Learn / Guides / Exit-intent survey guide

Back to guides

How to create an exit-intent mobile pop-up survey for valuable customer insights

Exit-intent surveys are crucial for understanding why potential customers leave your site without making a purchase. Direct customer feedback can reveal hidden user experience (UX) issues, like hard-to-navigate menus or frustrating checkout flows, negatively affecting your conversions.

But with more than half of all web traffic worldwide coming from mobile devices, you need to be mindful of how and where your exit-intent survey pop-ups appear, or your proactive attempts to improve the customer experience could end up hurting it instead.

Read on to learn why you need to take a different approach with exit-intent surveys on mobile—and how to use them to get valuable data that leads to impactful, growth-driving changes.


Exit intent on mobile works differently than it does on desktop. To avoid doing more harm than good with your mobile exit-intent surveys, you need to

  1. Understand the difference between exit-intent on mobile and desktop: these devices have different exit-intent triggers, user experiences, and user behaviors

  2. Design and trigger your exit-intent survey with mobile users in mind: we share five tools (and a couple of tips) to help you create a mobile-friendly exit-intent survey

  3. Tap into your mobile users for device-specific insights: use mobile-optimized survey response formats—like radio buttons, reactions, rating scales, checkboxes, and short text answers—to get valuable data from mobile users. Then, analyze and use the resulting data to enhance the mobile experience.

3 ways exit-intent pop-ups are different on mobile (and what you need to do about it)

To create effective mobile exit-intent surveys, you need to focus on the unique behaviors of mobile users and adapt your exit-intent strategies accordingly. 

Here’s how exit-intent differs by device:

1. The exit-intent triggers are different

On desktop, exit-intent surveys are usually triggered by mouse movement, for example, moving your cursor to the ‘X’ button to close your tab or browser.

But on mobile, the indicators that someone is about to leave your site differ. Common signs that mobile users are about to (literally and metaphorically) bounce include

  • Scrolling up: in many mobile browsers, the URL bar disappears as you scroll down. Users need to quickly scroll up to bring it back, so this action can signify that they’re about to type in a new URL and exit

  • Pressing the back button: users can also use the back button to return to a previous web page, such as a search engine results page or a referral link

  • A period of idle time: a certain amount of time on your site without taking any actions can suggest that you’ve lost your user’s attention—which may lead to them leaving

🔥 If you’re using Hotjar: the Hotjar Heatmaps tool gives you visual representations of where users tap, click, scroll, and move. Filter heatmaps by device to spot common exit-intent signals for mobile users, and use these behaviors to trigger mobile exit-intent surveys with your chosen mobile-friendly exit-intent survey tool.

Need to get even more granular? The Heatmaps interface gives you convenient, at-a-glance insights right from one place, like 

  • The page’s average user feedback score

  • Rage clicks (areas where users click and click and click out of frustration)

  • U-turns (when users return to a previous URL within seven seconds of landing on your page)

For even more context, jump straight from your heatmaps to associated session playbacks called recordings to watch how real users navigated your site, so you know exactly what led to that rage click or piece of feedback.

Analyze user behavior to launch mobile-friendly exit-intent surveys and understand why people leave—and how to win them back.

2. The user experience is different

Desktop users are on a big screen with a lot of real estate. This gives you multiple survey formats to choose from: in-context popover surveys, eye-catching full screen surveys, and subtle button or embedded surveys. 

#Survey tools like Hotjar Surveys offer multiple survey formats to meet your every need—but different types of surveys have different strengths
Survey tools like Hotjar Surveys offer multiple survey formats to meet your every need—but different types of surveys have different strengths

On the flip side, mobile design has its own set of specific considerations: 

  • Mobile screens are small, which means that full screen pop-ups take up a greater percentage of them—and are more intrusive (i.e. annoying)

  • It can be trickier on mobile to find the right place to tap to close a pop-up survey, which not only leads to user frustration but also negatively affects your UX and your search rankings

  • Desktop users have a full keyboard for typing up long-form survey responses, whereas mobile users will be tap-tap-tapping on a touchscreen

💡 Pro tip: tailor your survey format and response types to your device.

For example, while open-ended questions are important for gathering insights you may not have considered before, they require more effort to respond to. This can be especially off-putting for mobile users—and may affect your response rates.

When structuring your survey for mobile users, consider a mix of quantitative, closed-ended questions and qualitative, open-ended questions to ensure you get the right balance of responses.

(More on this later! 👇)

3. The user behavior is different

Mobile users may be browsing from anywhere, at any time—on the bus, in a waiting room, or under the covers at 3 am. So whether or not they’re actually ‘on-the-go’, you want to create a lightweight, low-effort experience that matches their device type.

It’s also worth remembering that conversion rates differ between mobile and desktop. Statista’s study of US online shoppers found that 3% of ecommerce website visits via desktop resulted in a conversion, but this figure was only 2% for visits from smartphones. 

So bear in mind that some of this behavior may be expected—for example, users may browse on mobile but return later to make a purchase on desktop. In this case, you need to ask yourself: “What are they looking for from their mobile experience, and how can we provide it?” For an ecommerce site, this could mean implementing a wishlist on your mobile online store or app to make it easier for shoppers to convert via desktop when they’re ready.

💡 Pro tip: watch session recordings to understand and empathize with real user behavior and see how it differs on desktop vs. mobile. Quickly spot mobile usability issues that impact UX or conversion rates, and discover what people really want when they’re on different devices.

5 tools to create a mobile-friendly exit-intent survey

Most survey tools don't allow you to create exit-intent pop-ups on mobile devices. Hotjar, for example, only allows you to trigger exit pop-ups on desktop pages. The five tools below allow you to set up your exit pop-up on mobile pages using common exit triggers.

  1. OptinMonsterOptinMonster’s library of mobile-optimized templates makes setting up a mobile exit-intent survey a breeze. Click Display Rules to view the complete list of OptinMonster’s mobile exit-intent triggers—including the two most common, scrolling up and hitting the back button—and get your survey up and running in minutes. 

  2. Qualtricsthis popular tool offers the ability to build a single-question exit-intent survey for mobile web visitors—a process that involves collecting mobile visitors’ contact information, setting up a distribution workflow, and creating the intercept that will display to mobile visitors. It’s a bit more complex than setting up a desktop version, but it gets the job done.

  3. WisepopsWisepops’ pop-up software includes two crucial mobile exit-intent triggers: pressing the back button and scrolling up. Once you’ve created an account, the exit option can be activated in one click, making this one of the most user-friendly tools on our list.

  4. Nextsalethis ecommerce conversion rate optimization (CRO) tool provides a wide range of mobile exit-intent triggers, including pressing the back button, time-based scroll, switching tabs, and idle timeout. Just add a new campaign from your Nextsale dashboard, toggle to ‘mobile device’, and select your triggers.

  5. Picreel: the platform’s Popup Builder tool gives you multiple mobile exit-intent options, including overlay pop-ups, fullscreen pop-ups, and even gamified pop-ups. With Picreel, you can easily set up triggers like hitting the back button or home button, switching to another tab, scrolling up, or interacting with specific widgets on your page.

Once you've settled on your tool, here are a few things to consider when creating your pop-up:

  • Put thought into which pages you want your survey to appear on. Where do your mobile visitors tend to stop exploring? These might be key landing pages, product pages, or your online store’s checkout page.

  • Share the responses with your team. Once responses to your mobile exit-intent survey start rolling in, set aside some time to analyze the results with your team and take action.

  • Set up an exit-intent pop-up on desktop, too. Get insights from users leaving from any type of device so you can compare results and optimize accordingly. For desktop exit-intent pop-ups, there's no better tool than Hotjar Surveys—our free exit-intent survey template ensures effortless set-up, and you can even add additional questions using AI for Surveys. ✨

📖 Looking for inspiration? Check out some of our favorite exit-intent pop-up examples from real companies.

3 types of questions to ask users in your mobile exit-intent pop-up

Just like the format of your surveys should adapt between desktop and mobile, so should the types of questions you ask. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

1. Radio buttons, reactions, and rating scales

Radio buttons, reactions, and rating scales all give users a selection of responses to choose from to reduce the amount of effort needed to answer. 

  • Radio buttons present users with a few options but only allow them to choose one. The option orders can be randomized to avoid bias.

  • Reactions display a scale of five graphics with customizable text labels on either side of the scale

  • Rating scales ask a custom question and allow users to select a number response from a given range (e.g. 1–7)

These approaches work especially well for quantitative questions with yes/no answers or numerical ratings.

An example of a radio button question type in Hotjar—see it in action at the bottom of this blog post about survey templates

Sample questions:

  • Did you find what you were looking for today? Yes/No

  • How would you rate your experience on our site? 😡 → 🤩

  • How likely are you to return to this site? On a scale of 1–7

2. Checkboxes

Checkboxes provide survey respondents with a range of options and allow them to choose more than one. This is helpful when you don’t want to limit feedback to just one answer. You can also provide space for users to add comments if their answer isn’t represented.

Sample question:

  • Why are you leaving our site today? Select all that apply

    • Couldn’t find what I was looking for

    • Found it cheaper elsewhere

    • Not enough information provided

    • Other (please specify)

3. Short text answers

Short text answers provide a single-line text field for users to type their response, allowing for free-form answers. These are useful when you want to capture user feedback or customer insights that you may not have thought of.

Sample questions:

  • How could we improve our mobile site? 

  • What prevented you from buying these items today?

How to use the data from your mobile exit-intent survey

Learn from your users with mobile exit-intent surveys 

Mobile exit-intent surveys help you understand the unique needs and perspectives of your users—but for them to be effective and garner the results you need, you have to get them right. 

By creating mobile-specific pop-up surveys that appeal to, rather than annoy, your users before they leave, you’ll gather valuable user insights and improve your mobile conversion rate.

Discover why mobile users leave your site

Analyze user behavior with Hotjar, then launch mobile-friendly exit-intent surveys to understand why people leave—and how to win them back.

FAQs about exit intent on mobile