Use customer research for message mining

Business benefits

Design effective surveys to extract messages from visitors and customers.

Separate your audience into 2 basic groups of website visitors and customers.

Visitor surveys target users with existing but limited product awareness, revealing pain points, purchase prompts, and anxieties. Customer surveys of users with high product awareness reveal unique values and benefits, “a-ha” moments, and desirable outcomes.

For website visitor surveys, create strategic questions that look to extract key messages about motivation, value, and anxiety.

These questions are especially relevant for website visitors:

  • Measuring awareness level: Which of these best describes you? Provide a series of answers that describe the visitor’s awareness level.
  • Measuring purchase prompt context (motivation): What do you currently use to accomplish [a product-related task or goal]? Provide a list of competing solutions, as well as a free entry field for Other.
  • Measuring pain points (motivation): Is there anything you dislike about how you currently accomplish [product task or goal]? Provide a yes and no prompt, with a free entry field if yes is selected.
  • Measuring a deal breaker need (value): What matters MOST to you when choosing [a type of solution] like [product or service name]? Provide radio buttons of specific benefits like pricing and ease of use, as well as a free entry field for Other.
  • Measuring objections (anxiety): Is there anything holding you back from trying [product or service name] right now? Provide a yes and no prompt, with a free entry field if yes is selected.

For customer surveys, focus on questions that address and leverage their existing product awareness level.

These questions are especially relevant for customers, with free entry fields:

  • Measuring purchase prompt (motivation): When did you realize you needed a product like [product]? What was going on in your world that caused you to come looking for [type of solution]?
  • Measuring pain points (motivation): What ONE problem would you say that [product] eliminates or lessens for you?
  • Measuring desired outcomes (motivation), unique benefits (value), and a-ha moments (value): What ONE benefit would you say you received and valued most from using [product]?
  • Measuring unique benefits and delightful features (value): Why did you choose [product] over other [type of solutions]?
  • Measuring Benefits (value): What 3 adjectives would you use to describe [product]?

Create a survey invitation that gets your recipient to pay attention, open up, and engage with the questions.

Website pop-ups with survey prompts work well to engage desktop and tablet audiences without negatively affecting conversion rates. Alternatively, send an email invitation to users in your database.

Include these components of effective invitation copy in your message:

  • Address your audience directly as a group they identify with, like calling all pet lovers.
  • Include a sentence that explains why you’re asking them questions, like we’re trying to make this website better.
  • Outline the exact scope of the survey to set expectations, like we have 5 very short questions.
  • Include a conversational call to action, like sure, happy to help.

Avoid using the words survey or feedback, which prompt users to think of work.

Design your survey to match your audience segmentation and targeting.

For site visitors, use a poll format or softly appearing modal boxes. If possible, avoid mobile device-based audiences and avoid triggering the survey immediately upon site entrance.

For customers, target paying customers via email. Experiment with vague subject lines, avoid promotional email design by designing in plain text with links, and write in a one-on-one conversational dialogue style with a specific person’s name in the address line and signature.

Avoid common survey mistakes that could tank your response rates, such as poor timing or targeting, boilerplate invite copy that feels generic, or not respecting the user’s time.

Common mistakes include:

  • Poor timing or targeting, like a Net Promoter Score question to new visitors.
  • Boilerplate invite copy that doesn’t address your audience personally.
  • Asking obvious questions mindlessly that don’t result in new insights.
  • Not respecting the user’s time.
  • Not explaining why you want them to fill out the survey.
  • Using turn-off words like survey or feedback.

Use insights from your visitor and customer surveys to determine what types of messaging could resonate well with your audience.

For example, you can learn about purchasing context, most common pain points, objections, and benefits or a-ha moments that you can then integrate into your sales copy.

Conduct phone interviews for more in-depth information about your product story or narrative, vivid turns of phrase, rich testimonials, and emotional hooks.

Use a template like CXL’s 1-on-1 Interview Template to maximize your insights. Aim for a 30 minute minimum, and treat it like a conversation with open-ended questions and answers that can go off-topic. Letting the silence hang after an answer may prompt your audience to explain their answer further.

Conduct remote user tests to better understand the product story, points of friction, and clarity points.

Use a platform like or Userlytics, following a template like CXL’s Messaging-Focused User Testing Task Script.

Last edited by @hesh_fekry 2023-11-14T10:13:46Z