The best way to learn what readers want is to ask. Create a poll and/or a survey to collect feedback on your site and its content.
Back on Day Five, we dipped our toe into the stats pool by looking at data about your blog. Along with quantitative data, it’s also great to gather qualitative data to learn more about what readers think about your content and shape your editorial calendar.
Note: if polling and surveying your readers feels a bit premature — no worries! We suggest giving it a try, but feel free to bookmark this assignment and return to it in a few months. These are good tools to have in your back pocket.
Today’s assignment: create a poll and/or a survey to collect feedback from your readers on your site and its content.
Why do this?
- Because qualitative data in the form of poll and survey responses deepens your understanding of what readers love (or don’t love).
- Because qualitative data can help illuminate traffic drops and boosts that you might see over time as you review your blog’s stats.
- Because polling and surveying readers is a great way to connect with them.
Stats are a useful tool, but they’re just one part of the story — in talking directly with readers, you’re able to flesh out that skeleton. Not only do polls and surveys teach you a great deal, but actually making changes to your site based on feedback readers offer demonstrates that you care about what they think, furthering your relationship with your audience.
The difference between a poll and a survey
A poll allows you to ask one multiple choice question, and readers choose from several answers. You can allow the voter to select just one or let them to choose multiple answers, and you have the option of adding an “Other” field where readers can write in anything they like. You can choose from different colors and styles for the poll itself, but a basic poll looks like this:
A survey lets you ask multiple questions using a range of question types: you can ask for a comment, an email address, a name, an address etc., as well as ask different kinds of multiple choice and ranking questions. Here’s a sample survey:
Creating and using polls
You can create a poll right from your WordPress.com dashboard. Click on the “Add Poll” button and follow the instructions to customize it, then click “Embed” to plunk it into your post. (If you get stuck, Polldaddy support is friendly and awesome.)
Since you define the question and answers, you can use polls to collect lots of types of feedback:
- Brainstorm ideas for new regular features you’d like to implement and poll readers on which they find most interesting.
- Choose a few favorite posts you’ve written and ask readers to choose their favorite.
- Ask readers how often they’d like to see new posts.
- Let readers vote on key decisions, like what to name a new character in the fiction you’re writing or what the subject of your next photos should be.
To see your poll responses, head to Feedback → Polls in your dashboard.
Creating and using surveys
You also have a simple surveying tool right in your post editor — the “Add Contact Form” button. You can use this to ask open-ended questions.
Creating a survey takes a bit more effort, though the payoff is worth it because you can ask open-ended questions and gather deeper feedback from your audience.
To create a survey, you need a Polldaddy account (don’t worry, you can use your WordPress.com username and password). Click “create new” and select “survey,” and off you go — you get to set an intro message, choose from different questions types, and completely customize everything, including the color and style of the survey. When you’re done, you’ll get a shortcode for the survey — drop it right into your post. If you need help, Polldaddy support is standing by.
Since surveys are so flexible, there are even more ways you can integrate them into your blog:
- Create a survey that asks readers to rank your regular features in order of how much they like them.
- Create a survey to ask readers their opinions on your site’s design.
- Create a survey to find out how readers found your blog. Did they find you via the Reader? By someone else’s blogroll? Random Google search? That massive billboard you took out on Rodeo Drive?
You can also add a survey or contact form to a page and leave it open all the time, so readers can share thoughts when the fancy strikes.
To see your poll responses, log in to your Polldaddy account. If you’re using a contact form, head to Feedback → Feedback (not a typo!) in your dashboard.
Collect some feedback
As we mentioned earlier — now may not be the right time for you to go out and begin to survey and poll your readers. There are no mandatory assignments — just ideas for how you can build your blog’s audience and solidify your brand.
But if you have more questions than you’re getting answered in The Commons, or want to ask broader questions about your blog or content, get thee to your dashboard and start a-polling! What you learn may just surprise you.