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Tips + riffs on copywriting, conversion optimization, and (if I’m being honest) coffee.

Crush opt-in conversion rates: The power of quizzes in list building

For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25 (Experian). Whaaaaa? If you could sit down at a poker table, throw down a $1 bill (notice the lack of zeroes there), and have $44.25 returned to you…well, I might actually be a gambler then.

While it might not be at the poker table, you can get that result — and without any need to be a card shark (which I firmly am not, unless we’re harkening back to my days of euchre tournaments…when I was actually excited to have trump on my side).

Of course, to make that kind of return on email marketing, there’s this pesky little thing you need first: A list of people to email. “There’s money in the list” — you’ve heard it before — but that money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is the people. Shocking. I know.

Here’s the thing. List-building…ugh. It’s like the song that never ends. You hear it over and over and over and you know you should be doing it, but the actual execution of it is all-too-easy to push to…never. Well, my online marketing friend, despite the murmurings that the days of the list are over, there is no sign that email usage will be slowing down.

With 99% of people checking their email every day and an average deliverability rate of over 98%, the issue isn’t getting people to see your message (because praise sweet baby Jeebus that unlike social media, inboxes don’t have an algorithm), it’s getting people to open and engage with your message.

To make that happen, your readers need to care about what you’re saying. And you, (soon-to-be) savvy email marketer, are going to find that easy to do when you’re expertly targeting what you’re saying to what your readers need.

Simply put: Building a list is just dandy, but if you’re building a list that won’t buy…well you might as well be playing the slots instead of sitting down at that poker table with a strategy.

This, of course, begs a question or two about this whole quality-list-building business. Like:

What does it mean to build a list of quality leads? Isn’t any lead a good lead?

I want to say yes…but no. Not all leads are good leads, and in this case quality definitely matters more than quantity. For example, as a conversion copywriter, I write sales pages, email sequences, and other words that make people take action. If I build a list full of 100,000 leads that want to DIY their resumes on a budget…I’m going to have a hard time making a sale on my services.

The thing is, it’s not just any-ol’ list-building that’s going to get you to the 4,325% return (#maths) that Experian reports. It’s quality list-building. It’s making sure you build a list of people who are interested in what you have to offer and are primed to buy.

I know, I know…you’re saying “Sara, if it was that easy I would already be getting a 4,000% return on my monies.” While it may be easier said than done (it’s also easier to say “climb Mount Everest” than actually do it…), growing a list of quality leads is absolutely doable, and it’s NOT too late to start. But let’s not just throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.

Let’s choose to focus efforts on a list-building tool that not only works in getting people engaged, but can also be the crazy powerful segmentation tool you need to build an email list that you know exactly how to communicate with. And when. And where. And why. You know?

So, what is the answer to your highly qualified list-building dreams?

((dramatic drum roll))

It’s a quiz.

List-building...ugh. Enter: quizzes, an interactive tool with a 50% conversion in lead generation. Put quizzes to use in your email marketing.

This brings us to our next point to ponder:

Why should online business owners use quizzes to generate qualified leads?

There’s an old strategy I rely on when I’m forced into awkward social situations in which I don’t know anybody in the room: The easiest way to have a conversation is to ask a lot of questions about the person you’re talking to. As an introvert and endlessly curious human, it’s not just a massive relief to have this strategy in my back pocket; it’s fun.

The truth is that people like to talk (and learn) about themselves. Whether you want to know which Disney princess you are (I’m a split between Belle and Jasmine), which Harry Potter house you belong in (Gryffindor, thank goodness), or whether or not you’re good in bed (hells yes — I could sleep all day!) quizzes WORK.


Because quizzes are the definition of great content: they’re interactive, they’re insightful, they’re digestible, and they’re shareable.

Taking a quiz is a whole heckuva lot more engaging than reading an ebook, downloading a whitepaper, or going through a checklist (and don’t get me wrong, I love me a good checklist).

While a click-baity (yup, that’s a word) titled blog post may catch your eye, Content Marketing Institute did some studies and discovered that 81% of survey respondents agree that interactive content (…like a quiz) grabs attention more effectively than static content. No matter how beautiful a graphic is or how engaging text can be, they are still passive ways of consuming content — your reader is just sitting back and “watching.”

But interactive content actively engages them in the learning experience — they aren’t just bystanders; they’re participating in the content, thinking and responding. You aren’t just talking at your reader anymore…you’re having a conversation. According to a white paper published by CMI, “it’s not a question of whether companies should use interactive content but rather how soon they should start.”


Before you get all stressed out and throw your blog out with the bathwater, remember that interactive content doesn’t have to be the only vehicle you use to educate and engage with your audience — but it sure is a good way to supplement your current marketing fleet.

I think it’s fair to say at this point that a sign of good content is not only how a reader engages with it, but whether or not they share it. After all, sharing IS caring…and the almighty Google and social media algorithms care if your content is shared. More shares, more eyeballs and engagement, and (if you’re doing it right) more qualified leads. Let’s give some context to what that can look like, courtesy of BuzzSumo:

“Quizzes are one of the more addictive and shareable forms of content out there…BuzzSumo data shows that on average a quiz gets shared 1,900 times.

However, some quizzes go way beyond 1,900. According to our data, the top shared quiz over the last 12 months was ‘What colour is your aura’, with nearly 4 million shares…The top 5 quizzes in the last 12 months all had well above 1.5 million shares.”

Granted, that data is from 2015. But if our smarty pants friends at CMI are right, interest in interactive content continues to be on the rise, and 75% of their survey respondents plan to (wisely) increase their use of it going forward.

Now. I’m going to throw a few more stats your way before moving on, because I’m a nerd and can’t help myself. And, I’m sure by this point you’re wondering — that’s all well and good that people *like* taking quizzes…but what’s in it for me from a business point of view? Well my shrewd business friend, here are some numbers to chew on, nabbed from my friends over at Interact.

  • Quizzes average a 50% conversion rate for lead generation,
  • Quizzes average a 90% completion rate, and
  • People spend an average of 2 minutes taking a quiz.

Again: whaaaa? A 50% conversion rate and 90% completion rate are pretty kickass numbers in the world of lead generation. And, as the author points out, “getting people to do anything for two minutes is a challenge, much less getting a ton of people to stay on your site for two minutes.” Time is money, people, and if your website visitors are willing to invest their time to see your quiz through all the way to the end…well that’s pretty killer if I do say so myself. And I do.

Okay, okay — so I’ve probably made my case by now. Quizzes are the definition of interactive content. Interactive content works. Google will reward you for creating said interactive content.

But, one more thing. Remember when I shared my strategy for entering social situations as an introvert? People love to talk and learn about themselves. Case in point:

People are obsessed with personality assessments — and rightly so. Who doesn’t want to identify their strengths (StrengthsFinder), or be able to justify why they thrive in a quiet environment (Myers-Briggs), or understand how they work (Kolbe)? We are all, even if we won’t admit it, insanely curious to understand ourselves better.

Let’s just say personality assessments are the OG quizzes. And when quizzes mimic the sentiment behind personality assessments — without the fee and time commitment of actually providing the A’s to all those Q’s…welp, we’ve got ourselves a jackpot.

A win for the reader; a win for you: How quizzes benefit you beyond list building and lead generation

We can clearly see that if you want to up your customer education, reader engagement, and lead conversion, quizzes are a clear front runner. But let’s dig in a little deeper and ask again: Why invest your precious content-generating time in quizzes?

Because not only are quizzes insightful for the quiz taker, telling them more about themselves…quizzes are also insightful for YOU, biz owner, because you can see exactly who you’re dealing with and where they’re at.

One of the most important pieces of conversion copywriting (my jam) is understanding where your customer is in their buying journey, and quizzes are a powerful tool to help create that segmentation as a part of your lead generation and email marketing.

Consider this — you’re Birchbox and you’re selling face masks. You generate a super straightforward quiz, “Find Your Face Mask Soul Mate in One Minute.” Five questions later, you’re making product recommendations specific to the quiz taker — that takes into account their skin type, skin concerns, scent preference, and more…because they answered questions that gave you insight into each of those things.

List-building...ugh. Enter: quizzes, an interactive tool with a 50% conversion in lead generation. Put quizzes to use in your email marketing.

Your readers are delighted to have the research done for them (and know that they’re getting recommendations tailored to their actual needs). Meanwhile? You, Birchbox, just collected data that’ll help you better target all of your follow-up content to each of these readers. You can now tag your quiz takers by each of the characteristics you just had them specify, and continue to send valuable content and targeted product recommendations their way based on those criteria.

All that with a five-question quiz. And that’s likely the most straightforward of examples.

How do you get to a place where you’re super smartly (and maybe even more covertly than Birchbox) segmenting your quiz takers once the quiz is taken?

You start with the end in mind.

I’ll talk about this much more in depth in future posts, but here’s what I want to get you pondering on right now: What is your end goal with your email marketing? Do you have a suite of products you sell? A membership with three different tiers you’d like people to choose from? A service-based business with an array of offers targeting different levels of need? A combination of all of the above? (#overachiever)

In Birchbox’s case, they’ve got a suite of face masks. There’s a clear (no pun intended) recommendation for each path the reader takes on their “choose-your-own-adventure” journey through the quiz. Likewise, when someone takes your quiz, it should be pretty clear (to you, at least), what the next best step for them is on their journey in your world. If that’s eventually pitching them your services, products, or membership, what do you need to know about where they’re at in order to know exactly what to pitch down the line?

Because, remember: To get readers to engage with your email marketing and see that 4,325% return for your efforts, you need readers who care about what you’re saying, which is a heckuva lot easier when you’re highly targeting what you’re saying to what your readers need.

(And when you segment wisely? I’ve got no doubt you can do better than $44.25 for every $1 spent on your email marketing. I triple dog dare you to prove me right.)

Okay, so you see the value of quizzes in list-building and lead generation AND their ability to powerfully and effectively segment your marketing efforts. That begs the questions:

What kind of quiz should you create?

Let’s dive into some examples beyond Birchbox, shall we?

First: The almighty personality quiz

Like the assessments mentioned above, personality quizzes give us some insight into what kind of a person you are, or in the case of the online biz world, you get some insight into how you show up in your work.

For you, biz owner, you want to help people self-identify traits about themselves that are going to make them a good fit for your services or products.

Let’s look at Jenna Kutcher — among many of her admirable qualities, she’s an Instagram queen. Her quiz, What kind of Instagrammer are you? strictly asks questions about you + your use of Insta (think: “If posting on Instagram was a superpower, what would your superhero name be and why?”; “Which famous relationship best describes your relationship to Instagram?”)…which makes it both more interesting to dive into and more revelatory when it comes to describing who you are.

List-building...ugh. Enter: quizzes, an interactive tool with a 50% conversion in lead generation. Put quizzes to use in your email marketing.

Again, that’s a win for you (oh, that’s why I struggle with Instagram!), and it’s a win for Jenna, who can now identify your exact struggles and pitch you more wisely with both freebies and paid programs relating to Instagram.

(And, because she’s a freakin’ maven, I’ve got no doubt she’s using the data collected there to also target you for her other products as well. But we’ll save that for another day!)

Personality quizzes tend to be the most popular (and therefore convert the best), but they’re certainly not your only option for quiz creation.

Second: The assessment quiz

The assessment quiz can feel a bit like a personality quiz — after all, it’s still revealing something about the quiz taker, but unlike a personality quiz that directly results in uncovering a personality trait, assessment quizzes are best for, well, assessing a particular situation.

For you, quiz creator, assessments are a great way to paint a picture of where your reader is, and where you can help them grow. Take Jaclyn Mellone’s quiz for example: Are you on track to be booked-out or burned out?

Questions like: “What does your day look like?” and “What is your skill level?” dive not into your personality, but into the logistics of your business and day-to-day.

List-building...ugh. Enter: quizzes, an interactive tool with a 50% conversion in lead generation. Put quizzes to use in your email marketing.

Going through the questions helps the quiz taker assess certain aspects of their biz, and, naturally, helps Jaclyn identify where said quiz taker is struggling most so she can swoop in with the offer that’s going to help them break past the barricades of burnt-outness (new word) and/or make getting booked out even more efficient.

Again: win/win.

Last, but not least: The score-based quiz

Perhaps we shy away from these the most because they get a bit too close to the days of sitting at that school desk, filling out the multiple choice quiz, and knowing you’re going to end up with a grade on top. I’m sweating just thinking about it.

In the world of online marketing? Score-based quizzes are a little less intimidating. Or at least you, as the quiz creator, should aim to make them less so. (After all, we’re trying to attract raving fans, not send them running for the hills.)

Score-based quizzes appeal to our naturally competitive human nature (don’t tell me you’re not competitive…) and our desire to prove our smarts. I, for one, am not above a little humblebrag from time to time.

Think about what kind of knowledge you want your readers to celebrate — and where you can help them build their smarts based on their outcomes.

Which brings us to our last example: Yours truly. (Walkin’ my talk here.) In my quiz, Are these little-known copy mistakes hurting your sales?, I effectively “grade” quiz takers based on their use of conversion principles throughout their copy. With questions like “…let’s look at a landing page or email you’ve written. How many calls to action (CTAs) did you include?” and “How many elements of social proof are you using?”, I assign my beloved quiz takers a “grade”, then share whether they’re totally up on their conversion knowledge, or if they need a little nudge in an optimized direction.

List-building...ugh. Enter: quizzes, an interactive tool with a 50% conversion in lead generation. Put quizzes to use in your email marketing.

The question that comes up most on score-based quizzes: Do you really want to write results that are going to damage your quiz takers’ self-esteem? Not so much. Particularly if you want them to share your quiz! Instead, those C or D students? Position their outcomes by the potential they’ve got to improve.

…but, more on that in a later post. #tease

This brings us back to our original question here: Which type of quiz should you create? Remember to start with your end in mind. When you know where you want your quiz takers to end up, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to find out about your peeps to get them there — and when you know what you need, you’ll have a better idea of how to ask for it.


Alright, you’ve got me. Write a quiz, you say? Tell me more!

Clearly, I believe in the power of quizzes as a phenomenal way to build a list of highly targeted, qualified leads. But what gets me most excited as a full-blown word nerd is how much fun quizzes can be to write. Which is why I’ll be following this post up with even more about choosing your quiz topic(s), asking the right questions to segment your email list and set yourself up to provide extreme value (and yes, make that bank), and exactly how to build that email sequence once you’ve got said segments set up.

Excited? Me. Too.

While it is ridiculously fun to noodle on all of the ways quizzes can impact lead generation in your business (I hope I’m not the only one!) I’ve got a more actionable step you can take right now:

Head on over to Interact — the quiz platform to end all quiz platforms (in my humble and very well-researched opinion), and test out the different types of quizzes you can build with their plethora of templates (another win!).

But I mean, that’s only if you want to start landing more leads, and making more money.

Before you know it, you won’t just be tip-toeing into a world where highly-targeted lead generation meets kick-ass interactive content…you’ll be diving in, headfirst, and nailing it. And good on you — because quizzes are a world where everyone wins.

List-building...ugh. Enter: quizzes, an interactive tool with a 50% conversion in lead generation. Put quizzes to use in your email marketing.

You might be wondering: Does the post above contain affiliate links? It sure does. Not only do I get to share products + services I love with you — I also get to fund my popcorn + coffee habits. Win/win!