PMF Survey: How to Measure Product Market Fit Using Microsurveys

Can you measure product-market fit without a PMF survey?

You could, but those results won’t be entirely accurate.

Collecting and analyzing customers’ feedback is the best way to understand how they feel about your product offering and if their demand level is enough to sustain your business long-term.

Let’s see how to measure product-market fit using micro surveys.

Shall we begin?

TL; DR

  • Product-market fit (PMF) simply means being in the right market with the right product.
  • Achieving PMF is important because it lets you know when to scale and helps your business stay relevant over time.
  • PMF surveys also known as the Sean Ellis test, measure product-market fit by asking customers how they’d feel if they could no longer use your product.
  • The benchmark for measuring PMF is getting 40% of answers of ‘’Very disappointed’’ on your survey.
  • Launching a PMF survey in-app guarantees high response rates and accurate responses since you are approaching users in a more contextual way.
  • You can also use PMF surveys to test user sentiment after launching or before sunsetting a feature to test the impact it might have on the user.
  • Customer segmentation ensures that your survey respondents answer accurately- asking a new user who hasn’t engaged with the product will not give you a relevant answer.
  • Run your PMF survey continuously to ensure that you’re still in the right market- this is not something you only do once.
  • Measure other SaaS metrics alongside the product-market fit survey to identify and appease disappointed users.
  • Keep collecting customer feedback for as long as your business exists.
  • Want to launch in-app microsurveys, including the PMF one? Get a Userpilot demo and see how.

What is product-market fit?

Product-market fit is the degree to which a product satisfies market demand. Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm defined it as ‘’being in a good market with a product that can satisfy the market’’.

Achieving product-market fit proves that your product is the best solution for your target audience.

You have attained PMF if:

  • your product meets the needs of your target market
  • that market can sustain your business with continuous demand
Sean Ellis startup growth pyramid
Source: Slideshare

Why is product-market fit important?

At first, it can feel like everything you’re building is a success because of the buzz around new products.

However, PMF helps you stay focused on your business goals, i.e., profit and sustainability.

Here’s why product-market fit is so essential to companies.

Know when to scale your product

No matter how good your sales strategy is or how intense your marketing efforts are, your SaaS company will not succeed in the wrong market.

Without proven product-market fit, all efforts to scale your business will go down the drain. Once the buzz around your new product dies down, you’re left with an insignificant market share that is unable to sustain a business.

Achieving product-market fit is a leading indicator of ongoing demand for your product — which is all the assurance you need to scale without fear.

Achieving PMF will impact your business priorities

The stages before and after measuring PMF do not support the same priorities.

In the early days, your focus should be on product development.

Keep studying your product roadmap and experimenting with different marketing strategies until you figure out how to reel in future customers.

Meanwhile, after PMF, your priority should be to fine-tune your product and business.

This stage involves:

  • Securing capital from investors
  • Filling out C-suite positions
  • Streamlining the onboarding process
  • Building a sales team
  • Scaling your marketing.

Helps you stay relevant as you grow

As technology is constantly evolving, so is your market. That is to say, the needs of your customer base can change over time.

However, you don’t need to worry about going bankrupt if you measure product-market fit regularly.

Periodic measurement of product-market fit ascertains that:

  • the problem your product solves still exists
  • and that you’re still in a good market.

This doesn’t mean your PMF should be measured every few months. You could re-evaluate PMF once you notice a decline in revenue or increase in churn rates.

What is a product-market fit (PMF) survey?

A product-market fit survey measures your PMF by asking your customers for their feedback on your product.

This survey is carried out by asking customers how they would feel if they could no longer use your product.

PMF surveys prioritize the customer, and the responses from your survey will determine your PMF score.

Slack PMF survey
http://Slack PMF Survey
Source: Slack

What is the Sean Ellis test?

The Sean Ellis test is a metric widely accepted as the leading indicator of product-market fit based on the PMF survey responses.

It was developed by entrepreneur and startup advisor, Sean Ellis after benchmarking nearly a hundred startups. In short, if 40% of your respondent say they will be very disappointed, you have achieved product-market fit.

This quantitative test works because it’s based on a simple survey question:

“How would you feel if you could no longer use this product?”

Sean Ellis split the survey responses into three tiers:

  • Very disappointed
  • Somewhat disappointed
  • Not disappointed

What is a good PMF score?

In Sean Ellis’ opinion, the one response that matters most is the “very disappointed” tier. That’s because it shows that your customers derive immense value from your product and are willing to keep paying for it.

Ellis discovered that companies that had less than 40% of users answer “very disappointed” often struggled to find growth.

Thus, he chose 40% as his magic number for measuring PMF.

How do I ask about the product-market fit?

In your attempt to measure PMF, you must prioritize your customers.

So the survey question ``how would you feel if you could no longer use [the product]?” will trigger the correct responses that will enable you to understand where your product stands in the market only when you ask it contextually.

Here’s how to seek customer feedback for the purpose of measuring product-market fit.

Use in-app PMF surveys

No matter the segment of users you’re targeting, surveys should always be contextual to drive high response rates.

Survey requests sent via email, hours or days after their interaction with your app, may get lost and may cause survey fatigue.

We generally recommend using an in-app PMF survey because users will answer based on their recent experience with the product/feature.

How to build a PMF survey

If you’re old-fashioned and like to do things the hard way, you can custom-code your PMF survey.

However, if your company is more about streamlining processes and working smarter, a survey tool is the solution.

But you must be selective when choosing your survey builder — whether it’s a free tool or not.

Most tools will just allow you to build a survey, and that’s it– no segmentation, no personalization.

However, a great PMF survey tool will allow you to segment the users you are targeting and customize the survey to fit each segment.

With Userpilot, you can access all these and more. Here’s how to build a simple in-app survey that looks like the one below.

Building a PMF Survey with Userpilot
PMF Survey created with Userpilot

Launch the Userpilot builder

Once you have installed the Userpilot chrome extension, go to the page where you want to create the survey and click on the extension icon.

This will automatically launch the survey builder, and all you have to do is click “Create new content.”

process of creating a PMF survey in Userpilot
Process of building a PMF survey in Userpilot

Build a slideout or a modal

Userpilot lets you build either Flows or spotlights.

Flows are interactive in-app experiences that use one or more elements, while spotlights are static experiences [just like hotspots].

Eventually, the one you build depends on the feedback form you’re trying to create.

To start building your PMF survey, select Flow as this will give you options to add your survey on a modal or slideout, depending on your preference.

flow vs spotlight in userpilot pmf survey
Source; Userpilot survey builder

The next step is choosing the UI patterns. This will determine where and how your survey will be displayed to the users.

If you want to go the disruptive route, choose a Modal, and it will appear right in the middle of the screen.

But you can go with a Slideout if you want to be less intrusive as this will slide from the side of the screen.

Slideout PMF survey in Userpilot
Userpilot slideout survey

Choose your survey

Now, before moving further with building a PMF survey from scratch, here’s a little bonus.

In Userpilot you can either build surveys from scratch or embed an already-made one from Typeform.

If you decide to embed the already-made one, all the data you collect will be visible in Typeform and you will also be directing users outside the app.

I recommend using this option for longer surveys when you are looking for more in-depth feedback.

embed typeform survey template
Embed Typeform surveys in a modal in-app using Userpilot

Now back to building your survey from scratch.

Select ‘create from scratch’ and choose the “Radio” instead of the ‘embeds’ option to build yours.

creating survey from scratch in userpilot
Building micro surveys using Userpilot

Customize your PMF survey

At this point, you want to tailor the survey’s outlook to represent your brand.

So, adjust the position and add a background, images, buttons, logos, additional text — anything unique to your company.

pmf survey customization in userpilot
Survey customization in Userpilot

Adjust triggering settings

Once you’re satisfied with the look and feel of your newly-created PMF survey, click ‘Publish’, then adjust the settings.

Choose a user segment you want to target or add other specifications based on the custom events and user engagement.

Also, adjust the frequency, i.e., how often you want the survey triggered for each user.

pmf survey triggers in userpilot
Adjust trigger setting using Userpilot

How to use the PMF survey with features instead of the whole product

Even if your product has already achieved product-market fit, you can still trigger PMF surveys for specific features.

Here are some instances in which you can adapt the PMF survey for features:

  • if you’re thinking of sunsetting a feature, the survey can help you determine whether your customers will miss it or not
  • if you’re uncertain about a new feature, insights from the survey can help you optimize the feature for your users

Product-market fit survey best practices

If you’re just getting started with product-market fit surveys, here are a few best practices to keep in mind.

Use segmentation for your product-market fit survey

You cannot allow just any customer to participate in your product-market fit survey, or you’ll get inaccurate results.

Sean Ellis outlined the criteria customers must meet before taking a PMF survey.

In his opinion, the only people qualified to give accurate responses to your product-market fit survey are:

  • customers who understand the core of your product offering
  • customers who have used the product at least twice
  • customers who have interacted with your product in the last two weeks

Although the basic stipulations are pretty effective, you can go further to narrow down your respondents based on their objectives.

Understanding what your users intend to achieve with your product will give you more insights into the use case your product solves best.

After segmenting your user base, add the various segments to your in-app flow modal or slideout and make sure only the relevant user segments see your survey.

segmentation of survey respondents in userpilot
Advanced segmentation in Userpilot

Run product-market fit surveys continuously

Having established earlier that customers’ needs may change over time, it’s essential to keep testing for product-market fit to adjust your business strategy accordingly.

At every stage of your company’s growth, you need to solicit feedback from your target audience to prevent a decline in customer retention and revenue.

Product-market fit surveys need to be run continuosly.

Don’t rely on the product-market fit survey responses alone

Although the PMF survey is a leading indicator of product-market fit, it’s important not to lose track of other KPIs when testing for PMF.

Sean Ellis’ analysis, although credible, can only give you a PMF score.

But you need to factor in other metrics such as your customer retention rate, churn rate, and freemium to premium conversion rate for a holistic view of your product-market fit.

Because if users won’t get to the activation point or even upgrade from a free to a paid plan, then your product isn’t exactly giving them the value they need.

Don’t stop at PMF surveys, run a continuous feedback loop

Want to keep your company on the path of growth? Then you must always be collecting feedback.

PMF surveys are not enough. They don’t provide you with detailed insights into what your product lacks and how you can fix it.

Other surveys you can launch to keep the feedback loop running are:

custom nps survey in userpilot
Custom NPS survey in Userpilot
  • Feedback micro surveys: These surveys collect qualitative and quantitative feedback on individual features and, sometimes, the whole product.

Conclusion

The results of your PMF survey may not always be in your favor. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the road. What matters more than actually conducting the survey is the action you take next.

It is recommended that you continously analyze feedback, identify the friction points in your product, and work on improving them. Your goal should be to streamline the user journey for customer satisfaction.

Want to launch your first PMF survey? Get a Userpilot demo and see how to start creating PMF surveys without writing a single code.

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Userpilot is a Product Growth Platform designed to help product teams improve product metrics through in-app experiences without code. Check out userpilot.com

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Userpilot is a Product Growth Platform designed to help product teams improve product metrics through in-app experiences without code. Check out userpilot.com

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