The Anatomy of a Successful Ballot

by Matt Hummert Second Street

You’ve chosen a theme for your ballot – Now what?

Whether you’re hoping to make your ballot a huge revenue driver, a big opportunity for audience engagement, or a combination of both, you want to ensure your ballot is the most successful it can possibly be.

It’s important to understand the layout and structure of your ballot. If you don’t know every aspect, you could miss out on an opportunity for selling sponsorships or highlighting a local business.

First, let’s take a look at the different parts of a ballot.

Anatomy of a Ballot

In order to make the voting process simple for your customers and to maximize your potential sponsorship and ad revenue, it’s important to organize your ballot into groups and categories.


  • Groups are the high-level classifications that appear in the table of contents or navigation bar of your ballot to help people find their way around the ballot. Your ballot should contain between 5 and 8 groups.
  • Categories are the subdivisions within a group. This is where voters get to choose which listed entrants to vote for. There is no limit to the number of categories you can include (in fact – more categories means you can engage more of your audience and sell more sponsorships).
  • Entrants are the individual entries people can actually vote on. Again, there is no limit to how many entrants you can list within a category.

Structuring Your Ballot

There are multiple ways to organize the categories within a group. As an example, let’s take a look at how the categories in this Food & Drink group might be arranged.

You could organize the categories within Food & Drink group by cuisine, which would look something like this:


  • Asian Restaurant
  • Bakery
  • BBQ Restaurant
  • Bar/Brewery/Night Club

You could also choose to organize categories around specific food items, like this:

  • Ribs
  • Coffee
  • Pizza
  • Sushi

You also have the option to organize restaurants and businesses in the Food & Drink group by theme:

  • Food Trucks
  • Kid-Friendly Restaurants
  • Patio & Outdoor Dining
  • Places to Take a Date
  • Spots for a Business Lunch

The most important thing is to take the time to think about and organize your groups and categories logically, so people know where to find what they’re looking for, and your sponsors get maximum exposure.

Additional Opportunities for Your Advertiser

When it comes to sponsorship opportunities, ballots offer enormous potential for you to drive significant revenue. There are multiple ways to help advertisers be seen, so make sure to leverage as many of these features as possible when creating your ballot.

1. Enhanced Listings When a business is nominated for your ballot, enhanced listings help them stand out among the rest. These listing provide more details on the business and give participants more ways to learn about and engage with the entrants in your ballot.

Copy of 2017_Readers__Choice_Ballot___Awards

2. Category Ads What better way to distinguish a business than to sponsor an entire category? These banner ads appear at the top of each category page and represent significant revenue opportunities. Category ads are perfect to help businesses attract nominations during the nominations, or to votes during the voting phase.

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Now you have a sense of how to set up your ballot, it’s time to dive into the most effective strategies to help you succeed. Check out this article on why running a three-phase ballot, above all else, is the best way to maximize revenue.

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