There are two big reasons why quizzes are incredibly popular. Number one, people love to talk about themselves, and the other thing is it lets you learn about yourself through quizzes. Josh Haynam, co-founder of Interact Quiz Builder, says a quiz lets people talk about themselves because you’re answering questions that are often highly personal within the quiz. A quiz lets you find out about yourself because you’re going to get personalized recommendations on how to improve at the end. Josh says there’s an entire industry built around learning about yourself. People in the marketing world are taking advantage of building quizzes in order to entice somebody to buy something. Josh explains that somewhere between six and fifteen questions is optimal for getting somebody interested in your product or your service and then selling it to them. Discover how you can formulate and launch a quiz to capture an audience, get some leads, and get new opportunities from it.

Conversational Marketing Through Building Quizzes with Josh Haynam

My guest was born in the Midwest of California at Turlock in the middle of farm country. As a teenager, he struggled to find work during the economic downturn. He started his own small business in desperation, installing sprinkler systems just to get by while trying to jumpstart other ventures, which fizzled out quickly. Determined to find his own pot of gold, he stumbled upon a giant market and a big idea, which he then turned into a thriving company that inspires him and his team every day. Josh sold his first thousand happy clients who used his interactive quiz building software every day to boost their own businesses. He’s here to show us how we can use quizzes to build better relationships with our clients. Welcome, Josh Haynam.

Thanks for having me, Mitch. I appreciate it.

It’s great to talk about marketing. I love what you’re doing because I’m a big believer in quizzes and how to use them. Let’s talk about how you got started. Go back to those days when you were struggling and looking for work. Tell us what that progression looked like for you and what went through your mind. What was your mindset? What did you really want?

It’s been a long journey and the beginning of it was when I was fifteen and a half, which is the first legal working age in California. I had jobs before that, but they were on the side, gig-type jobs. That was the first age I could get a job. This was in 2007, in the Midwest of California and they got hit hard by the economic recession, the whole financial crisis, everything that happened around that time. I went on to look for work because I grew up poor and if I wanted to do anything, I was going to have to make my own money. I’d sit in these interviews next to 40-year-old guys in suits who lost their corporate jobs and they were interviewing to work at Little Caesars or McDonald’s or Burger King or Pizza Hut or Subway or one of the other 30 that I applied to, and didn’t get a single job out of it.

I had to create my own job and I was always somebody who liked to create things. I was always building stuff in my backyard as a kid, giant bike ramps, tree houses, and teeter totters. I took those skills and I created my own job, doing the only thing I knew how to do, which was install sprinkler systems in lawns. I started doing that, selling jobs through Craigslist. Since then, I did a bunch of random gigs buying and selling stuff online on eBay until I finally landed on what I’m doing now, which is what I’ve been doing since then, running Interact. We hit our first thousand clients. This is my first real success, although I’ve been an entrepreneur or starting my own things for years.

Good ideas come by accident. Click To Tweet

In terms of identifying your niche, a lot of people have difficulty trying to figure out what it is they truly want to do. Some people are struggling because they are restarting. How did you discover what the particular thing you needed to do for clients?

With this company in particular, which has now caught on and it’s a strong niche that’s growing extremely fast at this point, when we started the company, it did not grow fast. The reason why we stuck with it through years of very slow growth is that our quiz platform has helped people connect with one another through the conversation that happens within a quiz. There’s a back and forth and people are able to understand each other a little bit better. That’s why it’s been successful and is also why I continued doing it because it’s a different way of doing marketing. It’s facilitating conversation and that’s the one thing that we do that’s truly unique, has set us apart, and has helped us carve out a niche even in times when not everybody in the market was ready for it or they didn’t want it necessarily.

We knew that there was something special there. Now that we’ve hit our thousand clients and we’re growing extremely fast at this point, it’s become clearer to the market that that’s also very valuable. We facilitate connections even though that sounds like a bit of a stretch. That is our one thing that we do.

How did you discover this niche?

It was by accident. I was in college between businesses, my previous thing fizzled out. I was working with a friend of mine, Matt, who’s now my Co-founder in this company. We were just building websites for people because we knew how to do that, it was a way to make money. One of the clients asked us to build him a quiz and put it on his website as a way of building up his email list. The quiz had an email capture thing built into it and we put it on his site. It worked extremely well, way better than these entire websites we would build and spend weeks on. This one quiz got more emails than other people’s entire sites. That was when the idea first got planted. It took us awhile to build it up.

FTC 105 | Building Quizzes
Building Quizzes: We were building websites for people because we knew how to do that and it was a way to make money.

It started by accident, a customer asked you to do something, you do that, and you figured, “This worked really well.” Were there other quiz software out there when you started?

Not really. The only solutions that were available at that point where either to hire a developer or there were a couple of platforms that were on the enterprise side, north of $50,000 a year to buy a subscription to those software.

Is your product a WordPress plugin?

We have a WordPress plugin, although it’s its own Sass website. You can use it on any website platform.

You configure your quiz and advance and you place it as a graphic on the page itself that you want or you linked to. Do you link it to your backend server that conducts the quiz or is that all on the site?

The quiz is built inside of our platform. You can put it into a page with an IFrame, the same way you do a YouTube video. You can also set it up to be a pop-up or an announcement bar or a Facebook ad all through our platform.

How has this evolved over the years when it comes to understanding the client and what the client needs? You discovered it first that this one guy needed a quiz and it worked. How has the software evolved and how has your view of the market evolved as well?

In the beginning, it was all very hands on. We would have to write the quizzes, put them on people’s websites, write the follow-up emails, connect it to their email list, and do every single thing possible, so that they would use the product. Without that, there was no reason for them to follow through. No one in the marketing world was talking about using quizzes when we started. There were no marketers seeking this solution. Nobody was going out trying to find this type of tool. They also weren’t willing to spend time working on it. We had to do literally everything.

That’s completely flipped at this point to where now we do almost nothing in our platform. It’s totally self-service. The market has flipped around to where people are seeking out a quiz-making tool. They’re seeking out a way to do this. We’ve seen that evolution happen firsthand. Before, it was mostly us doing the majority of the work in terms of creating all the content. Almost like a switch, it just flipped. We have evolved our platform and changed it around to be self-service. The market has changed as well to where people are now coming on and doing all of this themselves.

Let’s get into the theory behind quizzes and why people should use them. Talk about what a quiz accomplishes and particularly, if one of the readers has a website, why would they even want a quiz?

There are two big reasons why quizzes are incredibly popular. Quizzes have been around forever, people were taking them at pub nights in Dublin in the 1700s. They were taking them on the back of Cosmopolitan magazines in the early 1900s. BuzzFeed had their giant explosion of quizzes, and now everyone’s doing them online. The reason why people take quizzes is two-fold. Number one, people love to talk about themselves. There’s a Time magazine study that says 40% of the words you will say in your life are about yourself. Your brain lights up when you’re talking about yourself. You love it almost the same way that you love having a drink or if you were to do drugs. It’s the same exact things that fire off in your brain as when you do drugs. That’s how powerful it is. A quiz lets people talk about themselves because you’re answering questions that are often highly personal within the quiz.

When you launch a quiz, it can renovate your business, kick you into high gear, and turn on the jets. Click To Tweet

The other thing is it lets you learn about yourself. There’s an entire industry built around learning about yourself. Everything that’s self-help is understanding who you are better so that can better understand yourself and improve. A quiz lets you find out about yourself because you’re going to get your result at the end. Maybe it’s your personality or your score. You’re going to get personalized recommendations on how to improve. Those are the two reasons that are highly personal and highly powerful for why people love taking quizzes.

I’m hit with quizzes all over the place. I don’t find them that interesting as much anymore. Are you seeing that happen in the rest of your market or is it because I’m on the internet so much and for so long?

As the early adopters like you and I, people that are very privy to marketing are pretty much over quizzes already. The majority of the market is still about five years away from adopting the strategy. That’s the way things always go. As an example, website pop-ups. We’re all familiar with those. We’re all tired of those at this point. Website pop-up companies are growing faster now than they ever have in the past because that majority of the market is now catching wind of, “I should do a pop-up on my website.” Quizzes are way ahead of that in terms of the adoption cycle. They have another few years before they hit their heyday. At which point, there will be a saturation, but now, people in the marketing world are very aware of it. Everybody else probably hasn’t even caught wind yet.

If you look at your own market and what the needs are, are the quizzes getting more complex as people build them? Are they still fairly basic in addressing the core questions that most salespeople want to know in order to entice somebody to buy something?

There’s always a bell curve in the complexity. There’s a lot that are very simple, there’s a lot in the middle that are seven to ten questions, and there’s a decent amount that are massive, like 150 questions. It doesn’t matter that much as long as you’re in the middle of that bell curve. Somewhere between six and fifteen questions is optimal for getting somebody interested in your product or your service and then selling it to them. There’s always going to be people on both ends and the numbers of people on both ends is always going to grow. We have a lot of clients that have 100 plus question quizzes. We also have a lot of clients that have two-question quizzes., but it works best when you’re somewhere between six and fifteen.

If you put a quiz on a website and you’re not getting much of a response from the people who visit, what does that mean?

It probably means that you did it wrong. There’s only one way to do quizzes. They fight us on this because we give advice and they don’t listen. Make a quiz that’s titled “What type of blank are you?” or “Which type of blank are you?” The “blank” is your audience. If your audience is marketers, “What type of marketer are you?” Don’t ask questions, just do it. We’ve seen so many people do other variations like, “How good of a marketer are you?” or “Do you know marketing terms?” Those always fail miserably. The reason why people take quizzes is to define their personality, if you’re trying to do anything else, it’s not going to work. Insert what you would call your audience into the blank, you’ll win every time.

FTC 105 | Building Quizzes
Building Quizzes: The only way to do this is to make a quiz that’s titled “What type of blank are you?” or “Which type of blank are you?” where the blank is your audience.

Are there any other types of quizzes that you find popular?

There are trivia quizzes, but trivia quizzes are not effective for marketing because nobody is interested once they see how well they scored. You’re not going to get somebody intrigued because they got seven out of ten. The only reason you’re going to get somebody intrigued is because they are the social media marketer. They want to figure out what that means and how they can best use that skill to their advantage. They’re not going to be interested because they got seven out of ten on your marketing terms quiz.

Tell us some stories about some customers that implemented quizzes and totally bombed or totally hit it out of the park. Give us an idea of what types of quizzes have changed the landscape for your clients.

It wasn’t marketing, but it was about the Internet of things. This was a company that sells a software that helps you manage stuff that relates to the Internet of Things, like connected fridges. Their quiz was literally how much do you know about the Internet of Things? It was a very obvious play to capture your email address in order to sell you this software. They spent a few thousand dollars and got three leads because it was clear that this was only out there to capture your information. I fought them on it, they insisted on doing it that way, it completely failed.

The most game-changing quizzes I’ve ever seen was from a brand consultant named Kayla Hollatz. She launched a quiz that was called What’s Your Brand Voice Style? She’s a brand consultant and she’s always helping people find their voice, this was a lead into her services. She launched that quiz, it instantly 4X her daily leads that were coming in. She got 1,500 new leads in the first month and she has completely blown up her business. She’s getting all new opportunities from it. One of the things that can happen when you launch a quiz, it can renovate your business, kick you into high gear, and turn on the jets. We’ve seen that happen with other people that are similar to Kayla since then, but she’s one of the early ones to adopt it and have massive success.

If somebody doesn’t have very much of an audience, maybe they have a very small list or no list at all, how would you advise them using quizzes to build their list?

You want to start with something that’s core because you can use it for a long time. Going back to “What type of blank are you?” and insert the blank that is your audience. Let’s say you’re a consultant selling to small businesses, “What type of small business owner are you?” is the quiz that you’d want to make. You’d want to implement it on your website as a pop up or an announcement bar. Those are both options that you can do within our system, you can set it up to be everywhere on your website. That acts as a lead magnet for you. Every time somebody comes to your site, they’re going to be presented with the quiz and that’s an opportunity for you to get opt-ins. As you’re building up your website, you’re creating content, you’re driving traffic, everybody seeing that quiz and quizzes have an average opt-in rate of 50%. Half the people that see it are going to become leads, which is amazing for list building. All of your efforts are pouring into the quiz as the funnel that captures emails for you. Everything you do from that point forward is more effective because you have that in place.

What quizzes allow you to do is a little bit of conversational marketing. Click To Tweet

Does your system allow for creating quizzes that live on Facebook?

No, that’s a practice that’s banned by Facebook. We all know how Facebook is struggling and cracking down even harder on third party applications. You can’t have anything that lives on Facebook, it has to be a post on Facebook that links to the actual quiz on your website.

I could say, “Take my quiz. Click this thing and have it land on my website.” That’s no problem for Facebook?

That’s a normal post, which follows all the guidelines. That’s exactly how you should treat the platform is do posts on there. If somebody wants to click on it, which they will if it’s a quiz, then they’ll go to your website to take that quiz.

Josh, you mentioned upfront that you had something special for my guests. Can you tell me what that is?

When we first started, we used to build a lot of quizzes. By we, I mean me, because for the first few years, it was myself and two other guys who are both engineers. I build quizzes for every major brand you can think of. Probably about a third of the Fortune 100. I’ve worked on tens of thousands of campaigns at this point. What I did when we switched to a more self-service model was I took all of that information that I had acquired over all those years and thousands of hours building quizzes and I put it into a seven-part video course as well as written stuff. That’s available to anybody for free. You don’t even have to opt-in to get it. I want to spread that education so that anybody who’s interested in this concept can see how it works and gather all that information that I acquired over all those years without having to invest in anything upfront.

You’d recommend that most people start with that before they try to dig into building their own quiz?

Absolutely. It’s a new strategy. It’s important to do some learning to get your own mind wrapped around how you would want to use this for yourself before you invest all the time, energy, and money into building one or buying a subscription.

FTC 105 | Building Quizzes
Building Quizzes: It’s important to do some learning to get your own mind wrapped around how you would want to use this for yourself before you invest into building one or buying a subscription.

This brings up an interesting area for me and it comes in a timely moment here in history because our information has been recorded on the internet in many different places and then stolen and then used inappropriately. Here we are advocating that we collect more personal information from people. Here’s my question for you, how do you feel about the fact that so much of this information is being used in ways that for some people, you might even be unethical?

I love the fact that Facebook is getting hammered for their misuse of information. To take a step back and explain what’s going on with Facebook and other platforms that are abusing information, they’re collecting your information when you sign up for Facebook. They’re sharing it with anybody who is willing to pay for it, they’re sharing it with any advertiser, anybody who’s on Facebook making apps. You never agreed to share your information with Starbucks, NBC, and whoever else is buying that information, but they’re giving it away without telling you. That’s absolutely implorable. It’s the reason why they’ve blown up in terms of making huge amounts of revenue because those companies love getting that information there. They’re buying everything about you.

The way that we’ve always operated is that clients use our platform to collect information for themselves and no one else. When you take a quiz from a client, there is an opt-in form. If you don’t physically type in your email to that opt-in form and consent to the privacy policy of that company who created the quiz, no one ever sees your information. If that company does get your information, we don’t get it. They don’t share it with anybody else according to the terms of their privacy policy and if they did, that’s another implorable act. The key distinction with all of this is the action of consent and not just consenting to, “Anybody can have my information,” that’s never going to be okay. Anytime somebody is collecting your personal information, you should have the right to say, “No, I do not want to give my personal information.” That is the problem with what’s happening now is that every time you give over your own information, you should have the option not to. If you do give it over, you should have the option to decide later that you don’t want them to have it. Those are the two things that are being abused and need to be reined in.

Would you be willing to set as part of your company operating ethos to require that people who buy your software or use your product, promise in writing that they will never sell or use this data or share this data outside of their own individual needs for marketing? Would you be willing to set that up as part of the signup process for your software?

It’s in our privacy policy. When the GDPR laws that are about to go into effect hit the airwaves, that’s going to be required of every company and we’ve been doing that for years. It’s not something that’s new to us. We have kicked off many clients because of abusing the system. They’re getting too many complaints. Even though they initially agreed to not do any abuse, we will kick them off our platform and ban them forever. We have banned customers who pay us thousands of dollars a month from using our platform forever because of that type of abuse.

Patience is such a missing thing in the world. Click To Tweet

What do you see as the future as we move into the next decade for marketing, for business marketing? What happens as quizzes become more available on websites, where do you see the next level taking marketing? How do we move forward?

The way that it’s headed in, and what quizzes already allow you to do a little bit of, is Conversational Marketing. It’s where brands are able to connect with their customers on an individual basis, but also at scale. Even if you have a million people visiting your website in a month, each one of those million people can have their own unique experience with your brand. We’re all different. We’re all unique people. We don’t want the same exact experience that everybody else is getting. Quizzes are a small microcosm of what’s possible in this arena. What we’re working towards is making the quiz more like what an actual conversation would be, where you’re having an actual back and forth and what you’re saying depends on what the customer’s saying. There’s a strong connection being built up. What matters in business is the connection between people, that’s where quizzes are headed and that’s where we’re headed.

It sounds like you’re building bots.

Not exactly. The problem with bots is that people tried to make bots seem like an actual person when it’s not, which I find deceitful and wrong. Whereas a quiz is not a person. It’s not claiming to be a person, but it is going to help guide you in the right direction. That is the right, happy medium where the technology is useful to you and that it’s helping you find what you want.

Bots are the garbage of the internet. I’m very angry when I see them pop-up and I ignore them because I know what they are.

Part of what’s going to come out of this whole Facebook scandal is that they’re going to ban all bots built into their system.

A lot of people make money with bots. Facebook should return to where it started, which was to connect people and share their social information. At this stage, it sounds like what you’ve created is a tool that people can use to build their list, to reach more clients, and to get to know their clients. I have a question for you. This is the type of question that I feel allows my audience to get to know you a little bit better. Who, in all of space and time, would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?

The first thing that comes to mind is that I would love to talk with somebody who has spent a majority of their life working on one issue. There’s a certain peace and serenity that comes with not only working on something for a long time, but realizing that it’s going to take a long time. The first name that comes to mind is Gandhi because he designated much of his life to one cause, worked extremely hard at it, and it took forever for that to take effect. We always want stuff to happen quickly, but it doesn’t. For someone like that, who became okay with that, not okay in the sense of giving up, but okay in the sense of being at peace and still working at it, that is such a skill and such an attribute that’s lacked within our world today.

FTC 105 | Building Quizzes
Building Quizzes: There’s a certain peace and serenity that comes with not only working on something for a long time, but realizing that is going to take a long time.

What would you ask him?

What it’s like to wake up every single day for decades working at the same thing without it changing quickly? Who actually does that anymore? Who spends that much time working on one thing and not giving up? We give up if we can’t figure out IKEA instructions in seven minutes. It would be so fascinating to hear his mindset about the world after spending that much time focused on one issue.

You said that it took you a long time to get to this point. I reflect on my grandfather who built a factory in New Jersey that create costume jewelry for ladies. That business was well-over 35 years old. It wasn’t until the 20th year that they finally were able to make a profit. That was a long time but everything gets compressed. We look at years as a long time before a business should be successful. I don’t blame you. I’m impatient, if not more so. I love the fact that you chose Gandhi because there’s a guy who could explain patience. Maybe what we’d find is that he didn’t even notice it. As waiting, he didn’t even think he was exhibiting patience. He was just doing what he needed to do to, be who he was.

Patience is such a missing thing in the world. That’s a perfect example of it. Six years is forever but 50, 60 years ago, twenty years was run of the mill for getting a business going. Even now we talk about things like their overnight successes, but everyone I know who started a software company, it took them anywhere from five to ten years for it to really get going. That’s the reality of things. I like to pour into that and dissect what’s really going on in those years because I find it very fascinating and I can definitely relate to it.

What is it that you are doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?

A quiz has a natural appeal for us to talk about ourselves and share our personality. It gets people talking to each other. Click To Tweet

The thing about quizzes and the thing about what I like to spread the message of is connecting people. In the way our world operates today, it’s easy to hate an idea and it’s hard to hate a person. If you get people connecting with one another and talking about what’s going on, their differences or similarities, you can diffuse a lot of the hate that comes around who you think somebody is or what you think somebody stands for. A quiz, because of its natural appeal for us to talk about ourselves and share our personality, gets people talking to each other. Whatever I can do to make that happen more in a positive manner, I want to keep doing.

Josh, I support you in your quest to help people create better relationships. I love the tool you created. Thank you so much. It was a great conversation. Josh Haynam, thanks again.

Thank you.

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