How to Use Polls as Part of Your Market Research Plan

Polls are an outstanding way to collect feedback and engage with your audience.  Polls have become more popular for two specific attributes: first — they don’t take much time.  You can read a poll and answer a poll in less than 10 seconds and that increases response rates.  The second reason is that polls often have the feature of providing immediate feedback about how other people answered the same question.

How to take advantage of Polls for more traditional research

If polls are so wonderful, why don’t we see more of them — other than the political kinds?

The answer lies in the fact that a really good poll should provide valuable, actionable answers that you can do something with.  And that is easier said than done.

Polls are one reason for having a research plan.

Because the premise of a poll is to ask one question at a time, it becomes critical to have a research plan in place — otherwise, you’ll find yourself asking all kinds of ridiculous questions that have no purpose.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with polls.  Polls are meant to be more general in nature and even go viral, so it’s worth taking the time to brainstorm around potential questions that you can ask that are both fun and informative.

HINT: If you’ve been following the series and have used our recommendation to use crowd sourcing tools like IdeaScale, then running a few polls is the obvious next step to get some quantitative clarity around a specific topic.

Here are some ideas, samples and types of questions you can ask with polls:

  • Which (product, site, service) is your favorite?
  • Which (product, site, service) do you use most often?
  • Why don’t you use ____________
  • Where do you go for information on____________
  • Ask psychographic questions.  Draw up a series of statements and run them as a series. For example: In general I am willing to take risks (strongly agree, strongly disagree)

Polls DON’T replace good statistics

Polls are a great source of general information – but not all polls are statistically valid.  If you’re simply posting a poll on your web site or letting it run viral – that sample is not truly random.  It’s generally self selected and that means that you have to read that data with care.

MicroPoll is a terrific example of a polling tool, because it’s easy to integrate into the rest of your research plan.  Not only that, but it also has some fantastic advanced features that expand its functionality beyond simple polling.

Two of my favorite features are the viral feature that allows respondents to pass the poll on to THEIR friends or network and the feature that allows for open ended responses.  This allows respondents to round out their answers.

How have YOU used polls as part of your market research plan?

Related posts:

  1. How to Write a Market Research Plan
  2. 6 DIY Marketing Research Trends You Can Put in Your Marketing Plan
  3. How to Set Marketing Research Goals and Objectives
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About Ivana Taylor

Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers, an online publication for small business owners who wear both the sales and marketing hat. You can find her at http://diymarketers.com.