Ask Your Website Users How You Can Improve: 4Q Review & Case Study

By | In Conversion Optimisation, Internet Marketing, Web Analytics | 15 Comments

When it comes to boosting website conversion, I’ve always been in the quantitative camp – “send enough users to different versions of your landing page and look at which version works best (i.e. delivers the best conversion results)”.

And that approach works great, but there’s still plenty of room for qualitative tools to help increase your conversion rate (in fact, the two play very well together.)

Conversion optimisation isn’t about software and tools

The tools you need to do A/B and multivariate testing are relatively mature, and they’re not just cheap, they’re free (try Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer for starters.)

But the tools aren’t the constraint.  The constraint is knowing what to test.  You not only need to devise the right test elements, but you also need to apply a proven process to increase conversion on an ongoing basis.

Coming up with “stuff to test” happens in a number of ways, including marketing expertise and experience of what has worked in the past.  Another valuable source of information is to rely on the voice of the customer to help you answer the 4 critical site experience questions

The 4 critical site experience questions

  1. How satisfied are my website visitors?
  2. What are my visitors at my website to do (their purpose)?
  3. Are they in fact completing what they set out to do?
  4. If not, why not?  If yes, what did they like best about their experience?

Knowing the answers to these questions can provide you with new optimisation ideas and priorities, straight from the customer’s mouth. You gain insight into WHY visitors are doing what they’re doing (or not doing!) on your website.

How We Used the Free 4Q Survey Tool To Answer The 4 Critical Questions

Late last year we used the free 4Q exit survey tool (a collaboration between Avinash and iPerceptions) to ask our website visitors the 4 critical questions.

Here’s how the invitation process works (from the 4Q FAQ page):

4Q employs a two-stage invitation process. When visitors arrive at your site, they will be presented an invitation to participate in a survey after their session. If they accept, a second, minimized window, which contains the survey itself, will be launched and will wait in the background for the visitor to complete his or her session. 4Q surveys are designed to be collaborative brand building exercises, not annoying browsing interruptions.

The tool is, by design, extremely simple.  Here’s a sneak peak at the control panel:

4Q Exit Survey Control Panel Screenshot

4Q Exit Survey Control Panel Screenshot

Once the survey is set up, it’s a case of insert-the-code and away you go.

One of the nifty features is the ability to adjust the survey invitation rate — so only a percentage of users are invited to participate.  For our test, we used 20% of site traffic.

4Q Survey Results – What We Discovered

  • Over the course of the test, 46 surveys were completed
  • The overall “task completion” rate was 75% (i.e. 25% of people who completed the survey were unable to do what they came to do on the site.)
  • A few responses were “junk”, but that doesn’t matter.  We are looking for patterns and bright ideas.
  • What they liked: a number of users commented on our use of fact-based website optimisation methods and liberal availability of online marketing case studies.
  • What they didn’t like: a few users were looking for information/articles and resented being “sold” to.

Bright ideas:

Here are some examples of useful gems from the survey which we have translated into action:

Bright idea #1:

I had trouble finding the right subscription, which a friend forwarded me initially. I suggest having a ‘subscribe’ link in your email subscription.

Bright idea #2:

Well, I loved the case studies; I really felt like I was connecting with a business that had succeeded as a direct result of their relationship with you and I wanted to be one of those too. But It wasn’t clear which of your services they had used to achieve those results when I went to look on your Services tab to find out more.

Sample output from 4Q

Sample output from 4Q

Final thoughts

Was using 4Q worth the effort?  You bet it was.  It is very quick to set up, provides a good user experience and yields measurable and usable qualitative information.

We have since installed 4Q surveys on several sites for our SME consulting clients and a couple of Enterprise clients as well.  In each case, the results have been well worth the effort. In one case, the results have heavily influenced the direction that a major site redesign is taking.   Better to know this information NOW, rather than after the redesign has taken place.

When you take your instructions directly from end users and marry them with scientific testing and tracking, you can also cut weeks or months of your conversion improvement cycles.  And you know what they say about time = money!

Why not give 4Q a go?  And if you need help with an orchestrated program of traffic and conversion improvement, get in touch and we can explore whether or not we’re a ‘fit’.


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  1. Wow that one is really nice guiding post, I must say that. If you will be able to get such information at the beginning stage of your bloging or website business than you will get right path.

    Thanks once again for those 4Qs.

    Comment by Kansas — January 31, 2009 #

  2. Thanks for the great post. I am in the quanity “camp” right now just trying to drive as much traffic as possible. I really like your tips on focusing on the quality. I think I will try to incorporate some of your strategies.

    Comment by Blog Directory — February 3, 2009 #

  3. I never really thought that people answer those surveys and even when they do i haven’t really seen any changes being made in the near future after the end of the survey. It is however an attractive concept that i for one will give it another try in the next couple of months.

    Comment by Reliable Web Hosting Service — February 7, 2009 #

  4. I totally agree, I think 4Q, along with Clicktale and Website Optimizer brings a huge value in making you website better…

    Comment by Team Building Activities — February 8, 2009 #

  5. Thanks for you time to write such a informative blog. and to this specific topic. i think i will apply this tips at my website but do you think it will need profesional to apply it or i can try my self at first to promote this project of my clinic at hurghada.

    Comment by Hurghada Clinic — February 8, 2009 #

  6. To be honest, I came here just for a backlink, but damn, you made me read the whole post and some other! Great post! Didn’t even know about 4Q!

    Comment by Rofikul Islam Shahin — February 14, 2009 #

  7. I like the idea of 4Q but as a usability professional I feel you’d gain a lot more insight from actual user testing. That’s not to say that tools like 4Q and clicktale etc. don’t have their place – they certainly do. But the big plus of face-to-face user testing is a much deeper level of insight, and the ability to ask follow-up questions when respondents give you interesting feedback. In a perfect world I think everyone who runs a website would use automated survey tools in addition to periodic user testing.

    Comment by Mike B. Fisher — March 27, 2009 #

  8. I hope to get around to this sort of survey eventually but I do find it difficult to get the numbers of visitors needed to my site in the first place.

    Comment by Dell Morford — March 10, 2010 #

  9. The problem is that there are also other variables, the most important of which is how the person got to your webpage and what keywords they used.

    Comment by Playsport Video — March 13, 2010 #

  10. That was really a great post and review, I use Google Analytics and have found that to be really helpful in getting the traffic I need and where to improve, although I have to say that I am going to take a look at this a little more, because there is nothing better than sometimes getting different opinion, like from one’s own client base in order to improve things.

    Comment by Sally Sales Job — May 10, 2010 #

  11. I think it’s a good idea that a questionnaire is put on your homepage all the way. And UE will be recorded and researched.

    Comment by convert mov to avi — May 12, 2010 #

  12. Hi.

    I’m interested in how you analyze the qualitative data that comes in from the open-ended questions.

    There’s tons of data collected, and besides scanning or going through each response one by one, do you guys have more efficient ways of analyzing this data?



    Comment by timyeo — August 12, 2010 #

  13. I’m using win 7 and IE9 and have run into problems with installing active x controls which 4Q asks me to do. The results questions are not displaying the same as I wrote them in my original survey questions. 4Q technicians are not responding to my emails. It all leads me to believe one has to be wary of free software.

    Comment by James Kershaw — April 27, 2011 #

  14. That is a very helpful article. Market research is key to the success of website adjustments.

    Do you still consider this one of the top exit surveys to use for a website?


    Comment by Gabriel — March 16, 2012 #

  15. @Gabriel – yep, 4Q still does the job well.

    Comment by Will Swayne — March 18, 2012 #

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