polls in email newsletters

Want to Improve Reader Retention? Try Adding Polls To Your Email Newsletters

Looking for new ways to encourage readers to interact with your editorial content? Try incorporating informal polls into your email newsletters.

Email newsletters have long been thought of as a method for driving clicks to digital publications. While they have been around for a long time, email newsletters have exploded in popularity over the past few years. Just about every publication and consumer-facing business now sends one. (Including Web Publisher PRO!) But with publishers always on the hunt for new ways to squeeze value out of their marketing channels, embedding polls in email newsletters is becoming recognized as an effective strategy that can improve reader retention and boost engagement.

The Financial Times is just one of a number of publishers that is now using embedded polls in its email newsletters. The practice is designed to encourage reader interaction and increase subscriber retention. The global publisher started running polls in its popular email newsletter, FirstFT, in March of this year. The email newsletter is exclusive to Financial Times subscribers, reaching more than 100,000 followers each morning.

The Financial Times runs about five polls in its email newsletter each month. Most polls center around hot button issues, asking readers things like, “Do you think Boris Johnson call pull off Brexit??” and “Was Theresa May right to invite Donald Trump to the U.K. on a state visit?”

With FirstFT’s success measured primarily in click-through rates and email open rates, editors have been pleased with the performance they’ve seen since they started including polls back in March.

How to Use Email Newsletters for Community Building

Newsletters are often described as community builders. Unlike other marketing strategies, including search engine optimization, email newsletters aren’t a great tool for reaching new readers or boosting traffic from search engines or social channels. What email newsletters are good for is bringing existing readers and subscribers back to your website more frequently.

Polls take existing newsletter strategies to the next level, giving readers a sense of belonging and making them feel like their opinions are being heard. When readers think they might be asked to interact with a newsletter—through reader polls or other mechanisms—they are more likely to open those emails right away and read through them to find the content they’re looking for.

Polls can help publishers understand how their newsletters are being received by readers, even when those newsletters don’t contain outbound links. For example, if you send newsletters with contained commentary, then an embedded poll can be a useful way to tell whether people are engaged with your content.

To learn even more about how much of your content they’re reading, you can play with the placement of your polls. Do you get more responses when the poll is placed near the top of the email, in the middle of the content, or at the bottom of the email? The more you test, the more you will learn about your audience and the better you will be able to target your readership going forward.

What Makes a Good Poll?

The most successful polls in email newsletters are tied to polarizing topics, with news hooks that are designed to encourage readers to participate.

To generate the polls they include in their email newsletters, The Financial Times works with a startup called Opinary. Opinary also works with the Huffington Post, along with a number of other digital publishers. The company’s software is used to place highly-relevant polls into content. Publishers can design polls themselves or rely on Opinary’s algorithm. After voting in polls, readers are shown a call-to-action designed to spur continued engagement.

Other companies that offer tools for embedding polls into email newsletters include MailChimp, SurveyMonkey, and Typeform.

If you would like to learn more about how to embed polls into your email newsletters, or if you’re starting from scratch with developing an email newsletter, let our publishing team here at Web Publisher PRO help you get started.