Polls are a great way to engage your readers. While page view counts are a good indication of how many people made it to your page, polls help you gauge how many people are actually reading your content. And their responses help you to get to know your audience better.
I’ve been writing poll questions for websites for about six years. Some have yielded lots of votes; others were duds. Based on my experiences, I have developed a knack for what poll questions work and which ones will flop. Here’s what works:
1. Keep it short and simple
Try to keep the questions to 50 to 60 characters or fewer, including spaces. If you need to get really wordy, cut yourself off at 100 characters. And only ask one question. No compound questions; that just confuses people.
2. Quiz opinion, not knowledge
If you want the poll to generate enough responses to be useful, the question(s) should require almost no thought on the part of the responder. The less someone has to think, the more likely he or she is to respond. And there should be no wrong answers.
Here is an oversimplified example: Do you prefer green, red or blue?
3. Offer 4 responses or fewer
More than four responses to choose from can cause two negative things to happen: indecision and inaction. You want the user’s response to be a quick, knee-jerk reaction. Keep the length of responses to a minimum: 25 or fewer characters. When possible, leave no neutral option. If too many people select it, the results become virtually useless to you.