by Ronn Levine
On the American Chemical Society homepage, there’s a heading for a big Virtual Meeting & Expo next week; then there’s a very cool member invitation: “Me Becomes We, Improve the world through the transforming power of chemistry” with a super-diverse, 16-square face box; and also a Personal Stories area with testimonials.
There's one more element that must get a lot of clicks to be so prominent: “Molecule of the Week: You can’t see me, but I definitely exist. What molecule am I?” I click for the answer. “Benzyne is a highly reactive organic molecule that has not been isolated.” When I click on their archive, I see they’ve been doing this feature since 2005! (Bullvalene was the first. Superbowl was the fifth.)
People like quizzes, trivia, trivia nights—virtual ones still attract a big crowd—and puzzles. The Wall Street Journal studied how different reader habits affected subscriber churn. They looked into how various products and subscriber actions affected customer retention during the first 100 days after a reader had signed up. They found that “playing a puzzle had a more dramatic impact on reader retention than other actions the team had been promoting.”
Quizzes and puzzles also bring people back to your publication and/or website. What's the molecule going to be next week? Northwestern’s Medill research determined that the frequency with which a reader comes back to a publication’s website “is the single biggest predictor of retaining subscribers—more than the number of stories read or the time spent reading them.”
Here are more reasons for using quizzes:
To educate readers about your topic. “Who are these Five Influential Women Engineers?” the American Society of Mechanical Engineers asks. “Many influential women engineers are role models and mentors for the next generation of female engineers. How many of these women do you recognize?” Then after I got just 2 out of 5 questions right, I got this: “Interested in finding out more about these influential women engineers?” Hit the Learn More button.
To convey positive information about your audience or members. The American Association for Cancer Research does this to show the progress they’ve made. “Thanks to cancer research, the number of cancer survivors is increasing year after year. How many cancer survivors are projected to be living in the United States by 2040? I chose the highest number—26.1 million—and was correct! “Research is driving advances in cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment that are helping more and more people to survive longer and lead fuller lives after a cancer diagnosis. According to the latest estimates, more than 15.5 million U.S. adults and children with a history of cancer were alive on January 1, 2016, compared with just 3 million in 1971, and this number is projected to rise to 26.1 million by January 1, 2040.
To see where you qualify on the membership scale. The American Association of Endodontists asks plain and simple, "Are you an endodontist?" No. "Are you recognized as a general dentist?" Yes (just playing along). I qualify for associate membership!
Lead generation. After a brief hiatus, Education Week quizzes are back and they’re timely. “Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Elementary Remote Instruction? How are elementary educators responding to the shift to remote learning, and what challenges do elementary students and teachers face with remote instruction?” It’s sponsored by Square Panda, but Education Week maintains editorial control. You have to give your email address to see the results. For this quiz, there were 994 participants. In the past, Education Week would regularly achieve nearly 90% quiz completions and around 60% of people who completed the quiz filling out the registration form. That’s a lot of lead generation.
To sell products (and build archives). MedLearn Media has a popular Compliance Question of the Week. Typical "Laboratory Question": is: "I've heard there is a CPT® code for COVID-19, is this true?" After the answer is given, readers are told that "This question was answered in an edition of our Laboratory Compliance Manager. For more hot topics relating to laboratory services, please visit our store or call us at 1.800.252.1578, ext. 2.”
To raise money for a good cause. I came across a quiz from a publisher in the UK that ties into the pandemic. The Investment Week Virtual Quiz 2020 was designed to help "heroic frontline NHS [National Health Service] staff tackling the coronavirus crisis." They held a live quiz "hosted by a special industry guest." Participants were sent a link and also could dial in to a video/audio call. They would even show a leaderboard in real-time so the winner can be revealed instantly. To take part they asked people to choose a donation fee with all proceeds going to CASCAID's NHS fundraising campaign (minimum donation was £15).
To get sponsors and increase knowledge. I came across this quiz recently on a site called The Fulcrum: How Much Do You Know About the Electoral College? Good to see that on the bottom it says, “This quiz is powered by CredSpark,” one of our vendor members. “Think you know all there is to know about the Electoral College? Test your smarts with this quiz.” I didn’t do very well—got about half right. But it certainly engaged me.
More lead generation. Lessiter Media has been getting good results from their sponsored quizzes. How Much Do You Know About Soil Enrichment Practices? they ask. “Take this quick 6-question quiz to find out. We didn’t create this quiz ‘just for fun,’ but to act as an educational tool.” For a previous quiz, they received 3,346 total submissions from Nov. 2019, through the end of March 2020. About 1,658 were new email addresses and 120 new subscribers.
To sell a webinar. Lastly, I always hark back to a quiz that OPIS did. The questions were tough, so that when you got one wrong, the answer led you to an upcoming webinar where the correct answers would be discussed. The email with this quiz drew the most sign-ups for that webinar.