ensure relevant and valuable feedback

  6. Sharing options: see the different options for sharing your survey responses to ensure your insights are distributed to the right channels for timely action

Set up an exit-intent survey with Hotjar in minutes

Exit-intent surveys are crucial for product teams and online businesses, providing immediate user feedback that reveals usability issues, enhances the user experience (UX), and prioritizes feature improvements, so you can increase your conversion rates.

The Hotjar Surveys tool requires no complex coding, meaning you can start getting valuable feedback almost instantly.

Turn exits into insights

Use Hotjar’s exit-intent survey to learn why users leave your site and get actionable feedback to lower your bounce rate.

1. Select the exit-intent survey template

From the Hotjar dashboard, select ‘Surveys’ from the sidebar. Click the ‘New survey’ button and select ‘Browse templates’ from the drop-down. 

Then, on the new page that opens, select the ‘Exit-intent survey’ template on the top row to help get you started.

#You can create a survey from scratch, use AI, or choose one of our ready-made templates
You can create a survey from scratch, use AI, or choose one of our ready-made templates

💡 Pro tip: create your exit-intent survey with AI.

Hotjar AI generates surveys in seconds. Rather than choosing a template, select ‘New survey’ and then ‘Let AI create it’. Tell the AI bot what you want to achieve and watch it create a survey that matches your goals.

#Choose from popular survey goals or write your own survey objective, and AI takes care of the rest

Choose from popular survey goals or write your own survey objective, and AI takes care of the rest

2. Choose how your exit-intent survey appears

The way your survey appears on-screen impacts the user experience and your survey response rate. You can display Hotjar surveys in the following ways:

  • Pop-over: appears as a small widget, allowing website visitors to interact with other content on the same page. This format is great for exit-intent surveys as it quickly captures attention. Because the answers appear immediately, it also reduces user friction which can boost the number of responses.

  • Button: appears as a clickable button on your page, which visitors can interact with to open the survey. As this format is user-initiated, it may not be the best choice for exit-intent surveys.

  • Full screen: appears as an overlay in the middle of the page, with the background content greyed out, making the survey the main focus. This format ensures that your user's attention is drawn to the survey. Though it could be a bit intrusive for certain survey types, its impact is minimized in exit-intent scenarios since the user’s already about to leave.

  • Embedded: appears embedded directly into the page, rather than as an overlay. This format may be less noticeable for exit-intent purposes and is more suitable for users already invested in the page’s content.

#In Hotjar’s survey builder, you can preview what each survey type looks like. This one is a pop-up checkbox survey.
In Hotjar’s survey builder, you can preview what each survey type looks like. This one is a pop-up checkbox survey.

💡 Pro tip: make the most of link surveys.

As they appear outside of your website, link surveys don’t offer the best engagement for exit-intent surveys. However, they’re great to use in your follow-up and post-purchase emails to understand why customers chose your product, or in sales abandonment emails to reveal hesitations and any points of confusion.

An example of a Hotjar link survey on a desktop device

3. Customize your exit-intent survey questions

The quality of the insights you get about why people leave your site hinge on the quality of your questions. 

Here are the different question types available for your website exit-intent survey:

  • Reaction: a scale of five graphics with customizable labels for quick emotional feedback

  • Long text answers: a multi-line box for detailed, open-ended responses. This is great if you want more detailed feedback and lets users share their opinions freely.

  • Short text answers: a single-line field for concise replies that help keep your exit-intent survey short and encourage good response rates

  • Radio buttons: a selection of single-choice answers with the option to randomize their order. This format makes the survey easy to answer, reducing respondent fatigue, while the randomization helps eliminate order bias.

  • Checkboxes: a selection of multiple-choice answers with the option to randomize their order. This allows respondents to provide more nuanced feedback by selecting all options that apply, giving you a fuller picture of their preferences or experiences.

  • 1–5 and 1–7 rating scale: a numeric scale for quantifiable feedback

  • Statement: displays text without needing a response, providing context or information

#A new Hotjar survey has two questions added by default that you can change during setup
A new Hotjar survey has two questions added by default that you can change during setup

💡 Pro tip: when choosing question types for exit-intent surveys, consider the balance between open-ended and closed-ended questions. 

Open-ended questions, requiring free text responses, offer rich insights as they allow users to share their thoughts in their own words—for example, "What prompted your decision to leave our site today?" However, they require more time and effort to complete. 

Closed-ended questions, which can be answered with a checkbox or a single word, give you quantifiable data, like "Did you find what you needed?"—though they may lack detailed context.

Combining the two, as Hotjar’s exit-survey template does, ensures you gather comprehensive insights without overwhelming your users.

Examples of exit-intent survey questions

  • What was your main goal for visiting our website today?

  • Did our site meet your expectations?

  • If you didn't complete your purchase, what stopped you?

  • Is there anything specific that prompted your decision to leave?

4. Customize the look of your exit-intent survey

Creating an exit-intent survey that’s visually appealing and accessible is key to capturing valuable user feedback and leaving a lasting, positive impression even as they exit your site. To achieve this, there are two design elements to keep in mind.

  1. Accessibility and user experience: making your survey accessible means it’s usable by everyone, including people with disabilities. Consider high-contrast color schemes for better visibility. Hotjar’s survey design is inherently clean and simple, making it easy to read and complete.

  2. Branding: customizing your survey to reflect your brand adds a layer of trust and familiarity. With a Hotjar Business account, you can tailor your survey’s appearance by

  • Adding your logo to reinforce your brand presence

  • Hiding Hotjar branding to make the survey uniquely yours

  • Using custom colors to align the survey with your brand palette

#Change your survey’s colors and branding with Hotjar
Change your survey’s colors and branding with Hotjar

5. Choose which pages and users to target

To get the most relevant feedback from your exit-intent survey, you need to be strategic about where and to whom it appears. 

Try these use cases for exit-intent surveys:

  • Check-out page: pinpoint reasons behind shopping cart abandonment and identify any friction in the payment and checkout process

  • Demo booking page: uncover obstacles in the booking process and understand hesitations users might have

  • Sign-up page: investigate any uncertainties about the process or form design that might prevent users from completing their sign-up

  • Pricing page: clarify whether your pricing is fair and the structure is easy to understand

With a Hotjar Business account, you can fine-tune your audience targeting so you get feedback from the right users. It allows you to target users with specific attributes and control the traffic coverage for your survey. This focused approach lets you collect more relevant feedback and prevents survey fatigue.

#Hotjar’s targeting settings allow you to be strategic about who sees your exit-intent survey
Hotjar’s targeting settings allow you to be strategic about who sees your exit-intent survey

6. Select the channels you want to share the responses

Choosing where to share your exit-intent survey responses is key for timely analysis and action. 

Hotjar allows you to distribute these insights across various channels, ensuring your team receives the information in their preferred workspace:

When deciding on the channels to share survey responses, consider who needs to see the data and where they spend most of their time.

By making it easy for your team to access the survey responses and integrating them into existing channels, you ensure that no crucial insight goes unnoticed and enable quick improvements to your user and customer experience.

#Hotjar’s paid plans open up a wide range of sharing options for your survey responses
Hotjar’s paid plans open up a wide range of sharing options for your survey responses

💡 Pro tip: dive deeper into your survey insights with Hotjar Recordings.

Combine exit-intent survey responses with Hotjar Recordings to see exactly what users were doing before they decided to leave, providing context to their feedback. 

Were they struggling to find information? Did a bug impede their progress? By correlating their actions with their comments, you can make informed decisions to enhance the user experience and resolve issues effectively.

Connect responses with session recordings when you configure your thank you message

3 common pitfalls to avoid when creating exit-intent surveys

Maximizing the potential of your exit-intent surveys requires careful planning and attention to detail. 

Here are three common pitfalls to avoid to ensure your surveys are as effective as possible:

  1. Overloading with too many questions: a concise survey is key for good response rates. Aim to ask only 1–3 crucial questions to capture essential feedback without overwhelming the user.

  2. Not including a free-text option: while most reasons for exiting a page will fall into the same few categories—for example, “I didn’t find the website easy to use” or “It was too expensive for me”—there may be some reasons you haven’t thought of. Include an "Other” or “Something else” option so users can give feedback that doesn’t fit into your pre-defined answers.

  3. Failing to ask the right questions: not tailoring questions to the page the user is leaving can yield less insightful data. Think about what the user is doing on the page and the specific obstacles that could be causing them to exit. For example, if your exit-intent survey is on a checkout page, you might ask about issues with the payment process.

Improve user engagement with exit-intent surveys

Exit-intent surveys have a big impact on how you understand your users, opening the door to what they think and feel at critical moments during their user journey.

Remember, the key to a successful exit-intent survey is in the details—pay attention to the design, questions, and placement of your survey to get as much feedback as possible and transform site exits into valuable opportunities for growth.

Tackle high bounce rates head-on

Understand why users leave with Hotjar’s targeted exit-intent surveys. Get set up in less than five minutes.

FAQs about creating exit-intent surveys