I have a confession

I have – on occasion – participated in the “Buzzfeed-ification” of the Internet by taking silly quizzes that serve no purpose other than to waste time and rack up clicks and page views for the source.

For lack of better judgment, I now know what state I’m supposed to live in (California – got that right), which TV mom I am most like (Claire Huxtable), which Wu-Tang member I am (GZA, of course), and how girlie I am (38% – “tomboy”).

For whatever reason, these quizzes are too hard to resist.

Which tells me that there’s something to the medium beyond page views. People don’t mind answering questions about themselves when there’s a payoff of some kind, no matter how inconsequential it may be.

It got me thinking. Why aren’t more companies stealing this practice and presenting their own customer surveys this way? Done right, this type of quiz could be thrown in front of a user up front (rather than at the end of a transaction), which can help tremendously with marketing.

Three or four simple questions can produce loads of insight businesses can use to:

  • Segment leads
  • Better target messaging
  • Address specific objections
  • Surface preferences
  • Learn who your ideal customer really is
  • Plus, a whole lot more

Think about how much smarter your marketing could be if you knew your site visitor’s gender, age, occupation and what brought them to your website (i.e., are they thinking of selling their home this year? Next year? Are they simply interested in current prices in their neighborhood? Curious about the price of homes in a different neighborhood?). Yes, you can gain some of this information through cookies, behavioral targeting and session tracking, but this doesn’t have to be rocket science.

If you already do this, great. But it’s still worth rethinking how you gather direct feedback. Are your surveys and questions standard and dry? Or are they full of personality and a fun experience for the user?

The experience is what I believe makes these mind-numbing online quizzes so damn irresistible.

For instance, none of the quizzes I found myself jumping into were text-based or full of empty form fields. Each of them could be completed in a matter of seconds.

I’m not saying to go out and junk up your website with frivolous quizzes comparing the user to a Kardashian or attempting to predict their Hollywood love match.

But I do think there’s some marketing insight here that can be taken seriously and borrowed:

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask your users questions about themselves.
  2. Make it quick and fun.
  3. Do something with the data you collect. Build better content. Segment your email and direct mail lists. Shape your brand’s voice.
  4. Payoff is key. For our purposes, the payoff is pretty substantial – better messaging and content for the user. But they won’t know this unless you tell them upfront why you’re asking these questions.

How to do it

Fortunately, in 2015 there are dozens of apps available to help you mine customer info. Some are standalone and can be used in any of your marketing channels, and others make it easy to add feedback or survey widgets to your website without having to build them from scratch.

UserVoice, Poll Daddy, and SurveySwipe are just a few options. And if your site uses Facebook Connect, you can also glean some info about your visitors that can help with personalizing your content.

The road is wide open, but we’ll start with a few simple real estate-specific ideas:

  1. A buyer’s agent could add a fun quiz to their website, blog or email that offers buyers a choice between two things (e.g., “Do you like this family room or that family room?”) to get a read on their tastes.
  2. A broker could add a pop-up-style quiz at the front of their search experience that simply asks whether a user is a buyer or seller and when they plan to move to give the user a more customized path through their website.
  3. A listing agent could do a twist on “Just Sold” content for sellers and instead position it as “How much did it sell for?” – an interactive online quiz or postcard.

All about me

Contrary to what young philanthropists would have you believe, we are very much in the age of me. From these weird quizzes to wearables that track our every move to selfie sticks (yes, this is a thing), people are increasingly self-absorbed.

What this means for marketers is twofold: 1) there are lots of opportunities to uncover insights about your customer by simply asking them, and 2) your customer increasingly expects customized experiences and content.

Quizzes could be a really fun – and fruitful – medium by which to dabble in this.

Now, while you go off and take advantage of that, I’ll be blazing through this quiz to find out what my pro wrestler name should be.