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How To Use Post-Purchase Surveys Effectively

Illustrated image showing hands that are answering a customer satisfaction survey question.

Have you ever wanted to learn more about where your customers come from, who they are, or how they are using your products? Acquiring this sort of information can help you improve your site’s positioning, marketing, and checkout process.

But, how can you learn all of this information consistently and without annoying your email lists with non-stop surveys?

This is where post-purchase (or post-sale) surveys come in!

What Are Post-Purchase Surveys?

Post-purchase surveys (or post-sale surveys) are questions that you ask a customer as soon as possible after he or she completes a purchase. These surveys can vary from a single question to over 20 questions depending on precisely what you are trying to accomplish.

Screenshot of a purchase confirmation page with a small widget that says "Quick Question: What persuaded you to make your purchase today?"

Sometimes, these may be surveys that appear on your website right after the customer completes the purchase, and other times these may be surveys that are emailed to the customer shortly after the purchase.

The goal of these surveys is to learn about your customers in ways that you can use to improve your product, website, and marketing. Sometimes, the post-purchase survey is more tailored to how satisfied the customer is. These are sometimes referred to as “customer satisfaction surveys”.

Looking to learn more about your customers? Post-purchase surveys are a great way to do so and you can use the results to improve your product, website, and marketing! #ecommerce Click To Tweet

One of the best parts of these types of surveys is that you can constantly change them! Run one short survey for a few weeks and then switch out to different questions. We usually run a different 1 or 2-question survey each month.

So, you are not stuck with one goal until your next big survey. Instead, you can have a different survey each week or each month that focuses on different things.

Best Practices

While surveys can vary drastically depending on your specific goals, there are a few points to keep in mind when you are designing your surveys.

1. Determine Your Goal

The very first step for creating your survey is to think through what your goal is and what you want to accomplish when reviewing the answers to the post-purchase survey. If your goal is to test how the overall checkout experience is over time, then your survey may look different than a survey whose goal is to get ideas for headlines and copy on the website.

If you are not sure about your goals yet, check out our section further down about how to use the answers to get some ideas.

2. Explain Why You Are Asking These Questions

People are much more compelled to answer a survey if they understand why you want to know the information. Even adding a simple “Please complete this survey which will help us improve our checkout experience” can increase the number of people who complete the survey.

3. Shorter Is Better

The longer your survey is, the fewer people who will complete it. So, you want to keep the survey as short as possible while also getting the critical information you need.

Screenshot of a purchase confirmation page with a single question survey appearing near the top of the page.

Try removing any questions that you will not immediately use or any questions that you are not sure how you will use the information. You can always gather more information in the future, but your goal right now is to get the exact information you need.

If no one fills out the survey, you won’t have any information.

4. Use Mostly Closed-Ended Questions For Longer Surveys

Closed-ended questions, such as multiple choice or checkboxes, are quicker and easier for customers to answer. If the customer opens the survey and sees 10 textboxes needing answers, they will probably close the survey without completing it.

Survey Monkey suggests aiming for no more than 1 to 2 open-ended questions towards the end of the survey.

How To Use Post-Purchase Surveys

Depending on what your goal(s) are for the survey, there are a few different sets of questions you may ask and a variety of different ways you can use the answers. Let’s take a look at some of the more common goals of post-purchase surveys.

1. Identify Checkout Issues Or Concerns

With 69% of potential customers abandoning their cart, it is important to try to remove any issues that site visitors encounter on your site.

There are many different issues a potential customer could have when visiting your site and making a purchase. However, most will leave the site without even telling you. So, we can ask the visitors who do make a purchase about issues they may have noticed.

For example, a question we like to ask is “Quick question: What nearly stopped you from using Popup Maker?”.

Screenshot of a purchase page with a small widget in the bottom right corner asking a single question.

This quick, 1-question survey averages around a 9% conversion rate, which gets us more than enough responses to identify issues. Using this question, we have been able to identify errors that occur on our checkout page under certain conditions that were resulting in people abandoning their cart.

In addition to technical issues, there may be issues where the customer doesn’t quite see why the product is priced a certain way or if it will actually solve their needs. Using these surveys can help identify what made the customer consider abandoning the site which you can use to help prevent future potential customers from deciding not to buy.

Some other example questions for this goal include:

  • How easy did you find our checkout process?
  • If you had to rate your checkout experience today from 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, what would you rate us?
  • What can we do to improve our checkout experience?

2. Identify Mismatches With Who Your Are Targeting

Have you ever found that a portion of your sales are people who are not a good fit for your product? When people who are not a good fit for your product make a purchase, it could lead to a higher number of refunds or cancellations.

Using post-purchase surveys are a great way to discover mismatches between who you are targeting and your ideal customer. Click To Tweet

Using post-purchase surveys are a great way to determine if someone who completed a sale is a good fit for your product. If you notice too many aren’t quite the target customer, this may reveal an issue with who your marketing is targeting.

The types of questions you ask for this goal focuses more on who the customer is and how they are going to use your product.

Screenshot of a widget with a single question with 5 buttons from 1 to 5.

For example, we like to ask a simple “What type of site will you be using Ahoy on?” type of question. We can review the answers to see if the kind of sites people are using Ahoy on matches the kinds of websites we are targeting. If this doesn’t match, we may need to update who we are targeting or change how we are marketing to the target customer.

Some other questions for this goal may include:

  • What is the first thing you are going to do with X? (Where X is your product)
  • Where do you plan on using X?
  • What is your role in your company?
  • On a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is the most confident, how confident are you that X is going to be the right tool for your needs?

3. Creating Copy For Your Marketing

The best copy you can have on your site and within your marketing is copy directly created from words your customers actually say. If everyone says your product “reminds them of home”, you should have a similar phrase, such as “Will remind you of home”, on your site. This is sometimes referred to as “using the customer’s voice”.

There are many ways you can find phrases your customers are saying, including reading forums they hang out in, reading reviews they leave you or your competitors, and speaking directly to your customers. However, another great source could be a quick survey after your customer completes their purchase.

The questions above for the “mismatches“ goal can lead to answers from your ideal customers. These answers can then be used in your copy.

Screenshot of a purchase page with a small popup in corner asking "What type of site will you be using Ahoy on?"

For example, if we get many customers who answer our “What is the first thing you are going to do with Ahoy?” question with something similar to “Setting up a cart abandonment message so I stop losing money every time someone leaves the checkout” we might update some of our website copy to say “Stop losing money! Use Ahoy to stop cart abandonment”.

Interested in reducing your cart abandonment? Check out our article “7 Quick Ways To Stop Cart Abandonment”.

The same types of questions you ask for mismatches apply to this. So, questions would be anything about the user and how they are going to use the product. Some other questions you may use would include:

  • What led you to look for an X? (Where X is the type of product you sell)
    • Example: What led you to look for something to add popups to your site?
  • What is your biggest pain point when it comes to using X? (Where X is the type of product you sell)
    • Example: What is your biggest pain point when it comes to using popups on your sites?

4. Overall Satisfaction

Considering that the #1 reason customers switch to competitors is that they feel unappreciated and that customers spend 17% more with companies that have good customer service, it is important for you to always know how your customers feel about you and your brand.

In your surveys, you can incorporate questions asking about how satisfied the customer is with you, your product, and the overall experience. Depending on the type of product or service you are selling, these may be better suited directly after the purchase or after a period of time so the customer can use the product.

The information you would want to obtain with this goal is how you can improve your sales process, how your team is performing, and their thoughts on your overall brand.

Some example questions could include:

  • Describe how you feel about X? (Where X is your product or company name)
  • What can our team do better?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied were you with our support team?
  • What can we do to improve your experience with us?

Creating Your Surveys

There are two main ways you can create surveys depending on how long the survey is:

  1. Have the survey directly in the purchase experience – Good for short surveys
  2. Have a separate page for the survey – Good for long surveys

If you can shorten your survey down to less than 5 questions, you can fit the survey directly into the buying process. This drastically increases the number of people who will respond to your survey.

Screenshot of a purchase confirmation page with a small widget that says "Quick Question: What persuaded you to make your purchase today?"

The actual implementation will differ a little depending on how your site is created. For the form part of the survey, you can use a form plugin, such as Ninja Forms. We use Ninja Forms for our own post-sale surveys on this site.

If you are using a shorter survey, you can either embed the survey directly into your purchase confirmation page or have it in a message that pops up using a plugin such as Ahoy.

Check out our guide to see how to use Ahoy for post-purchase surveys in Easy Digital Downloads using Ninja Forms!

Now, if you have a longer survey, it is better to have the survey on its own page. In this case, you can create a new page and embed your form onto it. With this type of survey, you should link to it from the purchase confirmation page as well as include it to an email to the customer.

Screenshot of a larger survey on its own page with 4 questions currently in view.

You can either add it to the receipt email or, if the survey is important that you want many users to complete, you can send a follow-up email after the purchase where the email’s primary focus is asking the person to complete the survey.

Example email that includes some text such as "It will take less than 2-minutes and will help us immensely".

Next Steps

Now that you have some information on post-purchase surveys, it’s time to actually implement one. I recommend starting a Google Doc or Word Doc to start listing out all the information you would like to get from a new customer. Then, start to craft questions around that information.

From there, try to narrow down the survey to as few questions as possible. At that point, I normally start to create the actual form on the website. Once finished, you are ready to start sending customers to it!

We’ll be exploring other strategies, including A/B testing, in future articles, so subscribe to our newsletter so we can notify you when new articles are published.

Frank Corso

After creating several successful WordPress plugins, including WP Health, Frank now focuses on helping ecommerce sites grow through using products including Ahoy and Popup Maker.

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