How To Cash In On Spouting Off

If there’s one thing that the Internet Age has taught us, it’s that almost everyone has an opinion on almost everything. A 200-word post on why the local supermarket’s Little League baseball team lost Tuesday’s game will be followed by 47 comments, 24 Facebook shares and 14 tweets.

For most people, opining on the Internet is just a way to vent a little steam and waste a little time, but for the savvy business with a website or blog, that primal urge can be transformed into bottom line profits.

Using opinion polls as a way to build email marketing lists is one of the most powerful tools business owners have to really target the people they want to contact.

Sounding Off and Taking Names

To boil this down to its essence, the idea is to collect names and email addresses as a precursor to participating in an online poll or survey. You are going to add those names and addresses to your email marketing list so you need to be very clear about what you are doing and your privacy policy. Be sure you have a good understanding of email marketing in general and the legal requirements.

Of course you need to have a user-friendly and robust unsubscribe system. By the way, test it yourself from time to time to know what your customers are experiencing and to make sure it works as advertised.

Nothing is more valuable than a well-qualified prospect and by asking the right kinds of survey or polling questions, you can be certain that you are reaching your target audience. Further, if you’re clever in the way you construct your poll questions, you can gather a lot of valuable information about your prospects.

Framework for Success

Children of the 1960s anti-Vietnam War movement would remember one of the day’s catchphrases lifted from an old Bertolt Brech poem: What if they gave a war and nobody came? The same principle applies to your online poll: What if you gave a poll and no one sees it. This strategy for building or adding to your email list presupposes a website or blog that gets some traffic. If that’s the case, this is absolutely one of the best email marketing tips, if not, first you need to do some serious search engine optimization. Of course, if you’ve been busy building your social media presence, you can use those avenues to drive contacts to your poll.

Over the weeks and months you can experiment with a wide range of poll and survey questions. Controversial statements always create a lot of interest and can be a good way to way to generate a lot of leads. More finely tuned questions can help you segment your list. Going into the spring and summer seasons a woman’s clothing store, for example, might ask a question like:

This season I’m going to hit the beach in:

  • The tiniest bikini I can find, just to drive my ex crazy.
  • A stylish two-piece that leaves something to the imagination.
  • A one-piece that will stay in place while I’m body surfing!

This information can guide follow up email offers and also help somewhat in purchasing decisions. Companies in the service sector can use survey questions to help them refine their business and better meet the needs of their clients.

Sweeten the Pot

It’s also a good idea to do more for your potential customers than just give them the chance to weigh in on an issue. Offering a free informational download as an added incentive to participate in your poll is a smart move. If you provide useful information along with the chance to opine, you have taken two important steps toward finding and converting a prospect into a customer.

This isn’t the only way to build your email marketing list, there are other good techniques as well as pitfalls to avoid—like buying lists.

Finally, while there is free software available for polls, most of those do not include the ability to collect names and email addresses. However, there are inexpensive ways to accomplish this on your website or blog, and if you use WordPress to power your site, you have some plugins available.

So, what do you think (choose one)? This blog:

  • Delivered useful ideas and inspiration.
  • Bored me to tears.

Happy and profitable polling!


Photo credit: “LT – Quizzes – Pre-session Poll,” © 2013 Matt Cornock, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
The following two tabs change content below. specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Chamber is focused on providing the latest business news, small business advice, and helpful tips and resources for small businesses, entrepreneurs and mid to enterprise level companies. Follow us on Twitter at @ChamberOnline.

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