Are you wondering how to get quick information from your target audience? Maybe you need to know the best time to schedule a webinar. Or, you might want to get an idea of how much someone would pay for your product.
When you need fast answers to relatively simple questions, it probably doesn’t make sense to send out a complete survey. An online poll makes it easier to get the answers you need – quickly.
Let’s take a look at how you can use free poll software to easily create, send, and analyze one-question surveys of your audience.
What is a poll?
A poll is a type of short survey that gathers information about a product, organization, or event. Polls provide a quick way to collect data from your target audience, as users choose their preferred answer from a set of pre-selected options.
Many political candidates and parties use polls to get an idea of how the people will vote in an election. For example, you might receive a phone call asking how you plan to vote on upcoming issues. You’re also completing a poll when you vote in the election itself!
What’s the difference between polls and surveys?
While polls are a type of survey, not every survey is a poll.
Surveys tend to be longer and ask more in-depth questions. Polls, on the other hand, provide you with a quick snapshot of customer opinions.
Most polls are only one question long and present a set of specific answer options. Let’s say you’re asking customers how much they’d pay for a new cell phone. Respondents can choose from four price ranges:
“How much would you pay for our latest smartphone?”
A full survey could dive deeper and ask customers why they would pay a certain amount. It might also look at how much customers would pay for a competitor’s product or what features customers want at each price point.
Difference between polls and surveys:
Length One question Multiple questions
Time required Often less than one minute Anywhere from a couple of minutes to 10 or 15 minutes
Results Instant Requires analysis to draw conclusions
Best for… Getting a quick look at the overall opinions of your target audience Creating decision-making insights from deep analysis of data
Who can use polls?
A free poll provides a cost-effective option to gather the opinions of your customers, supporters, or organization members. Every industry, business, and organization can use polls to interact with their audience while learning more about them, including:
- Political campaigns: Campaign managers use polls to understand how people will vote in upcoming elections. They may want to discern a specific candidate’s chances against the competition. The election represents a final poll when voters cast their actual votes.
- Schools, universities, and teachers: Educational institutions can use polls to evaluate course offerings or professors. Say a university sends a quick poll to students at the end of a course. The survey asks students to rate their professors on a scale of 1-5. Alternatively, a professor might question students whether they recommend a particular elective course or not.
- Retail product development: Whether you sell laptops or clothing, your retail business must know how customers feel about current trends or brands. Polls help you stay up-to-date with the latest opinions of your customers. You can ask them how much they’re willing to spend for a particular item, their favorite brand, or anything else related to the products you offer.
- Event planning and feedback: Polls provide an excellent way to coordinate meeting times or event dates. You can send the poll to the event’s participants with several options for different times and dates. You just need a quick look to understand which date works best for the majority of attendees. Likewise, you can find out how the event was received by asking attendees to rate their experience afterward.
- Hospitality businesses: Vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts can poll recent guests to see which amenities were most important. This information helps improve guest experiences as the resort will spend more time and money on the features guests want. Even travel agencies can take advantage of polls to determine where vacationers want to travel next.
- Government and public policy: Polls are ideal for gauging the public’s interest or opinions in individual matters. For instance, a local community involvement board asks residents to pick their favorite public event, like picnics or fairs. They can then provide more of the most popular events. Government agencies also use polls to evaluate interest or overall feelings towards proposed changes or new laws.
Using polls in your business
No matter what type of business you run, using a free poll is an excellent way to gather information and engage your customers. Every insight can help you better understand your customer base. This, in turn, allows you to offer products and services that best suit the needs of your audience.
The best part? Polls don’t have to be all about business. You can even use online polls as a fun activity to increase engagement on social media or your website. Draw visitors back to your pages or site by offering to reveal the results of the poll in the future.
For example, you ask website visitors which pizza topping is their favorite. At the end of the week, release the results of the poll. The visitor is likely to return to see the results so they know how many others enjoy their favorite topping.
When should you use a poll to gather data?
While polling your customers or supporters gives you quick access to their opinions, it’s not always the best option. In some cases, a longer survey may be necessary to get the answers you need to obtain meaningful insights.
Consider these things when deciding if polling your audience is the best method:
You need feedback quickly
The benefit of polling customers is fast feedback. You won’t need to wait for all results to come in start analyzing the data. With surveys, you must gather all of the responses to further dig into the answers. If you start too soon, your analysis may not be accurate.
With a poll, however, you can start looking at the results right away. While the initial leading answers might change by the end of the poll, you’ll still have a good idea of the feelings of your customers. It’s also possible to run a complete poll in a few hours to get immediate feedback on an issue or idea. If you need feedback quickly, a poll is probably a good option.
You can gather the required information from one question
Polls allow you to obtain direct answers to one-question surveys – and that’s it. You can’t investigate the reasons behind someone’s response or ask them to explain their opinions. If the required data can come from one question, a free poll is a great choice.
You might need to know something simple, such as the best date for an event. A poll lets you share potential dates with customers. They can respond with the time that works best for their schedule. You don’t need more than a question listing the dates to get the information you need.
For information that requires more than one question, choose an online survey instead. Surveys let you ask multiple questions to get the insights you need. For example, you can ask a customer to select their favorite brand of smartphone, then use a follow-up question to determine why they chose that brand.
You want to monitor overall trends or opinions
Polls are an excellent way to keep an eye on ongoing trends over a few weeks, months, or years. Regular polls make it simple to check in with your customer base without bombarding them with lengthy surveys.
If you run a restaurant and want to know which meals are likely to be bestsellers, you can poll your diners each week to find out their favorite menu item. Over time, you might notice the overall preferences of your customers changing or fluctuating with the season. This information allows you to tailor your menu (and your specials) to customer favorites.
You don’t need precise control over who answers the question
One drawback to polls is that there are few ways to ensure accurate responses. Polls are often released to a broad audience, such as on a public social media page. You won’t be able to limit false answers completely.
This isn’t an issue if you’re looking for overall feedback instead of precise data. Polling seeks the big picture, not individual responses.
You’re planning a fun, laid-back event or promotion
Let’s say you’re planning an employee appreciation picnic. The CEO of your company will lip-sync a song chosen by employees as a fun activity during the picnic. You can use a poll to find out which song your employees want the CEO to “sing.”
It doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of time or money on employee responses to this type of question A free poll gives you access to tools to quickly create and send a short survey to customers or employees.
Your question has specific answers
A poll only works if you supply specific answer options for users. Your question can range from a simple Yes/No to a multiple-choice question with several answer options. Poll questions can also involve scales. For example, you could use a poll with a scale of 1-5 to rate customer service.
If you need respondents to write an explanation using an open-ended question, a survey is the better choice.
How to choose free poll software
You shouldn’t have to pay huge fees to create and publish simple polls when there are plenty of free options that let you make a poll in minutes.
Not all free software options are the same, however. Consider what you’ll be using your polling software for, as well as how many polls you plan to send.
Here are a few things to look for when choosing an online polling platform:
- Easy to use: Look for user-friendly polling software. You shouldn’t need to know how to do advanced coding to create your poll. Try to find free software that gives you the tools you need to create, distribute, and analyze your polls in one dashboard. QuestionPro, for example, offers a free poll software that helps you design your question, distribute it to customers, and collect answers all within the platform.
- Ready-made templates: Whiles poll are less intricate than an advanced survey, it’s still difficult to know what to ask to get the best responses. A good platform gives you question templates to help you get started. You can customize your template to fit your exact needs, such as changing the answers.
- Multiple question types: Just because polls are a basic survey doesn’t mean you’re limited in question types. Most polls feature a simple multiple-choice question, but you can use a variety of question types for your single-question survey. Image questions, for example, enhance the visual appeal of your survey. An image question works like a regular multiple-choice question, but each answer has a corresponding image. If you ask customers which type of ice cream is their favorite, you can attach a picture of each flavor in the answers.
- Distribution channels: You need to be able to send your poll to the right audience, even if you’re using a free platform. Look for software that lets you share your poll across multiple mediums. With QuestionPro, you can share your poll on your social media pages, like Facebook and Twitter, as well as embed the poll on your website. You can even generate a QR code for printed materials like flyers or posters. Customers can scan the QR and quickly answer the poll question on their phones.
- Reporting and analysis tools: Poll data wants to give you an overall understanding of the feelings of your customers or employees. The best way to analyze your findings is through visual charts and graphs. Good polling software provides the ability to input your poll responses into pie charts and bar graphs. These visual tools make it easier to comprehend data quickly and are highly shareable.
Create a free poll with QuestionPro
Creating your first poll with QuestionPro is easy thanks to our free poll maker feature. Get started creating a poll today so you can learn more about your customers and improve your business.