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9 Tips for Writing Mobile Optimized Survey Questions

Christy Culp  //  March 28, 2017  //  6 min read

The value of listening to your customers manifests itself in many ways, from strengthened loyalty to improved retention and an increase in revenue. While there are lots of ways to listen to customers, mobile surveys is among the most effective. With mobile surveys, you can gather thousands of responses in a short amount of time, allowing you to make data-driven decisions faster than ever. But if your survey is full of poorly written questions that discourage customer participation, the benefits aren’t as profound.

In-app feedback research results

To help you write mobile survey questions customers actually want to answer, we put together a list of 10 best practices. Below, you’ll learn how to optimize survey questions for mobile, how to avoid data bias, and how to write a survey that encourages complete responses.

Let’s dive in!

1. Keep the survey short and sweet
You’re probably all familiar with the 30-question surveys that pop up as soon as you open an app or website. How many times have you actually completed a survey that long on your smartphone? Probably never. To encourage more people to complete your survey, limit the amount of questions you ask. Try to keep it between four to six questions to increase your chances of receiving more fully completed surveys.

To determine whether or not a question is needed, ask yourself “Is this question absolutely necessary?” and, “Is this the only way to capture this information?” If the answer is no to either, the question won’t add value and shouldn’t be included. Also, gather as much information as you can via metadata and analytics to minimize the need for questions that can be answered through those channels.

2. Have a goal in mind
Before you start writing questions, spend time outlining the survey’s one, clear goal. Ask yourself what you’re trying to learn from the survey and what survey results will impact. Having a goal prior to writing survey questions will help ensure every question serves a distinct purpose.

Avoid outlining multi-prong goals for mobile surveys. With only four to six questions to gather the information you need, it’s difficult to write a survey that serves multiple purposes at once. The best mobile surveys are simple, straightforward, and focused.

3. Target the correct audience
After you’ve determined the goal, figure out who the right audience is for the survey. If your goal is to understand what customers think of a new feature, it doesn’t make sense to ask customers who haven’t used the feature yet.

Customer targeting

If you’re conducting a customer experience survey, send the survey to customers who have utilized whatever it is you’re asking about it, whether it’s a new app feature, a trial service, or in-store experience. Should you want to run a survey asking about what feature to build next in your app, be sure to survey customers who have had a number of experiences in multiple parts of the app so they have an informed opinion on the matter. By targeting the wrong audience, you run the risk of bias survey data and lower survey response rates.

4. Survey at the right time and right place
Just as it’s important to survey the right audience, it’s equally as important to survey them at the right time and the right place. If you have the right audience, but you ask them at the wrong time, your survey won’t yield valuable results.

Be respectful of the customer’s mobile experience, and ensure that your request for feedback doesn’t interrupt them and is contextual. For instance, if your goal is to understand how customers feel about a new feature, the right time to survey them about it is immediately after they’ve used the feature. You’ve given them time to use the feature and establish feelings about it. By asking immediately (or soon) after they’ve finished using the feature, the experience is still fresh in their mind and you’ll receive honest survey results.

Refrain from displaying surveys when customers have started an action, such as the checkout process, or when the customer first launches the app and instead opt to show a survey at close, completed, or back buttons.

5. Personalize your survey
At Apptentive, we live by the mantra “People, Not Users;” this applies to surveys, too. Talk to your customers like they’re people, not users.

Begin questions with “What do you think…” and, “How do you feel…” Using language that addresses them directly sends a message that you’re genuinely interested in understanding their personal experience. When people know that you care about them, they’re more likely to take time out of their busy day to give you feedback and fill out a survey. Be cognizant of this when writing your survey questions in a personal way.

6. Allow open-ended feedback
Don’t limit yourself to close-ended questions. By enabling customers to leave open-ended feedback, you’re opening the door for more detailed explanations of why they feel the way they do and why they’ve answered in a certain way. It also gives customers a place in which they can feel like their individual voice is being heard.

Open-ended feedback will give you more insight than multiple choice questions. Take advantage of this and give customers the opportunity to elaborate.

Apptentive's Mobile Survey

7. Keep close-ended questions concise and include an “other” option
Just as you should keep the length of your survey short, you should keep the length of your answer options brief. Try to limit answer options to six or less so that all of the options fit on one screen.

If customers have to scroll, they may miss options, forget what question they’re answering, or get frustrated with the lack of mobile optimization. As a rule, make sure everything is viewable on one screen for the best mobile experience.

Also, be sure to include an “other” option on all close-ended questions to ensure all customers have the ability to answer honestly. If you haven’t captured their opinion in your answer options, you may miss the actual problem.

8. Use caution when requiring questions
Don’t require a question unless your survey isn’t going to be successful without it. Why? There are two reasons:

If a question is required, you risk biasing your data. If you don’t have the answer they’re looking for or they don’t have an opinion, making them answer the question anyway will skew your results.

On the other hand, if someone accidentally skips a required question, they probably won’t bother scrolling back through the survey to figure out which question they missed. In this scenario, customers often exit the survey without submitting.

Caution cone on keyboard

To avoid skewing your data and limiting your responses, don’t require questions unnecessarily.

9. Analyze the results
This may seem obvious, but not everyone takes the time to analyze their survey results. You’re taking the time to learn about your customers’ experiences, so don’t waste their time by not understanding what the results mean for your business. Use the survey results to identify how you can improve your customers’ interaction with your brand.

The need to analyze results applies to open-ended questions as well. Spend time combing through answers to understand what you may have missed in your close-ended questions. There could be additional problems that haven’t been called to your attention hiding in the open-ended feedback section.

Don’t let customers time fill out your surveys in vain—analyze the results.

Wrapping up
Mobile surveys are one of the fastest ways to gather feedback from thousands of your customers quickly. However, there are many pitfalls that are easy to fall into. A survey that produces quality results starts with the questions. Without well-written survey questions, your response rate and data will be impaired.

To write survey questions that encourage customers to answer honestly, thoroughly, and completely, follow the 10 best practices above. Thoughtful questions and answers will increase the likelihood customers participate in your survey and give you the insightful feedback you need to make informed decisions.

We hope the nine best practices above helps guide your next survey to success!

How have you had success with mobile surveys? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below!

About Christy Culp

Christy Culp is the Head of Customer Success at Apptentive. With nine years of experience in loyalty and hospitality, she consults Fortune 500 clients in fostering meaningful relationships with their customers. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.
View all posts by Christy Culp >

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