How Apps Use Surveys for Customer Feedback

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Partner Post - Apptentive Listen to, engage with, & retain your mobile customers

Posted: July 12, 2016


Ashley Sefferman is Head of Content at Apptentive, the best in-app communications software for app publishers. A mobile marketing and content strategy enthusiast, she writes about mobile apps, loyalty, inbound marketing, and making the mobile world a better place for people. Follow Ashley on Twitter @ashseff.


Intuitively, customer individuality makes perfect sense. We’re all different. Yet at the end of the day, many brands know little about their customers on an individual, human level. Even some of the most customer-centric brands are guilty of overemphasizing aggregate metrics, like star ratings, net promoter scores, and trends in retention and per-customer revenue. They trade unique characteristics, habits, and preferences of the customer as an individual for a big-picture view of the “customer” as an abstract concept.

Enter in-app surveys, the best way to learn about your individual’s customers experiences, needs, and wants. In-app surveys are multifaceted. Companies use them to answer specific product or brand oriented questions, ranging from “What can we do better?” to “Was this a positive app experience for you? Why or why not?”

Today’s post shares insight into how companies are using in-app surveys, what in-app surveys look like between categories within the app stores, and tips to create your own in-app surveys to help give your customers a voice.

How app publishers currently use in-app surveys

Apptentive recently published a consumer report using data from around 1,000 of our customers’ mobile apps to help provide benchmark metrics for companies to measure their mobile apps’ performance. The data is from both Android and iOS apps in all categories from April 2015 to April 2016.

A big part of how effective surveys are is how much engagement they receive. Through our research, we found the greatest value in mobile surveys relies on the number of people who’ve completed the survey; less is not more, in this case. Our data shows that the average in-app survey response rate, across all app categories, is 13%, which is in sharp contrast to industry average mobile survey response rate of 1-3%. Gone are the days of low expectations for survey completion, especially when it’s done right.

Additionally, surveys are used differently across app categories, with Entertainment taking the lead.

Survey response rate


Now that we’ve covered how app publishers are currently using in-app surveys, it’s time to get you started on an in-app survey of your own. Here are five steps to creating effective in-app surveys that will not only help you learn about your customers, but will help give them a voice to express their experiences:

  • Pick your survey tool

The very first thing you need to consider is your choice of survey tool. This includes both the decision of whether to use an in-app survey or a web survey and the decision of whether to make your survey platform in-house or seek out a third-party solution.

Using an in-app survey rather than directing mobile customers to a web survey allows you to not detract from the customer experience. However, if you are using a web survey, be upfront about asking customers to leave the app for an external link.

  • Determine your research question

Before jumping into designing your survey within your chosen tool, take some time to identify a single concrete research question that you hope to answer with the results of your survey. This will provide a benchmark for your data analysis and can help to keep the survey short and concise if you constrain yourself to asking only those questions necessary for addressing your research question.

Once you have carefully selected your research question, several of the remaining steps will ensue naturally–including your target audience and the type of data you need to collect.

  • Identify your survey audience

It’s now time to determine which customers are best suited to honestly and accurately address your research question. Once you’ve identified the customer segment, you can begin to seek out and target pain points within the app where the survey will provide the most value to both the customer and your team.

I recommend using event-based targeting to best ensure a nonintrusive survey experience. Don’t immediately ask new customers to take a survey, and only ask customers to take your survey once rather than asking each time they load an event.

  • Integrate into your mobile experience

Now that you’ve determined your audience, the next step is to identify where and how to reach them within your app. If you’re using event-based targeting, seek out mobile moments in the customer journey. These are typically points of engagement where customers may feel happy, frustrated, or lost. Concentrating on these moments allows you to hone into a single part of the customer experience and can lead to more actionable results if the feedback directly relates to the point of engagement.

When prompting your in-app survey, be careful to not interrupt or annoy customers in the middle of a task. For example, if you want to ask about the in-app shopping experience, prompt your survey after checkout instead of after a customer adds an item to their cart. Remember, your survey should be designed to add value to both you and your customer.

  • Analyze your results

By this point, you’ve launched your survey and have collected a statistically significant number of responses. Now it’s time to dig into the fruits of your labor.

Data analysis should be a straightforward process for those quantitative questions directly mapped to your research question. We recommend going through each question individually and asking yourself whether each result confirms or rejects your hypothesized answer to your own research question: Are the result of customer rating scales consistent with what I’m seeing in app store ratings? Has my latest version update improved customer sentiment? Do customers feel comfortable navigating my interface and new features?

As a last step, decide whether you want to keep the survey running or close it. This is often a matter of saturation (if you already have the sample size you need and additional responses provide little value) and relevancy (is your research question still a priority, or is there a new question worth asking in a separate survey?).

In summary

At the end of the day, those companies that stand out from the ever-growing sea of apps are those that listen to, engage with, and retain their customers—wherever they may be. In other words, those apps that communicate with their customers on an individual, human level. In-app surveys are one way to help you put a listening tool into place, and hopefully the tips above will give you a solid foundation to begin!