8 Hidden Costs of Using Survey Tools to Run Ballots

by Julie Foley Second Street

Labor-Intensive Process

With the right tools, a media company can pull together a ballot in a matter of hours. With low-cost solutions, it can take weeks. That’s because, using survey tools, ballot creation and management is entirely manual. By contrast, tools meant for administering ballots often allow you to import entries directly from an Excel document (which you can share with the sales team to make the process even more seamless).

Difficult to Manage Write-In Votes

When you administer a ballot with a low-cost survey tool, there is no built-in way to collect write-in votes. This means you lose a valuable opportunity to engage your audience further. While it is possible to allow write-ins by inserting an open text field, you then have to spend lots of time combing through the responses to find (misspelled) duplicates – and you have to count all of these votes manually.

No Way to Prevent Voter Fraud

Low-cost survey tools don’t offer much in the way of fraud protection. Accusations of fraud are a risk to your brand and relationships with advertisers and your audience. Fraud is especially concerning in city-wide ballots that involve a large number of paying local business clients. With this in mind, you want to be extra careful.

Limited Opportunity for Data Collection

By using tools built for promotions, you collect email addresses with opt-ins on the registration form. This will grow your database and allow you to continue marketing to your audience long after the ballot is over.

No Opportunities for Digital Revenue

Forget category sponsorships, enhanced listings, and online ads around the ballot. Low-cost survey tools don’t give you a way to implement these features. When using a ballot tool to generate digital revenue with ballots, you could increase your ballot revenue by 25% or more. This covers the cost of the new tool and still drives significant revenue for your program. You need to start conditioning the market to invest in digital opportunities now. In future years, your digital revenue could equal 100% of your current traditional media revenue.

Enhanced Listing

Fewer Possibilities for Year Round Ballots

When creating a ballot is a frustrating and labor-intensive process, you aren’t going to want to run more than one each year. However, with the right tools, you can easily complement your contests with niche ballots designed to target a specific audience throughout the year. We’ve seen our partners have success with a high school football ballotwedding ballot, and holiday shopping ballot!

Best of Weddings Ballot

Lost Hours

When you are considering the cost of a dedicated ballot tool against the hidden costs of low-cost survey tools, be sure to take into account all of the employee hours spent managing the tool. The time they lose building the ballot, tallying votes, and managing write-ins could be better spent in many other ways. Furthermore, all that time saved means you won’t need to hire temps or an accounting firm to manage the ballot and count all the votes for you.

Mediocre User Experience

Most low-cost survey tools don’t provide a dynamic experience for the person voting. This lack of customization will lower your participation rates. When using a tool designed for creating ballots, the experience is much better for the end-voter, which keeps participation (and therefore community buy-in) high.

While cheap survey tools come with lots of hidden costs, dedicated ballot tools make it easier for everyone involved. Your promotion setup is easier, your advertisers receive more exposure, and your audience can vote more easily.

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