Popup Surveys: How to Create Popups that Collect Amazing Customer Insights

Written by Moritz Dausinger, CEO of Refiner

Do you plan to start collecting customer feedback on your site or within your app? 

Are you wondering whether popup surveys can help you increase engagement and collect more responses?

FACT: Customer data is the foundation for any online business’ development. Feedback from people visiting your website or app helps drive almost every aspect of your business, from product development to sales to the way you communicate with customers. 

In this article we’ll explore how SaaS and eCommerce brands leverage popup surveys on their website or application to generate customer insights.

Here’s what you’ll learn from this guide:

So, let’s take it from the top.

What is a Popup Survey?

Popup surveys (also referred to as on-site surveys, on-page surveys or survey widgets) are a special form of customer feedback surveys. 

Companies use them to capture insights from website visitors in an unobtrusive way, while they are browsing a website or using a web application. At the same time, however, given their nature – they are a popup, after all – popup surveys are harder for visitors to miss, and thus, generate higher engagement.

Another important characteristic of such surveys is that they are usually composed of only one or two questions. This makes such popups quick and easy to fill out, greatly increasing the response rates you generate.

Here are some examples of survey popups. Note how little effort is required from a person to answer survey questions. In the case of this popup, all they need to do is select the appropriate option, for example. 

Example of a survey displayed in a popup.

This popup, on the other hand, requires making a yes/no decision regarding continuing answering the survey.

Image showing popup survey with a simple yes or no question.

Popup Placement and Timing

Two factors, aside from your survey questions, of course, affect the popup’s success – placement and timing


Usually, popup surveys reside at the bottom left or bottom right corner. Sometimes they are also displayed centered on a page in the form of a modal overlay.

Using these placements allows webmasters to attract visitors attention without disturbing the user experience on the site. 


In most cases, popup surveys appear a couple of seconds after a website was loaded. That said, there are other, often more effective ways to time the survey. 

First of all, you can launch an exit intent popup. This survey will trigger when the website detects that a user is leaving the page. To do so, the popup relies on an exit intent technology that monitors the person’s cursor movements. When the system detects that a person has either moved the mouse cursor away from the browser window (to click the back button or type new URL into the URL box,) the survey pops on screen. 

Another timing strategy is to target visitors who landed on a specific page. You can also trigger the survey when someone has spent a specific time on page. This strategy helps to target only the most engaged users – The people who have been reading the page’s content. 

When used inside a web application, more sophisticated rules for displaying the survey are usually applied. For example, when a user connects to his account a certain number of times or when the user just performed a specific action.

Example of popup survey widget asking pre-qualifying questions.
An example of an In-App Popup Survey Widget powered by Refiner

Why Create and Use Popup Surveys?

The simplest reason is that such online surveys can provide the data other analytics programs simply cannot. 

Google Analytics, although extremely powerful, cannot tap into the visitors’ minds, and collect insights about their impressions or ideas. Hell, in many cases, it lacks the ability to provide even some more advanced customer demographics. 

The situation is no different when you want to learn more about your product’s audience. 

Having the right customer data lets you understand who your users really are, what they need and how you can help them get their job done. In the case of an online business, it allows you to increase conversions, better retain your customers, improve your product and much more.

Product teams can leverage customer user feedback to make data driven and informed decisions. Marketing leaders can better understand their target audience and improve nurturing campaigns. Sales can identify their best accounts and focus their time on the right leads.

What Other Companies Use Popup Surveys For

Here are a couple of use-cases how product-led SaaS, eCommerce stores and membership website use customer data collected through popups to increase revenue:

  • Measure user satisfaction and identify weak spots in your product experience
  • Better plan and prioritize feature development
  • Drive ultra-personalized nurturing campaigns
  • Enrich your CRM with survey data and identify upsell opportunities
  • Measured perceived ROI of using a product for pricing research
  • Measure the quality of marketing generated leads

But how do you get precise and relevant customer data without sacrificing a good User Experience?

This is when popup surveys come into play.

Get to know your users Refiner is a customer survey tool for SaaS & digital products. Collect more user insights with perfectly timed microsurveys, automate actions based on answers, and quickly find gaps in the understanding of your users. Discover Refiner

Best Practices for Creating and Using Popup Surveys

A particularly misleading misconception persists among marketers, stating that all you need to do to collect feedback is to create a survey. 

Unfortunately, with so many distractions and waning customer engagement, you need to do a bit more to generate results. 

So, here are some of the best practices that will help you launch a successful 

  • Have a clear goal in mind. The popup survey can help you gain a whole range of insights. So, know exactly what you want to get out of the campaign before creating the popup. This way, you’ll be able to tailor the survey questions to your audience better. 
  • Time the popup properly. Don’t just trigger the popup at the moment when someone lands on your site or logs into the app. Instead, figure out when your users are the most likely to be willing to answer the particular question you want to ask them, and set up the popup to display then. 
  • Target the survey at a specific customer segment. When it comes to website surveys, you can focus only on returning visitors or target visitors by the source of traffic, demographics and other characteristics.  

What Is the Average Response Rate to Expect

At Refiner, we usually see response rates of 3 – 5% for surveys shown to anonymous website traffic. Surveys which embedded in a web application shown to logged-in users yield response rates as high as as 60% – 70%.

The response rate of customer surveys depends highly on who you target and when a survey is launched. In other words, choosing a popup survey software which provides advanced trigger options is important.

Alternatives to Popup Surveys

Long Sign-Up Forms

There are a couple of issues with long forms on website.

Let’s take the case of creating an account for a website. Asking additional questions in your sign-up form will lower your conversion rates. Multiple studies show that shorter forms provide higher conversion rates.

Analysis of conversion rates between short and long survey forms.
Short Forms Outperform Long Forms (Image Credit)

Secondly, you probably won’t get accurate data. The reason for inaccurate data are multiple.

Users who decided to give your service of product a try most probably just want to dive in right away. If bothered with complicated questions, they might just enter bogus data to be done with sign-up procedure quickly.

And who can blame them?

At this point they don’t have a trust relationship with your brand and don’t have any incentive to provide accurate data.

Furthermore, they might actually not know the answer to some specific questions yet. Imagine you want to know which modules of your software a user plans to purchase. They likely can’t answer this question before testing and evaluating your product.

In other words: Some questions are better asked once the users settled in built up a trust relationship with your brand.

Enrichment APIs

Another approach for capturing customer data is to use data from enrichment providers like Clearbit.

Enriching user profiles with Third Party Enrichment APIs is a good alternative to forms – in theory. The data returned by enrichment services is however rather generic and unfortunately not that helpful most of the time. Assuming you have a hit and get back any data at all.

Don’t get us wrong, we are big fans of data enrichment services.

The idea is just magical. You provide an email address to them and they send you all kinds of demographic and firmographic data back in return.

The question is however how likely enrichment APIs return data that is actually useful and actionable for your business.

Let’s take the example of qualifying inbound leads.

Enrichment APIs usually return the size of a company which then is often used as an indication of likelihood that a lead becomes a high-value customers.

But does the fact that someone works at an enterprise scale company really means that they might become a big customer? Maybe the size of their team or their role within that team is actually a much better indicator.

You get the idea.

In our experience, it’s important to have the answers on very specific questions who are related to YOUR business and not generic firmographic data points.

Another issue with enrichment APIs are their match-rates. The match rate indicates how often an enrichment provider actually have data in stock for the query you are sending them. Based on the type of audience you are dealing with, match rates might be as low as 20% – 30%.


And what about Chatbots? Let’s face it. They provide a rather noisy user experience and have very low response rates.

It’s hard to say why exactly they provide such low response rates. Our best guess is Chatbots are mainly perceived – as their name suggests – a way to start a conversation.

But you don’t want to start a conversation with your users. What you want instead is capture specific data points.

In other words, Chatbots are not the right tool to capture user data in our opinion.

Let’s look at another way of capturing data from your users: In-App survey widgets like the ones provided by Refiner.

Advantages of Using Pop Up Surveys

So how do customer survey widgets hold up to all the options listed above?

As you’ll see below, pretty good!

Let’s see how they compare to the three alternative options mentioned above:

Long Sign-up FormsChatbotsEnrichment APIsPop-up Surveys
Ask any questionYesYesNoYes
Response / Completion RatesMediumLowMediumHigh
Data AccuracyMediumMediumMediumHigh
Profile Users GraduallyNoYesn/aYes
Unobtrusive UXNoYesYesYes
Context SensitiveNoYesn/aYes

Let’s look at some of the aspects more in detail:

Advantage #1: High response rates

As mentioned above, popup surveys have great response rates compared to alternative data capture methods.

Advantage #2: Accurate data

As mentioned above, asking specific questions at the wrong time – e.g. during the sign-up process – will leave you with inaccurate data. On the other hand, asking your users simple questions while they are using your product will deliver highly accurate responses.

Why is that? It all boils down to whether or not a user trusts your brand and sees an incentive in answering a survey truthfully.

The moment they are using your product and getting value out of it is such a moment.

Advantage #3: Great User Experience

A common misconception is that embeddable surveys have a clunky feel to them. It’s not true though. It all depends on the survey tool you are using.

Refiner provides on-page surveys with a minimal and brandable design. The results are snappy surveys that integrate perfectly in your app or website.

Furthermore, you can target your users with micro-surveys consisting of only one or two questions. Delivered to the right users at the right time, allows you to gradually profile your users in an unobtrusive way.

Example of an in-product survey widget asking a custom question
Example of an in-product survey widget asking a custom question

Advantage #4: Ask any question

In-app surveys allow you to ask your users any question while they are using your product. You can even ask rather complicated question if you target the right audience and ask the question at the right time – for example right after a purchase.

Example of a Net Promoter Score (NPS) widget shown as a centered modal
Example of a Net Promoter Score survey widget shown as a centered modal

The user surveys of Refiner allow you to ask single choice, multiple choice and open ended questions. Furthermore, it allows you to ask typical customer satisfaction metrics like the Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) or Customer Effort Score (CES).

The list goes on!

Looking at this list above it becomes obvious that capturing customer data with Popup Surveys represents a huge lever for SaaS companies.

Want to give it a try? Create a free account with Refiner and get your popup survey widget installed on your website in minutes.

Get to know your users Refiner is a customer survey tool for SaaS & digital products. Collect more user insights with perfectly timed microsurveys, automate actions based on answers, and quickly find gaps in the understanding of your users. Discover Refiner

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