Creating Your First Survey Question

Now that you have the fundamentals down and you’ve finished brainstorming with the team, it’s time to move onto creating your very first survey question. While at first this part may seem pretty straightforward, asking the wrong questions can actually make things a lot more difficult for you and your team. On the other hand, asking the right questions will allow you to gain more accurate insight on the ideal research you are trying to gain insights for. Let’s briefly start by going over the two types of user feedback survey questions.

The two types of user feedback survey questions

Open ended questions – When it comes to creating a user feedback survey question, it is quite important that we create “high value questions.” A high-value question is one that creates a learning experience for either the questioner and the person being questioned. Naturally, the best high-value questions provide insight for all parties concerned.

One characteristic of most high-value questions is that they are open-ended instead of closed-ended. An open-ended question is designed to encourage a full, meaningful answer using the subject’s own knowledge and/or feelings. It is the opposite of a closed-ended question, which encourages a short or single-word answer.

Let’s go through a quick example. Let’s say you just finished attending a conference and one of the conference host walks up to you and ask, “What did you learn most from this conference?” That is considered as an open-ended question. The most powerful thing about this question is that not only does it allow the person who is asking you the question to gain actual feedback from the attendee but it also helps the attendee reinforce it in their own minds. People are more willing to give more actionable feedback and go through more thoughts along in the process.

Open ended questions are also great ways to begin a conversation with a potential customer and develop that initial relationship building. Here are a few examples of open ended questions:

What are the top priorities in your business at the moment?
What do you love most about feature XYZ?
Where did you hear about us?

Close ended questions – The second type of question that you can ask in your user feedback surveys are close ended questions. Close ended questions should result in shorter Yes/No, True/False, Agree/Disagree questions.

There are a wide variety of closed-ended question types for survey creators to choose from, including: Multiple choice, semantic differential, drop down, check boxes, ranking, and many more. Some examples include:
Did you enjoy the event?
Will you attend the event again?
Do you like my service/product?

It is a good practice to include both open ended as well as close ended questions when creating your survey questions. Some product managers like to start with a series of open ended questions to lead the user into the survey funnel and then narrow down their actual needs with close ended questions.

Marketers might want to start with a close ended question to get the respondent to micro-commit first and then follow up with another trigger action such as collecting a lead’s email address.

Marketers also like to segment and place different respondents into different list and buckets depending on their response. This is apart of creating a survey question with trigger logics. With that said, let’s move onto some of the best survey questions that you can start off with.

Survey questions to ask

Question 1: Where exactly did you first hear about us?

Goal: This question will help you find out what your most effective marketing channel is. You can see your customer’s referral path with any analytic tool, but that only tells you the LAST site they visited prior to yours. By asking this question instead, you may discover that your customer heard about your product from a podcast they listened to last month, or that a speaker at a popular conference mentioned you.

Best practice: Send this in your welcome email or in an another email 1-2 days after sign up so their memory is still fresh.

Question 2: What are you hoping to accomplish with us?

Goal: This question is used to discover your customer’s use-case as well as find out how they perceive your value. This is highly helpful to guide product on which features to prioritize, improve your marketing message, or help you sell to your customer by understanding their intentions.

Best practice: Send this with your welcome email or on the second email in your campaign. Asking in your welcome email will give better answers on the marketing messaging, while on a later email will be better for product insights.

Question 3: What persuaded you to upgrade your account?

Goal: Once a customer has upgraded their account, it’s important to discover what the levers were. Which features were most useful to them?

Best practice: Ask this question in the congratulatory or confirmation email your customer receives when they upgrade.

Question 4: Why did you decide not to buy/subscribe?

Goal: When someone decided not to use your product, wouldn’t you want to find out why? You may discover that they found another product, your prices were too high, your product was poorly designed, or perhaps they were just kicking the tires around. Armed with this knowledge, you can make changes to win future customers.

Best practice: Send this 30-90 days after a customer trial period has ended. If you don’t have a trial period, you can use another event that signals a customer is not going to convert.

Question 5: What would you miss most if you could not use us?

Goal: This question will help you discover your most useful features or product strengths. Your customers are likely using a lot of features, but there is probably one they find more useful than the others, and tell their friends about. By discovering your ‘killer’ feature you improve both your product offering and marketing message.

Best practice: This is best sent to your engaged users. I would send this email to users 1-3 months after they upgraded their account.

Question 6: How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?

Goal: This is a standard Net Promoter Score question and is highly correlated with customer satisfaction. Use this as an opportunity to reach out and help customers who are dissatisfied, or encourage customers who are very happy to promote your product.

Best practice: You should send this to all converted customers bi-annually or quarterly and try to improve the score over time. Another smart idea is segmenting your customers to discover which subset is the most satisfied. You can then market heavily to those customers.

Now you know the two different types of survey questions, the best practices for preparing for a survey questions, and some examples of good user feedback survey questions that you can start asking your customers today!