Engagement, Competition and Pitches to Subscribe and Join Make Publishers Quiz Happy   

“Happy Sunday, tech readers. Before we get to this week’s quiz question, here’s a brief plug for Morning Consult Global, which launches on Monday.”

That’s how an email from Morning Consult went out yesterday—Sunday—for their morning newsletter “Tech.” Then follows one question about a Morning Consult/Politico poll in September focused on social media platforms in Texas. The answer appears at the very end and connects to some research they did.

As opposed to some others I found, the Morning Consult quiz doesn’t compare your answers to others or make you feel bad for a lack of knowledge—although that lack of knowledge is sometimes the worthy inspiration for you to join an organization’s webinar or receive their report.

Quizzes are playing a variety of successful roles for associations, publishers and media companies these days—engagement, as a pitch to join or subscribe, getting free papers and reports, promoting content, and yes, even to just have some fun. And they’re not really the hardest thing to create, especially with some helpful tools out there.

In an article on The Fix, last month, David Tvrdon listed tools for quizzes: Quiz Creator from the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas in Austin; a similar enabler in Flourish.studio; and a Journalist’s Toolbox from the Society of Professional Journalists. The latter’s recommended quiz platforms include Qzzr, Quiz-Maker and Typeform Quizzes.

Here are five successful media quizzes I found in the virtual world:

Compete with an editor. Slate markets its Dec. 3 quiz with this headline: “Think You’re Smarter Than Slate’s News Director? Find Out With This Week’s News Quiz.” Quiz takers go up against a different Slate staffer each week—one week was editorial director for audio Gabriel Roth, another audience engagement editor Sofie Werthan. Susan Matthews is the news director, and after I took this week’s quiz, a page appeared with her picture and score, and an “average contestant’s,” compared to mine—I lost to both. (She even gets a small “Winner!” label to rub it in.) Then there’s a pitch: “Where is the Slate News Quiz leaderboard? The Slatester and Slate Plus member leaderboards are only for Slate Plus subscribers. Join today for just $1 to access and compare scores. You’ll also get unlimited reading on Slate and ad-free listening on all of our podcasts. Subscribe for $1.”

Engage, and promote your content. One of the emails that The New Yorker sent to me last week links to Name Drop in their Puzzles & Games Department. You get 100 seconds and six clues to guess a famous person, the less clues you use the more points you get. The quizzes are daily. I got the answer to the first quiz pretty quickly: Muhammad Ali. That linked to a New Yorker profile of Ali written by David Remnick in 1998. The next quiz proved a bit harder with the answer being novelist Sally Rooney. I got it on the last clue. “It may be only one point, but it points to a glorious future.” It was, however, “higher than 66% of the players so far.” A “Cyber Week Sale” popped up when I hit Play Quiz.

Create a path to a free report. Lessiter Media has had good success with quizzes—on one they received 3,346 total submissions with half being new email addresses and 120 becoming new subscribers. They currently run one called Test Your Cover Crop Expertise for their No-Till Farmer site. “Are you up to speed on the most critical considerations and practices when it comes to cover crops? Take a quick 8-question quiz from No-Till Farmer to find out!” I took the quiz—it was tough!—and only received 4 points out of 16, but I do get a FREE copy of “How Cover Crops Boost Soil Biology and Your Farm Operation’s Bottom Line.” They didn’t compare me to anyone else, thank goodness.

Reach a younger audience. LabX, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, has a monthly quiz show they call Wrong Answers Only. They describe it as “an interactive show featuring celebrity guests who play games and quizzes while learning about exciting research with the help of a scientific expert.” On Thursday, Dec. 16, at 8:30 pm, they’ll be doing their Preventative Medicine Edition. Their tagline? “Three Comedians. One Expert. So many ridiculously wrong answers.” Given the late time it’s on—and promos: “18+/PG-13ish (Are we going to curse? Yes, yes we probably will.)”—we can ascertain that they want to reach a younger crowd. It also allows them to bring in a diverse group of panelists.

Get more subscribers. Tvrdon, the author mentioned above, said that he recently set up an experiment with a weekly news quiz. “For a few weeks, we will put together a news quiz to be published at the week’s end. The first was just published and we asked people for feedback.” It was well-received, had a better-than-average time spent, brought new subscribers to their daily newsletter, and they got some interesting constructive criticism. “Our quiz ‘lacked a long-term draw, a reason for people to return,’” Tvrdon quoted the reader. “USA Today has the leaderboard, Slate keeps contestants in tension to see which staff members they are going to face off that week. He was polite enough to also suggest a solution—a free article, discount on the subscription or something similar. He was right.”

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