The ultimate guide to using quizzes for your viral content marketing strategy in 2015

Kyle’s Note: Chris Kilbourn never fails to amaze me, he is an inspirational and innovative marketer. In this post he shares some of the best strategies for a very new style of content, the online quiz. There’s some great opportunities with quizzes for many different types of businesses and products. Now over to Chris:

What do you think was the most popular article on the New York Times website in 2013? It was the year of the Boston marathon bombings, the controversial George Zimmerman trial, the passing of Nelson Mandela and the birth of the royal baby at Buckingham Palace.

I’ll give you a hint…. it was none of those stories!

The most popular article on the NY Times website was called “How Ya’ll, Youse and You Guys Talk” and it wasn’t even a story, it was a 25 question interactive quiz.


Since 2013 quizzes have quickly gained in popularity and are being used by media companies and businesses of all types.

In fact, one of the most effective tactics for viral content marketing today is the quiz. Companies that are finding ways to leverage online quizzes are gaining a leg up over the competition.

White papers are written with a generic target audience in mind, but quizzes deliver personalized content based on real time feedback from the consumer.

This guide will help you start from scratch when it comes to writing out a content marketing strategy that includes interactive quizzes.

“Companies that are finding ways to leverage online quizzes are gaining a leg up over the competition.” @WPCurve –  CLICK TO TWEET

Let’s Get Down to Business!

Okay, so you’re ready to jump ahead of the competition with super engaging content including quizzes. That’s great!

Research shows that creating engaging content is the #1 challenge marketers face, which means you’ll really shine by making it a priority!

b2b challenges

Now it’s time to start by writing a strategy that will not only help you create the content but generate results from it too!

Here’s what you should be thinking about:

  • What are the goals for my content marketing campaigns?
  • What types of content do I believe will help me achieve these goals?
  • What will be my key performance indicators?
  • How will I track and report on progress of the campaigns?
  • What is my content marketing budget quarter by quarter and for the year?
  • What type of support will I receive from my development team?

At my company we have a standard formula that helps us rock our campaigns!

We start by identifying goals for content marketing. In general there are three types of goals: increased brand awareness, lead generation and sales.

Sub-goals might include reduced cost-per-lead or acquisition, social media community growth, increased positive sentiment for your brand, perceived thought leadership and so on.


(image source)

After we set goals for our content marketing we decide on the content types and delivery channels to help us achieve these goals. We usually go for a mix of blog posts, white papers, shareable graphics, videos, interactive quizzes and the like.

(image source)

In many cases the content type will dictate the delivery, but social media channels, blog and email are three top ways to distribute content. We’ll talk more about this in the next section.

As we’re thinking ahead to distributing our content we consider how we’ll judge the performance of each piece of content and pick key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are set by our goals.

For instance, if one of our goals is increased brand awareness we might set a certain number of social media shares for branded content as a KPI. If one of our goals is increased sales, well that one is obvious, our KPIs will be revenue generated, average order value and overall conversion rate and cost per sale.

As we’re setting our KPIs we put together a report format that will making tracking results easy. Not only will this help us keep our finger on the pulse of the content marketing campaigns, but it will offer an easy way to present the results to others.

You’ll definitely want to do this too!

After all, you should be recognized for the hard work you’re putting in to move the needle for your company. There is still a perception out there held by some that content marketing cannot drive real results and you’re going to help prove that wrong!

Once we’ve determined which types of content we would create in an ideal world and how we want to distribute them, it’s time for a small reality check. We review our quarterly and annual budget to see what is realistic to go after and achieve.

Remember that content marketing is similar to all other types of marketing and advertising in that budget often equals reach. We know if we want our content to be viewed by a large audience we will likely need to put money behind it for promotion.

Finally we consider what type of support we will receive from other team members of the company, particularly our development team.

You have to ask yourself, will you or someone on your team have the time (and budget) to create and optimize landing pages, email templates and microsites? Do you have enough resources to create all of the content that you want to generate in a timely manner? Do you have a designer who can assist you with creating beautiful content? All of these things matter if you want your content marketing to really deliver.

Related article:  Preparing your WordPress site for content marketing success

In many cases there will be software available to help us create and share content without the need for a developer. For instance, quiz making software can help us put together interactive content with just a few clicks!


If you won’t have a lot of help from your team, research options that will help you accomplish your content marketing goals without a lot of assistance.

That’s the secret sauce for putting together a content marketing plan that just works!

Interaction & engagement are king

If you’re ready to start writing your content marketing plan but you’re not really sure which types of content to include the answer is simple: interactive and engaging content!

For many years the saying ‘content is king’ has been true, but not all content is created equal when it comes to generating brand awareness, leads and sales.

Pop quiz time!

Which is a better experience for an online shopper looking for a backpack to take camping:

  1. Browsing through lots of product pages with no help
  2. Taking a short quiz that directs the shopping to a product perfect for his or her needs

If you answered B (which i hope you did!) you would be correct!

Don’t burden your visitors with having to sort through many options when you can direct them to the perfect product.

Here’s an example!

One outdoor retailer put together a quiz to help users find the best camping pack for their needs.

After answering a handful of short, easy questions the retailer presents the visitor with one product that is a perfect fit.


It’s like having your own personal shopper on the Internet!

Creating shareable infographics, tweeting and commenting are great ways to talk to your consumers, but 2015 is the year to take your efforts to the next level like the outdoors retailer did. Instead of simply chatting with consumers, competitive brands need to interact with consumers on a more personal and targeted basis.

We already saw the power of interactive content engagement last year with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The ALS Association was able to take social media conversations to the next level by getting their audience to take an action — filming themselves getting drenched by a bucket of ice water. This campaign resulted in a huge increase in disease awareness and $79 million in new donations.

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The goal of interactive content is to get a consumer to engage and then take a specific action — such as sharing with friends, making a purchase, donating or filling out a form. This is accomplished through delivering highly targeted and personalized content based on real time feedback from the consumer.

win-the-queenFor example, when online collectables retailer Sideshow Collectibles wanted to increase awareness for their Court of the Dead brand of collectables, they decided to put together an interactive quiz. For their campaign, they created a quiz that invited fans to discover which fictional character from Court of the Dead best represented them.

Consumers answered questions about their personal likes and interests and then were presented, in real time, with a character.

The results? The quiz was taken over 27,000 times, brought in 15,000 new email subscriptions and generated 1,800 orders delivering $75,000 in revenue! Of those 1,800 orders, 1,220 were first time customers!

Would a single tweet or Facebook post achieved similar results? It’s impossible to say for sure, but it doesn’t seem likely.

Interactive content gets a user to invest time into learning a personalized outcome. This small investment of time can deliver huge results in a way that simply clicking through on a link to a product page cannot.

Quizzes aren’t the only type of interactive content that works well to engage an audience. Online calculators are also proving to be very effective. This is a particularly powerful tool for B2B companies.

You start with a blank slate where users need to select or input some information about themselves:

I conact calculator

You then deliver a result that is highly relevant and targeted based on the input from the user, along with a call to action of course.

I contact cal 2

If you have designer and developer you can rely on to help you put together an online calculator this could be a great option for you, especially if you’re in the B2B space. Quizzes can easily be put together without the help of a designer or developer.

How to make a quiz go viral:

You likely already know how to put together an e-book, blog post or white paper. What you might not be as familiar with is interactive content like the quiz!

Are you ready to make content go viral?

Let’s do it!

Here’s how!

Make it highly relevant to the audience

Simply placing a quiz on your website will not automatically help you drive sales. First you need to entice your visitors to take the quiz. The best way to do that is to be ultra clear on what the benefit is.

For example, Zenni Optical placed a quiz on their site helping visitors decide which frames were best suited for their specific style.


Over 140,000 people took the quiz resulting in 7,000 new email subscribers and a $124,000 increase in revenue!

Taking the quiz was highly relevant and beneficial to shoppers on the Zenni Optical website. That was abundantly clear just from the title of the quiz!

Offer an incentive to sweeten the deal

When Court of the Dead ran their quiz campaign, they offered a coupon and guaranteed entry into a giveaway. As mentioned above, the quiz was taken over 27,000 times, brought in 15,000 new email subscriptions and generated 1,800 orders delivering $75,000 in revenue!

The coupon definitely helped sweeten the deal and enticed consumers to make a purchase right after taking the quiz. Remember, if someone takes your quiz but they aren’t incentivized to stay they may click away and never come back to take the desired action.

Hoot Hoot offers a discount code that expires within 10 minutes after the quiz result is shown. This incentives the quiz taker to purchase NOW!


Keep in mind that not every incentive needs to be monetary. For example, if you’re a university looking to generate email leads for your English degree program, you can put together a grammar quiz and have your participants share the results for bragging rights. After all, being able to brag about your intelligence is a big incentive for many people.

Keep it short and easy

The goal of your quiz is to gather enough information about the visitor to present them with a meaningful result. If you ask too many questions the user may abandon the quiz halfway through, never to see the results page where you make your friendly sales pitch.

Try to keep quizzes under 10 questions or 3 minutes. You want the user to feel invested in obtaining the result but you definitely don’t want to bore them.

Of course, in some rare cases a longer quiz may actually work. This is particularly true if you’re creating a quiz around a topic that people are very passionate about. For example, one brand ran a Harry Potter quiz that was 29 questions long!


So far it has been taken by 27,000 people! This quiz can get away with being so long because Harry Potter is a topic that is really buzz-worthy.

If your topic isn’t as buzz-worthy as Harry Potter (and let’s face it, few things are), try to keep your quiz to under 10 simple questions.

Have responses for incorrect answers

If your quiz is the type where there will be correct and incorrect answers you’ll want to have friendly responses for the times that the user gets the answer wrong.


This example is pretty straightforward. I recommend keeping it lighthearted!

Starting corrections with the words “Nice try, but..” and “Close, but…” are great ways to keep the user feeling positive about the quiz.

You want the user to keep moving through the quiz to get to the end. If you make him or her feel bad she might abandon the quiz and go do something else (maybe even with a competitor)!

Include a call-to-action

The final, and perhaps most important element of your quiz, includes adding a call-to-action (CTA) to your results page.

Your CTA can be a link that leads a user to learn more about your company, join an email list, learn more about services or a specific product or make a purchase. It can also include a promo code or other incentive to increase your opportunity to close a sale right away.

We highly recommend including some sort of incentive if possible. Remember that your quiz respondents are highly engaged with your brand right now. They just took time out of their day to complete a quiz and are primed to take the next step in your sales cycle. Make pulling out their credit card an easy next step!

Related article: The ultimate guide to creating content that converts

It’s time to get started!

Now that you know how to plan out your content marketing strategy and understand why interactive content is king, it’s time to get started!

Are you ready? Let’s do this!

Remember, even if your interactive content doesn’t go viral, interactive quizzes like the the Zenni Optical example still generate real business results. At the end of the day going viral is nice, but generating leads and sales is really what it’s all about!


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Chris is a growth marketing expert, who specializes in tech startups. In past lives, he was a professional rock star (seriously), and he built and sold 2 successful companies from the ground up. You can connect with him via email at and view his case studies at

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