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How to Create a Great Social Media Strategy Plan in 2022

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Many businesses find creating a social media strategy overwhelming. There are so many networks available, and they’re constantly adding new features to learn and integrate into your plan.

If you don’t have a full-time team of social media experts at your disposal, it’s even harder. But the fact is that your success depends on having a sensible and straightforward strategy that fits your resources and goals.

By the end of this guide, you’ll know how to develop a social media strategy that will drive traffic and quell that overwhelming feeling you get whenever you open Instagram or Twitter.

Your social media strategy is your master plan for how you create, post, and engage with your social media content. It encompasses your social content guidelines, posting cadence, social media marketing campaigns, creative plans, and engagement strategy.

Many companies use social media to connect with their customers, provide support, advertise new products and features, and promote special offers.

Social media strategies differ depending on the brand’s voice and positioning, target audience demographics, and social media platform limitations. When you develop your business’ social media strategy, considering these factors will help your message reach the right audiences in the right format.

social media strategy example: tweet from t-mobile

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For example, T-Mobile’s social media team capitalized on the Mother’s Day holiday to promote their T-Mobile Tuesdays app. The tweet uses humor to gain users’ attention and includes a timely promotion to appeal to Twitter users who haven’t bought a gift for Mother’s Day.

social media strategy example: instagram post from hershey

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You can also use social media as part of a larger marketing campaign. For example, Hershey’s posted a short video on Instagram featuring Mindy Kaling, the spokesperson for their “Celebrate SHE” campaign.

Why You Need a Social Media Strategy

The top three challenges that social media marketers face include reaching their audience, measuring ROI, and reaching business goals.

Crafting a social media strategy can help you tackle these challenges and more. Social media strategies also equip you to set goals and guardrails, track performance, and tweak your benchmarks over time. Without a starting point, you can’t measure what’s working and how to shift your activity to hit your goals.

Creating a strategy:

1. Helps you set goals and guardrails.

A social media strategy establishes clear expectations and goals for your business’ social media marketing efforts. Whether you aim to increase brand awareness, create buzz around a promotional event, or launch a rebranding campaign for your business, a social media strategy provides a blueprint that your team can follow to keep your marketing consistent, on task, and relevant to your target audience.

2. Allows you to track goal performance.

It’s not enough to simply have a goal for your business’ social media marketing; you also need to keep track of how you are progressing toward the goal. A social media strategy establishes key performance indicators that you can analyze to monitor your business’ progress toward its social media goals.

3. Helps you tweak your benchmarks over time.

Benchmarking your social media marketing strategy allows you to track social media metrics and analyze your business’ current social media performance compared to industry standards, your competitors’ performance, and your past performance.

Evaluating your performance against benchmarks helps you determine elements of your social media marketing that need improvement to reach your marketing goals.

A social media strategy also helps you set expectations for broader team involvement and get everyone aligned on what they should and shouldn’t do on your social networks.

Let’s unpack how to start building a social media strategy from scratch.

1. Define your target audience.

If you haven’t already identified and documented your buyer personas, start by defining the key demographics of the audience you’re trying to reach, such as age, gender, occupation, income, hobbies and interests, etc.

Defining your target audience helps you create focused advertising that addresses your ideal consumer’s specific needs.

For instance, the below sponsored tweet by monday.com, a project management platform, highlights the platform’s flexibility and workflow customization feature. The tweet targets business owners and project managers who may feel limited by other project management software.

social media strategy example: tweet from monday.com

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Consider your ideal consumer’s challenges and what problems they’re solving daily. Focus on no more than four types of people that represent the majority of your buyers. Don’t get hung up on the exceptions or outliers, or you’ll never get started!

2. Start blogging.

Fresh content is the linchpin of a successful social strategy, so commit to consistently creating new, quality content. Compile a list of common questions from prospects and commit to addressing these questions with at least one new blog post per week.

Combining your blogging and social media strategies can help your content reach a larger audience. For example, you can create a social media post that includes a tip for your followers and a link to a blog post that expands upon the post. The social media post will drive traffic to your blog, making it easy for readers to share the blog post with their followers and expand the blog’s reach.

social media strategy example: sellersfundingcorp tweet

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This tweet by SellersFunding highlights the main points discussed in the linked blog post. The tweet provides enough detail to pique the reader’s interest and convince them to read the full blog post.

3. Create educational content.

Create downloadable content like ebooks, checklists, videos, and infographics that address your buyer’s pains. If your content is beneficial, people will likely share it on social media and extend your reach.

One example would be HubSpot’s social media trends report, which we offer for free:

ebook social media strategy example: social media trends from hubspot

4. Focus on a few key social channels.

Most startups and small businesses don’t have the bandwidth to establish and sustain a quality social media presence on every single channel. It’s also overwhelming to learn the rules of engagement on multiple networks simultaneously.

Here’s a video by HubSpot Academy explaining the social channels where you can post content for your business.

Start small. Research key networks to learn where your target audience is spending time. For instance, if your ideal consumers are business professionals, it may be beneficial to post on LinkedIn rather than Instagram.

Focus your effort on building, nurturing, and sustaining a community on the social channels where your target audience spends most of their time before moving on to another channel.

5. Develop a recipe card to guide you.

Social media isn’t an exact science. It doesn’t work the same for every business or industry. To see results for your business, create a recipe card. A recipe card is a posting and engagement schedule that keeps your team on track and helps you post content consistently. HubSpot has a list of 13 social media tools and templates that you can use to plan your content and create a posting schedule.

Develop a reasonable recipe card, one you can stick to and get your team to follow. Set goals for your posting and engagement frequency, and hold yourself accountable for following your recipe.

6. Measure your results.

There are countless things to track on your social media channels. Start by looking at how much traffic your social accounts drive to your website or blog.

Social media platforms offer tools to help businesses track analytics. For example, you can use Facebook’s Page Insights, Instagram’s Account Insights, and LinkedIn’s Visitor Analytics to see what people are responding to and look for trends related to particular topics or keywords that generate more interest than others. Once you get an idea of your average traffic and post performance, set goals for key metrics, and keep a scorecard to measure your progress.

Be sure to choose metrics that are easy to gather, because if it’s too time-consuming to track, you’ll fall off the wagon! Examples of simple metrics include net new fans and followers, number of interactions, and visits to your website from social.

7. Adjust your tactics.

Social media won’t start working overnight. Establishing a following, stabilizing your brand, and seeing the results of your efforts takes time. So experiment to find the right combination of channels, content, and messaging that works for your audience.

Keep track of changes in your post views, audience demographics, and post interactions, and make changes as needed.

Over time, you’ll be able to adjust your recipe card, content, and personas based on the information you’re gathering, which will help you fine-tune your strategy and generate more consistent results.

Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social media is a multipurpose business asset. It connects you with your audience and promotes your products, services, and brand. Both functions are equally important.

Building a social media strategy for marketing is different from the process we discussed above. How so? For example, your benchmarks and goals may be more specific to metrics you track for other marketing efforts.

When using social media to market your business, ensure the experience on your social networks is positive and consistent. All imagery and content on your social media accounts should be consistent with those on your website, blog, and any other digital real estate.

Pay close attention to any questions or comments your audience posts, and be quick to address them, as that engagement could make or break a conversion or purchase.

Take a look at these examples of what to stop, start, and keep doing to help your business’ social media marketing succeed.

Lastly, align the content you post and how you post it with marketing campaigns you’re running on other channels (e.g., email or ads).

Social Media Content Strategy

Content is the crux of any social media strategy. Without content, you can’t engage with your audience, promote your products, or measure performance.

The fleeting nature of social media may lead you to believe that you don’t have to plan its content as much as you do for your emails or blogs. That’s not true. Social media content may not be as static as your landing pages or blog content, but it’s still equally important for engaging your audience and representing your brand as a whole.

For that reason, you should also have a social media content strategy. This should include:

  • Posting guidelines and specs for each network on which you’re active (e.g., share GIFs on Twitter but avoid them on Facebook)
  • Determining the target audience nuances per network (e.g., the younger segment of your audience is more active on Instagram than on LinkedIn)
  • Repurposing plans for long-form content from your blog, podcast, e-books, etc.
  • Identifying who on your team is allowed to post, and who’s responsible for engaging followers
  • Naming the companies, publications, and individuals you’ll repost (and those who you won’t/can’t)

HubSpot’s Aja Frost offers more tips for creating a social media content strategy in this video.

Social Media Strategy Templates

Social media is overwhelming; I get it. Starting your strategy from scratch is even more overwhelming, so we developed 10 free social media templates to help.

social media strategy templates from hubspot

In the free download, you’ll receive:

  • Scheduling templates for every channel, since social media channels aren’t one-size-fits-all
  • A complete calendar of hashtag holidays, so you never forget to participate with new, fun content
  • Social auditing template to track your followers, engagement rates, and more
  • A social media content calendar to organize campaigns across every channel
  • A social reporting template to track your monthly social successes
  • A paid social template to help you manage and optimize your paid budget

Download our free social media template bundle to manage, optimize, and create more social content without sacrificing quality.

Time to Get Social

Do you still feel like social media is overwhelming? That’s okay. Although I’m not sure that feeling ever fully fades, you can diminish it by leveraging the tips in this guide and the free templates above. Remember: Tackle one social network at a time, prioritize your audience, and focus on the content that works. You’ll see results and traffic in no time.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons

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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.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader

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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

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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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