Here’s the Polling Glossary You’ve Been Waiting For


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If you’ve spent any time on this website, you know we live and breathe all things polling. Our blog is filled with articles on just about every survey, polling, or audience engagement topic you can think of. And while you’re perusing these articles, you might stop every once in a while on a word you haven’t heard before or wonder how that term differs from a similar expression. But not for long! Today, we’re going to cover all of the survey terminology you need to know in this handy polling glossary.

Your Go-To Polling Glossary

We’re going to break our audience polling glossary up into different sections to make it easier to navigate to what you’re looking for. Let’s go!

General Polling Glossary

Completion Rate: How many people actually complete your survey based on how many start it.

Response Rate: What percentage of people respond to your survey based on how many people it was distributed to. 

Survey Bias: There are several different types of survey bias that can influence how the data is analyzed or interpreted. At the same time, different survey biases can also impact how the respondents answer. (Read about one form of survey bias here)

Survey Logic: This refers to how the survey changes based on the answers given. It can include changes to the questions themselves or the appearance of the survey. 

Types of Polls

Live Polling: This refers to any type of poll that collects results live, whether it’s done by computer, phone, or tablet. 

SMS Polling: These are polls wherein the audience votes with the use of SMS messaging. They can send their responses with a cellphone, even if they don’t have a smartphone and internet connectivity. 

Web Polling: Participants vote in these polls online, whether it’s on the internet browser on their smartphone, tablet, or computer. 

Question Types

Whether you’re completing a poll online, in-person, or on your phone, you could come across a number of question types. Let’s cover those in our polling glossary next.

Close-Ended Questions: These include survey questions with multiple choices, or any time a respondent can’t type their response at length. 

Demographic Questions: When survey questions ask about a respondent’s personal circumstances, including their location, age, and gender, these are known as demographic questions.

Matrix Questions: Chances are you’ve taken part in a survey with matrix questions before. These surveys involve matrices with several ranking questions in a row. 

Multiple Choice Questions: With these questions, respondents choose from a set of predetermined answers, with typically between two and 10 options. 

Open-Ended Questions: These questions require respondents to write their response rather than choosing from predetermined options. This gives them the opportunity to elaborate and explain their vote. 

Rating Scale Questions: This is common in many polls, and respondents are asked to choose their option based on a number scale, including the use of Likert Scales. (You can learn more about Likert Scale surveys in this post)

Screening Questions: Depending on how a respondent answers a screening question, they will either be asked to continue the survey or politely informed they do not qualify. 

Market Research Terminology

Now, we’ll move onto the section of our polling glossary relating to all things market research.

Explicit Data: This refers to polling data that is directly within a research study. 

Implicit Data: This data isn’t given intentionally, but it is gathered directly or through the analysis of certain data streams.

Margin of Error: Let’s go right to Statistics How To for a great definition of this term: “A margin of error tells you how many percentage points your results will differ from the real population value. For example, a 95% confidence interval with a 4 percent margin of error means that your statistic will be within 4 percentage points of the real population value 95% of the time.”

Market Research: As you collect data and information about consumers’ habits, behaviors, trends, attitudes (and the like) this is known as conducting market research. 

Sample: This simply refers to a subset of the population you’re targeting.

Sample Size: Also known as a “base size,” a sample size is however many people complete your survey. 

Weighting: For this one, we’ll go to Survey Methods for a great definition: “For a given sample survey, to each unit of the selected sample is attached a weight that is used to obtain estimates of population parameters of interest (e.g., means or totals). The weighting process usually involves three steps: (i) obtain the design weights, which account for sample selection; (ii) adjust these weights to compensate for nonresponse; (iii) adjust the weights so that the estimates coincide to some known totals of the population, which is called calibration.”

What else would you like to see in our polling glossary?

Were there any terms we didn’t include in our polling glossary you’d love to learn more about? Reach out anytime and let us know!  


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