Outlook polls

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Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 and later have a polling functionality enabled. On reviewing this tool against our requirements for surveys, we found that it is best used for internal polls, instead of surveys to a large group of people in a database.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • The functionality does not work in a mail merge (mail merges are done through Word, the voting functionality is only in Outlook), so there is no way to address each recipient by name personally.
  • If sent to a large group of people in a purchased database, it would violate the Spam Act and potentially other privacy laws (for sharing someone's email address without authorisation)
  • It allows voting for only one question

Building the poll:

  • Create a new email
  • Click on the Options tab > Use Voting Buttons
  • They have the standard options such as Yes, No and Maybe. To create your own, click on Custom
    • Under Voting and Tracking, type in your options separated by only semi colons (no space)
  • Type in the message in the email and the subject accordingly
  • Send the email

Responding to the poll:

  • Open the email
  • The top left button will be Vote instead of Reply
  • Clicking on Vote will display the options of the poll
  • Choose one of the options
  • A message will pop up to send the response

Tracking results of the poll:

  • Open the email containing the poll in Sent Items
  • Click on Tracking next to Message
  • The page shows a tally along with respondents and their votes

The tool is designed to be used as a simple polling functionality within emails. Therefore, it is best use for internal communication and polls within groups of people who know one another. It cannot serve the same purpose as a survey-orientated tool such as Survey Monkey.