How to survey your site visitors with Google Consumer Surveys

I spend a lot of time talking about quantitative data on this blog, mostly Google Analytics data. But this post will focus on Qualitative. Specifically I want to talk about how to implement and collect qualitative data using Google Consumer Surveys for your website.

Why would you want to run a survey on your website?

Quantitative data, like the data in Google Analytics, only tells half of the story. It’s very good at explaining what happened.

Qualitative data, the data we get from surveys, helps us understand why things happened.

Simply put, Google Consumer Surveys is a survey tool that lets you ask people questions.

You can use a default survey or create a custom survey. If you use the default survey the product is actually free! The default survey consists of the following four questions. (Those in the analytics space will recognize the questions):

  • Overall, how satisfied are you with this website?
  • What, if anything, do you find frustrating or unappealing about this website?
  • What is your main reason for visiting this website today?
  • Did you successfully complete your main reason for visiting this website today?

How cool is that? As a site owner that’s everything I want to know. Really, that’s it!

A customized survey costs $0.01 per response. You can ask your website visitors critical questions like:

  • How would you rate this website?
  • Do you like my new logo?
  • Do you watch cat videos on the internet?
  • What’s your favorite analytics blog?

Let’s get started!

Running the Free Website Survey

It’s almost TOO easy to run the basic website survey. Start by signing up for Google Consumer Surveys.

After you sign up you’ll get s single line of JavaScript that you need to add to your site. You can add it before the closing tag.

Add the Google Consumer Survey JavaScript to your site, before the closing HEAD tag.

Add the Google Consumer Survey JavaScript to your site, before the closing HEAD tag.

That’s it. Once you add the code and activate the survey it will start.

There are a few other basic settings that you can configure for your survey.

You can name the site where the survey is running, like ‘My Blog’ or ‘Store Site’. And you can also enter the URL for the site. Again, this helps in organization.

You can also adjust when the survey is first shown to your users. The default is after 1 page. I have been using this setting as most of the people on my blog only view 1.3 pages per visit (thanks Analytics data!). If you visitors view a lot of pages you might want to wait one or two pages so they so not get scared off.

You can choose more advanced settings, like when your survey is shown to users.

You can choose more advanced settings, like when your survey is shown to users.

Oh, did I mention that you can add your survey using Google Tag Manager? I’m not going to go through the entire process, but here’s an overview:

1. Add a new tag to your container. Use a generic HTML tag.

2. Paste your survey code into the tag

3. Add a rule to your tag so it will appear on your site. Don’t forget you need to add rules to your tag so they will execute.

Install Google Consumer Surveys with Google Tag manager.

You can install Google Consumer Surveys with Google Tag manager.

You can learn more about Google Tag Manager in these posts.

Once activated you should see the survey in the lower-right corner of your site.

Your site satisfaction survey will appear in the lower right corner of your site.

Your site satisfaction survey will appear in the lower right corner of your site.

Setting Up a Custom Website Survey

Let’s take a step back and look at the entire Google Consumer Survey product.

You can run two types of surveys using Google Consumer Survey: an internet survey or a website survey. An internet survey is a survey that you run on other websites. A website survey is a survey that you run on YOUR website.

Your Consumer Surveys account has a hierarcy. It’s fairly simple. You have an account. Inside your account you can create sites and within a site you can create multiple surveys.

Google Consumer Survey Account Structure

Google Consumer Survey Account Structure

This structure is especially useful if you are a large organization with lots of web properties. Sites help you keep track of all your surveys.

To add a new survey, click the create button.

Click the create Survey button to add a new Google Consumer Survey to your website.

Click the create Survey button to add a new Google Consumer Survey to your website.

To begin the process you need to choose if you want to run a survey on the internet or on your website. We’ll be running one on our site, so choose the radio button for Your Website and then choose the name of your site from the drop down box.

You must first create a site to run your survey

You must first create a site to run your survey

Again, lots of advanced options at the bottom of the page. But let’s stick to the basics.

Now it’s time to add questions.

There are lots of different types of questions that you can add to a custom survey. From multiple choice, to a simple rating to open-ended question. You have options to choose the best format for your question

Google Consumer Surveys let you choose many different types of questions.

Google Consumer Surveys let you choose many different types of questions.

In general be brief! There is a 125 character limit for each question. Make sure your answer choices are short, and exact.

If you’re new to creating a survey check out some of these tips for writing good questions.

I’m going to ask a simple question in my survey: why did you come to this website today? I want to make it open ended. I want to see the terms that people actually use to talk about my content.

You can add multipole questions to your website survey.

You can add multipole questions to your website survey.

A survey can have multiple questions. Go ahead and add as many as you want.

BUT, and this is important, GCS will not ask each user ALL of the questions. Each user will only be asked ONE question from your CUSTOM survey. GCS will build a complete survey response by combining all of the answers from all of your participants.

Longer surveys lead to more abandonment. People get tired of answering question after question. Using this method GCS can achieve a ~24% response rate. I like high response rates :)

This does NOT apply to the basic survey. All users will be asked ALL questions on the basic survey.

Once you’ve added all your questions it’s time to review and start your survey. Simply choose how many responses you want and go! I’ve found that for smaller sites 500 is more than enough.

After you add your questions, it's time to choose the number of responses and launch your survey.

After you add your questions, it’s time to choose the number of responses and launch your survey.

Don’t forget it $0.01 per response. 500 responses = $5.00 = 1 cup of coffee. #DataDeal.

You can also choose a frequency for this survey to run. This means that a user can only submit onceresponse per the time period you specify. For example, you could create a monthly survey to ask your users to rate your site. Each user would only be able to submit one answer per month.

Note that you don’t need to add JavaScript for each survey. The single line of JavaScript that you add to your site can deliver multiple surveys. This is actually really cool – one tag, multiple surveys.

That’s it! I’ll cover how to interpret the results in the next post.

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    Comments

    1. Rob says

      Justin – does Google capture survey responses and use it for their own purposes? Can’t seem to find decent data on how (if at all) they use the data.

    2. says

      Great tool and a low effort to get it onto a site (especially if you use GTM).

      Other qualitative tools (iPerceptions) successfully integrate with GA so that you can link responses with behavior and other data dimensions/metrics. Am I correct that this product lacks such an API or integration at this time?

    3. Kyle Webb says

      Sorry – just realized there is a difference between the Market Research survey (which costs $0.10) and running a survey on your own website (which costs $0.01).
      However this is only available in the US currently. Do you know when we could run this on our websites in Australia and across AsiaPac?

      • says

        @Kyle: There is also a free version. You can not make any changes to the free version. It’s just the standard four questions listed in the post.

        I know the team is working to roll this out to other locations and they will hopefully do this soon.

    4. André says

      Hi! Good post, the tool seems very easy to install if you have GTM in place. Any chance this is coming to more languages any time soon? Norwegian would be my flavor..

    5. David Flowers says

      Thanks for the post Justin. I was poking around through the sample reports last night and it pretty awesome when compared to other solutions. I was looking to implement a survey for a segmented email list for the site (you may even know the one since I work with Darcy out of the Vancouver CP office). I is there a way to only show it to visitors coming from that email? Can I perhaps have it triggered only if a visitor lands on a specified page? Either as an option in surveys or by only tagging that page with the js code? Of even better. Have it triggered if the URL has a specific campaign variable appended the URL?

      Really just starting to get my toes wet on this one. May not even be asking the right questions yet. Either way, very cool the amount of data we’re able to collect and dig into now. And looking around through “Think” last night, it’s pretty obvious google isn’t gonna stop coming up with new ideas in this department anytime soon.

      Looking forward to the follow up post.

      • says

        @David: You can do a couple of things to target your website survey.

        1. You can target based on referral domain. Just use the Advanced Settings for the survey. [See image]

        2. You can use some custom JavaScript to control the survey JavaScript. Basically wrap the survey JavaScript in conditional logic.

        “If referrer == SOMETHING then DO NOT SHOW SURVEY”

        I think it would be cool to control things at a much more granular level, like the complete referral URL or landing page. But this is what we have so far.

        Hope that helps!

    6. dan says

      I know this isn’t a troubleshooting post but I can’t get this to work and the help info is not really there. I’m using wordpress and the snippet is in there just above the head close tag… no dice. Default settings. Multiple browsers. Suggestions of where to go for help?

    7. Muhammad Aslam says

      Hi Justin,

      You have shared lot of knowledge with us, so that the reason the we are regular readers of your this great blog.

    8. Kate says

      I’m still a little unsure of how reliable the demo info. is. Was thinking about running a website survey with 4 demographic questions to try and compare to what in inferred from Google. Would this be a waste of time or useful to test the accuracy? Thanks!

      • says

        @Kate: Interesting idea. I think the demographic data is pretty good. It’s derived from IP address and census data. So it should be fairly reliable. Check out this article for a bit more about where the data comes from.

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