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Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates for Content Marketing



Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates for Content Marketing

Quick: Name the tool most critical for effectively managing your content marketing program.

No matter your role or responsibilities, the answer should be an editorial calendar.

Why? Content creation involves a million small tasks. A reliable system keeps track of all those processes and each content piece’s status as it moves through them.

But content marketing editorial calendars can do much more than that.

They can streamline strategic collaboration, track marketing performance, and identify content repurposing opportunities.

With a thoughtful approach and proper configuration, editorial calendars can enhance team productivity and add clarity at every stage of your brand’s content marketing journey.

Learn how to build a customized content marketing editorial calendar – and how to maximize its benefits – with these tips, examples, and templates.

1. Set the foundation for an effective editorial calendar

Gather key information from your content marketing strategy to inform your content creation plan. Answer the following questions to help determine what to track in your calendar and stay focused on your marketing goals.

Who are you creating content for?

You can’t create the right content if you don’t have a clear understanding of the target audience. Use the insights in your content personas to focus on their informational needs and topical interests.

What will your content help your business achieve?

Are you looking to generate leads? Increase your thought leadership? Drive attendance to your events? Your content marketing mission and goals will impact what you publish, where you publish, how often, and how your team prioritizes, organizes, and categorizes/tags its content creation efforts.

What creative resources do you have?

Will you work with an in-house team of writers, designers, and videographers? A stable of industry pros sharing their insights? A mix of internal and external contributors? The tracked formats, frequency, and workflow stages likely depend on with whom you’re collaborating and the nature of their expertise.

TIP: Need to enhance your creative capabilities to handle the workload? Follow this complete guide to outsourcing content creators.

What will make your content distinct?

How can your brand deliver content with a unique mission? What unmet industry needs can the content address? What gaps exist in your or your competitors’ content? Can you tie your content to industry events for added exposure? Knowing how to attract a larger share of your audience’s attention lets you fill the content marketing editorial calendar with impactful ideas and assets.

What are the steps for producing quality content for your brand? What tasks and team members factor into your content workflow? Who manages each aspect, who else helps, and who needs to approve the pieces? Those insights determine what information to include in your calendar and how to structure it for optimal use.

2. Build your content marketing editorial calendar

Multiple calendar-building options exist, from simple spreadsheets to project management software. You can also use calendar tools integrated into content workflow management platforms and access free templates online.

Picking your calendar tool

Knowing some of the pros and cons of each option will help determine the best choice to build your marketing editorial calendar.

Project/task management software

Tools like Trello, Airtable, Basecamp, or Asana are great for organizing tasks, collaboration stages, and asset status. They include tagging, annotation capabilities, and drag-and-drop functionality that make them ideal for tracking content from ideation to execution.

For example, Clare McDermott recommends Airtable for content planning because it combines elements of spreadsheets and databases.

@Airtable is amazingly useful for editorial calendar planning because it’s an elegant combination of spreadsheet and database, says @clare_mcd via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

As shown in her editorial calendar template example, one calendar tracks multiple elements – the headline, author, deadline, topic/category, and production status.

You can use filters to zoom in on specific details about the content pipeline, such as articles by a particular author or assets that include visuals.

1670844304 582 Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates for Content Marketing

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However, some project management tools build templates with developer or marketing needs in mind. You need to adapt them to work well in an editorial environment – which could become more of a time-suck than a time-saver.

Editorial workflow management platforms

Dedicated content management and editorial workflow software can offer editorial calendaring features better suited to the needs of content marketers. They are also more likely to integrate well with other enterprise content technologies, like your CMS (e.g., WordPress), email marketing systems, or asset management tools.

All-in-one systems can be complex and pricey, so they may not be the best option for small teams or smaller-scale content marketing programs.

Fortunately, some offer free editorial calendar templates without purchasing a software license. They may include advanced features that would be hard to build on your own.

For example, ContentCal asks a few questions, such as your types of content, publishing frequency, and target platforms. With that information, it creates an annual calendar with target publishing dates for each type of asset.

1670844304 550 Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates for Content Marketing

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You can always start with a simple Excel spreadsheet or a shareable Google Sheet. It’s easy to configure them to track fundamental tasks like production steps and publishing dates for a blog or social media posts. Just label the columns and rows for all the information you need.

For example, the CMI editorial team bases its editorial calendar on a template like this one for the blog. It details the production information for each day’s article – headline, author, topic category, and workflow status. (Download your own copy and adjust it as needed).

1670844304 259 Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates for Content Marketing

Uploading your spreadsheet to a cloud-sharing system (like SharePoint, Box, Dropbox, or Google Drive) makes it easy for your team to access and update the information as each asset moves through the process.

Spreadsheets lack advanced features that make complex workflows easier to manage (like content that involves sales or requires developer skills). They also can quickly get unwieldy when tracking multiple processes like creation and performance tracking or multi-channel content experiences.

Also, spreadsheets don’t always integrate well with other enterprise systems and processes, so consider your collaboration needs before choosing this option.

Start with essential workflow details

How you fill out your editorial calendar ultimately depends on your goals, resources, and content plan. At the most fundamental level, it should include these fields for each content asset:

  • Date of publication
  • Topic or headline
  • Author
  • Required features – cover image, video or audio asset, ad obligations, etc.
  • Owner – who manages the workflow for that asset and/or approves the final piece
  • Status – update as the content moves through the publishing cycle

Add useful extras

Depending on the content and workflow, you may want to track the following elements to ensure your content follows the strategy over the long term.

Distribution channels

When working with multiple channels, tracking the where and when of distribution is critical.

You can use this starter template as a model. It tracks basic publication details for each channel, such as the targeted personas, publishing frequency, and topics. This example also includes fields to identify relevant calls to action and target KPIs.

1670844304 712 Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates for Content Marketing

While CMI was used as a reference for this template, the content does not reflect its channel plan. Click to download a copy.

TIP: Learn to build a channel plan to put your content in the hands of the right consumers at the right time.

Content formats and types

Are you focused on a single type or multiple types of content (e.g., blog posts, podcasts, videos)? What format(s) will be used for those types (e.g., live streaming interviews, scripted presentations, product demos)? Tracking this information is helpful, especially when repackaging your assets into other formats or for use on additional platforms.

Visual elements

Don’t overlook the appeal of visual content in terms of social-sharing potential and brand recognition. Tracking the visuals – such as cover images, logos, illustrations, or infographics – ensures your content has a consistent look and cohesive brand identity.


Including topics and categories makes your calendars more searchable and can help uncover opportunities to fill coverage gaps.

Keywords and other SEO metadata

This information includes meta descriptions and SEO titles (if different from the headlines). Including these details in the editorial calendar visually reminds you to optimize the content for targeted keywords and align with the business’ SEO strategy.

Calls to action

Tracking CTAs on your editorial calendar ensures every content piece is focused on achieving a goal for your business.


Tracking the URLs of each published piece can help content inventories and audits and make it easier to build backlinks to your highest-converting content assets.

Repurposing details

You can add fields to indicate the content’s last update date and its performance against a target KPI. Indexing this information turns your content marketing editorial calendar into a mini content audit to identify high-performing content to recycle and republish.


Manick Bhan offers a sample template for this small-scale content audit. In addition to tracking the content’s original and updated publication dates, it includes the page title, author, total impressions, and topical category.

1646910888 160 How To Reduce Reuse and Recycle Your Content for Improved

3. Keep your editorial calendar filled and focused

A consistent publishing schedule requires a steady flow of engaging topics and ideas to turn into valuable content.

Incorporate a running list of story ideas into your editorial calendar. The list can also be an easy reference when looking for gaps in your coverage or provide extra inspiration for your team’s creative brainstorms.

Ben Taylor, founder of, suggests using a card-based project management system like Trello. “Create a column for ideas, then anybody on the team with access can submit them,” he says. For ideas you plan to take forward, just drag their cards into your workflow.

@homeworkingclub likes @trello for #brainstorming because it lets ideas move easily through your #content workflow via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Again, the fields to track content ideation can vary. At a minimum, track the following:

  • Topic idea
  • Owner of the idea
  • Target keywords/categories to which the content would map
  • Who might be available/qualified to author the piece
  • Marketing goal the idea aligns with
  • Projected publishing timeframe

4. Evaluate more ways to use editorial calendars

Editorial calendars can be helpful for a range of content marketing tasks beyond tracking your creative process and managing your publishing workflow.

Diversity and accessibility compliance

To ensure your content complies with accessibility standards and features diverse perspectives, include those details in your tracking system. For example, the CMI editorial team’s calendar includes a field to note that the content has been reviewed for inclusivity considerations and/or highlights the expertise of writers from diverse backgrounds.

External collaborations

If you work with external content contributors and influencers, add the relevant details of those engagements to the content marketing editorial calendar.

Whether you use dedicated influencer management tools or just add a separate tab in your main editorial calendar spreadsheet, these details can simplify the assignment process and ensure on-time assets:

  • Writer’s name
  • Contact details
  • Preferred topics
  • Standard turnaround times
  • Channels and platforms they work with


Keeping a record of the content as it is created gives you a head start in tracking the performance of each piece and regularly sharing the results with your team and upper management.

You can add columns (or tabs) to your main calendar to keep on hand the most relevant analytics like page views, clicks, or conversions. Alternatively, you can grab the most pertinent information about the content from the calendar and plug it into a separate reporting template.

Aligning content across the enterprise

Sharing your content calendar with sales, marketing, HR, public relations, and other departments helps them understand and better leverage your content efforts to further their own goals. That connection may make them more likely to alert you when they’re involved in new events or opportunities that might spark fresh ideas or impact your project priorities.

Ease your process pain with the right editorial calendar

The possibilities are practically endless when it comes to using editorial calendars to organize your content marketing and keep your efforts moving in the right direction. What additional tips, tools, and ideas have worked well for your calendaring efforts? If you have other suggestions, please share them with your fellow content marketers in the comments.

All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please add it in the comments.

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

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Updated from an April 2017 post.

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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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