How to Create a Poll

When creating a poll, there’s no shortage of options. With the power of Opinion Stage, you can create a basic poll (complete with templates), an online vote, a straw poll, and more.

Regardless of what type of poll you decide on, don’t go too far until you do three things:

  • Define the word “poll” (as it pertains to your specific situation)
  • Determine why you’re creating a poll
  • Decide how you’ll use the responses

In the most basic terms, a poll is designed to allow your audience to express their opinion on a particular subject. Here’s an example:

basic poll

This is a simple, straight-forward question targeting coffee drinkers. With five potential answers, it’s likely that every coffee drinker who comes across the poll will identify with it.

Here are some of the most common reasons to create an online poll:

  • Collect data on your target audience
  • Engage your target audience
  • Lead generation
  • To drive traffic to a specific web page
  • To create shareable content (such as on social media)

When you know why you’re creating a poll, it’s easier to do so in a manner that’s attractive to your audience. And with that, engagement rates increase.

How to Create a Basic Poll

With Opinion Stage, the only thing standing between you and creating a basic poll is a few minutes of your time. You can use a template or create it from scratch. Either way, you have full control over the process.

Below, we outline the four basic steps you’ll take to create a poll.

Select the Poll Topic

There’s no limit when choosing a poll topic. Your imagination and creativity are free to run wild.

The key to success is to choose a poll topic that your target audience will find interesting. For example, if you’re targeting movie lovers, this type of poll may work:

online poll topic

With any general topic, you can branch out into many areas of interest. For instance, if you’re trying to reach basketball fans, you could use a poll question such as:

Who is the best basketball player in the NBA?

Then, you’ll provide four or five players to choose from.

That’s a basic poll question, but you could drill down another layer with something like this:

Which NBA player would you trust most to take the last shot in a tie game?

The more specific you get, the better chance you have of engaging your audience.

It’s worth saying one more time: your topic must match your audience. Without this, you have nothing more than a visually appealing poll that doesn’t pertain to your readers.

Select the Poll Layout

Selecting a poll layout comes down to three details:

  • Your visual preference
  • The layout and design of the website it’ll appear on
  • The layout you believe will best inspire and engage your audience

In many cases, settling on the best poll layout comes down to nothing more than trial and error. You could have the exact same poll subject, question, and answers, but one layout is likely to perform better than the rest. So, before you make a final determination, test three or four layouts to see what best resonates with your audience.

Here are some of your layout options:

Standard, Single Answer Layout:

standard poll

This is your standard, basic poll. However, with the ability to customize it in many ways, you can give it your own look and feel.

Since there’s only one image, choose one that matches the subject and will catch the eye of your reader.

Thumbnail Layout

thumbnail poll

Similar to the standard layout, this one takes things to the next level by placing a thumbnail image next to each potential answer.

On the plus side, these thumbnails help with engagement. They also give the reader a better idea of what each answer stands for.

Conversely, you need to find an appealing thumbnail for each answer, which will take some time and effort.

Image Poll Layout

image poll

In many ways, it’s the same as the thumbnail layout, with the primary difference the emphasis on the image.

With this layout, the reader’s attention is pulled toward the images, not the answer (as is the case with the thumbnail layout). This is a perfect choice if you have a more visual audience.

Head-to-Head Poll Layout

head to head poll

There’s no guesswork with this layout. You choose the question, two images, and two answers. The reader can click one or the other.

With fewer options, it’s easier for people to take the poll. And for that reason, engagement rates are typically on the higher end.

Experiment with all of these layout types to best determine which one looks best, which one fits your website, and of course, which one will lead to the highest engagement rate.

Write the Poll Question and Answers

There’s no exact science to writing a poll question and corresponding answers. Even so, you don’t want to rush the process and hope that you get it right.

Here are some tips to follow when creating the question:

  • Be sure it matches your audience’s interest
  • Make it clear, concise, and easy to understand
  • Read it out loud to see how it catches your ear

A common mistake many people make is framing the question in a manner that doesn’t make sense. Not only does it scare some readers away, but it can also lead to inaccurate results. Either way, you’re not getting what you want.

Once your question is written, turn your attention to the answers. Follow these tips:

  • The answers should be related to the question
  • Don’t provide too many answers (four or five at the most)
  • Don’t provide answers that are too closely related

If you realize your poll isn’t getting the engagement you’ve come to expect, based on past results, start by reviewing the question and answers. A slight tweak, such as shortening the question and removing some questions, could have a positive impact.

Configure Basic Poll Settings

At this point, you’re almost at the end of the road. But before you publish your poll, you’ll want to configure the basic settings.

From your template, scroll down until you see the following:

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For the sake of this section, we’re going to focus on the first three settings. We’ll touch on the others below.

  • Allow more than one answer: Allow voters to select more than one answer. You can choose how many they’re permitted to select (up to the total number of answers).
  • Allow users to suggest additional answers: Allow voters to add their own answer. These appear in the poll result screen for approval.
  • Display message after vote: Display a message on the poll interface after voting.

You can turn these three options on and off as you see fit. For example, “display message after vote” allows you to provide the voter with more information, such as a link to a specific web page. You can A/B test this message to determine what garners the best click-through rate.

Advanced Features

In the section above, we touched on the three most common settings. However, you don’t necessarily have to stop there, as there are other advanced settings that allow you to customize your poll.

These settings are located within the template, as seen in the above screenshot (starting with require a social media profile to vote), as well as the right sidebar.

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Now, let’s move onto the five advanced features you’re most likely to use.

Require a Social Profile to Vote

You can require that users vote with a social profile (Facebook, Google, or Twitter). Here’s an example of what this looks like:

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Not only does this help bring a social element to the poll itself, but it improves the likelihood of voters sharing the results on social media. And that’s exactly what you want.

Block Repeat Voting

There will always be people out there who want to game the system. With block repeat voting, you can prohibit the same person from voting more than once, based on cookies and/or their IP address.

One of the most useful customizations with this feature is the option to permit repeat voting based on a predetermined time interval such as one hour, two hours, one day, etc.

Redirect on Vote

You don’t want a user to vote and then go on their way. You want to take them to a web page with more information or a product/service offering.

Opinion Stage allows you to redirect users to different web pages, based on who they voted for. This helps with engagement and conversions, as you’re not sending every voter to the same landing page.

Collect Leads

If you’re creating and distributing polls as a method of generating leads, this feature is one that’ll provide the experience you’re seeking. At the bottom of the poll creator, you’ll see the “Collect Leads” section:

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You can opt to create a new form or use one that’s already saved. Here’s what the lead form looks like:

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In addition to general configuration settings and form fields, you can further customize your lead form via the settings tab in the right sidebar.

For example, you can integrate the form with MailChimp or HubSpot or have them emailed directly to your inbox.

Here’s an example of how it works:

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Visit our page on how to collect leads for guidance on creating and configuring a lead form. Here’s an excerpt from the page that will help you understand why this is so important.

Opinion Stage provides a great lead generation tool that lets you you generate more leads (up to 500% more when compared to static forms) and leads in a higher quality (the contact information is associated with the poll/quiz answers).

Advanced Reporting

Creating a quiz is fun, but it’s even more exciting as you dig into the analytics associated with user responses.

Opinion Stage has advanced reporting that provides reports on all aspects of your poll, ranging from results to performance. Some of the things you can expect include:

  • Summary report with performance data
  • Result report showing how voters answered
  • Response report that displays vote data, such as when users submitted

You also have the option to export the data to a CSV/XLS file, such as if you want to review in greater detail or share it with a team member or client.

Advanced Poll Reporting

Distribute Your Poll

At Opinion Stage, we realize that there’s more than one way to distribute a poll. We also realize that you may want to take advantage of multiple options with the same poll. And that’s why we’ve put a lot of resources into making distribution quick, efficient, and error-free.

You can use a simple widget to embed your poll in any content management system (CMS), such as:

Let’s take a look at how this is done on WordPress, as it powers tens of millions of websites and blogs. It’s a four-step process:

While the process changes slightly from one CMS to the next, it’s generally the same.

What About Social Sharing?

There are times when you’ll want to share your poll on social media. It’s often the best way to get your poll in front of the largest possible audience while giving it the potential to go viral.

To make this easy, Opinion Stage includes several social network integrations. Some of the features that you’re sure to rely on include:

  • Sharing bar
  • Ability to customize social shares
  • Features to prompt users to follow your social profiles
  • Facebook commenting integration

Right now, we have integrations for sharing polls on Facebook, sharing on Twitter, and sharing on Instagram.

Here’s how simple it is to add a poll to Facebook:

  • Create a poll or use one that you already have
  • Locate the poll in your dashboard
  • Click the “Embed & Share” button
  • Click the “Link” tab
  • Copy and paste the link into your Facebook feed

And that’s it. It only takes a few seconds to share your poll on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Tips for Making a Poll

A poll is a place to let your creativity shine through. Don’t copy what you’ve seen hundreds of times online. Get creative as to give your audience a unique experience.

Here are some top tips for making a poll:

Customize the Look and Feel

This goes along with making your poll unique. You want it to stand out from the crowd, especially if you’re in a niche where sharing polls is the norm.

Start by selecting a color theme, size, and font that matches your website. Along with this, use the CSS override feature for additional customization.

Here’s a simple example:

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The customization of this poll is primarily the images. They’re colorful, engaging, and meant to draw your eyes to the text.

A customized poll is one that’s more likely to engage your audience.

Choose the Right Location

Polls are one of the best ways to boost engagement, but this only holds true if your audience actually sees it.

Think twice before you choose just any location for your poll. It’s best to place it above the fold, if it’s on your website, as that will maximize exposure and participation.

You could even place it in a dedicated section on your site, such as a sidebar, so that it’s visible no matter what page someone visits.

Another example is displaying your poll as an exit/enter popup. When you do this, there’s no doubt that every person who visits your site will see the poll at some point.

Make it Share-Worthy

If you’re taking the time to create a poll, you might as well get as much mileage out of it as you can. This starts with making it share-worthy.

It’s one thing for you to share the poll, but another thing entirely for your audience to do so. The more people who share the poll, such as on social media, the larger your engagement and reach.

Here are some things you can do to increase shares:

  • Choose an interesting, unique question
  • Don’t include too many answers (five at the most)
  • Use eye-catching visuals

Here’s the bottom line: you want the user to have so much fun with your poll that they rush to share it with their own audience. If you’re successful in doing this, your reach will multiply.

Polls With More Than One Question

Generally, most polls only have one question. However, there are times when it makes sense to have a two (or more) question poll. Opinion Stage has two options for doing so:

Create a Multiple Poll Set

This allows you to group more than one poll together, thus running them in sequence. So, once a user answers the first question, they’re automatically directed to the second one (and so on).

Create a Survey

If you want to ask multiple questions, especially if it’s more than two, creating a survey is often the best choice. The one thing to consider with a survey is that after the user votes, they don’t see the results. If that’s important to you, a multiple poll set may be the way to go.

Anyone can Create and Share a Poll

Gone are the days when creating and sharing a poll online was a long, complicated experience best suited for those with coding skills. Today, thanks to services such as Opinion Stage, you can create a beautiful poll that engages your audience, generates leads, and so much more.

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