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Poll vs Survey: Definitions, Differences, and Where They Fit In Your Marketing Research

A poll consists of only one question; surveys are made up of multiple questions. Learn the differences and how each tool is used for information gathering.

February 5, 2023

Poll vs Survey: Definitions, Differences, and Where They Fit In Your Marketing Research

A poll consists of only one question; surveys are made up of multiple questions. Learn the differences and how each tool is used for information gathering.

As business professionals, we are constantly on the search for new information. Marketers are always looking for information that will give them an edge over the competition. Managers gather information from their team members in order to evaluate the success of projects, and whether or not deadlines are being met. Those working in customer service or public relations look to identify and address concerns presented to them by customers and partners.

customer feedback techniques

The fact is - information search is an integral activity for most roles in business. And if we are going to want to succeed in our data-gathering efforts, it is vital that we have a clear understanding of what tools we have at our disposal. The not-so-subtle differences between a poll and a survey can make all the differences in the data we receive from our audiences.

Conducting market research or public opinion polling can be costly - if you don’t know what you’re doing. In order to avoid wasting valuable time and resources on ineffective marketing efforts, we will discuss what the differences are between two of the most common forms of information gathering techniques - polling, and surveying.

In this article we will dive into: the ways that polls and surveys are used to gather pertinent consumer data, what these tools look like in use, the advantages and disadvantages of both, and how the data we gather can be used to grow our business.

Polling Definition

A poll is an information gathering tool that allows us to measure consumer opinion. Polling can be used to capture data on a wide variety of topics that: customer satisfaction, consumer sentiment, and changes in purchasing habits or trends. Polls can also be used to gather information about political views, pop culture tastes, and a variety of other sorts of opinion-seeking questions.

Conducting single question polls is a very common and cost-effective way that anyone can gather simple information from a group of people. With the advent of recent internet marketing technologies, the use of polling has never been more accessible. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow their users to set up free, simple polls that companies often use to generate engagement with their brand.

Polls are often presented as simple multiple-choice questions. This simple style of polling has since exploded in popularity over the years on social media websites.

multiple choice question example

geographic location

Products like SurveyMonkey, TurningPoint, and Alchemer offer free & paid surveying services that double as polling software. Organizations seeking digital marketing solutions often utilize software like this in order to gather data on consumer preferences & developing trends within their target audience.

Working to make your polls more fun and engaging for your respondents will improve the likelihood your audiences will interact with your questions. We can do this by writing about questions about polarizing topics - say, Coke vs. Pepsi - that inspire people to make their opinions public.

Multiple Choice Question Polling In Action

There are a variety of benefits that conducting multiple choice polling provides for organizations and freelancers alike. Polling is a very accessible form of information gathering, as it often costs us little to nothing to run and can be set up in seconds.

Through polling, we can:

Learn About Our Audience

We can use simple A/B polling to gather information on our consumer’s tastes, sentiments, buying behaviors, and even their considerations on our potential shortcomings. For example, a restaurant may ask their customers to answer the question,“Which one of our signature burger creations do you like best?” Our restaurant properties can then use that information to run a special sale on the winning burger, evaluate their current product offerings, and so on.

A/B polling to learn about audience

Encourage Engagement With Our Audience

Inviting our customers to engage with our brand through polling can be an effective way to generate enthusiasm for our projects.

Creating culturally relevant or humorous polls can do wonders for improving our brand image. It can show that you care about your audience’s insights, and it can be a fun way for the people who patronize you to express their love and affinity for your organization.

In the words of the great Oscar Wilde, “Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.”

Increase Awareness (of Sales, Products)

Polls are often used as a cheap & immediate way for brands to promote awareness for their brand. Polls can be used to push sales, promote new product lines, generate excitement for upcoming events, and expose more consumers to our brand. Polling on social media platforms encourages people to share these polls & the results with their friends - thereby generating grass-roots support for our marketing efforts.

Get Pertinent Feedback

Getting feedback on our decisions is one of the most important things we as business professionals can do to stay relevant and successful. If we are not testing our designs and choices with our audiences ahead of time, then we risk handicapping our business. Incorporating the answers given to us by our customers and business partners allows us to continuously improve the way we conduct ourselves and the ways we do business.

Pertinent Feedback image

Polling offers us a limited number of ways to gather feedback from audiences. Simple polls can be used to gather a person's opinion about a single, focused topic - like addressing customer satisfaction with a recent ad campaign, or sentiment about our brand colors.

There is a far more powerful feedback tool we can use to gather pertinent data from our respondents - the survey.

Surveying Definition

Surveying is the collection and analysis of experiences and opinions from a target audience. Researchers utilize surveys to gather consumer opinion on everything from consumer sentiment to purchasing habits; this data can then be used to create intimate consumer profiles that marketers can use to better assess their customer’s needs and values.

Surveys are far lengthier than polls, and often seek to gather a variety of different data points that can be extrapolated to address one or more business concerns. We can gather pertinent information on consumer experiences & segments that can be used to create vivid consumer profiles. With these consumer profiles, we can create a clearer picture of what our average customer looks like; with that information, we can work to better address their wants, needs, desires, and tastes.

consumer surbey data points

Traditionally, surveys were costly and conducted primarily in-person or over the phone. Now, digital surveys can be conducted at a fraction of the cost, and in a far shorter time frame. Digital surveying solutions like Qualaroo, SurveyLegend, Typeform, or Helpfull allow users to design both custom or pre-built survey templates that can be disseminated to hundreds of pollsters in seconds.

survey templates

Surveying In Action

Surveys are powerful information gathering tools that are regularly employed by business professionals.

A market research survey is designed to capture valuable information from consumers that can then be turned into something actionable.Information like consumer preferences, sentiment, and purchasing habits can be used to create clearer consumer profiles for our target audiences.

Product positioning surveys allow us to gain insight into how customers view our products when compared to other products in our shared market space. Craft brewing companies use product positioning surveys to gather important data on their customer’s buying habits; it also allows them to identify what kind of cannibalization is occurring between their competing product offerings.

Market surveys gather pertinent data about consumers and their shared characteristics. Demographic information, purchasing behaviors, geographic location, and level of income are used to place consumers in clear segments. This is one of the most useful practices a marketer can employ, as it allows them to create a clear vision of their target consumer - thereby increasing the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.

Choosing The Right Tool For The Job

We now have a clear understanding of the differences between these research tools and their functions. To get this information to stick, we want to clearly outline the different scenarios in which we might want to gather information from our audiences; from there, it’s all about using the right tool - survey or poll - to generate that data.

We use polls for:

  • Ask simple, multiple choice questions designed to answer one greater question
  • Generating engagement with our audiences
  • Evaluating customer satisfaction on single-issue topics
  • Host competitions for our brand
  • Create awareness for our upcoming sales and product offerings
  • Generating grass-roots interest in our company

We utilize surveying when looking to:

  • Ask complex questions designed to explore a topic, series of topics, or to generate feedback
  • Gather data from a targeted audience
  • Data on buyer behavior, consumer preferences, or data that can be used to address other pertinent marketing concerns
  • Feedback on customer satisfaction with their brand, customer service channels, etc.
  • Advice & opinion on our design considerations
  • Constructive insight from our consumers, business partners, or employees

Ultimately, surveys prove to be the more powerful of the two research techniques. We can use the data gathered by our surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of our business practices, forecast market trends, and learn how we can better meet the needs of our customers.

What Helpfull Does Best

Helpfull is the premiere surveying software for anyone looking to get the most out of their marketing efforts. With a vast variety of different question types to choose from, Helpfull surveys can be generated and delivered to thousands of panelists in minutes.

market research survey

These are just some of the features that make Helpfull a must-have tool for those looking for quality consumer feedback:

  • No Locked-In Price Plan
  • Affordable Surveying Options
  • Create Simple Surveys with Pre-Set Questions, or Design Your Own
  • No Extra Cost For Multiple Questions in a Single Survey
  • Wide Variety of Polling Demographics to Choose From
  • Get Responses & Feedback in Real Time
  • Save Your Favorite Answers for Easy Reference 
  • Aesthetically Pleasing UI and Easy-To-Use Interface 
  • Easy to Access Prior Surveys

Helpfull surveying software

With Helpfull’s open-ended survey design, users can design visually-striking, multi-question surveys for any occasion!

A simple survey could be all that stands between your company and the renewed success of it’s online marketing efforts.

An intuitive user-interface, coupled with the ability to gather hundreds of consumer responses in just minutes, are just a few of the features that make Helpfull the ultimate tool for any artist, designer, marketer, or inquisitive spirit.

Refine your marketing - sign up with Helpfull today, and get surveying within minutes!

Types of Feedback