9 reasons your quiz sucks (and how to fix it)

9 min read

Let me guess – you’ve got a quiz or two on your site. But we bet you’re doing your quiz wrong, all wrong – and in this post, we’ll share our nine reasons why.

Sure, quizzes are great to engage your visitors. People love to answer questions – and it’s a natural place to collect emails with lead generation.

But there’s an art to creating a quiz that converts visitors to leads. We have 30+ years of combined quiz experience – and here’s what we’ve learned.

Your online quiz – engagement AND lead generation

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you probably know that quizzes are a content marketer’s best friend – you can easily use quizzes to engage visitors and capture their interest. For example, did you know that each person spends an average of 2 min 47 secs with a quiz?

Plus, as AdWeek pointed out – quizzes are the most viral content around . People love to discover and new things about themselves and share with their friends – which means more free traffic to your site.


Most importantly, quizzes rock at lead generation – the act of answering questions turns passive participants into active engagers; after answering questions, people are psychologically prepared to opt-in to your lead form (we’ve seen up to 50% completion rates).

But – and it’s a big but – while making a quiz is easy (it’s just typing a series of questions, after all), creating an effective one can be hard.

The good news? Our team of quiz ninjas at Riddle has over 30 years of experience with quizzes. We’ve helped a huge range of organizations – from the BBC to the NBA and Reuters. Now we’ve distilled the secrets of successful quizzes into these nine easy to follow steps.

Is your quiz a failure (so far)?

True, quiz maker tools aren’t all that complicated – but there’s both an art and a science to writing effective quizzes.

We’ve put together some high-level metrics that will let you know if yours is good to go or needs a bit of refinement.


Start rate:

  • 60-70% of people who land on the page with your embedded quiz should click on the first question and start.
  • Of course, many factors can affect this. For example, where do you have your quiz – prominently at the top or tucked way down the bottom of your page?
  • But as a good general indicator, if your start rate is too low – it’s a sign that you might need to improve your title and main image to attract visitors’ attention.

Finish rate:

  • Once people answer your first quiz question, you should see at least 70% go on to finish it and see their results.
  • Are you including a lead generation form? If so, you’ll see lower numbers as you’ve included an extra step in your quiz.
    • Inserting an optional lead form before displaying results still re- duces completion rates by 5–10%.
    • Adding a mandatory lead form will drive this percentage down to 30% or lower.

Share rate:

  • About 3–4% of your participants should share their quiz on social media like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Sharing is intensely personal – people only want to share content that makes them look good to their friends.
  • You’ll see virality varies a bit by the type you create.
  • Polls/survey generally get around a 1% share rate, while quizzes and personality tests get 4–5%.
  • True, that doesn’t sound like all that much. But suppose you have 1,000 people participate. That means 40–50 will share on Facebook – and your quiz will be shown to their hundreds of friends (and friends of friends).

How can I fix my quiz?

Let’s dive in – there are three main areas where quizzes go wrong:

  1. Content – what questions do you ask?
  2. Lead generation – how do you collect email addresses and other info?
  3. Styling – how well does your embedded content fit your site?

#1: Pick the right title

Quizzes are simple, right? Just ask a bunch of questions – and voila! You’re done.

Not quite. For such a simple process, there are a number of pitfalls to avoid – starting with choosing the right title.

The title of your quiz is important. Like really, really important. Similar to a book, your title needs to catch the casually browsing visitor’s attention – and intrigue them enough to want to click and answer questions.


We’ve dug into the research – and here are our best tips for crafting compelling titles:

  • It’s all about ‘you’: Make your quiz personal – with using words like “you” or “your”. Quizzes that directly engage the visitor – such as “How travel-savvy are you?” and “Are you smart enough to avoid these grammar traps?” do 23% better than more impersonal alternatives like “The IQ test”.
  • Use odd numbers in your title: This sounds weird – but titles with odd numbers perform 20% better than round numbers like ‘Top 10’.
    • “7 Star Wars trivia questions you’ll never guess”
    • “9 questions to find your Backstreet Boy soulmate”
    • (You’ll notice we took advantage of this – check the title of this post.) 😉
  • Challenge your readers: Adding words like ‘the most’ or ‘actually’ make a test title an almost irresistible challenge. Check out these examples:
    • Before: “Are you a good manager?”
    • After: “Are you actually a good manager?” See the difference?
  • Eight words (or 60 characters) – we’ve read research that’s found titles with eight words get a 21% higher click through rate. Especially on smartphones, short and punch titles are easy to read, digest, and act on.

#2: Choose the right image

We’ve all heard the expression “don’t judge a book by its cover”, right? But equally – it’s human nature; we ALL do it.

Quizzes are a lot like books – the right image will attract the eye as they idly scroll down your page.

Here are some tips for picking the right image for your quiz:

  • Cheesy stock photos are bad… very bad: Most stock photos out there look like, well, stock photos. You want an image that is original and catches your users’ attention.
  • Fill the frame: Choose images that are less cluttered – on small screens like smartphones, simple images with less complicated compositions stand out much better.
  • Go (creative) common: The good news is that there are a growing number of image libraries with a Creative Commons license (these are generally okay to use in your quizzes). We’re big fans of Pexels and Unsplash in particular – all free to use.
  • Pick people: Humans are naturally drawn to photos of people – instead of objects. We recommend choosing pictures with people who are looking directly at the camera.
  • Sex sells: Okay, it’s not very highbrow – but this classic advertising saying is true for a reason. Catch users’ attention by selecting pictures with attractive people.


#3: How many questions?

Now that you’ve got your title and image sorted – you’re ready to move on to the ‘meat’ of your quiz… the questions.

It’s easy to get caught up in writing lots and lots of great questions – we’ve had customer create quizzes with upwards of 40 or 50 questions, only to ask why they weren’t working.

People are busy – and have increasingly short attention spans.

We’re big fans of the ‘Three Minute Rule’. Most folks will take your quiz in between other activities – like waiting for the bus, or during a commercial break.

Keep your entire experience at three minutes or less – and you won’t notice a fall-off in completions as people lose interest or are distracted by something else.

In quiz terms, that works out to about 6-8 questions per quiz – with 3-4 answer options per question.

(One caveat – if you’re create a test for more serious topics like ‘Are you really depressed?’, you can go longer. People will be far more emotionally invested in getting accurate results for health issues than say, a lighter ‘entertainment’ quiz.)

#4: Crafting the perfect quiz results

One of the most common things we see has to do the end of a quiz – the ‘results’ section. All too often, we see an otherwise brilliant test with a perfect title, image, and questions – let down by mediocre results.

We get it – by the time you get to the end,  you might be ready to move on to your next task.

But you’d be missing out. Quiz results are your last chance to engaged your quiz takers – and get them to want to share it with their friends.

We recommend creating three to four result brackets.

  • Start with the top and bottom results first. They practically write themselves – you can either congratulate the user for crushing it or be sympathetic (or gently heckling) for scoring badly.
  • Next up – create the responses for people who got some, but not all, the questions right. For example, if you were creating a David Bowie test with four result types, the middle ones might look something like these:
    • Fans who got the 26%-50% bracket could get “You got ‘Hunky Dory’! Just like this early Bowie effort, you‘ve got real potential. You‘re obviously a big fan of this musical master. Check out his back catalogue then try again – you‘ll be rocking this quiz in no time!”
    • The folks who scored better and fell into the 51%-75% segment might receive “You‘re one of Bowie‘s ‘Heroes’! You know your ‘China Girl‘ – and are just a hair shy of Bowie-trivia greatness. Give it another shot.”

Our rule of thumb? Spend as much time on your test results as your questions.

#5: Lead generation – keep your forms short

Quizzes are powerful for lead generation – but asking for your quiz takers’ emails can have a big negative impact on your quiz stats.

Think of it like a party. Imagine you’re having a great conversation with someone. You guys are connecting about your mutual love of Star Wars when (boom!) – they suddenly ask you to sign up for their business consultancy newsletter. Weird, right?

Lead forms should be related to the topic of quiz – and short.

It can be tempting to ask lots of questions to help you fully qualify each potential customer. However, every field in your form will see a 10% drop off in completion rates – so ask the bare minimum you’ll need from each customer.

We recommend:

  • Email (of course)
  • First name
  • Last name (People often include this by habit – but how important is a last name, really? Include only if truly necessary.)

One last tip – keep your forms optional. It can be tempting to make every quiz taker have to fill out your form – but you’ll only be annoying your audience, while cluttering up your email lists with Donald@donaldduck.com and other fake names that people gave to view their results.

#6: Lead generation – call to action

A good call to action is as important as a short lead generation form.

We often see forms that just say ‘Sign up to receive our newsletter’ – and are then asked why only a handful of people fill in their forms.

People are understandably cautious about giving out their email address – so you need to provide them a reason.

For example, you can offer something like “Receive your own custom analysis of your quiz results. Leave your name and email – along with five tips on how you can improve. ”

We’ve also seen math tutoring sites offer to email in-depth ‘how-to’ instructions about their “Are you ready for university?” quiz, or consultants offer a free 10 minute Skype consultation.

Customize this approach to suit your business, but the core value proposition will remain the same – you’re offering a valuable service in return for the user’s name and email.

#7: Lead generation – make it automatic

Okay – this isn’t something that will show up to your audience, but it could have a big impact on your overall quiz effectiveness.

Every time someone completes your quiz lead generation form, they’ve expressed a ‘buying signal’.

You’ve done the hard part – and they’re interested in your offer. Now you need to act quickly to close the deal.

Go beyond downloading a CSV or XLS file of your quiz leads every day or two. If you take too long to respond, your leads will quickly lose interest.

Thankfully, most quiz makers make it easy to connect your quiz with your email marketing tool. Make your quiz marketing funnel a seamless automatic process – the flow should be something like:

  1. User takes your quiz
  2. Fills in your lead generation form
  3. Their quiz results and information go to your email marketing tool
  4. You auto-send personalized follow up messages based on their quiz results

#8: Style your quiz to match your site

Beyond questions and answers, there’s one other subtle change you can make that will have a big impact on the success of your quiz.

Navigating the internet can be scary – there’s a number of dodgy websites out there.

When people visit your site to take your quiz, you have a few seconds to make them comfortable – with your site’s look and feel, as well as branding.

The goal is to make your site as reassuring as possible to engage with your quiz.

That’s where your formatting comes in.

  • Take the extra time to use your quiz maker’s styling tools.
  • Most will give you the options to customize the colors and fonts to match your site.
  • White label – hide your provider’s logo and add your own.
  • CSS: Does your quiz maker give you access to the quiz CSS? Customize the buttons, borders and other quiz elements – so that your test feels a seamless, natural part of your site.

Check out how Choice Hotels used CSS with their “What kind of travel boss are you?” test – beautiful, right?

#9: Mix things up – try different quiz types

As we’ve mentioned, quizzes are powerful – and effective. But just like so many things (sigh – like coffee), it’s possible to go overboard with quizzes.

We’ve seen a number of people create a killer quiz – and be blown away by the success. So they make another quiz. And another. And so on.

But they quickly notice that these subsequent quizzes don’t perform nearly as well – and ask us why?

Variety is key. Quizzes are most effective when used strategically.

You want your quizzes to be ‘special’ – so that your audience looks forward to interacting, and can’t wait until the next one.

Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean you’re limited to just one quiz. Instead, mix things up – any good quiz maker will feature a number of content tools, from personality tests, to ranked lists, survey, polls, and more.

You get the added value of interactive content – while keeping your audience on their toes and looking forward to everything you create.

As an example, check out how the Tate Modern uses quizzes to engage their kids and teen audiences around all things art – the style, topic, and format of each test are always different.


There you have it – our best tips on how to create quizzes that don’t suck.

Want to dive in and learn even more tips for the perfect quiz? Download our free e-book Quizmaster now – over 120 pages to help you take your quiz and content marketing to the next level.

Do you have any questions? As you can tell – we’re big time geeks about all things quiz-related.

Just drop us a line at hello@riddle.com – and we’ll get right back to you.

Happy quizzing!

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