general15 min read

Understanding SMS Polling: A Dive into Text Message Surveys

SMS Polling is a super useful tool with numerous applications. As mobile phone usage continues to grow, so will SMS polling.

Josh Taylor


A group of people on their phone responding to an SMS Poll

Have you ever been sent a survey after dining at a restaurant? Have been asked to provide feedback about your experience after a flight? Or have you been sent a link to provide ways your local community can provide you with better service? Boom. These are all examples of SMS polling.

SMS polling has recently become more popular. In a world where mobile phone use is constant, the reach of SMS polling is unmatched. It has become an efficient and helpful tool for gathering data and feedback quickly. Understanding what SMS polling is along with its benefits can be useful, as it is all around us. Over the next couple of minutes, we will explore the world of SMS polling, its advantages, how it works, best practices, and more.

What is SMS Polling

A very basic definition of SMS Polling is: sending text messages to a group of individuals asking them questions and collecting their responses for analysis. Consumers are asked to spend a short amount of their time answering questions to better service, provide information, and/or give their opinion. This allows surveyors to quickly gain the data they need to make more informed and helpful decisions. It's widely used in market research, customer feedback, and political campaigns.

History and Evolution of SMS Polling

SMS polling has evolved since its first appearance in the early 2000s. With the growth of mobile phones and the internet, companies started recognizing the potential of SMS as a way to conduct polls. The potential of these polls was quickly understood and since then it has become a big part of polling strategies.

Some scenarios of SMS polling include:

  • Customer satisfaction surveys
  • Employee feedback
  • Event voting

Some examples of types of SMS polling include:

  • One-question Polls
  • Multiple-question Surveys
  • Live Audience Polls
  • Customized Polls

The Advantages of SMS Polling

Higher Response Rates

SMS polling generally achieves higher response rates than email or telephonic surveys.

We are constantly on our phones, so text messages are rarely missed. Likewise, these surveys are designed to be quick and easy, lessening the usual hassle of surveys.

Speed and Timeliness

Responses through SMS are usually received faster, enabling real-time data collection. This skips the legwork researchers have to deal with to get all of their data in one place, making this type of polling quick and easy.

Accessibility for Respondents

Nearly everyone owns a mobile phone, making it easy for respondents to participate.

Convenience of Participation

Respondents can reply at their convenience. This eliminates the need for a response to be right away, which increases the likelihood of a response in general. Respondents can answer on their own time, leaving the decision of participation up to them.

Anonymity and Privacy

SMS polling can be done anonymously, which is beneficial in collecting unbiased data. This eliminates the worry of respondents not wanting their name or identity linked to their responses. This also welcomes more accurate feedback, as answers provided will not fall back on respondents.

How SMS Polling Works

Step 1: Process and Flow

SMS polling begins with defining your audience, crafting the questions, sending out text messages, and finally analyzing the responses. Making all of these factors as accurate as possible is the key to collecting the data you want.

Step 2: Role of Keywords

Keywords are unique words that respondents text back to participate. These keywords can be customized to reflect the brand or the specific survey topic. When promoting the survey, it is important to clearly communicate the keyword and the number that the respondents should text.

Step 3: Response Collection and Analysis

Responses are collected and analyzed to generate insights.

Creating Effective SMS Polls

There are many factors to consider when creating SMS polls that are easy for consumers to respond to. It’s important to craft concise and clear questions. Keep questions short and to the point to avoid confusion. It is equally important to use straightforward language. Use simple language that’s easy to understand by individuals of all abilities. Create a sequence flow of questions that are arranged logically. The University of Colorado Boulder Research and Innovation Office suggests keeping surveys short - 1-3 questions and to tell people how long it will take them to respond. Consider opting for Yes/No or multiple-choice questions. These types of questions make it way easier for respondents to reply. Also, make sure that you have considered the legal aspects of SMS polling. Ensure that you have obtained the necessary permission to send SMS messages and comply with the relevant regulation, like the [Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)]( an effort to address,artificial or prerecorded voice messages.).

Potential Challenges and Solutions

Like anything on the internet, a major concern of this type of polling is data security and privacy. Be sure to always encrypt your data and comply with data protection laws. Using a platform like TxtSquad will help do this for you.

A major challenge with any research or polling is dealing with biased or unrepresentative samples. Combatting this will lead to more accurate data. Ensure that your sample size and demographics are representative of the population you are studying. Similarly, low response rates also have the ability to skew data. To combat this concern, it is important to send reminders and incentives. A study done by Pew Research Center showed that sending notifications via text message improves response time but it does not increase the ultimate response rate. So sending reminders and incentives is important.

Best Practices for SMS Polling

Conducting polling will always come with challenges, as it relies heavily on people. Here are some ways to make sure your SMS poll is as effective as possible.

Timing of the SMS Poll

Send polls when respondents are likely to be free. This will increase response rates as the responder will be more likely to take the time to do the survey.

Frequency of Sending Surveys

Don’t bombard respondents with too many surveys. This will become “annoying” to consumers and decrease the likelihood of them participating in the poll in the first place. You want your messages to be effective!

Compliance with Regulations

Follow the laws regarding SMS communication in your country.

Follow Up and Feedback

Send a thank-you message or share results with participants. Humans are incentivized by reward. Sending these messages will make them more likely to participate in the future.

Reporting and Analyzing Results

Use data analysis tools for in-depth analysis. Some examples of common data analysis tools are:


SMS Polling is a super useful tool with numerous applications. As mobile phone usage continues to grow, so will SMS polling. The future of SMS polling is promising, with potential to grow into other platforms and technologies. Encouragingly, this medium can be an effective method for gathering data in various fields.

References an effort to address,artificial or prerecorded voice messages.

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