For a long time, I avoided open-ended poll questions in the surveys I’ve conducted. I followed the old-fashioned rule that you shouldn’t have more than 1-2 open-ended questions because the customer will not answer them. 

And it’s true. But when you grow tech products from scratch, oftentimes you know very little about the customers you’re trying to bring in. That’s why we run website polls and ask questions to better understand the users who land on the platform.

However, if we were to use only single-choice or multiple-choice questions, we wouldn’t get the insights we need; we’d only get a confirmation on our assumptions. 

So here’s my workaround for polls where I want customers to express their thoughts, not just to check some boxes. 

Only ask 3 open-ended poll questions

I don’t know if science or studies back-me up on this, but only asking 3 questions works perfectly. Why? First, because it gives me so much clarity over what I’m asking. And second, because it doesn’t take a lot of customers’ time.

Moreover, a thing that I noticed is that most answers are longer than I would expect and somehow, they also refer to things that I didn’t ask but want to know about.

Say you need help from the beginning

I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this article that I talk about open-ended poll questions in surveys that you conduct on your website to better understand your persona

For every poll, I start the conversation with I need your help…/Could you help me with… or something similar. 

The reason I do this is because of the transparency principle I try to follow in most of my work. My reasoning is this: customers know when you try to trick them. They’re smart. They may not be marketers, but they get it. So if I need help with knowing them better, customizing messages, or emphasizing the product benefits, I tell them this. I tell them the exact reason I’m bothering them. 

Write questions as conversational as possible

This is more of a personal touch. But following the transparency principle I’ve mentioned above, I’m kinda into writing poll questions as conversational as possible. If the character limit allows (we use Hotjar for most website polls), I would present myself and use some emojis or anything that could add a human touch to the conversation. 

Now, that’s my take on open-ended poll questions. Don’t be afraid to use them or at least try them. You’ll be amazed at how many people are willing to join the conversation. And how many precious insights you’ll get.

Until next time, I really hope this week’s insight helped!