A Quiz a Week: Behind the Scenes at Madison.com

by Chris Juzwik Capital Newspapers

At Madison.com, the portal to newspaper-based and digital-only brands for a dozen southern Wisconsin media properties, including the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times, Monday is quiz day.

For the past few months, we have been adding a new quiz to our site every week, in order to drive site traffic and provide a little fun for our audience. We see quizzes as content that will keep users on our site longer. Madison is a very strong news town, and with two newspapers in the building, we have a lot of news. A LOT. Whatever we can do to provide some dessert to all of our great meat and potatoes, well, that’s a boost. And quizzes are the perfect dessert.

We have discovered that people will absolutely take 60 seconds out of their day to see what their quiz results are — even if the quiz topic is something silly. In fact, when we published a “What Kind of Bride Are You?” quiz, I had my male friends texting me to tell me they were “Rustic” or “Classic” — and men were hardly the target demographic for that quiz!


Plus, it only takes me a few hours each Monday morning to build the week’s quiz.

I wanted to share some insights into our quiz process so others can start taking advantage of this great opportunity.

Choosing Topics

When I’m coming up with a quiz topic, I first consider the timing — for example, during basketball season we published quizzes related to basketball that would resonate in our market, like this “Which Badger Are You?” personality quiz:


If there is not a particular season or holiday that would be a good fit for a quiz, we look for a more evergreen topic, like the bride quiz above or this “Which Season Are You? personality quiz:


One of our most successful quizzes was a personality quiz designed by our beer columnist. The “Which Madison Area Beer Are You?” quiz was specific to our market, and was definitely a hit with our audience. He wrote it so brightly and smartly, it made me envious. There’s something to be said for having an expert do the copy-writing.


Our quizzes have been taken by as few as 500 people, and by as many as 10,000. If you ask me when they’re posted how they’ll do, I will almost always say, “This one’s going to KILL!”, but it’s hard to predict. I’ve found, though, that puppies and beer are consistently ignitors, and that people will consistently respond well to quizzes with a local twist, like the beer quiz.


When I build quizzes, I try to use our local staff photos as much as possible to avoid copyright issues.

When it comes to writing questions, this article full of tips for writing good quiz questions is a must-read, and a must-remember, for anyone doing quizzes.


New quizzes are published every Monday and added to our homepage, and I also promote them on social media.

We manage close to 100 Facebook Pages for different brands and topics, and whenever I publish a new quiz I share it on any that are relevant. I also share new quizzes on Tumblr and Twitter and have done it on Instagram from time to time. We try not to overdo it, but will promote each quiz a handful of times during the week.

If the topic is particularly local, timely, and interesting, I will include the quiz in the weekly email newsletter that goes out to our promotions database of 20,000 subscribers.

While most of our quizzes only stay up on our site for one week, I will sometimes put a quiz back up if it’s evergreen or still timely. For example, when the Wisconsin Badgers were doing well in the college basketball tournament, I put up the “Which Badger Are You?” quiz a second time, and it generated even more engagement the second time around. I’ve learned that the shelf life for these can be infinite, assuming you go back in and do a little tweaking and updating.

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