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You use questions when building a poll. GovDelivery Interactive Text provides flexibility when creating polls, allowing you to nest questions as follow-ups and create conditional logic.

Question Settings

Each Question within a GovDelivery Interactive Text Poll has a few settings that can change the Poll behavior, and how the poll is displayed in Public view.

Hide from public view

On a Poll set to Public, this checkbox allows you to hide certain questions from the public view. Only logged-in users will be able to see these questions and their responses on the Poll Dashboard. This setting has no effect on polls not set to Public. For more information, see Public Polls.

Skip this question if participant doesn't respond

Checking this box causes GovDelivery Interactive Text to skip the question and move on to the next one if the Participant does not respond within a certain time window. This setting should be used sparingly, since response data is not collected for questions that are skipped, and multiple questions in a row with this setting enabled could give the impression of "spamming" a recipient's phone with text messages. 

Delay sending

You can make GovDelivery Interactive Text wait before sending a question by selecting After previous question from the drop-down menu and then setting a time. 

For example, if you were conducting bicycle test rides, you could ask every person to text in to a survey prior to their ride, then set a delay on the following question for 20 minutes so that they would receive a Followup question after they finish the ride.

Question Types

There are multiple types of questions that can be used within GovDelivery Interactive Text Polls.

Open Ended

This question type does not prompt the respondent for a particular format of response. This is great for gathering free-form feedback. Respondents can submit responses of any length, and will often write 2 or more sentences if the question demands a deeper response.


The Yes/No question automatically instructs respondents to "Reply Yes or No" at the end of the question text. If a respondent writes a longer response that includes the word "yes" or "no," the system will match their response to the proper choice, as well as preserve the full text of their reply. You can add a targeted follow-up question to either of the response options. For more information, see  Followup Questions.

Multiple Choice

With Multiple Choice questions, you define a set of answer options, which are assigned letters. Participants are allowed to choose one answer option – if you want your participants to be able to select multiple answers, use "Multiple Choice (choose one or more)" instead.

The text message sent to participants includes instructions to "Reply w/ letter: A Option 1 / B Option 2 / C Option 3" and so on, so there is no need to include instructions for the participant within your question.

You can also add follow-up questions to target people based on which option they chose. For more information, see Followup Questions.

GovDelivery Interactive Text will match people's responses to one of the choices, whether they text back a letter (e.g. "A") or text (e.g. "the bus"). If a participant attempts to respond with more than one letter, or if GovDelivery Interactive Text cannot match their response, they will get an error text that says "Sorry, we didn't understand that answer. Please try again."

Multiple Choice (Choose one or more)

This variation on Multiple Choice tells participants to "Reply w/ one or more letters:" then lists the letter options. Unlike the standard Multiple Choice question type, GovDelivery Interactive Text will accept multiple answers.

Followup Questions

Followup Questions in GovDelivery Interactive Text allow you to ask specifically targeted questions based on your participants' answers. To create a Followup question, click the Add Followup button next to a response option on a Yes/No question, or below the options on a Multiple Choice question. This Followup question will be sent only to people who reply with that response.

Once a participant answers a Followup question, they will get the next question in the Poll. If you want all your participants to complete your entire survey, make sure all your Followups are clearly phrased as questions.

A common and useful technique is to use a Followup question to ask for more detail when someone replies "Other" to a Multiple Choice question.

However, you can also nest all other question types as Followup questions to make your survey more detailed and responsive:

Conditional Questions

Conditional questions are sent to a participant (or not) depending on their previous responses. They are similar to Multiple Choice Followups, but support more sophisticated logic.

Multiple Choice Followups can be triggered by:

  • A specific answer to the question that came immediately before. (Example: "Would you like a caseworker to give you a call?" = Yes)

Conditional questions can be triggered by:

  • Specific answer to any prior question, not just the one immediately before (Example: "Do you have children under 5?" = Yes)
  • Specific answers to multiple prior questions (Example: "Do you have children under 5?" = Yes AND "Are they enrolled in preschool?" = No)
  • Answers that are greater or less than a specified number (Example: "In what year was this business started? < 2008)

Conditional questions are configured by your Granicus representative. You can view (but not edit) these configurations in your Poll Edit view.


Name questions are used to ask participants for their name, and will automatically assign their name to their phone number. You can then insert a name macro in future questions or messages to automatically include participants' names. If no name is present for some participants, the name tag will not be included for them. For more information, see Participant Names.

This question type is set to "Hide from public view" on public polls by default. For more information, see Public Polls.


The Photo question type allows a participant to respond with a photo message. You can view, print, and download these images from the Poll Dashboard. If a participant responds with just text, their response will be saved and they will be advanced to the next question. For more information, see Photo Messaging.

Note that no automatic instructions are included with Photo questions, so be sure to make it clear you would like the participant to respond with a photo!

Zip Code

The Zip Code question is used to ask respondents for their zip code. In the future, mapping features within GovDelivery Interactive Text will allow you to map Zip Code responses in real time.


Character Count

When composing any poll question or message that will be sent out to participants' cell phones, you will see a small character counter next to the question text. The thresholds to keep in mind:

  • 160 characters is the maximum for a single SMS. If guaranteeing deliverability in all cases is a must, use this limit.
  • 254 characters is the maximum supported by GovDelivery Interactive Text, for more flexibility in composing messages. They are split up into chunks of 160 characters upon sending, then reassembled by the receiving carrier and/or phone. Many cell phones and carriers can accommodate these longer texts correctly. On occasion, however, they may be delivered as 2 separate messages or arrive out-of-order.


Note: The character count does include the instructions that Textizen automatically adds to Yes/No and Multiple Choice questions. In the case of Multiple Choice questions, it also includes all answer options. See Question Types for more information.

What if my participants have older cell phones?

Most modern cell phones–including low-cost devices–receive and display texts up to 254 characters without any issue. However, keeping questions and messages below 160 characters will guarantee correct delivery of messages to all participants, regardless of what phone or cell provider they are using.

Campaign Info Message and character count

On outbound polls and Messages, the character count is also affected by your Campaign Info Message, which is included automatically the first time you send an outgoing message or poll question to a participant. For more information about the Campaign Info Message, see Campaign Settings.


Special Characters 

Because each carrier and phone model treats special characters differently, we recommend only using standard characters in GovDelivery Interactive Text polls and messages. A good rule of thumb is that standard characters are the ones printed on the U.S. keyboard.

Which characters should I avoid?

  • “Curly quotes.” Apostrophes and quotation marks are automatically converted to curly quotes by Microsoft Word and other word processing apps, so be careful to change these quotes to "straight quotes" if you are pasting content from Word. (You can also disable this "smart quotes" feature altogether in Microsoft Word's preferences).
  • Letters with accents (á, é, í, ó, ú, ñ, ¡, and so on) used in Spanish and other languages. These are the most common characters that cause problems.
  • Non-ASCII symbols (e.g. ¿ ¡ ● ¢ ¼ )

Why are special characters problematic?

When sending SMS messages with special characters, the message may not appear as originally sent. Each carrier or phone model may treat these characters differently. Symptoms can include:

  • Text displays upside-down question marks: C¿a¿f¿e¿.
  • Text contains additional or unexpected characters.
  • Texts split into multiple parts and/or delivered out of order, even if they contain fewer than 160 characters (see Character Count). This is especially common on the Sprint network.
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