Dear Moby, Which is Better? Polls or Surveys for Nonprofits 


“I am curious about ways to best gain feedback from my email audience. Do you think I should use a poll or a survey?” 

Feedback is a natural need for humans, especially when it comes to improving some parts of themselves. This same feeling applies to businesses— business owners always want to find new ways to provide the best experience for their customers and to pull in new leads. One of the most effective ways of gaining feedback to optimize one’s business products and efficiency is by collecting thoughts and comments from the users themselves. How is this done? By sending surveys and polls via emails, of course. Hmmm, but is one better than the other? Backed up by research from Helpfull, read further to see the breakdown of polls vs. surveys. Learn how both can be used effectively to reach your digital marketing goals (especially those related to email marketing and website optimization).

Top Ways to Use Polls + Surveys

Let’s start with polling, which involves using a polling instrument (e.g. PollEverywhere and Typeform) to measure consumers’ opinions, usually through one question. Polling is often leveraged as a tactic to support email marketing strategies specifically, and some email marketing software platforms (EMPs) such as MailChimp or Constant Contact even include polling tools. Polling offers only a limited number of ways to gather audience feedback, but is helpful in engaging the audience immediately by creating a convenient feedback experience. Additionally, polling is a quick way for the team to assess the results, vs using a survey, where the data takes a lot more analysis. 

Surveying is similar to polling, but allows for more detail. This entails collecting consumers’ experiences or opinions in a more thorough format with the help of a survey instrument (e.g. Google Forms and SurveyMonkey) possessing multiple questions to collect desired information to be analyzed against predetermined questions or goals. Similarly, some EMPs such as MailChimp help simplify the integration process by including surveying tools.

Here are the top 3 effective ways to use polls and surveys in digital marketing:

1. Find new ways of hosting engaging and relevant events.

To promote participation and gain understanding from the event attendees, use polls and surveys for event engagement or feedback, respectively. Adding an interactive element during or after can help to make bring a positive experience for attendees.  


  • Embed a poll within Live Q&As or webinars to learn more about your audience’s interest 
  • Send a follow-up email with a quick poll to gain a sense of the general experience (dislike-like scale) of the event from the event attendees

Surveys: Send out an email with a survey link a few days after the event ended 

2. Further optimize your website and email strategy.

To increase user engagement on webpages and drive more conversions, think about the type of content to include and how the content could be displayed (i.e. its layout) that relates to your audience’s interests and behaviors. Including an inquisitive or fun element can encourage engagement.


  • Add a routine fun poll to high-traffic pages on your website, such as the resources hub or home page 
  • Add a poll before, within, or after the body copy of an email 

Surveys: Include a survey at the end of an email campaign series such as an evergreen welcome series or winback series 

3. Gain first-hand insight into what donors honestly care about.

To increase donor engagement, inquire about donor interests, ideas, and opinions of what they would like to see more of. Obtaining this information creates opportunities to get to know your donors better and tailor future communication, too. 

Polls: Poll donors bi-annually to hear about their favorite events or what opportunities they are interested in seeing more of from your organization

Surveys: Ask questions like why they gave to your org, what other causes they support, or what part of the org mission is most important to them. 

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#MobyTip: Use the information from surveys and/or polls to segment out your audience and provide more tailored content in future advertisements and campaigns, or even to spice up some existing email templates. 

Poll vs. Survey: Which one wins?

Well, that depends on you, and the purpose of what you are using each one for. Both are valuable to use when wanting to optimize marketing goals, increase engagement among customers, and keep analytical records for future needs. 

Remember, it’s essential to have a “why” when it comes to polls and surveys—you want to have a good idea of the goals supplementing that “why” before implementing one or both of these feedback strategies. Data from both tools can be helpful in better understanding your audience’s needs and narrowing the types of content that can benefit you and our users.

These are only a few common ways surveys and polls are used by marketing professionals and others interested in creating more positive customer experiences. There are many more ways to explore (and to be created)- start your audience feedback and engagement experimentations today! Be sure to check out additional resources on creating great online surveys and read more about email marketing best practices.