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22 of the Best Examples of Beautiful Blog Design



22 of the Best Examples of Beautiful Blog Design

According to a recent survey, 70% of customers rely on expert and insider advice. That’s right — that means most people trust bloggers more than celebrities, journalists, or politicians.

But how do you get people to fall in love with your blog in the first place? (Aside from remarkable content, of course.)

Well, just as your website homepage is like the front door to your business, your blog’s design — much like a welcome mat — is the front door to your business blog.

Download Now: How to Start a Successful Blog [Free Guide]

If you’re not attracting people visually, how will you get them to take the next steps to actually read (and, hopefully, subscribe to) your content? Once you’re done creating quality content, you still have the challenge of presenting it in a way that clearly dictates what your blog is about.

Images, text, and links need to be shown off just right — otherwise, readers might abandon your content, if it’s not showcased in a way that’s appealing, easy to follow, and generates more interest.

That’s why we’ve compiled some examples of blog homepages to get you on the right track to designing the perfect blog for your readers. Check ’em out, below.

Inspiring Examples of Beautiful Blog Homepage Design

1. Help Scout

Blog design examples: Help Scout

Sometimes, the best blog designs are also the simplest. Help Scout, makers of customer service software, uses a unique but minimalist design on its blog that we love — it limits copy and visuals and embraces negative space.

What we particularly like about this blog is its use of featured images for all posts, including the “Most Recent Posts” section that highlights recent or particularly popular entries. These images catch the readers’ eye and signal what the post is about. And it works — everything about this blog’s design says clean and readable.

2. Microsoft Work & Life

Blogs in websites design examples: Microsoft Work & Life

Full disclosure: We’ve totally gushed over Microsoft’s microsites before. We can’t help it — what better way to revitalize an old-school brand than with a blog that boasts beautiful, interactive, and inspiring branded content? Plus, the square images in the layout of these stories are reminiscent of the Microsoft logo. This helps it achieve valuable brand consistency.

Microsoft Work & Life is also a prime example of how a business blog can be a major asset for an overall rebrand. In recent years, Microsoft has worked to humanize its brand, largely in response to a rivalry with Apple.

The “Work & Life” microsite has a simple tagline — “Learn how we’re helping people stay connected, engaged and productive — at work, at school, at home and at play.” It’s the softer side of Microsoft, so to speak.

When you’re trying to convey a certain brand message, you can use your blog to communicate it — both aesthetically and content-wise.

3. Pando

Blog design examples: Pando

An important aspect of a well-designed blog is a consistent color scheme and style. After all, 80% of consumers say that color boosts their recognition of a brand.

It’s interesting to see how color consistency can unify the more diversified elements of design. Pando, a blog that explores the startup cycle, incorporates a set palette of colors — orange, green, pale blue, lavender, and deep yellow — in several sections of its site. These colors appear in the background, highlight bars, and certain areas of text.

But it also uses several different fonts — all of which manage to look seamless when tied together by a cohesive color scheme.

4. Design Milk

Blogs in websites design examples: Design Milk

Design Milk, an online contemporary design outlet, uses a simple layout to highlight its posts. If the arrow beside “Read” at the top left points down, you can scroll through featured images and teaser text for a variety of articles. If the arrow beside “Read” points up, you see a perfect showcase of blog topics and highlighted posts.

That’s an internal link strategy, which helps to encourage readers to stay on the site longer.

The social icons at the top of each post are a pleasant addition to the overall look and feel of the site. They’re easy to spot and make it easy to share Design Milk’s content. (And to learn more about adding social buttons to your blog, check out this post.)

5. Fubiz

Blog design examples: Fubiz

Fubiz, an art and design blog, is an example of a really sleek design that also includes some cool personalization.

The blog’s homepage makes it easy for readers to side-scroll through “The Highlights.” Below that is the Creativity Finder, where visitors can choose their persona — from “Art Lover” to “Freelance” — location, and the type of content they’re looking for. From there, readers can browse content specifically catered to them.

We can’t help but love the images, too. Each featured image has a distinct style. By using the design to highlight these powerful photographs, Fubiz is able to visually attract visitors to its content.

For a similar look, check out the CMS Hub theme collection on the Envato marketplace.

6. Webdesigner Depot

Blogs in websites design examples: Webdesigner Depot

With a name like “Webdesigner Depot,” it’s no wonder that this design news site is visually appealing.

One thing that we particularly like is the responsive images on each individual post. The subtle motion of the image as readers scroll over a range of articles helps catch visitors’ eyes.

And check out the effective use of the featured image to highlight the most recent article. This approach pulls the viewer immediately into the blog’s most recent content.

What’s more, the color scheme, background, and fonts are all consistent — which keeps this blog looking professional, but still distinct from the basic blog templates you might be used to seeing.

7. Mashable

Blog design examples: Mashable

I mean, just look at that header image — bold colors, recognizable gadgets, and contrasting text. It absolutely catches the reader’s eye — no pun intended.

Mashable breaks its content into three noticeable sections on the homepage:

  • New posts get attention with a large featured image and three highlighted blocks.
  • Posts for each section get attention with a featured image at the top of two to three columns with a short list of headlines underneath.
  • Then “Trending” posts show up to the right, with bold text on top of a shadow box graphic.

This multi-pronged approach to displaying content can help readers decide which kind of news matters to them the most. They can quickly choose between attention-grabbing top stories, the hottest posts, or stories on the topic they’re most interested in.

The “Related Stories” that end each post are also a great feature to connect readers to more of the content they’re looking for.

8. Brit + Co

Blogs in websites design examples: Brit + Co

Everything about the Brit + Co homepage says clean, warm, and welcoming. It’s free of clutter, making the content more digestible, and the layout is extremely organized.

We dig the seasonality of the site, too — from avocado jack-o’-lanterns on the first of October to dinner recipes for Valentine’s Day. Adorable, and replete with colorful, fun photos to illustrate each story’s content.

The subtle “This Week’s Stories” header also serves as a nice way to promote popular content, without being too in-your-face about it. Plus, with such great visuals, we took note of the nod to Pinterest. That icon is important to include when your blog incorporates so much attractive imagery.

9. Tesco Food Love Stories

Blog design examples: Tesco Food Love Stories

We love the colorful, consistent design of Tesco Food Love Stories, from British grocery chain Tesco.

Remember how we keep harping away at brand consistency? Check out the way this brand naturally incorporates the logo into its photography and featured video.

What Tesco has achieved is a great balance of simplicity and boldness. The layout is minimal, but not dull. Warm and welcoming shades underscore each content highlight and recipe, and the photos add dashes of colors throughout the site. It’s a great example of how the right imagery can achieve an appealing “less-is-more” appearance, especially if that fits in with your overall brand concept.

10. HubSpot

Blogs in websites design examples: HubSpot

HubSpot’s blog finds a way to pack a lot of exciting content into the page while still being easy on the eyes. Notice that, above the fold, it features one blog post with a large image, title, and call-to-action to read more. The featured image is unique to the brand with an appealing combination of photography and graphics to draw the eye.

To the right, there’s a list of top posts to engage readers with the wide variety of content on the blog. This makes it easy for readers to connect with HubSpot or learn more.

Plus, there’s that consistency again. As you keep scrolling down the page, each section is visually consistent no matter what topic, podcast, video, or blog post you’re looking for. Using this strategy can help you build brand trust.

11. I Love Typography

Blog design examples: Love Typography

If you’re into design, you understand the power of fonts. The right font can make words sing on a web page, while the wrong choice can be a hard-to-read mess. So, a blog that features hundreds of fonts has to get creative with blog design.

I Love Typography gets the balance just right with a clean and simple design. Three vertical columns separate blog themes and top posts from the most recent additions to the blog. Meanwhile, it dedicates the right side column to highlighted blog features. This section features fun clickable graphics (like that sweet cassette tape) that balance the bright colors and shapes that dominate the posts on the left-hand side of the blog.

If you’re creating a blog for the first time, this is a smart approach to borrow from. You can also check out these tips on starting a successful blog.

12. 500px

Blogs in websites design examples: 500px

The photography blog, 500px, leads with one featured article and a big, bold, high-definition photo to draw the reader in. That makes it pretty clear what the blog is about — it boasts valuable content on photography with gripping photography.

Plus, how cool is it that the social links are right there, obviously displayed above the fold? They keep readers engaged with the content and make it easy to share the photography. Plus content with images gets more than double the engagement on Facebook as posts without images do.

13. Wired

Blog design examples: Wired

The more topics you have on your blog, the more chaotic the experience can be for your readers. That’s why we like the refreshing simplicity of Wired’s blog design.

Depending on the size of your screen there could be eight or more headlines above the fold alone, but this design is still easy to scan and dig in.

Every post includes a featured image to draw you in. Then, striking font choices make it quick to understand the category, author, and headline for each post at a glance.

If your blog started simple and you’re having a hard time making it work as it grows, this blog is great inspiration for a redesign. You can also use this workbook for redesigning your blog website.

14. Golde

Blogs in websites design examples: Golde

Golde is another blog that uses images for great communication. Using the brand name as a starting point for its blog “The Golden Hour,” Golde makes a featured image the focus of each blog post.

Then, the gorgeous photography uses yellow and green tones in each photograph. This creates a consistent, warm, and appealing feel to draw you into each blog post.

Once you click on a post, this blog makes perfect use of the space below the text to highlight products, recipes, and other useful resources.

15. Recode

Blog design examples: Recode

Ads are a useful way for many blogs to generate income. Many small businesses offer a blog to highlight their products and services. At the same time, other standalone blogs can struggle to balance design with the need to monetize their content.

Recode features the latest tech news using an asymmetrical grid structure. Bold thumbnail images paired with headline text align with larger images with overlaid text in all caps.

This variety of approaches to image and text make it easy for viewers to scan and choose the post they want to read. The layout includes some animation too and this adds excitement to the blog layout.

Besides being a great user experience, this design lets the blog weave in ads that aren’t distracting to the eyes. At the same time, they also don’t blend in with the organic content, letting Recode create an authentic experience for its readers.

16. Pluralsight

Blogs in websites design examples: Pluralsight

This blog is a great reminder that blog designs don’t have to get super fancy.

Notice the bold title at the top and center of the page. Then the featured illustration at the top uses a bright background and simple white-on-black text. That bold brand presence stays constant throughout the company’s blog.

The clean fonts, for example, match the logo and stay in line with the brand’s clear, informative voice. And the grid structure and headers for each section make it easy to understand what you can find on the blog.

We also like the easily-navigable archive links at the top and how easy it is to see the blog archive with minimal scrolling.

17. Crayon

Blog design examples: Crayon

Many blogs want to show readers a little bit of everything they offer. But depth can be just as enticing to readers as breadth. If you want your visitors to dive into what your blog writers have to say, this blog design gives them an easy choice — just start reading.

With an extended teaser in the header, the focus above-the-fold for the Crayon blog is the latest blog post. As a reader scrolls down, they’ll find a grid with more content from the blog.

We also like the color coding by topic, which makes it easy to locate blogs of interest at a glance. You can see more text-forward blog design examples here.

18. Black Travelbox

Blogs in websites design examples: Black Travelbox

To clear up any confusion, Black Travelbox doesn’t make suitcases. It makes personal care products for travel. But the company has done a great job of connecting its portable balms, conditioners, and more with the joy of travel.

Plus, the folks at this company’s “Travel and Slay” blog know a thing or two about brand consistency across channels. The blog has a simple color scheme and matching fonts help to create a unified user experience from the shop to general content. At the same time, it throws in bold, colorful images to catch readers’ attention.

Visit the website and have a scroll — we think it’s pretty cool how the images vary, but each blog entry highlights a different “travel crush.” Then, it packs each post with bright photographs, smart interviews, and joyful stories.

19. Pixelgrade

Blog design examples: Pixelgrade

Pixelgrade is a design studio that creates stunning WordPress themes for creative people and small businesses. Their blog page does a great job of highlighting one of their most recent or popular blog posts, alongside a clear call-to-action and a short excerpt.

What I like best is that the design of the page is 100% in line with their brand. If you like the design of their blog, chances are you’ll also want to try one of their smart and beautifully-designed WordPress themes.

For more WordPress blog design ideas, check out this post about WordPress themes for bloggers.

20. BarkPost

Blogs in websites design examples: BarkPost

We kind of like dogs here at HubSpot. So when a blog dedicated to life as a dog owner came across our radar, it got our attention.

BarkPost, the blog of canine subscription box company BarkBox, is a great example of design for many reasons. First, look at the big fun font in every header — it’s quick and easy to read, even from a mobile device.

Adorable images make the posts for each topic noticeable, too — and, of course, all in the brand-matching, trustworthy blue.

We also like that BarkPost draws attention to its sister companies. Whether you’re interested in doggie dental care or the best food for your pup, this fun blog design makes it easy for dog parents and lovers alike to find the latest news and resources.

21. Goodwill Industries International

Blog design examples: Goodwill Industries International

Who says nonprofit organizations can’t blog? Nay, they should. Check out this ultimate nonprofit marketing guide to make yours great.

In this example, Goodwill’s clean, colorful navigation (again — the trustworthy blue) draws the reader to the important elements of this blog.

The posts are also neatly positioned and easily accessible to readers. And, visitors can pick the type of information that matters to them the most by choosing a topic from the simple buttons in the graphic above the fold.

Finally, we love the emphasis on personal stories on the Goodwill blog. This design has long-form teasers that lead readers into this organization’s programs. This approach makes it easy to learn why so many people chose to support Goodwill.

22. Springly

Blogs in websites design examples: Springly

Keeping the nonprofit blogging train going is Springly, which makes excellent use of a simple grid format by highlighting the greatest resources of most nonprofits — dedicated people.

This blog has a simplistic design with concise text and a clear color palette for nonprofits looking for useful resources.

Each article card features the first name and picture of the author, shining the spotlight on its contributors. It also shows how long it will take to read the post.

Placing time and people at the forefront aligns with what most nonprofits focus on. This approach makes the blog more valuable to those who are most likely to contribute and use it.

Still looking for more inspiration and ideas? Click here to check out over 70 more examples of website blogs, homepages, and landing page designs.

Use These Blog Design Examples to Build Your Best Blog

Creating a beautiful blog isn’t just about looks. If you want your readers to really fall in love, the design of your blog should match the needs and expectations of your users. What’s most important to them? And what does your blog offer that no one else can?

Don’t just skim through these inspiring blog designs. Use them as a springboard to imagine how your blog can both connect with your audience and improve your blog design. Then, watch your readership grow.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons



OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons

A week or so ago, the extraordinary drama happening at OpenAI filled news feeds.

No need to get into all the saga’s details, as every publication seems to have covered it. We’re just waiting for someone to put together a video montage scored to the Game of Thrones music.

But as Sam Altman takes back the reigns of the company he helped to found, the existing board begins to disintegrate before your very eyes, and everyone agrees something spooked everybody, a question arises: Should you care?

Does OpenAI’s drama have any demonstrable implications for marketers integrating generative AI into their marketing strategies?

Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain (and give a shoutout to Sutton’s pants rage on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), or keep reading his thoughts:

For those who spent last week figuring out what to put on your holiday table and missed every AI headline, here’s a brief version of what happened. OpenAI – the huge startup and creator of ChatGPT – went through dramatic events. Its board fired the mercurial CEO Sam Altman. Then, the 38-year-old entrepreneur accepted a job at Microsoft but returned to OpenAI a day later.

We won’t give a hot take on what it means for the startup world, board governance, or the tension between AI safety and Silicon Valley capitalism. Rather, we see some interesting things for marketers to put into perspective about how AI should fit into your overall content and marketing plans in the new year.

Robert highlights two takeaways from the OpenAI debacle – a drama that has yet to reach its final chapter: 1. The right structure and governance matters, and 2. Big platforms don’t become antifragile just because they’re big.

Let’s have Robert explain.

The right structure and governance matters

OpenAI’s structure may be key to the drama. OpenAI has a bizarre corporate governance framework. The board of directors controls a nonprofit called OpenAI. That nonprofit created a capped for-profit subsidiary – OpenAI GP LLC. The majority owner of that for-profit is OpenAI Global LLC, another for-profit company. The nonprofit works for the benefit of the world with a for-profit arm.

That seems like an earnest approach, given AI tech’s big and disruptive power. But it provides so many weird governance issues, including that the nonprofit board, which controls everything, has no duty to maximize profit. What could go wrong?

That’s why marketers should know more about the organizations behind the generative AI tools they use or are considering.

First, know your providers of generative AI software and services are all exploring the topics of governance and safety. Microsoft, Google, Anthropic, and others won’t have their internal debates erupt in public fireworks. Still, governance and management of safety over profits remains a big topic for them. You should be aware of how they approach those topics as you license solutions from them.

Second, recognize the productive use of generative AI is a content strategy and governance challenge, not a technology challenge. If you don’t solve the governance and cross-functional uses of the generative AI platforms you buy, you will run into big problems with its cross-functional, cross-siloed use. 

Big platforms do not become antifragile just because they’re big

Nicholas Taleb wrote a wonderful book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. It explores how an antifragile structure doesn’t just withstand a shock; it actually improves because of a disruption or shock. It doesn’t just survive a big disruptive event; it gets stronger because of it.

It’s hard to imagine a company the size and scale of OpenAI could self-correct or even disappear tomorrow. But it can and does happen. And unfortunately, too many businesses build their strategies on that rented land.

In OpenAI’s recent case, the for-profit software won the day. But make no bones about that victory; the event wasn’t good for the company. If it bounces back, it won’t be stronger because of the debacle.

With that win on the for-profit side, hundreds, if not thousands, of generative AI startups breathed an audible sigh of relief. But a few moments later, they screamed “pivot” (in their best imitation of Ross from Friends instructing Chandler and Rachel to move a couch.)

They now realize the fragility of their software because it relies on OpenAI’s existence or willingness to provide the software. Imagine what could have happened if the OpenAI board had won their fight and, in the name of safety, simply killed any paid access to the API or the ability to build business models on top of it.

The last two weeks have done nothing to clear the already muddy waters encountered by companies and their plans to integrate generative AI solutions. Going forward, though, think about the issues when acquiring new generative AI software. Ask about how the vendor’s infrastructure is housed and identify the risks involved. And, if OpenAI expands its enterprise capabilities, consider the implications. What extra features will the off-the-shelf solutions provide? Do you need them? Will OpenAI become the Microsoft Office of your AI infrastructure?

Why you should care

With the voluminous media coverage of Open AI’s drama, you likely will see pushback on generative AI. In my social feeds, many marketers say they’re tired of the corporate soap opera that is irrelevant to their work.

They are half right. What Sam said and how Ilya responded, heart emojis, and how much the Twitch guy got for three days of work are fodder for the Netflix series sure to emerge. (Robert’s money is on Michael Cera starring.)

They’re wrong about its relevance to marketing. They must be experiencing attentional bias – paying more attention to some elements of the big event and ignoring others. OpenAI’s struggle is entertaining, no doubt. You’re glued to the drama. But understanding what happened with the events directly relates to your ability to manage similar ones successfully. That’s the part you need to get right.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader



The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader

Introduce your processes: If you’ve streamlined a particular process, share it. It could be the solution someone else is looking for.

Jump on trends and news: If there’s a hot topic or emerging trend, offer your unique perspective.

Share industry insights: Attended a webinar or podcast that offered valuable insights. Summarize the key takeaways and how they can be applied.

Share your successes: Write about strategies that have worked exceptionally well for you. Your audience will appreciate the proven advice. For example, I shared the process I used to help a former client rank for a keyword with over 2.2 million monthly searches.

Question outdated strategies: If you see a strategy that’s losing steam, suggest alternatives based on your experience and data.

5. Establish communication channels (How)

Once you know who your audience is and what they want to hear, the next step is figuring out how to reach them. Here’s how:

Choose the right platforms: You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform. Pick two platforms where your audience hangs out and create content for that platform. For example, I’m active on LinkedIn and X because my target audience (SEOs, B2B SaaS, and marketers) is active on these platforms.

Repurpose content: Don’t limit yourself to just one type of content. Consider repurposing your content on Quora, Reddit, or even in webinars and podcasts. This increases your reach and reinforces your message.

Follow Your audience: Go where your audience goes. If they’re active on X, that’s where you should be posting. If they frequent industry webinars, consider becoming a guest on these webinars.

Daily vs. In-depth content: Balance is key. Use social media for daily tips and insights, and reserve your blog for more comprehensive guides and articles.

Network with influencers: Your audience is likely following other experts in the field. Engaging with these influencers puts your content in front of a like-minded audience. I try to spend 30 minutes to an hour daily engaging with content on X and LinkedIn. This is the best way to build a relationship so you’re not a complete stranger when you DM privately.

6. Think of thought leadership as part of your content marketing efforts

As with other content efforts, thought leadership doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It thrives when woven into a cohesive content marketing strategy. By aligning individual authority with your brand, you amplify the credibility of both.

Think of it as top-of-the-funnel content to:

  • Build awareness about your brand

  • Highlight the problems you solve

  • Demonstrate expertise by platforming experts within the company who deliver solutions

Consider the user journey. An individual enters at the top through a social media post, podcast, or blog post. Intrigued, they want to learn more about you and either search your name on Google or social media. If they like what they see, they might visit your website, and if the information fits their needs, they move from passive readers to active prospects in your sales pipeline.

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How to Increase Survey Completion Rate With 5 Top Tips



How to Increase Survey Completion Rate With 5 Top Tips

Collecting high-quality data is crucial to making strategic observations about your customers. Researchers have to consider the best ways to design their surveys and then how to increase survey completion, because it makes the data more reliable.

→ Free Download: 5 Customer Survey Templates [Access Now]

I’m going to explain how survey completion plays into the reliability of data. Then, we’ll get into how to calculate your survey completion rate versus the number of questions you ask. Finally, I’ll offer some tips to help you increase survey completion rates.

My goal is to make your data-driven decisions more accurate and effective. And just for fun, I’ll use cats in the examples because mine won’t stop walking across my keyboard.

Why Measure Survey Completion

Let’s set the scene: We’re inside a laboratory with a group of cat researchers. They’re wearing little white coats and goggles — and they desperately want to know what other cats think of various fish.

They’ve written up a 10-question survey and invited 100 cats from all socioeconomic rungs — rough and hungry alley cats all the way up to the ones that thrice daily enjoy their Fancy Feast from a crystal dish.

Now, survey completion rates are measured with two metrics: response rate and completion rate. Combining those metrics determines what percentage, out of all 100 cats, finished the entire survey. If all 100 give their full report on how delicious fish is, you’d achieve 100% survey completion and know that your information is as accurate as possible.

But the truth is, nobody achieves 100% survey completion, not even golden retrievers.

With this in mind, here’s how it plays out:

  • Let’s say 10 cats never show up for the survey because they were sleeping.
  • Of the 90 cats that started the survey, only 25 got through a few questions. Then, they wandered off to knock over drinks.
  • Thus, 90 cats gave some level of response, and 65 completed the survey (90 – 25 = 65).
  • Unfortunately, those 25 cats who only partially completed the survey had important opinions — they like salmon way more than any other fish.

The cat researchers achieved 72% survey completion (65 divided by 90), but their survey will not reflect the 25% of cats — a full quarter! — that vastly prefer salmon. (The other 65 cats had no statistically significant preference, by the way. They just wanted to eat whatever fish they saw.)

Now, the Kitty Committee reviews the research and decides, well, if they like any old fish they see, then offer the least expensive ones so they get the highest profit margin.

CatCorp, their competitors, ran the same survey; however, they offered all 100 participants their own glass of water to knock over — with a fish inside, even!

Only 10 of their 100 cats started, but did not finish the survey. And the same 10 lazy cats from the other survey didn’t show up to this one, either.

So, there were 90 respondents and 80 completed surveys. CatCorp achieved an 88% completion rate (80 divided by 90), which recorded that most cats don’t care, but some really want salmon. CatCorp made salmon available and enjoyed higher profits than the Kitty Committee.

So you see, the higher your survey completion rates, the more reliable your data is. From there, you can make solid, data-driven decisions that are more accurate and effective. That’s the goal.

We measure the completion rates to be able to say, “Here’s how sure we can feel that this information is accurate.”

And if there’s a Maine Coon tycoon looking to invest, will they be more likely to do business with a cat food company whose decision-making metrics are 72% accurate or 88%? I suppose it could depend on who’s serving salmon.

While math was not my strongest subject in school, I had the great opportunity to take several college-level research and statistics classes, and the software we used did the math for us. That’s why I used 100 cats — to keep the math easy so we could focus on the importance of building reliable data.

Now, we’re going to talk equations and use more realistic numbers. Here’s the formula:

Completion rate equals the # of completed surveys divided by the # of survey respondents.

So, we need to take the number of completed surveys and divide that by the number of people who responded to at least one of your survey questions. Even just one question answered qualifies them as a respondent (versus nonrespondent, i.e., the 10 lazy cats who never show up).

Now, you’re running an email survey for, let’s say, Patton Avenue Pet Company. We’ll guess that the email list has 5,000 unique addresses to contact. You send out your survey to all of them.

Your analytics data reports that 3,000 people responded to one or more of your survey questions. Then, 1,200 of those respondents actually completed the entire survey.

3,000/5000 = 0.6 = 60% — that’s your pool of survey respondents who answered at least one question. That sounds pretty good! But some of them didn’t finish the survey. You need to know the percentage of people who completed the entire survey. So here we go:

Completion rate equals the # of completed surveys divided by the # of survey respondents.

Completion rate = (1,200/3,000) = 0.40 = 40%

Voila, 40% of your respondents did the entire survey.

Response Rate vs. Completion Rate

Okay, so we know why the completion rate matters and how we find the right number. But did you also hear the term response rate? They are completely different figures based on separate equations, and I’ll show them side by side to highlight the differences.

  • Completion Rate = # of Completed Surveys divided by # of Respondents
  • Response Rate = # of Respondents divided by Total # of surveys sent out

Here are examples using the same numbers from above:

Completion Rate = (1200/3,000) = 0.40 = 40%

Response Rate = (3,000/5000) = 0.60 = 60%

So, they are different figures that describe different things:

  • Completion rate: The percentage of your respondents that completed the entire survey. As a result, it indicates how sure we are that the information we have is accurate.
  • Response rate: The percentage of people who responded in any way to our survey questions.

The follow-up question is: How can we make this number as high as possible in order to be closer to a truer and more complete data set from the population we surveyed?

There’s more to learn about response rates and how to bump them up as high as you can, but we’re going to keep trucking with completion rates!

What’s a good survey completion rate?

That is a heavily loaded question. People in our industry have to say, “It depends,” far more than anybody wants to hear it, but it depends. Sorry about that.

There are lots of factors at play, such as what kind of survey you’re doing, what industry you’re doing it in, if it’s an internal or external survey, the population or sample size, the confidence level you’d like to hit, the margin of error you’re willing to accept, etc.

But you can’t really get a high completion rate unless you increase response rates first.

So instead of focusing on what’s a good completion rate, I think it’s more important to understand what makes a good response rate. Aim high enough, and survey completions should follow.

I checked in with the Qualtrics community and found this discussion about survey response rates:

“Just wondering what are the average response rates we see for online B2B CX surveys? […]

Current response rates: 6%–8%… We are looking at boosting the response rates but would first like to understand what is the average.”

The best answer came from a government service provider that works with businesses. The poster notes that their service is free to use, so they get very high response rates.

“I would say around 30–40% response rates to transactional surveys,” they write. “Our annual pulse survey usually sits closer to 12%. I think the type of survey and how long it has been since you rendered services is a huge factor.”

Since this conversation, “Delighted” (the Qualtrics blog) reported some fresher data:

survey completion rate vs number of questions new data, qualtrics data

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The takeaway here is that response rates vary widely depending on the channel you use to reach respondents. On the upper end, the Qualtrics blog reports that customers had 85% response rates for employee email NPS surveys and 33% for email NPS surveys.

A good response rate, the blog writes, “ranges between 5% and 30%. An excellent response rate is 50% or higher.”

This echoes reports from Customer Thermometer, which marks a response rate of 50% or higher as excellent. Response rates between 5%-30% are much more typical, the report notes. High response rates are driven by a strong motivation to complete the survey or a personal relationship between the brand and the customer.

If your business does little person-to-person contact, you’re out of luck. Customer Thermometer says you should expect responses on the lower end of the scale. The same goes for surveys distributed from unknown senders, which typically yield the lowest level of responses.

According to SurveyMonkey, surveys where the sender has no prior relationship have response rates of 20% to 30% on the high end.

Whatever numbers you do get, keep making those efforts to bring response rates up. That way, you have a better chance of increasing your survey completion rate. How, you ask?

Tips to Increase Survey Completion

If you want to boost survey completions among your customers, try the following tips.

1. Keep your survey brief.

We shouldn’t cram lots of questions into one survey, even if it’s tempting. Sure, it’d be nice to have more data points, but random people will probably not hunker down for 100 questions when we catch them during their half-hour lunch break.

Keep it short. Pare it down in any way you can.

Survey completion rate versus number of questions is a correlative relationship — the more questions you ask, the fewer people will answer them all. If you have the budget to pay the respondents, it’s a different story — to a degree.

“If you’re paying for survey responses, you’re more likely to get completions of a decently-sized survey. You’ll just want to avoid survey lengths that might tire, confuse, or frustrate the user. You’ll want to aim for quality over quantity,” says Pamela Bump, Head of Content Growth at HubSpot.

2. Give your customers an incentive.

For instance, if they’re cats, you could give them a glass of water with a fish inside.

Offer incentives that make sense for your target audience. If they feel like they are being rewarded for giving their time, they will have more motivation to complete the survey.

This can even accomplish two things at once — if you offer promo codes, discounts on products, or free shipping, it encourages them to shop with you again.

3. Keep it smooth and easy.

Keep your survey easy to read. Simplifying your questions has at least two benefits: People will understand the question better and give you the information you need, and people won’t get confused or frustrated and just leave the survey.

4. Know your customers and how to meet them where they are.

Here’s an anecdote about understanding your customers and learning how best to meet them where they are.

Early on in her role, Pamela Bump, HubSpot’s Head of Content Growth, conducted a survey of HubSpot Blog readers to learn more about their expertise levels, interests, challenges, and opportunities. Once published, she shared the survey with the blog’s email subscribers and a top reader list she had developed, aiming to receive 150+ responses.

“When the 20-question survey was getting a low response rate, I realized that blog readers were on the blog to read — not to give feedback. I removed questions that wouldn’t serve actionable insights. When I reshared a shorter, 10-question survey, it passed 200 responses in one week,” Bump shares.

Tip 5. Gamify your survey.

Make it fun! Brands have started turning surveys into eye candy with entertaining interfaces so they’re enjoyable to interact with.

Your respondents could unlock micro incentives as they answer more questions. You can word your questions in a fun and exciting way so it feels more like a BuzzFeed quiz. Someone saw the opportunity to make surveys into entertainment, and your imagination — well, and your budget — is the limit!

Your Turn to Boost Survey Completion Rates

Now, it’s time to start surveying. Remember to keep your user at the heart of the experience. Value your respondents’ time, and they’re more likely to give you compelling information. Creating short, fun-to-take surveys can also boost your completion rates.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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