With the potential to increase your brand awareness and build a reputable brand being so high on Instagram, understanding how to use it is essential.
While there are various ways to market yourself or your business on Instagram, it’s impossible to do so without first understanding your Instagram engagement rate.
Discover below ways to increase your engagement rate and the industry benchmarks to measure yourself against.
What is Instagram engagement rate?
Instagram engagement rate is a quantitative measure of how users interact with the content on your profile. It takes into account your number of followers, likes, comments, and shares. Engagement rates are typically calculated by dividing an account’s likes and comments by follower count.
Why does your Instagram engagement rate matter?
Instagram engagement rates are significant because they measure an audience’s interest, brand relevance, and social authority.
If your content appeals to your target audience, your engagement rate will be higher.
If you take the time to review your best-performing content — i.e., posts with the most likes, shares, saves, and comments — you’ll get a feel for what your users want to see.
It’s important to note high impressions may indicate that your content has been viewed a lot, but engagement is typically defined as concrete interactions with your posts.
If you have a high engagement rate, it’s likely your audience sees you as a relevant source of information.
They may favor your content over competitors because your content sets you apart. However, if you have a high engagement rate now, will it stay the same in three months? Is it higher than it was last year?
If you aren’t monitoring your engagement rate and using it as a benchmark for relevance, your score can decline.
While you’ve probably already identified your target Instagram audience, it’s never bad to add new followers and fans to the list.
These new users will take notice of your engagement — your followers, likes, comments, etc. — to decide whether or not to follow you.
They’re likely to move on to your competitors if they notice your brand’s engagement, a.k.a. social authority is not strong.
What is the average Instagram engagement rate?
There is no one-size-fits-all definition of a “good” engagement rate. It can vary by industry, B2B vs. B2C, and a series of other factors.
However, Instagram does have higher engagement rates than other social media networks.
According to the HubSpot Instagram Engagement Report, posts on the platform generate 23% more engagement than Facebook, even though Facebook has 2x more monthly users.
If you want a numerical value to compare your score to, Rival IQ found that the median engagement rate across all industries is 0.064%, in a 2022 report.
The highest engagement levels are reported in the sporting industry (0.27%) and by influencers (0.23).
Because of this, it’s safe to assume that an engagement rate of around 1% is a good engagement rate.
If you’ve already run the numbers and found that your engagement rate is significantly lower than average, don’t fret. There’s room for improvement — but maintain a healthy perspective.
Assess how your engagement rate has changed over time and begin devising strategies to raise your score.
Start this process by calculating your engagement rate, outlined in the next section.
How To Calculate Your Engagement Rate On Instagram
There is debate among marketers on the best way to calculate your Instagram engagement rate, as different industries define success in different ways.
Your preferred method depends on your goals as a brand or influencer.
Calculating Instagram Engagement Rate for Brands
This formula is best for brands on Instagram because it considers the number of people who have seen a piece of content (impressions) rather than the total number of followers.
Brands typically convert more leads via exposure first, rather than follower count.
When branded advertisements get viewed, engagement rates go up, especially if they follow the advertisements on Instagram profiles and become followers.
Calculating the Instagram engagement Rate for Influencers
Since sponsors often recruit influencers on Instagram based on their likes and follower count, their engagement rates incorporate these two factors.
Since this metric doesn’t require any personal data, it’s possible to compare your engagement rates to competitors.
No matter your engagement rate, there are always steps to be taken to raise your score.
How To Increase Your Instagram Engagement Rate
- Maintain consistent branding.
- Understand your audience.
- Post regularly.
- Create better captions.
- Engage with your followers.
- Engage with similar accounts.
- Create mixed content.
- Use CTAs.
- Track your statistics.
1. Maintain consistent branding.
Maintaining consistency with your content is extremely important, and there are a variety of actions you can take to do so.
Firstly, your username should be similar or the same to your other social media usernames. For example, if your Twitter handle is @greenbookworm, your Instagram handle should be the same if it’s available (or something very similar).
You should also make sure that your content is visually consistent as well, and you should have a format that you use for all of your posts. Take a look at Nike’s Instagram, for example.
Whenever they post content that includes typography, they use the same backgrounds and font. When they post photos, they’re high quality and use the same filter.
When your content has a similar look, your profile becomes aesthetically pleasing, and users can recognize your photos as a consistent brand. If they come across your content on another social media site and can realize that it’s yours, they may follow you there as well.
There’s data to back this up — WebDam found that 60% of the best-performing brands on Instagram used the same filter every time they post.
2. Understand your audience.
You can’t begin creating content without knowing your intended audience. Developing Instagram personas is a helpful tool for increasing your engagement rate.
If you know who your followers are, creating content that they want makes them more likely to engage with you. Take the time to monitor your audience statistics, and update your personas accordingly.
You can use Instagram insights to get a demographic understanding of your followers. If you have an Instagram business account, navigate to the audience tab from the Insights menu.
From here, you can see the top locations your users are in, your users’ age ranges, and their gender. All this information will give you an understanding of your users.
If you’re a HubSpot user, you can utilize the Social Reports data to find these same insights.
Regardless of your target audience, your content needs to be accessible. Utilizing Instagram’s accessibility tools is crucial, and you can use it to add image alt text, subtitles, and captions to your content.
3. Post regularly.
Once you know your target audience, post content they’ll enjoy and do it regularly.
The number of times you post depends on your marketing strategy, but the average brand posts four to six times a week on social media, according to a 2021 HubSpot Blog survey.
Again, this metric is an average and it may not work for everyone.
Posting too much content can overwhelm your users, and they won’t hesitate to unfollow if their feed is clogged.
It’s also important to know the best times to post for your followers. Instagram insights will also tell you the best days and hours to post.
Do keep in mind that quantity doesn’t equal quality, which brings us to the next engagement-raising strategy.
4. Create better captions.
Use the brand voice you’ve developed to sound consistent and keep your intended audience in mind. You can create short captions that are serious or light-hearted.
You can also create longer captions that tell stories and take your users on a journey. Take the Instagram account @humansofny as an example. They regularly feature the personal stories of people around the world.
Since engagement metrics factor in the length of time users spend on your posts, consider alternating shorter and longer captions.
Hand-in-hand with writing better captions is using quality hashtags — Instagram was built on them, after all. It’s still the algorithm’s primary method of filtering through content. If you’re unfamiliar with hashtags, here’s a summary.
Captions can hold up to 30 hashtags per post, but there must be a balance.
Hashtag dumping, which is similar to keyword stuffing, may make the algorithm think you’re spamming for engagement, and you can be shadowbanned. The goal is to figure out what works for you and stick to it.
Your hashtags should be a mix of popular and specific, long-tailed keywords. For example, if you’re running an Instagram for your hotel, you’ll want to use common hashtags like #hotel and #travel.
However, those are also very broad, as a search for the #hotel tag has 31 million posts. Be more specific and targeted towards your needs, and maybe say #hotel, #travel, and #hotel + your hotel name + the name of the city you’re in. So, for example, #hotellisamiami.
You can discover the best hashtags to use by doing keyword research and categorizing those that work best for you and your brand. You may also want to consider coming up with a brand-specific hashtag that users can recognize as yours.
5. Engage with your followers.
After you post, engage with your followers. While Instagram has the ‘Turn off comments’ feature, opt to keep them on.
Reply to comments that your followers make. Maybe they’re asking questions or proclaiming their excitement for your product. Paula’s Choice, a beauty brand, is an excellent example of this.
They regularly host Instagram Q&A’s, where users ask questions and they answer them on their Instagram stories.
They’re taking actions that they know will entice their audience into interacting with their Instagram content, which factors into engagement rates.
Engaging with your followers also entails sharing their content on your site, known as user-generated content (UGC). Surfing through your brand-specific hashtags can help you find users that are posting about you. You can screenshot their content to share on your story, and even post on your feed.
Your followers will be excited that you interact with them, as engagement may signify a personal relationship with your brand. Here’s an example of Paula’s Choice posting UGC.
6. Engage with similar accounts.
There wouldn’t be a point to using Instagram if you’re not following and interacting with other accounts.
Using the platform to engage with accounts similar to yours is extremely important. If you’re a brand, this can mean partnering with influencers in the same industry.
If you share products with them, they’ll post content wearing your brands. If they tag you, their followers will see your account, and many may follow you — all of these metrics factor into your engagement rate.
Emma Chamberlain is a popular YouTuber, holding almost 10.4 million Instagram followers at only 19 years old. She regularly posts sponsored content, and her sponsors post her. She entices her followers to interact with those brands, and vice versa.
This establishes trust between brands, influencers, and their followers, which paints a picture of ‘high engagement’ to those browsing Instagram, and they’ll follow you in return.
In addition to influencers, simply engaging with brands within your industry is essential as well. Commenting on industry-standard accounts can give you exposure to users in that same comment section, and they may click your profile and become new followers.
7. Create mixed content.
When the app was first launched, all you could do was post photos. Now, there are five types of content posts supported on Instagram: photos, videos, Instagram TV (IGTV), Instagram Reels, and Instagram Stories.
It’s no longer enough to just post photos; you need to do all of it.
Zenith Media estimated that the average person would spend 84 minutes a day watching videos in 2020. That’s a significant amount of time spent watching videos, so use it to your advantage.
There are five video options within Instagram: Reels, IGTV, Story videos, Instagram Live, and video posts. You’ll need to decide which method is best for you, but a well-rounded Instagram strategy will include all. If people are watching content on your page, they’re spending more time on your site, factoring into your impressions rate.
If you’re a sports brand, post enticing videos of recognized athletes using your equipment to practice their sport.
Instagram Stories are essentially the same as Snapchat stories. HubSpot’s Instagram engagement report found 22% of users watched branded content Stories from a company, business, or brand more than once a week, and 36% liked, commented, or shared branded Stores.
You can take advantage of these numbers and use this feature to draw attention to your new posts by sharing them on your Story or simply posting Story exclusive content.
This feature can also be used to engage with your audience. Post quizzes and questions and make them shareable for other users. Stories can also be used to get feedback from customers, asking them to submit experiences with your products and services.
Circling back to influencer sponsorships, having them go live on your account via Instagram Live is a great strategy. Instagram Live’s can also be saved to your account, so new users can watch them even if they occurred three months before.
8. Use calls-to-action (CTAs).
A CTA is an image, line of text, hashtag, or swipe-up link that is meant to entice your audience to take action — hence the call to action.
The specific action you’re asking users to take should be decided based on your brand, service, or influencers’ needs. This may mean notifying them of a sale by including a swipe up link in your Instagram story, asking them to tag a friend in the comment section, or sharing links to partner-posted content.
While links to other sites don’t directly impact your Instagram engagement rate, they still require users to spend more time on your profile, and you can convert them into leads on other platforms. Here’s an example of National Geographic advertising a new product on their story using a swipe-up CTA.
9. Track your statistics.
Why would you bother taking action to improve your engagement rate if you’re not taking the time to understand if it’s working? Tracking your progress is extremely important, and it should be something you focus on.
Trial and error is expected, and it should be used to inform your current and future strategies. Use your preferred CRM to find your most effective posts or pieces of content, and use the strategy employed in those for your next content posts.
After you’ve calculated your engagement rate for the first time, you should devise a timeline in which you’ll recalculate it again. Maybe you’ll set a goal of raising your score by .10% in a year, so you may plan to re-calculate the numbers every three months.
This can also help you understand what isn’t working — if your numbers haven’t budged, something needs to change.
All in all, Instagram engagement rate is a measure of how your audience interacts with your content. Your rate is an indication of your Instagram profiles’ social authority, relevancy, and audience interest.
If your content is good and your followers are engaging, your engagement rate will demonstrate that. When you spend time working on your engagement rate, you collect valuable data to inform your entire Instagram marketing strategy.
You should see your engagement rate as a benchmark for customer loyalty and satisfaction.
If your users like you, it’ll show.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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.
HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:
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.
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.
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.
What is survey completion rate?
Survey completion rate refers to the number of completed surveys divided by the number of total survey respondents. The result is then multiplied by 100 to get a percentage. Survey respondents include those who completed the survey, and those who started the survey but didn’t complete it.
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:
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:
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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