Online Polls for List Building in 7 Steps

So, you’ve tried pay-per-click (PPC) search, co-registration and banner ads. You even tried sweepstakes offers. But you want to deploy a new, proven and creative lead generation tactic.

Have you thought about online polls or surveys?

This is a great way to build your list and qualify potential prospects for cross-sell or upsell opportunities (either immediately after taking the poll or later on). Your poll could be used on your own website, as well as on external websites or blogs.

First, it’s important to pick a question or topic that is timely, something that is in current events and that most Americans would be interested in … perhaps even slightly controversial. Now, develop your question. The question should provoke thought and prompt response. This will be the headline on your creative (whether it’s a banner or text ad).

Second, think of your answer choices. You can certainly do a simple yes/no question, but I’d recommend a variety of answer options that makes the prospect think and involves them in the question. It’s also helpful to include an “other comments” box. You’ll be surprised at how many people want to give you their two cents—this element really makes the poll participatory.

Third, make sure you let prospects know that you will not sell or rent their e-mail names. People hate spam, and you want to clarify that their e-mail addresses will not be compromised. You should also advise prospects that, by taking the poll, they will be opted in to your free newsletter (if you have one), which they can opt out of at any time, and that they will be notified via e-mail of the poll results. Also, offer them a free whitepaper, bonus report or article—with relevant subject matter related to the poll—as a token of appreciation for taking the poll. Follow up with a “welcome message” and introductory e-mail series to start the bonding efforts immediately.

Fourth, think of a good graphic that encapsulates and complements your headline. Something visually powerful. Notable personalities or images that convey emotions work best (greed, fear, love, hate, vanity, etc.).

Fifth, have a clear call to action in your creative, such as “sound off now” or “take action now.” Get people excited about the poll they are about to take. Your creative can be a banner ad, text ad, e-newsletter sponsorship or a dedicated e-mail. Some formats may work better than others, so test them all in low-cost platforms like targeted blogs ( is a great network of blogs that supports cost-effective advertising).

Sixth, make sure your poll runs on websites/blogs that fit the subject matter of the poll. When you do your media buy, pick sites that the audience is going to respond to. If your poll headline is about an election, consider political sites (on both party sides), news sites (broadcast and cable), political or news blogs, etc.

Finally, make sure you have a good reporting system to capture the e-mails and segment by promotional effort and website where the ad appeared (for analysis). Store poll results and chart answer choices via pie chart. And don’t forget to send the poll results to the prospects!

Wendy Montes de Oca is president of West Palm Beach, Fla.-based online marketing services consultancy Precision Marketing and Media. She has nearly 20 years of experience, working for top publishers and Fortune 500 companies, and can be reached at

Often referred to as the 'marketing maven' by industry peers, Wendy Montes de Oca, MBA has nearly 20 years of experience in marketing, media, and publishing with expertise in multichannel, direct response, and Web marketing. Wendy has generated more than million in total revenues for Fortune 500 companies, top publishers, consulting clients, and her own firm, Precision Marketing and Media, LLC. She is the creator of the groundbreaking SONAR Content Distribution Model and author of the best-selling book Content Is Cash: Leveraging Great Content and the Web for Increased Traffic, Sales, Leads and Buzz [Que Publishing, Paperback].

Publish date: May 5, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT