The other day I received a question from a client that stumped me. She asked, “What is the difference between a poll and a survey?” On the surface they didn’t seem all that different to me but I couldn’t really say that to the client. That answer would have prompted her to ask why we offered both if they achieved the same results. I knew there had to be a reason why we offer both and so I made it my mission to figure it out.

After some careful research, which was really just typing in questions like “What is the purpose of a poll?” into Google, I have it all figured out. Well, maybe not all…but I at least have a decent answer now in case I am asked that question again. I thought I would share this information with you because I am in a giving mood today.

Both polls and surveys are helpful tools to obtain information from people who come across your business. Each one may be utilized to gauge opinions and receive feedback. Satisfied customers typically become loyal customers. They come back for additional products/services, recommend you to friends and put you above the competition. Finding out what it is that satisfies your customers can help your business succeed.

But how do you decide which one to use and when? And what exactly are those differences I hinted at above?

One of the main differences between our polls and surveys is the anonymity that a poll offers. Those who decide to take part in your poll are not required to provide their email address at the end. They simply fill in the answers to your question(s) without having to identify who they are. I decided to test out the poll in regards to my blogs so that I can show you how the results will look.

Based on those nine responses, I can tell that 77% do take the time to read my blogs. That is some good news. I am very curious though as to who responded with “Michelle who?” But because the polls do not provide an option to identify yourself, I will never know.

If I had decided to use the survey instead of the poll, I would have the email address of the respondent. I could then contact them with a personalized message introducing myself, explaining my blogs to them and hopefully developing a great “writer/reader” relationship. This same situation could be applied to you and your business. Surveys allow you to collect data from both potential and current subscribers that will help you build and maintain positive “business/customer” relationships.

Of course, I couldn’t resist testing out the survey as well since my curiosity was piqued. Here is an example of the type of report you may see after launching a survey:

Much of this is similar to the poll in the sense that you can see which percent responded in which way. However, since the survey does require that the respondent input his or her email address, you are given the option of seeing both overall results as well as individual results. Take a look at the way info is provided for one particular respondent:

Knowing how this one particular person answered every question is helpful because it will allow you to become even more familiar with your subscribers to get as close as possible to their individual needs and wants when it comes to your business. You can even provide an open answer format for some of your questions, giving your subscribers the freedom to input whatever they want as a response. As pointed out above with the red arrow, this particular user was able to give their opinion on my next blog topic. This eliminates the guessing game for me when it comes to blog topics.

The surveys and polls can be placed on your website or you can send them out in an email blast. I decided to place mine on my Facebook page, which is a great way of using social media sites in connection with your Benchmark Email account. Whether you choose to utilize the poll, the survey or mix and match the two, the benefits offered will help improve your relationship with your subscribers and your business.