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How to Run a Product-Market Fit Survey

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Product-market fit surveys are a great way to measure PMF.

It’s a great idea to carry one of these out once you have an MVP, before you start to scale your startup.

That way, you avoid the pitfall of attempting to scale a product for which there is no real pull from the market.

If you don’t have PMF yet, the results from a product-market fit survey can help you get there.

What Is a PMF Survey?

At its core, a PMF survey is a survey you send to your customers where the main question is: “How would you feel if you could no longer use our product?”

Users have to choose from four options:

  1. Very disappointed
  2. Somewhat disappointed
  3. Not disappointed
  4. N/A - I don’t currently use this product

The benchmark that you’re looking for, which indicates that you’ve achieved PMF, is for at least 40% of respondents to select the “very disappointed” answer.

It’s a good practice to include some space for an open-ended response. You can ask something like: “Why did you choose the answer you did?”

Besides this main question, PMF surveys generally include a few more open-ended follow-up questions, which should provide you with more context and insight and give you an idea of how to iterate on your product to add value and eventually reach the 40% mentioned goal.

Some of these follow-up questions can be:

What would you use as an alternative to our product?

This question helps you understand where your product fits in with competitors.

You might find answers to this question surprising because how you view your product might not be how users view it.

What is the biggest benefit you have received from our product?

This question allows you to understand what value customers are getting out of your product.

You may be able to use this information to improve certain areas of your product to add value for people who are already passionate about it and win people over who are on the fence about it.

Have you recommended our product to anyone you know?

This question helps you measure how satisfied your customers are and also helps you identify who your biggest promoters are. These are good people to follow up with for future surveys and customer interviews.

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What type of person do you think can benefit most from our product?

The answers to this question are really valuable because they can help you identify who your target market should be in order to have a better PMF.

How can we improve our product to provide you with more benefits?

One indicator of PMF is people asking for features and improvements, so right off the bat people answering this question is a good sign.

Their answers can also give you insights into areas you might not have thought of improving or into features you might not have considered adding, which helps a lot with future iterations and scaling.

Is it ok if we follow up with you via email for clarification about a response of yours?

It’s always a good idea to compile mailing lists of customers who have tried your product and are engaged with it. 

These are people who you can send future surveys to or conduct customer interviews with to gain more insights and help with product development down the road.

How To Send a PMF Survey

The best way to conduct a PMF survey is to send it out to a random sampling of users who have used your core product at least twice in the last two weeks.

Of course, depending on how many users you currently have, you may not have enough to take a random sampling, in which case you should send the survey out to all users who fulfill the criteria mentioned above.

After any PMF survey you send out, you should always systematically record the insights you received and the actions you’ll be taking.

Comparing the results from different PMF surveys over time is a great way to keep iterating on your product and improving PMF — product-market fit is a continuum that you need to constantly work on achieving and maintaining.

How Many Responses Do You Need?

According to Buffer, you only need around 40 to 50 responses to a PMF survey for it to be valuable. Of course, the more responses you can get the better, but even a startup that has only 40 users or so can still benefit from sending out a PMF survey.

If you get any fewer than 30 responses, the results are unlikely to carry any significance, so you should try to get more users and respondents before you start to do any serious analysis of your PMF survey results.

Which Tools To Use for a PMF Survey

If you’re ready to send out your product-market fit survey, here’s a great free tool you can use: PMF Survey.

And, here’s an example of how the survey works and the data it provides you with: PMF Survey demo.

With this free PMF survey generator, all the work of creating the survey is done for you. You’ll only need to send it out to your users and analyze the results.

Wrapping Up

It’s important to note at this point that, while PMF surveys are a great tool for measuring PMF and helping you achieve it, you should not rely on PMF surveys as your only metric of product-market fit.

You should also look at things like user retention, organic growth, and your lifetime value (LTV) to customer acquisition cost (CAC) ratio as indicators of PMF.

If you reach the 40% benchmark with a PMF survey and metrics in other areas look good, you should be fairly confident that you’ve found product-market fit.

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