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What Does a Net Promoter Score System Have to Do With Marketing?


If you’ve ever answered one of those “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” type question, you’ve been a participant in a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. The reason for collecting that type of information seems fairly intuitive from a consumer perspective, but the mechanics of setting up an effective NPS survey is not as intuitive for marketers.

So, what really is an NPS and how does it work? A Net Promoter Score is a tool that can be leveraged to better understand the loyalty of an organization’s customer relationships. If your team is effectively in-tune with your customer base, you can affect changes to keep happy clients happy and turn less-happy customers into fans!

Typically, the score itself is based on a single 0-10 response to the question above. The break-down of those survey answers is as follows:

  • Respondents answering with a 9 or 10 are called Promoters, as they are likely to demonstrate valuable behaviors like buying more, remaining loyal customers for longer, or referring the product/service to other prospective customers.
  • Those answering with a 7 or 8 are labeled as Passives, indicating that they are a relatively neutral party in the big picture.
  • Responses of 0-6 receive a status of Detractor as they are believed to be the least likely to exhibit any sort of value-creating behaviors.

The overall score then is determined by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of customers who are Promoters. The number of Passives count toward the overall number of respondents, but it does not directly impact the overall net score. It’s important to remember that the objective of NPS is to predict the full spectrum of profit-driving behaviors, not necessarily the likelihood of recommendations alone.

While the NPS can be a valuable indication of overall customer loyalty, the most effective surveys usually include an open-ended opportunity to provide feedback in follow-up to the 0-10 response. This approach allows members of the surveying organization to close the loop – a process by which the provider actively engages to get more information from the customer and has a chance to intervene in order to change a negative perception.

Now that you’ve got a foundational understanding of the Net Promoter Score survey, here are 7 steps you can take to build your own!

7 Steps to Building an Effective Net Promoter Score Survey

Step 1: Establish the purpose of your survey. It is essential to understand which element of your company, service, or product you’ll be focusing on in order to decide the qualification criteria for who should receive your survey.

That should also help you determine the best time to deliver your survey. For example, if you are evaluating customer service, it might be best to reach out 1-2 hours after the customer has completed an interaction with your team. On the other hand, your customer might need much more time using your product before they feel comfortable assessing it.

Finally, you’ll need to decide what your follow-up will look for each of the three types of respondents – Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.

Step 2: Get to work creating your survey assets. Start with three thank-you pages, one built for each type of respondent. Using the context of their answers, you can get creative with the message you send when thanking them for their time and response.

For instance, the follow-up for Promoters should include some sort of mechanism for social sharing so that they can spread the word easily about your product or service. Conversely, the thank you pages for the Passives and Detractors should include a multi-line text field that prompts them to provide more detailed feedback.

You also might strike a chord with those respondents by providing an opportunity for them to edit their subscribership to your email communication. Though it might seem counterintuitive to give them an upfront opportunity to unsubscribe altogether, it can be a creative way to build trust (and keep a clean list of subscribers!).

Step 3: Build out your survey email. Now it’s time to execute your plan. Be sure to include your survey question along with the scale of scores from 0 to 10. Each of those scores should be hyperlinked to their respective thank-you page that you created in Step 2.

Keep it short and simple with a very clear call to action. You’ll want to save this email for automation in order to use it within a workflow.

Step 4: Create a new custom contact property labeled “NPS.” Whichever CRM you use, you’ll want to have a field for the NPS so that you can track a respondent’s status in your database. It’ll also help you segment and target more accurately.

Using either a radio select or drop down field type, be sure to include values for Promoter, Passive, and Detractor.

Step 5: Set up three smart lists of survey responders. The eligibility logic for these lists can be set up a couple of different ways (particularly if you’re using HubSpot):

  1. You can use the URLs of the thank-you pages you created in Step 2 as list eligibility criteria for each respective list. For example, the logic for Promoters would look like this: Page View, Contact has visited *Enter the exact URL of the Promoter thank-you page*.
  2. You can base the lists on the NPS Contact Property you just created in Step 4. It’s important to keep in mind that you need to include a workflow step (coming up in Step 6) that sets the appropriate value based on which thank-you page they land on.

These smart lists will help you keep an eye on your overall NPS as well as provide the segmentation you need to tailor your email messaging appropriately.

Step 6: Build out three post-survey workflows to follow up with your responders properly. Based on your team’s preferences, start mapping out what the follow-up process should look like once a respondent has submitted their feedback. Here is a quick list of actions you may want to include in your workflow:

  • Send an internal notification of the response
  • Send a personalized thank-you email to the survey responder
  • Set a date to check-in again
  • Set the NPS contact property

Step 7: Launch your survey and begin calculating the resulting feedback! Build your send list according to the recipient criteria you determined in Step 1 and hit the “send” button. Once your survey has been delivered, wait a few days for the responses to come in before you start the calculations.

When it seems like everybody has responded that is going to respond, start by subtracting the total amount of those individuals in the Detractors smart list from the total number of contacts in the Promoters smart list. Then, divide the difference by the total number of responders. Finally, multiply that number by 100 – the final number is your official Net Promoter Score.

If you start with 100 responders, the lowest score possible would be -100 if every single person turned out to be a detractor. On the flip side, the highest score possible would be 100 if all responders were Promoters. Typically, scores of 50+ are considered to be excellent!

Be sure to follow up internally on the feedback your survey generates. This insight can prove to be invaluable to your bottom line if you work with your marketing team to continue delighting happy customers or make lasting changes that address their concerns.

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