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6 Essential Practices To Create A Killer User Onboarding Survey For A SaaS

In the SaaS world, one size will never fit all, so you must adapt to the needs of different types of users.

You can’t afford to run onboarding campaigns blindly without understanding what your target consumers think, want, and expect from your product.

User onboarding surveys to the rescue!

Creating a compelling onboarding survey can be the turning point for your business. You collect critical data, your users get a customized experience, and you end up with a valuable and super user-friendly product.

I can already tell this will be a long one, so you might want to grab a cup of hot coffee and a snack , and let’s dive straight in!

What is a user onboarding survey?

A user onboarding survey is a short questionnaire that SaaS companies use to gather user feedback about their onboarding process. The purpose of these surveys is to leverage the collected data to design personalized onboarding flows and optimize the overall user experience.

Many SaaS businesses rely on these surveys when users first sign up for a new account. Take, for instance, a SaaS daily planner that prompts new users with questions about their tech stack and dashboard preferences to customize their app experience right from the start.

Why is the user onboarding survey relevant?

Here are some reasons why user onboarding surveys are indispensable for SaaS companies: 

Optimize the onboarding process

It wouldn’t be news that getting enough data about your customer onboarding process is challenging. Luckily, surveys are here to save the day and provide you with insight straight from your users. 

While metrics can tell you what’s happening, survey results reveal why it’s happening. You can then use that information to slice and dice your data to better meet your users’ needs. 

Feature utilization

Do you know what every SaaS business wants? Getting instant feedback about their application features is exactly what onboarding surveys can bring to the table. 

The feedback you receive will enlighten you about which features your users love, struggle with, or find perplexing. You can make informed decisions to boost your app’s performance based on your findings. 


We hate to sound like a broken record, but we’ll say this again: Your users want a product that aligns with their thought process, and what better way to gather this information than with a user onboarding survey? 

You can create your questionnaire and ask them about their goals and objectives within the app, communication preferences, pain points, expected features — literally anything!

Higher user retention

Another great thing about onboarding surveys is that they can significantly boost customer retention. However, the first impression needs to be powerful enough to hook your new users — it’s a make-or-break factor!

If you leave a great impression on your new users and help them quickly experience value within your product, you will naturally see a boost in your retention rates. 

Eliminating friction

Onboarding surveys are crucial for eliminating user friction, but again, you need to carefully choose your questions to identify which elements require too much effort or where additional support is needed.

The answers you receive will enable you to cut things from the roots and create a customer experience that’s not just seamless but also fast. 

7 Types of user onboarding survey questions you can use

When it comes to the types of questions you can ask in your user onboarding survey, you have multiple options depending on the data you need. Here are the most common and recurrent ones.

To maintain a simple and consistent framework in this section, we’ve adjusted our question types to fit the onboarding process for a SaaS daily routine planner.

Rating scale questions

Rating scale questions are exactly what they sound like; users will rate their experience, likelihood, or importance of some features on a numerical scale, typically from 1 to 5 (or sometimes 1 to 10).

In our example below, we’ve asked users to rate how important integrating their toolkit with a daily planner is. The data here can be easily analyzed and leveraged to determine how likely they are to integrate their tools with our daily planner app. (1 star not important) (5 stars very important). 

Multiple choice questions

The idea behind these questions is pretty simple: asking users to select one or more options from a predefined list. The answers will provide specific data points on your users’ preferences, habits, and needs.

Take our example below, where we asked users about the tools they use to organize and plan their work. This question aims to group users based on their preferences and adapt our daily planner app features to fit seamlessly into their existing tool stack. 

Likert scale questions

These types of questions give users the space to indicate their level of agreement with a statement on a scale of 1 to 10 (sometimes 1 to 5 or 1 to 7). From very easy to very difficult or very dissatisfied to very satisfied, it can be anything!

For instance, we might ask users about their experience with the service to gain insights into their attitudes and behaviors and how they would feel about certain features of the platform.

Open-ended questions

Your onboarding survey template should always contain an open-ended question, and it’s not hard to see why! Users love sharing their thoughts freely, especially when it comes to UX. 

These questions allow your users to share detailed feedback, suggestions, and insights that structured questions might not capture.

For instance, rather than limiting them to multiple-choice answers, ask your users to suggest features they want to see. You never know. They might come up with something new and innovative!

Yes/No questions

In this type of question, users will simply answer “Yes” or “No” to help you, as a SaaS business, quickly gather binary data about user behavior and preferences. Yes/No questions are useful for segmentation.

The questions we used are pretty straightforward, and they help the SaaS tool categorize its users intuitively. But just a friendly little tip: ask the right questions to help you segment your users. 

Dropdown questions

Similarly to multiple-choice questions, Dropdown questions offer a way to collect detailed categorical data while keeping the survey format concise and user-friendly.

Users will select an option from a dropdown list that includes predefined choices, like our example below, and the question we asked about the device they use to plan their tasks and activities. 

Matrix questions

Although this type of question is not very common, Matrix questions can be a great source of data as they turn around comparative data on different aspects of your platform. Users rate multiple items in a grid format, typically with consistent rating scales for each item.

In our example, you can see how users can rate the features offered by the SaaS app, such as integrations and UI, from “Slightly important” to “Extremely important.” 

6 Essential practices to create a killer user onboarding survey for SaaS

Now that we have established what a user onboarding survey is and why it’s important to create one, let’s get to know the best practices for designing a killer onboarding survey for your users. 

Time for some hands-on work! 

1. Wisely choose the format and timing 

Your survey can contain accurate and relevant questions, but if you don’t use the right format and timing, you won’t keep your users engaged throughout the survey.

Before launching your survey, determine where your users are most active. SaaS app users prefer in-app prompts because they’re consistent with the app’s experience and brand. However, you can always send surveys via email to improve the survey submission rate.

Timing is also a big piece of the puzzle that probably gets talked about less than it should. Set your survey to coincide with major onboarding milestones or aha moments, like right after the first login or after they’ve made their first payment.

Of course, your survey should be mobile-friendly, as Techjury reports that over 60% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices these days.

2. Encourage user participation 

Another great way to excite your users to hit that submit button is to include some engagement elements.

Consider offering incentives such as discounts, credits, or even free premium subscriptions to boost participation rates. And if your survey runs a bit long, throw in a progress bar to keep your users engaged till the end.

Finally, don’t forget to send a sincere thank you message. It’s a great way to show your users how much you appreciate their input in making your product better for them.

3. Keep it short 

Let’s just be real here: No matter how fancy those progress bars look, the longer your survey is, the fewer responses you’ll get. Because we’re living in an age of short attention spans.

Your best bet is to stick to a maximum of 4 to 7 questions, varied between open-ended and close-ended, to avoid overwhelming users and keep that onboarding experience smooth and enjoyable.

4. Pick the right type of questions 

We could argue that open-ended questions give deeper insights than closed-ended ones, but the reality is that — this is not always the case!

Short and NPS question formats, like multiple-choice or Likert scale questions, are much easier to answer. This simplicity naturally leads to higher user response rates and, as a result, more data to work with. 

As we’ve mentioned before, the key is using the right format in the right context, so the point here is to find a good balance between both types. 

Just like what Okta products do to enhance their user onboarding surveys. They supplement Likert-scale questions with open-ended ones, which allows them to gather both quantitative ratings and qualitative feedback and gain a deeper understanding of the user experience:

4. Ask rational questions 

Whatever your strategy, it’s best to go back to basics. Ask your users questions that you understand the purpose behind and how their answers will add value to your product. The onboarding process has taught us that not all users are the same, so your survey messages must be straightforward and intuitive.

For instance, if you run a logistic SaaS and want to measure how easy it is to set up a Warehouse Management System (WMS) in your app, ask questions about the installation and configuration process, not the software’s interface design. The insights you receive will help you decide if further product testing is necessary.

5. Test. Test. Test

You followed our practices to the letter and created your user onboarding survey. Congratulations. You’re not done yet.

You can’t afford to run surveys in the dark without testing with real users. So, whatever your user onboarding survey is about, you should always conduct a pilot test with a small group of your users to identify any potential issues with questions, survey flow, or technical glitches. 

And it’s not just about aesthetics — this pilot feedback helps you fine-tune your survey and uncovers ideas you might have missed otherwise.

Final words

We can safely say that we have told you as much about user onboarding surveys as you should know before you start implementing them. 

Is your creative battery recharged yet? You have our essential steps — now go create that killer survey!

Want to learn even more about user onboarding? Head to Encharge blog.

Thank you for sticking around till the end! Wish you good luck, more conversions, and higher user retention!

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