Send more of what your subscribers want, using polls

Arguably, the difference between a subscriber opening and reading your emails and reaching for that ‘get me out of here’ link, is how personal your messages ‘sound’.

To weave effective personalisation into your messaging, you need to collect zero-party data* from your subscribers – one of the simplest ways is by using ‘polls’ in your emails.

(*zero-party data is personal data collected directly from subscribers, given voluntarily and deliberately.)

Polls‘ in ConvertKit are just what you’d expect – questions that elicit a response from a subscriber that you can subsequently use to tailor future messaging.

Let’s take a simple example…

I teach people (small business owners) how to design, build, and launch profitable email marketing systems.

Each individual can be at a different stage in their business, have varying abilities, and struggle with specific areas of their email marketing system.

I can create a poll asking the question;

  • What’s your biggest email marketing challenge right now?

I then offer subscribers 3 possible response options;

  • I don’t know where to start.
  • I can’t seem to grow my list.
  • I struggle with the tech.

Each option will inform me of where I should be focusing my efforts to best serve each subscriber – so with responses collected, I can then tailor future emails for each poll participant.

Watch a video demo of me creating a poll in ConvertKit

video preview

How to create a poll in ConvertKit

At the time of crafting this article, there isn’t a direct menu option from which to access ‘Polls’, instead you have to create a new email and insert the poll there (I have submitted the ‘polls menu option’ as a feature request).

Polls can be inserted into both ‘Broadcasts‘ and ‘Sequences‘ in ConvertKit, and in this example, I’m using a broadcast email.

Once in the editor, you can insert a poll in one of two ways; firstly, you can click the little ‘+’ icon that appears on the left-hand side. From there, you can select the ‘Poll’ option (see images below);

Alternatively, and if you prefer keystrokes to mouse clicks, you can just type a forward slash (‘/’) and the editor will pop a menu that is auto-filtered as you type (see image below)

Once inserted, you’ll see two options, either create a new poll or use an existing one.

Click the ‘Start a new poll‘ button and you’ll see the form below being presented; using this, you can configure your poll question together with possible answers.

You can have up to six answer options for your subscribers, each with their own possible configuration options.

By clicking on the ‘Advanced options‘ drop-down associated with each answer, you can configure a redirection URL that subscribers will be taken to if they select that option after they have completed the poll.

In the example below, you can see the subscriber will be taken to the URL ‘‘ if they choose that option. For example, if the subscriber stated their biggest challenge as not knowing where to start, then I might take them to a web page that offers them a free beginner’s guide to email marketing.

Additionally, you can also ‘tag‘ a subscriber when they choose a particular response, adding it to their profile so that you can reference it in future emails. In the example below, I add the tag called ‘challenge_where_to_start‘ if they choose that option.

*It’s worth noting that redirections and tags are not mutually exclusive and can be used separately or together for each response option. In other words, you can add a ‘redirect’ without adding a tag, and vice-versa.

At the bottom of each poll, you’ll have another couple of configuration options to choose from; one for the duration of the poll (i.e. how long you want it to run before it closes) and a second option to either show the poll results to participants or not.

As the email marketer, you’ll be able to view the poll results inside ConvertKit, even if you choose NOT to share results with your subscribers.

By default, results will not be shared, however, if you slide (or click) the slider button, the results will be shown to all poll participants.

For the duration configuration you have 4 options to choose from – just choose the one that works best for your particular needs at the point of use.

Once you’re happy with your question and possible response options, click the ‘Save‘ button and your poll is now ready for sharing inside your email.

Once saved, the poll becomes reusable (and editable) in future emails.

Logic to remember when using ConvertKit polls

Below is a non-exhaustive list of business rules for using ConvertKit polls;

  1. Polls are only available on ConvertKit premium plans.
  2. Polls can have a maximum of 6 response options.
  3. The ‘duration’ starts when a broadcast is sent (not when created).
  4. Polls can be inserted into broadcast emails and sequence emails.
  5. When using A/B testing, the ‘duration’ starts when the first tranche of emails is sent. (If you want more info about A/B testing, click here)
  6. If you choose to make a broadcast email ‘public’ as well as being sent to your subscribers, the duration starts when the email is made public.
  7. Editing a poll will affect all emails that contain the poll, but haven’t yet been participated in by subscribers. (For example, if you add a 4th option to a 3-option poll, participants clicking on the poll will see the 4th option if they click on it after your edit.)
  8. Participants in a poll in a public email broadcast must be logged in to participate (login is achieved via a 6-digit one-time-passcode that ConvertKit issues on demand)
  9. Participants can vote a maximum of once in each poll, in each email. (In other words, if you sent the same poll twice, using 2 separate emails, then subscribers could vote twice, but trying to vote a second time in just one email will produce an error message stating that only one vote is permitted.)


To give your subscribers a more personal experience, get into a habit of collecting zero-party data now and then. Obviously, if you ask for info with every email, some people will tire of being asked, so proceed with due respect and caution.

Once collected, you can use the data in many ways including in your logic for sending email content that helps, and is most relevant for, each subscriber.

If you employ the ‘tagging’ option in your polls, you can then subsequently trigger email sequences; e.g. if a subscriber states that they struggle with email marketing tech then you could automatically put them into a drip-fed series of emails that give help in that area.

John Bellingham
Email marketing strategist for aspirational small business owners.

If we haven’t already done so, let’s connect on LinkedIn.

The Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing gives you everything you need to know to design, launch, and run an effective email marketing system in your business.

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John Bellingham
John Bellingham

Starting out as a software engineer over 30 years ago, I began working for large corporates before realising solopreneurship was my 'thing'. I've had many businesses over the years, which have taught me many lessons.

I now spend my time helping other small business owners to implement the strategies and tactics that worked for me, whilst avoiding all my expensive mistakes.

If you're a small business owner who's either starting or running a business, then connect with me and let's have a chat.

I love Formula 1® so that's always a good conversation starter if you need one! 🏁 🏎

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