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The A to Z of the Perfect Mobile NPS Survey

Here it is: your guide to everything NPS for mobile apps. The Net Promoter Score survey is the world’s most popular customer loyalty survey. It gives you information about which users love your app, what features they like most or least, and how likely they are to churn. Two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies use NPS surveys, and they’re one of Instabug’s most popular user feedback features. They’re simple to write and send. Sounds great, right? But this survey is deceptively simple. You’ll get more than just a number from this survey, but you’ll need to know how to interpret it. This post aims to explain it all, from what it is and how to use it, to how to thoughtfully analyze your results and gather actionable insights.

What is a mobile NPS survey?

The Net Promoter Score survey (or NPS for short) for mobile apps is a simple two-step survey that takes just a few seconds to complete. How do you test app user loyalty in just a couple of questions? When you ask the right questions, you don’t need to ask a lot of questions to get actionable insights. Here’s the basic format.

  1. How likely are you to recommend this app to a friend or colleague? [scale of 0–10]
  2. What could we do better? [open text/verbatim]

Score Classification Description
9–10 Promoter Promoters are your brand’s biggest fans. Very enthusiastic customers will tell their friends about you and are likely to become repeat buyers.
7–8 Passive Passives are just that: passive. They’re satisfied enough not to complain, but they don’t have much to say about your brand, either good or bad.
0–6 Detractor Detractors are people who are unhappy with your product, likely to push others away from it, and even more likely to churn. Everyone has them, even the most successful businesses.

To calculate your score, follow this formula:

Your Net Promoter Score = % of Promoters - % of Detractors

Your final score will fall between -100 and 100. If you’re using Instabug, this will be calculated for you automatically on your survey results page.

Generally speaking, anything above zero is considered “good,” over 30 is great, and over 70 is absolutely exceptional—these are companies like Apple, renowned for their products and service, with dedicated fans who voluntarily act as casual brand ambassadors. We’ll dig a little deeper into industry benchmarks later on in this article.

A quick example

Let’s say you’re a product manager at a SaaS company and you want to calculate your NPS score. You’ve sent out surveys in your app and have received 900 responses so far.

  • Of these 900, 350 give you a 9 or a 10 (they’re Promoters).
  • 300 people gave you a 7 or 8 (they’re Passives).
  • Finally, 250 respondents gave you between 0 and 6 (they’re—you guessed it—Detractors).
  • This leaves you with 39% Promoters, 33% Passives, and 28% Detractors.
  • Subtract 28 from 39 and you get 11. This is your Net Promoter Score.

Why are these questions effective?

First of all, NPS surveys gather two types of data: quantitative and qualitative. Your numerical score is a great bird’s eye view of your customer satisfaction situation, and this number can tell you a lot.

But the most valuable information you get from the NPS survey is the most often overlooked. The question “How could we do better?” is a chance for your user to tell you, in their own words, what you could do to make your app a better fit for their situation.

They seem like such simple questions, but there’s a solid strategy behind the approach. It’s all in how you interpret your results. If you choose to focus on identifying the factors that your most loyal users have in common with each other, you will learn about what aspects of your product resonate most with your users. If you focus on learning from your least loyal customers, you can improve on or eliminate the factors that lead them to churn.

Loyalty is better than satisfaction

So what’s the deal with customer loyalty? Why not send a customer satisfaction survey? After all, you want to keep your users satisfied, and there’s a lot you can learn from your happy users. But loyalty is a better predictor of future growth than retention or even satisfaction rates.

In fact, customer satisfaction rates are not confidently linked to growth numbers. Satisfaction surveys can be prone to interference or misinterpretation, and sometimes ask leading or meaningless questions. What’s the main reason for that? When satisfaction scores are part of a company’s KPIs, they can be gamed by employees who feel the pressure to meet their expectations.

How do you research a new product you’re interested in? Google? Consumer review sites? Or how about the old tried and true recommendation from someone you know? It might not sound like the most scientific or unbiased way to go about things — but 83% of people still rely primarily on recommendations from friends and family, Nielsen reported in 2015. This social trust is a huge factor in why the NPS question is so effective.

The loyalty hunt has been a popular approach for over 15 years, when business strategist Frederick Reichheld published a piece on customer loyalty in Harvard Business Review. Check out The One Number You Need to Grow for more insight into how you can learn from loyalty.

Targeting your mobile NPS survey

If you’re using Instabug to ship your mobile NPS survey, targeting will be one of the easiest parts of the process. If you want to send your NPS survey to specific users at specific times, Instabug’s targeting step makes that super simple and intuitive. You can target users by app version, sessions, last seen, age, or any number of custom attributes you’ve created yourself.

Once you’ve chosen who will see your survey, you can select custom conditions for when they’ll see it. By default, it appears 10 seconds after the user starts their session. But you can select other conditions instead, such as after login, following task completion, or something custom you’ve created yourself. Thoughtfully choosing your audience and survey event trigger will raise your response rates.

Segmenting and targeting your users is one of the most important steps in successful survey design. You can get more targeting tips in our segmentation and targeting guide.

After your mobile NPS survey is complete

It’s important to “close the loop” when it comes to user feedback. You want to make each user feel heard and show appreciation for the time they spent sending you feedback. This is more difficult for some companies than others, given the volume of feedback larger companies may receive.

Thankfully, it’s still easy to make your users feel that their input is valued. Using Instabug, you can set up custom thank you messages and follow-up actions for each category of respondent. They’ll automatically see a thank you note as soon as they complete the survey, showing them your gratitude while saving your time.

For example, you can thank Promoters (score of 9 or 10) for their input and ask them if they’d like to rate you in the app store. For passives or demoters, you can write a custom message thanking for their time and letting them know how valuable their experience is to you. You can also manually send responses to any survey recipient using in-app chats. This is important especially for unhappy users or those with unresolved issues. When you reach them on a personal level, you’re more likely to identify the issue, solve it, and show the user that they matter to you. Try to respond to your at-risk customers as soon as possible. They may not be expecting a response, but if you manage to get back to them within 24 hours, their experience and survey answers will still be fresh in their minds.

Interpreting your mobile NPS survey results

If you’re using Instabug, you’ll gather insights automatically just by looking at your results page, which calculates your net promoter score, breaks down common themes with text analysis among answers, and gives you statistics about how many people responded and who those people were.

Be careful not to skim over details because you may miss important ideas. NPS surveys are so simple that they can be misleading if you don’t analyze your answers. The most important step after sending NPS surveys is to read each one of your verbatim responses and pay close attention to what your users are telling you in their own words.

Here’s an example: just becomes someone gives you a high NPS score, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re completely satisfied with your app. Sometimes a big fan may give you a score or 9 or 10 because they love your app, but then elaborate in their feedback on the areas where they feel you fall behind.

For instance, imagine you’re a product manager for a popular mobile game. You might get an NPS response of 10 from someone because they love the game, but they might let you know in their feedback that you have a bug somewhere, an unbeatable level, or are missing a key feature. You wouldn’t know those details if you saw they were a Promoter and hence, just assumed they were happy. Don’t allow your conclusions to be based on incomplete information—with surveys, always dig deeper.

Understanding NPS benchmarks

Industry benchmarks are helpful for quick check-ins, but take your comparisons with a grain of salt. It’s great when you’re doing well compared to your competitors (that is, if they even publish their scores), but it’s important to remember that NPS are affected greatly by contextual variables—like which country it’s based in, their average user age group, which industry they’re in, and more.

Here are some scores from this year's US Consumer Benchmarks Report from Satmetrix. It’s good to know where you stand in comparison to industry averages, but just don’t forget about how your specific context influences your score.

Ultimately, where comparisons are concerned, industry benchmarks are only the beginning. To avoid confounding variables, the most well-rounded analysis you can get is by doing a holistic competitive analysis that sizes up the competition from all angles. Your NPS score is just one item in your toolbox when it comes to finding out how you measure up—and how you can improve.

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