The Ultimate Exit Survey Guide

July 25, 2019
Talk Agency
Some users will convert. Some will sign up for your newsletter. But what if people don’t do what you want them to do? How can you tell if too many visitors are leaving your website, and what can you do about it?

We do everything we can to make sure users make it to our website. Once users do make it to our site, we do everything we can to make sure they stay there.

An exit survey can help you learn more about the state of your website. Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is an Exit Survey?

Exit surveys are shown to visitors just as they’re about to leave your website. Exit surveys often come in the form of a pop up that appears if a visitor moves their cursor away towards the browser toolbar. Other mouse movements can be set to trigger the survey.

Now, why would you want to annoy visitors with a popup survey when they are about to leave? Most people will ignore the survey anyway. That’s one way to look at it.

Think about it this way. If visitors are leaving sooner than you’d want them to, then chances are they won’t be returning anytime soon. It makes sense to try and learn more about their experiences on the website, even if sudden popups may come off as spammy.

It may be the case that only a small percentage of the users who leave your website complete the survey. However, even such small numbers can tell a lot about the state of your website.

Any kind of feedback that you can get is good feedback. You’d be surprised at the actual number of people who complete exit surveys.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Exit Surveys?

Exit surveys may not sound too exciting, but they can help you discover problems with usability, layout, value proposition, content, and the list goes on. Here’s why you might want to consider adding an exit survey to your website:

  • Surprisingly, exit surveys have high response rates, and they often outperform other kinds of website surveys. Maybe people are eager to express their discontent. Perhaps they just like filling out surveys.
  • People who fill out exit surveys provide you with the most valuable insights. Of course, you want to take into account the opinion of happy or converting customers too, but it’s often hard to improve when all the feedback that you get is positive. Finding out what doesn’t work that well will help research and reduce bounce and exit rates.
  • Lower bounce rates translate into higher conversion rates. Knowledge is power. If you know that people think your product is overpriced, then adjusting the price tags or adding more value to your product will most likely increase conversions in the near future.

Be that as it may, exit surveys are not always reliable, especially if samples are small. We’ve mentioned the good, so it’s only fair that we tell you about the bad as well:

  • Exit surveys are intrusive. There’s no other way to put this. A large pop up never makes for good user experience.
  • This is not a problem if the user would just leave and never come back. But exit surveys can be triggered accidentally if users hover over specific elements during their stay on your website. Showing an intrusive exit survey to a user who’s just browsing is more than just awkward.
  • Results can be biased. Some visitors may see exit surveys as an opportunity to express their frustration. In this case, you might receive conflicting feedback from confused and agitated users, which may make it difficult to come to sensible conclusions.

Types of Exit Surveys

Exit surveys come in many shapes and forms. Depending on when users decide to exit your website, different surveys can provide you with valuable insight. Here are the most popular types of exit surveys:

Shopping cart abandonment surveys

Did you know that 70% of users abandon their online shopping carts before making a purchase? Now, that’s a shocking number. An exit survey can offer marketers a quick glimpse behind the scenes. Why are users not completing orders? What is it that stops them from buying?

Of course, this can be anything from an unexpected increase in price, lack of interest, lack of trust, to exhaustion at the face of extremely long forms that ask for way too much information.

To create an abandonment survey, all you have to do is focus on those users who added a product to their cart and then decided to leave. Here are some sample questions that you could include in your survey:

  • Why did you decide to quit shopping? A generic question that can work surprisingly well.
  • Are you having trouble completing your order? This one’s a bit trickier. It implies that the user wants to complete the order, but something’s holding them back.
  • Do you have any questions before completing your order? Similarly to the previous question, it’s implied that the user wants to complete the order. These last two questions are great for helping troubled customers convert, but don’t do much in the way of obtaining information from users that just don’t feel like buying anything anymore.

This is precisely why being able to track the time that a user has spent on your website is extremely important. Someone who has had something on their cart for a long time may be having trouble completing the order. They decide to leave the website in frustration. Questions two and three can solve the problem and help them convert.

A user who just added a product on their cart and decided to leave after a few seconds may have a completely different reason for wanting to go. A more general question (such as number one above) may give you a better idea of the reason behind their decision.

Pricing abandonment surveys

Users often make it to the landing page of a product or service but leave when they click through to the plan/pricing page. Obviously, pricing alone can determine whether someone will convert or not, but that’s not always the case.

Of course, when you’re setting up a pricing abandonment survey, you know that a lot of people are going to complain about the product’s price specifically. However, you may discover that pricing alone doesn’t answer many questions that visitors may have about your product.

You may find that users do not clearly understand how your pricing plans work. Here are some sample questions that you could include in your pricing abandonment survey:

  • Is our pricing clear to you? A crucial question, especially if you have several products or service plans on offer.

  • Compared to similar solutions, do you think our prices are lower, higher, or about the same? You may already know how your prices compare to those of your competitors’, but knowing what customers think is probably more important.

  • How much would you be willing to pay for our product/service? They say that the customer is always right. If the majority of people leaving your pricing page say they would feel more comfortable with a small drop in price, then it may be wise to consider their suggestion.

Goal completion surveys

Goal completion surveys are more generic exit surveys that can pop up in places where other, more specific surveys wouldn’t make too much sense.

Goal completion surveys simply ask visitors if they managed to complete their goal during their visit, whatever that goal may have been. It may be that they found some useful information on your blog; maybe they learned more about your products or services.

Goal completion surveys are more than just about numbers. If customers can achieve their goals, then user satisfaction is high; a sign that you’re offering a great user experience. Such general information may not seem very useful but says a lot about the overall state of your website. It doesn’t matter what their goal is today. Satisfied users are more likely to convert in the future.

Simple goal completion questions that you can include in your survey include:

  • Did you complete the goal of your visit?
  • From a scale of 1 to 5, how difficult was it to complete your goal?
  • Would you revisit our website in the future?
  • How likely are you to recommend our website to a friend?

Landing page bounce research

People leaving right after making to your landing page is never a good sign. Instead of panicking and trying to guess why people are not taking the actions you want them to take (e.g. sign up to your newsletter, download your new ebook, visit your products page), you can just ask them.

More than any other page on your website, your landing page is designed to hook users with actionable content and high-value propositions. If people are leaving without going anywhere else, then chances are you’re either not being as clear as you should, or you’re bombarding users with too much information.

In this case, an exit survey won’t be able to solve all your problems. It can, however, help you uncover the root cause of the problem. Here is what you can ask:

  • What should we do to improve your experience on our website?
  • What more would you like to see on this page?
  • What prevented you from signing up?

Exit surveys as a lead generation tool

One of the more productive uses of exit surveys comes in the form of special and limited offers. Just as the user is about to leave, you provide them with a personalised proposal that they won’t be able to ignore: a discount, a free consultation, a free guide etc.

You can set up lead generation exit surveys on promotional or specific product pages. Think about it. Just by setting up a convincing exit survey, you’re generating leads out of thin air.

You can use the information you’ve obtained from other exit surveys to position your offers and propositions accordingly. In essence, discounts work great if customers believe that your product or service is a bit too expensive for them.

Make sure that you don’t ask for too much and that your offer has value. Remember that you’re targeting users who almost clicked away. A name and email for a 20% discount on a mid-range product is an excellent example of an exit lead generation offer done right.

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Response Rates

How you design your exit surveys, where you place them, and what you ask will affect your response rates. These can vary greatly, but successful exit surveys enjoy response rates of up to 70%.

The type of survey affects those numbers as well. When users are engaged, surveys have higher response rates (as is often the case with cart abandonment surveys, for example).

When users are less engaged and not considering taking a specific action (e.g. they’re just browsing your blog), response rates remain low (as is the case with goal completion surveys).

This is all fine and dandy, but what can you do to increase your response rate? If you’re going to take the time to create multiple exit surveys, then you’ll want to make sure that people respond to them as much as possible.

Using the best practices, you can achieve high response rates and collect a large amount of data, even if traffic to your website is low to moderate.

Creating the Best Surveys Possible

Keep it nice and short

Don’t forget that exit surveys are popups. No one will engage with a 500-word, essay-long exit survey. Ideally, it should consist of just one question. If you have more to say, then create more space and spread things out.

Multiple choice or scale questions work the best. Text-input surveys can work too, but users are less likely to answer those. Still, written feedback is precious so what you can do is add an extra comment box at the end of the survey—give users the choice to express their concerns in more detail.

Don’t forget to follow up with an appropriate ‘thank you’ message. If you’re asking more than one question, make sure users know about it. They’re much more likely to make it to the end of the survey if they know there’s only one—or two—more questions coming up.

Make it visible

You don’t need to be subtle with your exit surveys—think of them as your last resort. It’s your last chance to capture the user’s attention and prompt them to take action.

The form should appear in the middle of the screen and should be visible and easy to follow. Unmissable is the word: make use of an overlay, go with a large design, and don’t be afraid of bright colours.


Make sure that your surveys run well on all screens and devices. This is not always easy as buttons and fields may be too small and hard to interact with on mobile phones (especially if you’ve designed your website with desktop users in mind).

Testing tools, such as BrowserStack can help you get it right. Browserstack can help you check out how your website looks and runs on more than 2,000 devices. Optimising for mobile is critical, even beyond the scope of exit surveys.

To Survey or Not to Survey

There’s much debate around surveys, but exit surveys always seem to spark discussions among marketers—some marketers love them, others hate them.

It’s not a matter of getting the code and implementing it on your website. There are more than a dozen tools that can help you create all kinds of exit surveys. The issue rather lies with the intrusive nature of the survey itself.

A well-placed exit survey can help you gain valuable feedback, which is precisely where things can get out of control. Instead of implementing an exit survey for a specific reason (e.g. a need to understand why users abandon their carts at the last moment), many end up using a combination of different exit surveys for more than just that.

We’ve all been to those websites. Navigating through them feels like walking through a field of landmines. And this is exactly why marketers need to be careful with exit surveys—and any kind of intrusive, in-your-face marketing tactic.

Too many popups negatively affect the user experience as they target more and more users. Things can quickly spiral out of control. Leverage exit surveys, but make sure you know why and when to use them.

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