Theory & Tips

Poll vs. Survey — What's the Difference? (With Real-World Examples)

Post by
Gaybrelle Rhodes
Poll vs. Survey — What's the Difference? (With Real-World Examples)

Want to understand your audience better?

Here's a tip: use a poll or survey.

These two methods provide a fun opportunity for your company to gather insights about your target audience and understand their feelings and opinions. 

"It's in the interest of every business to learn as much as possible about its customers. While you can conduct market research in many ways, one of the best methods is to directly ask your customers how they feel about various topics. Polls and surveys are a time-tested tool of businesses as well as market research companies."
- Kalin Kassabov, How To Get The Most Out Of Customer Polls And Surveys

With a good company poll or survey, you can craft effective marketing campaigns, sales strategies, and products or services. However, encountering these benefits requires you to know something: the difference between polls vs. surveys.

There's a lot of confusion about these two methods, with many people thinking they're the same. But, in actuality, polls and surveys are quite different and are best utilized in different situations. 

Differentiating Between a Poll vs. Survey

A poll is a simple tool you can use to gauge people's choices and preferences. In the past, companies would conduct polls in person or over the phone, but today you can implement them online without any hassle.

Surveys can also be online, but this tool isn't as simple as a poll. Surveys provide a way of gathering in-depth insights and data from a set of people with the intent to generalize the results to apply them to a larger population.                                                                                          

On top of the different definitions, five other things distinguish polls from surveys:

  • Purpose: Polls are designed to get information quickly, while surveys are created to get extensive, detailed feedback.   
  • Number of questions: A poll has only a few questions, but surveys can have several questions to extract in-depth insights.  
  • Type of questions: Polls have multiple-choice questions. Surveys, on the other hand, can include multiple choice, single choice, ratings, and open-ended questions.
  • Depth of questions: A poll question is simple and focuses on one specific subject, but survey questions focus on several different topics.
  • Time: Polls take only a little time to answer, but surveys can require more time since the questions are analytical.

Determining whether to use a company poll or survey will depend on what you're trying to accomplish. If your goal is to gather information quickly on one topic, use a poll. If you want deeper insights on various topics, create a survey.

Examples of a Poll vs. Survey

Understanding the differences between a poll vs. survey is more likely to happen when you have examples to reference. Keeping that in mind, below are popular samples of polls and surveys.

Examples of polls:

  • Game Prediction Poll
  • Election Poll
  • Who Wore It Best Poll
  • Would You Rather Poll
  • Yes or No Poll
  • This or That Poll
  • Public Opinion Poll

Examples of surveys:

  • Professional Event Survey
  • Donor Feedback Survey
  • Management Feedback Survey
  • Market Research—Product or Service Feedback Survey 
  • Employee Engagement Survey
  • Brand Awareness Survey

Again, remember that these are just examples. They are not definitive lists. Many different types of polls and surveys exist, but the ones above are probably ones you've seen before.

How to Run a Company Poll vs. Survey 

Now that you know the differences between a poll and a survey, you're ready to launch one!

However, before sending anything to your target audience, you should know how to run a poll or survey to ensure your business gets the best results.

If you decide to run a company poll, here are the steps to take:

  1. Find a template to create your poll.
    Slides With Friends has a free, easy-to-use poll template you can customize and launch in an in-person, remote, or hybrid environment—respondents can also use their mobile devices to submit answers.
  2. Develop closed-ended questions.
  3. Keep each question one sentence in length.
  4. Limit the number of options for each question.
    Ideally, you should have 2-3 potential answers to keep things quick and simple.
  5. If applicable, have a "don't know" or "doesn't apply" answer option.

If you want to run a company survey, here are the steps to take:

  1. Use a template to create your survey.
    Slides With Friends has free, customizable survey decks you can use to build and launch your survey in-person, remotely, or hybrid. Respondents can also submit answers using their mobile devices. 
  2. Provide context for the survey because people will want to know why you're requesting their feedback. If there's a benefit attached to finishing the survey, tell respondents that as well. 
  3. Be transparent about how long the survey will take to complete. Doing so will ensure respondents set aside enough time to finish instead of quitting halfway through. 
  4. Utilize different types of questions to increase engagement and survey completion.
    Examples include rankings, short answers, word clouds, image/video questions, and multiple-choice (these features are available on Slides With Friends' survey templates and are free to incorporate).
  5. Survey a representative sample so that your company gets the insights you need about a larger population.
  6. Make your survey as short as possible. Even though it's designed to be longer than a poll, don't make it longer than necessary, especially if you want respondents to finish it.

The Keys to Increased Understanding

Polls and surveys provide unique ways to understand your target audience better. However, make sure you use the right one to accomplish your goal and run it correctly. Doing these two things will guarantee you receive valuable insights and data your business can use to grow and succeed.

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