Polls, Quizzes, And Customer Buy-In

December 2023

When you publish a website, it’s because you want something. Maybe you want attention: getting eyes on a particular issue, or raising the profile of a particular brand. Maybe you’re trying to generate sales. The problem, of course, is that customers have a lot of Internet at their disposal, and getting them to commit to your page, even for a while, is often difficult.

One potential solution is — surprisingly — making your audience do some work for you.

Over several years of optimization and iteration, Insticator successfully uses polls and quizzes to drive customer engagement on our publisher clients’ websites, and the results have been stellar. At first, it seems counter-intuitive, asking customers to interact with content rather than simply taking it in, but what you’re really doing is cultivating an investment from your users.

Utilizing this simple trick, Insticator has been able to add almost a full minute onto the average time on-site for our users, which can mean a massive windfall for a publisher through increased ad revenue. To explain how and why this happens, though, we want to get a little more granular than usual — specifically, we want to explain what engaging your audience has to do with inexpensive furniture, teddy bears, and Founding Fathers, so strap in!

How It Works

Back in 2011, a trio of professors from Harvard, Yale, and Duke identified a phenomenon they called “the IKEA effect” — essentially, people tend to value something a lot more if they helped build it themselves, even if we’re talking about something as cheap and unimpressive as particle board furniture.

The IKEA effect is a subset of something called “effort justification,” where consumers will place a higher value on something they put effort into achieving than the objective value of the finished product — and it’s been a known quantity in marketing even before it got the name.

Basically, the more time and effort you put into something, the more likely you are to like that something. People want to believe their time and effort have been spent doing something worthwhile, after all.

And that “something” can be your website.

Content Engagement And Your Site

How this works for content engagement is obvious: a customer thinking about leaving your page sees a trivia question. Maybe they for-sure know the answer, maybe they’re hoping to find out. Either way, they start clicking, and before they know it they’ve spent a few minutes clicking their way through some engrossing trivia. All the while they’re doing that, your page is there, enticing them with links to your top stories, encouraging them to leave a post in the comments below the article, or maybe luring them into clicking through one of the ads on your site.

This has a ripple effect on all your other metrics. Users spending time clicking through trivia and answering polls means your average time on page is going up, which will affect your rankings on Google’s search results. Similarly, combining things like trivia and polls with a content recirculation tool can help improve your bounce rate, holding attention longer and keeping your users within your own page ecosystem. This creates a feedback loop, as improved metrics improve your search rankings, which in turn bring in more qualified users and subsequently improve your metrics.

The trick, of course, is that you don’t want your gains in those metrics to be offset by hits to your site layout or loading speeds. Insticator has built content engagement units around Core Web Vitals, meaning that loading speeds are prioritized and layout pop-in is kept to a minimum so that you can reap all the benefits of content engagement without worrying that they’ll be a drag on your bounce rates.

This also works great alongside a solid commenting platform for your page. In one case study, we found that polls and comment boards reinforce each other: you pose a poll question to your audience on the page, and users will then argue (politely, thanks to moderation) about whose opinion is the correct one. The poll drives users to the comments, and the comments drive the users to the polls.

Beyond all that, though, your customers will just have the impression that they like your site more. There’ll be more to do, more fun to be had, more articles to read, and more time to spend. They won’t know why that is, specifically, but you will, and so will we.

Final Thoughts

It may seem like an additional ask from your users, but Insticator has learned from experience that people like it when their Internet is more interactive. Asking people for their thoughts, opinions, likes, and dislikes, or asking them to prove how well they know a certain subject, is a guaranteed way to drive more engagement for your pages.

If you’d like to learn more about Insticator’s Content Engagement Units, and how you can deploy them on your own page, contact us today!

Written by
Sean Kelly, Senior Content Writer

Sean Kelly is a Senior Content Specialist, St. Louis-based engagement expert with 20 years of experience in content writing, and 8 years in adtech.

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