Micro-surveys - a product manager's secret weapon for collecting feedback

What are micro surveys?

Micro-surveys are typically embedded within your SaaS website, they can be customised to match the brand of your website.

They are short - it takes anywhere from 15 seconds to 2 minutes for a micro-survey to be completed. Each question is targeted, brief, and timely.

The short targeted micro surveys only require a few questions to uncover the insights you need. In addition, because they are short, your users are more willing to complete them.

You can receive results instantly instead of waiting weeks. As a result, you can immediately act on the insights you garner.

As a product manager, micro surveys become an essential part of the product development process. Since modern product management is an iterative process, you can quickly get feedback from your customers, and use the insights to inform the next step of product development.

Having a fast way to collect feedback is a key weapon to stay one step ahead of competitors.

Why are micro surveys a great fit for SaaS companies?

Integrating micro surveys directly is in most instances a better option for collecting feedback compared to long forms, or sending surveys via email.

Broadly speaking, the reasons can be placed into these categories:

  1. A greater volume of feedback can be collected
  2. They allow you to target more precisely the users you want feedback from
  3. Feedback can be collected in a shorter period of time
  4. Questions can be customised on the fly depending on previous answers
  5. Feedback can be collected at the right time

Let's dig into some of these points below:

1. Collect more data

In the past when collecting feedback, you would normally email your customers.

There are a couple of ways to do this - either reach out to customers individually, or segment customers into groups based on key features, then send out an email with a link to the survey.

There are a few problems with this approach.

First, with most emails, the number of users who will open and then proceed to click through to your survey will be low.

Secondly, deciding when to send an email to an individual user, or an entire customer segment is not an exact science.

Micro surveys solve both of these problems.

Since a micro survey is displayed on your website, your customers are guaranteed to see the survey, thus the chances of them responding is high. Also,  the effort on their part is minimal, because these in-app surveys are designed to be short.

Lastly, micro surveys can be shown to the user when a specific event happens, this means it will be highly relevant to the user, and in turn they will be more likely to respond.

2. Targeting specific users, or user segments

Surely you can target users via email? Well yes, but the targeting options are limited. For instance you can create an email segment for users that are on one of your paid plans, but how about targeting someone who's just used a specific feature in your app.

Let's assume that you run a SaaS product that sells tickets. With micro surveys, you can target a user who has just created their first ticket for sale. Immediately after they create a ticket, you can ask them what their experience was like.

Targeting users with precision like this, and at the right time increases the probability that they will respond.

3. Rapidly collecting customer feedback

With the traditional approach of collecting feedback via emails, there is a lag between sending out the email, and receiving the actual data from your customer.

It could be days before you receive a response. The worst case is that the email is not seen, or the user does not click on the survey link, or the user just isn't interested in filling out a survey with multiple questions.

Micro surveys are short, typically one or two questions, and they are highly focused. The amount of effort required by the user to answer them is minimal.

Another upside is that by directly displaying the survey within your website, the user is more likely to see and respond.

By shortening the feedback cycle with micro surveys, you can iterate faster on your product.

4. Customise questions based on answers

A smart way to improve the quality of feedback, and reduce the number of answers that your users give you is to automatically adjust what questions are asked based on their previous answers.

For instance, if a user is asked to give a NPS score, and they give one below 5, you can adjust the next question to dig into why they gave a low score. For users who have a high score, you can end the survey there.

Being able to dynamically adjust questions, based on previous answers is something that is easy to do with micro surveys.

5. Asking the right question, at the right time

Micro-surveys are more context aware than traditional email surveys. This is because you have the ability to show them at the right time.

For example, you can show a micro survey to the user when they are browsing your pricing page, or when they sign up, or when they interact with a product feature.

Showing surveys based on user action is where micro surveys excel - being able to show a survey after a user clicks a button is a powerful feature that is not available through other channels like email.

Contrast this to sending an email after they've interacted with your website. When your user does see the email, it may be a few hours after they've triggered the action that originally sent the email. The important context around this is already lost.

7 types of micro surveys for SaaS companies

Now that you've learned how valuable micro surveys can be, let's see some specific use cases where micro surveys can be put to use.

Although micro surveys should be laser focused, they are applicable for a large array of problems, and can be used to collect information on virtually anything.

We're going to focus on how a SaaS company can use micro surveys to collect qualitative information from their customers.

Here is a list of some use cases where micro-surveys can work really well:

  1. Website visitor research - Get qualitative feedback from anonymous leads who are on your marketing page
  2. Customer signup (Persona collection) - Get information on company size, their job role, current tools they're using.
  3. Continuous micro-surveys - Regularly poll your users, and track their happiness over time
  4. NPS micro-surveys (Net promoter score) - for collecting how satisfied your users are with your product
  5. Feature request survey - find out if there are missing features your users would like to see in your product
  6. Churn micro-survey - when users cancel, get to the reason why
  7. Feature usage micro-survey - find out how a user feels about a particular feature in your product

Let's see more detailed examples of each of these below:

1. Website visitor research

One of the greatest opportunities for SaaS websites is to gather more information about the people who visit their marketing pages, but do not go on to create an account.

Currently with standard analytics tools, you can gather basic information like: where these visitors came from (referrer), what keyword they were searching for, and their location (city, country) - but not much else.

Micro surveys on the other hand can be used on your marketing pages to gather more qualitative information such as the visitor’s intent - this is something that isn’t tracked by standard analytics tools.

Additionally, once you have a visitor engaged with a short survey, you can collect email information, convert them into a lead, and follow up later.

2. Customer persona collection

Normally when a user signs up to a SaaS product, they will go through some sort of onboarding to customise the product based on who they are.

The onboarding usually consists of asking the user a few important questions to work out which persona most fits them.

The process of finding out their persona can be done with a micro survey that is launched just after they've signed up. This is much easier to implement than coding your own onboarding process to gather information about your users.

Typically an onboarding process will ask these questions:

  1. What their job role is
  2. The size of their company (if you're selling to businesses)
  3. The main reason they want to use your product

Incorporating a micro-survey in the onboarding process is a powerful way of gathering key insights from users

3. Continuous micro-surveys

This is probably one of the most underlooked features of micro-surveys.

Customer sentiment for a product will change over time as new features are added, competitors emerge, or when customer needs change.

To keep a pulse on how your customers feel about using your SaaS product, you can deploy continuous surveys to work out when sentiment changes negatively or positively towards your product.

For example, running a NPS survey for paying customers every 60 days can be very effective at working out when there is a large shift in sentiment. Then you can drill into the responses, and work out the root cause for the change in sentiment.

4. NPS, CSAT, CES Surveys

These are one of the most common use cases for micro-surveys. They allow you to get an idea of how your customers feel about your product.

With these kinds of surveys, the survey taker will respond with a number between 1 and 10.

For Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys, it is usually one question "How likely are you to recommend [product] to a friend]?"

Scores above 6/7 are generally very good, while scores below 5 indicate that there is a problem that needs to be solved.

5. Collect feature requests

Building the right features for a SaaS product is hard. Prioritising the wrong feature can mean months spent building a feature that your customers don't really use.

One of the ways product managers have learnt to prioritise the right features is by asking their customers for input on the product roadmap. By correlating responses between customers, you can work out which features are most wanted.

Your customers can have valuable insight into how best to improve your product to solve their problem.

Micro-surveys are a great way to get ideas from your customers.

Feature requests surveys are generally composed of three questions:

  1. "What feature would you like to see in [product]?"
  2. "What problem does this feature solve?"
  3. "How much of a priority is this feature" (this is normally on a scale of 1 - 5)

Using responses to this micro-survey you can plan out a more informed roadmap for your SaaS product.

6. Churn insights

Even the best SaaS products will have customers who cancel their subscription.

Use this as an opportunity to find out what made them churn - this is something that every product manager for a SaaS product needs to know.

There are a couple of approaches when gathering feedback around why a customer has decided to cancel their account.

The first is to ask them an open ended question to get more qualitative feedback about why they are leaving. The upside with this approach is that the response will be personal, but the downside is that it will be hard to set up some kind of automation to follow up based on the response.

The second approach is to have a list of reasons that the user has decided to leave. If the user picks a specific reason, you can follow up with a specific automation, e.g. personalized response that addresses their concerns.

7. Feature usage survey

This is another use case where micro-surveys really shine.

When a user first interacts with a feature within your website, you can trigger a micro-survey to ask them how they found the experience.

For example, if you run a SaaS which deals with event ticketing, you can ask them about the experience after they've created their first ticket.