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The HubSpot Blog’s 2022 Instagram Marketing Trends Report

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The HubSpot Blog’s 2022 Instagram Marketing Trends Report

If you’ve been on Instagram lately, you’ve probably noticed that the app looks a bit different every time you log on.

The heart-shaped notification button seems to move with a mind of its own, IGTV has disappeared, and the addition of the Reels and Shop buttons has completely changed the way we interact with the platform.

While these changes seem arbitrary, they’re the crucial next steps in Instagram’s evolution into a video-centric social shopping platform.

In 2022, Instagram will continue to prioritize video, expand on social shopping tools, make it easier for creators to monetize their content and partner with brands, and rework direct messaging (DM) interfaces.

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While these shifts align with the trends we saw in our Social Media Trends survey, we decided to dive even deeper by asking another 580 Instagram marketers about how they’ll approach marketing on this changing platform in 2022.

Top Instagram Marketing Survey Findings

Based on our results, most Instagram marketers are already ahead of the game:

  • 79% have leveraged Instagram Shopping tools and one in three plan to use them for the first time in 2022.  
  • 82% post video content on the platform and the content formats they use most are video-based.
  • Instagram Live has the highest ROI of any content format. It is also the most effective for gaining followers, gets the most shares, and will see the most investment from Instagram marketers this year.
  • Content that reflects your brand’s values and showcases your products/services have the highest ROI on Instagram.
  • The best strategies to grow your following on Instagram are posting interactive and engaging stories, engaging with other users, and partnering with influencers.
  • Instagram marketers will prioritize fostering relationships with their customers in 2022 by focusing on interacting with their audience and creating content that encourages engagement.
  • 35% use the app for customer service and see high ROI.
  • 30% work with influencers (or creators) and 42% plan to start this year.
  • 84% say Instagram marketing was effective for their company last year.

what percentage of marketers find their Instagram Strategy EffectiveNow that we’ve given you a taste of our survey findings, let’s dive deeper and take a look at some Instagram benchmarks to help you see how your brand’s account stacks up against the competition. 

If you’re looking for some specific insights, click below to jump to the section you’d like to read first.

Instagram Marketing Benchmarks To Know In 2022

1. Over half of branded Instagram accounts have between 10K-100K followers.

More than a quarter, or 27%, of branded accounts have under 10,000 followers, while 19% have over 100K. Regardless of the size of your community, stay tuned for a breakdown of the top strategies for growing your Instagram following.

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how many instagram followers do you have

2. Impressions can come from anywhere on the platform.

Hashtags, Explore, and Profile, are all tied at 19% for the top Instagram impression sources, but Home and Location are just slightly behind.

top sources of instagram impressionsHashtags and Profile are more easily discoverable by search, so make sure your handle and hashtags are search-optimized.

Some posts may do exceptionally well due to a certain combination of hashtags you used, or thanks to the algorithm suggesting your content on the Explore page. Take a look at where the impressions came from on your top posts and keep an eye out for any patterns you can turn into a consistent strategy to re-create your success.

3. Less than half of business accounts have major YoY follower growth.

But, this doesn’t mean brand accounts are dramatically losing followers. In reality, only 14% report a loss while 42% have a stagnant following. 

How have follower counts changed on your Instagram channels

Now that we’ve gone over some benchmarks, let’s talk about goals and strategies.

Instagram Marketing Strategies

Top Strategies and Goals of Instagram Marketers

With all the changes coming to the platform, marketers’ goals on Instagram are also shifting.

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The top goals Instagram marketers have for 2022 are increasing brand awareness/reaching new audiences, advertising their products/services, increasing sales, fostering relationships with customers/increasing brand loyalty, and improving customer service and retention.

primary goals of instagram marketers

Let’s talk about each of these goals in terms of how they relate to Instagram’s changing platform.

1. Spreading Brand Awareness with Content Like Videos

Instagram has made clear that its focus is turning away from photos and toward video content. Not only does this indicate that Instagram users are more interested in seeing video content, but we can assume that video content will be more likely to be suggested to users by Instagram’s algorithm.

But which type of videos should you be making?

If the amount of Reels present on your Instagram feed and explore page didn’t give it away, Instagram also added a dedicated tab for Reels in the navigation bar to drive the point home — Reels are taking over.

And it’s not just Instagram — our social media trends survey found that short-form video is the most popular and effective format across all social platforms.

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So to reach the widest audience on Instagram this year, focus on videos, especially Reels.

2. Driving Leads and Conversions With Instagram Advertising.

Advertising products/services is another top goal for Instagram marketers, and they will accomplish this by creating content showcasing their products/services and leveraging Instagram’s new shopping tools.

Content centered around a brand’s products/services is the second most popular type of content among Instagram Marketers and has the second-highest ROI of any content type.

Instagram Strategies with the Highest ROIMy survey also found that marketers who leverage this type of content are 13% more likely to say their Instagram strategy was effective last year than those who don’t.

However, the most popular and most effective Instagram marketing strategy is leveraging the app’s shopping tools. But with a handful to choose from, let’s take a look at which ones perform the best.

Screen Shot 2022-04-11 at 3.27.37 PM

3. Gaining Revenue With Instagram Shopping Tools

Although Instagram Shopping tools are still rather new and evolving, Instagram Shopping strategies offer the highest ROI and are already used most by Instagram marketers

While just 37% currently use the app’s shopping tools, 94% of them will increase or maintain their investment this year. On top of that, one in three plan to use Instagram shopping tools for the first time this year.

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Also, marketers who leverage Instagram’s shopping tools are 15% more likely to say their Instagram strategy was effective last year than those who don’t. So which tools perform best?

Of the shopping tools, Instagram Live Shopping and Instagram Shops have the highest ROI and are the most leveraged.

1650395694 913 The HubSpot Blogs 2022 Instagram Marketing Trends Report

Additionally, the use of both will grow significantly in 2022, with 55% planning to try Instagram Shops and 48% planning to use Instagram Live Shopping for the first time.

Instagram feed shopping posts, Instagram Stories Shopping, and Instagram Guides Shopping are all used by over one in three marketers and are just behind Instagram Shops and Instagram live Shopping for ROI.

Reels Shopping has the lowest use and ROI, however, 42% of Instagram marketers plan to use Reels Shopping for the first time this year, the 3rd highest of any Instagram shopping tool.

which shopping tools will brands use for the first time

Is selling on Instagram right for you? And, what are the biggest benefits and challenges you could see when using it? Stay tuned for a deep dive on even more data that we’ll be sure to link to this post. 

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4. Building Customer Relationships and Community

The ability to foster meaningful relationships with customers is one of the biggest benefits of having a brand presence on social media platforms, so it’s no surprise that this is a top goal for Instagram marketers that will become even more of a priority in 2022.

Marketers will accomplish this by investing in interacting with their audience and creating content that encourages engagement.

1650395694 150 The HubSpot Blogs 2022 Instagram Marketing Trends Report

The Importance of Interacting With Your Audience

Audience interaction is the #1Instagram strategy marketers plan to leverage for the first time in 2022, with 46% planning to try it this year. On top of that, 15% of marketers plan to invest in it more than any other Instagram marketing strategy.

1650395695 53 The HubSpot Blogs 2022 Instagram Marketing Trends ReportInstagram offers a wide variety of ways to interact with your audience, from simple reactions to comments and DMs. Taking the time to engage with your followers can make them feel special and strengthen their bond with your brand. But interaction is a two-way street, so you’ll also want to create content that encourages engagement.

5. Putting Engaging Content Before Other Tactics

Creating content that encourages engagement is the strategy Instagram marketers plan to invest the most in for 2022, with 17% planning to invest more in it than any other strategy.

Additionally, 43% plan to use it for the first time in 2022, the second-highest of any Instagram marketing strategy, and it has 3rd highest ROI of any strategy.

instagram marketing strategy with the best ROIEncouraging engagement can be as simple as ending your video with a question that your followers can respond to in the comments, running a poll on your story, or going live and having a conversation with your viewers.

Going out of your way to connect with those in your digital community, especially when you aren’t trying to sell them anything, can help foster a deep relationship between them and your brand.

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But there’s another great way to leverage Instagram to help serve your customers and keep them coming back – using the app for customer service.

6. Embracing Customer Service

Being a marketer doesn’t mean you should toss good customer service opportunities aside on Instagram. 28% of Instagram marketers say improving customer service and retention is among their top goals in 2022, and with good reason. Leveraging Instagram for customer service is the 2nd most used Instagram marketing strategy and has the 2nd highest ROI of any strategy.

To make the case for providing customer service on the app even stronger, I found that marketers and brands who leverage Instagram for customer service are 17% more likely to say their Instagram strategy was effective last year compared to those who don’t.

7. Leveraging Hashtags

Hashtags have been around on Instagram since 2011, and 82% of Instagram marketers continue to leverage them, with 85% following a documented hashtag strategy. But are they effective?

80% of Instagram marketers say hashtags were effective for their Instagram strategy last year. Furthermore, marketers who leverage hashtags when posting on Instagram are 23% more likely to say Instagram marketing was effective for their brand last year. That number goes up to 30% when looking at those with a document hashtag strategy.

We also found that marketers who use a mix of niche and general hashtags are 20% more likely to say Instagram marketing was effective for their brand in 2021. 

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Make sure to leverage a few specific hashtags like #Dachsunds along with more popular ones like #Dogs for the best results.

How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram?

Our survey shows that 62% of Instagram marketers use 4-9 hashtags, and only 1% use the maximum of 30.

how many hashtags do instagram marketers use

Also consider using a branded hashtag when posting on Instagram, such as #CocaCola, for example.

53% of marketers say most of the brands they work for use branded hashtags, which can be great for creating a community around your brand and offer an easy way to find posts from or about your brand in one place.

Next, let’s talk about which call-to-action is most effective on Instagram.

8. Including Calls to Action in Content

We asked Instagram marketers whether asking followers to “like,” “share,” or “save” their content is most effective at triggering the algorithm to promote their content, as these are known to be the top metrics Instagram monitors. Here are the results:

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the most effective CTA type on Instagram

While Instagram marketers rank likes at #1, shares second, and saves last, I would argue that this is backwards.

To explain why, consider your behavior when on Instagram. If you’re like me, you probably give out likes mindlessly while scrolling through your feed, but how often are you sharing content to your story or in chats with friends? How often are you saving posts to look at later? Those pieces of content are probably much more carefully selected.

When we share posts on Instagram, we are telling others that we found the content so valuable that we couldn’t help but share it with them – the algorithm picks up on this. Sharing also gets bonus points because it inherently exposes more people to a piece of content.

Similarly, when saving content, we tell the algorithm that we found it so valuable that we want to bookmark it for future reference.

So while all three of these are the most important metrics Instagram tracks, I would prioritize saving, sharing, or even commenting in your call-to-actions ahead of asking for likes.

Strategies Marketers Aren’t Using in 2022

User-generated content, contests or giveaways, and affiliate marketing have low usage, ROI, and are the least likely to be leveraged on Instagram for the first time in 2022.

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While these strategies can still be successful and valuable to some brands, marketers we surveyed say they are not as effective as the other strategies we asked about.

If you’re having difficulty building an effective UGC, affiliate marketing, or giveaway plan, consider alternatives, like partnering with influencers in your niche who can generate authentic content for your brand to establish social proof and spread awareness. Our marketing trends survey found influencer marketing to be the most popular and most effective trend, with the highest ROI.

Now that we’ve gone over Instagram marketers’ goals and strategies in 2022, let’s talk about which formats are most effective on the platform.

Which Instagram Formats Are Most Effective?

The formats Instagram marketers leverage most are live, stories, and interviews/Q&A/Expert discussions. Let’s take an in-depth look at each of them.

1650395695 83 The HubSpot Blogs 2022 Instagram Marketing Trends Report

Instagram Live

Instagram Live has the highest ROI and use will grow significantly in 2022 as 49% of Instagram marketers will invest in Instagram Live for the first time and 22% will invest more in Instagram live than any other format.

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which formats do marketers leverage on InstagramWe also asked Instagram marketers which format is most effective for gaining followers, and Instagram Live came out ahead there as well, though closely followed by stories and feed posts.

which instagram formats provide ROI

 

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories have the 2nd best ROI and are leveraged by 45% of Instagram marketers. Of those who don’t use it, 45% plan to leverage stories for the first time in 2022, the 2nd highest of any format. Instagram stories are also the #2 format for gaining followers and getting your content shared on IG.

Which format gets the most shares on instagram

Interviews, Q&As, and Expert Discussions

Interviews/Q&As/Expert discussions are used by 31% of marketers, with 42% planning to try them for the first time in 2022 and 10% planning to invest more in them than any other format.

which format gets the most shares on Instagram

Instagram Reels

Only one in four Instagram marketers use Reels and just 29% of Instagram marketers plan to leverage reels for the first time in 2022.

1650395697 934 The HubSpot Blogs 2022 Instagram Marketing Trends Report

While Reels fall in the middle of the pack across all metrics, we believe that this is feature is greatly underutilized and could actually provide unique and new opportunities for brands.

In fact, brands and influencers who have focused on it have seen major benefits to leveraging it. For example, we recently spoke with Kar Brulhart, who has organically grown her Instagram account from zero to 45,000+ viewers in under 10 months using Reels. She told us about the incredible opportunity Reels presents for Instagram marketers:

 “I went from less than 2,000 followers in February 2020 to over 15,000 the next month through Reels, because Instagram is pushing Reels to new audiences. And 75% of the people who find my account are coming from Reels — compared to Stories and posts.”

Considering the popularity of short-form videos and the emphasis Instagram is placing on Reels, Instagram marketers may want to give Reels a shot as they are relatively easy to make and can provide a boost in exposure.

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Now that we’ve gone over the top formats, let’s take a look at which content types are most popular on Instagram.

Which Types Of Content Perform Best On Instagram?

The top Instagram content types reflect a brand’s values, are centered around a brand’s products/services, are interactive, authentic, and funny. Let’s take a look at what makes each of these content types so popular among Instagram marketers.

Content That Reflects Brand Values

Content that reflects a brand’s values was the #1 content type in our social media trends survey and that is also true for Instagram marketers, 44% of whom use it.

which instagram content types have the highest ROI

Instagram marketers say it has the highest ROI of any content type. Additionally, 45% say they will invest in it for the first time in 2022, the highest of any content type, and 11% will invest more in it than any other type of content.

which types of content to Instagram marketers plan to invest in

Content Centered Around A Brand’s Products/Services

Content centered around a brand’s products/services is leveraged by 39% of Instagram marketers and has the 2nd highest ROI. 39% will leverage this type of content for the first time in 2022.

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content types with the highest ROIInteractive Content and/or Authentic/Behind-the-Scenes Content

Interactive content and authentic/”behind the scenes” content are both popular among Instagram marketers and will grow in 2022.

44% of Instagram marketers plan to leverage interactive content for the first time in 2022, followed by Authentic/”Behind the scenes” content at 40%. Both are tied at the #1 spot for the content type marketers plan to invest more in than any other in 2022.

Funny Content

Funny content is the most effective for getting followers, shares, and engagement on IG.

1650395698 909 The HubSpot Blogs 2022 Instagram Marketing Trends Report

Now that we’ve gone over the different Instagram formats and content types, let’s dig into the top strategies for growing your following on Instagram.

Instagram Audience Growth Benchmarks

How Brands Grow Instagram Audiences

To grow your following on Instagram, the top 3 strategies are posting interactive and engaging stories, engaging with other users, and partnering with influencers.

1650395698 497 The HubSpot Blogs 2022 Instagram Marketing Trends Report

At #4, sharing your Instagram page and content on various channels, like other social media platforms or your website, is also important for growth.

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The next most popular strategy is diversifying your content to resonate with a wider audience, but you’ll also want to study your audience for trends and make targeted content to attract others with similar interests.

Another powerful growth strategy is adding a simple call-to-action to “like,” “save,” or “share” your content at the very end of your captions – if someone read it all the way through, they probably got value from your content and will be inclined to comply. If users take these actions, it will give your content a boost in the eyes of the algorithm and put it in front of more people, who may end up following you.

Lastly, you can also get a boost in growth by partnering with brands or accounts in a similar niche, as their audiences will likely be interested in your content as well.

These are the best strategies to grow your following in general, but we also asked marketers about the top strategies they used to reach their first thousand followers, and the results show some key differences.

How To Get Your First 1,000 Instagram Followers

Earning your first 1,000 followers on Instagram is a massive milestone, and 78% of Instagram marketers have been part of growing an account to 1k followers. According to them, creating shareable content and captions, as well as using relevant hashtags are key to reaching your first 1k followers.

strategies brands used to get their first 1000 followers

Remember that the formats most effective at getting shares are live video, stories, and feed posts, while the top content types for shares are funny, interactive, and reflective of your brand’s values.

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Now that you know how to reach 1,000 followers, you may be wondering how long it might take.

How Long Does It Take To Reach 1,000 Followers On Instagram?

Around 1 in 4 Instagram marketers reach 1,000 followers in 1-3 months, while 39% say it takes 4-6 months. Only 13% were able to reach the 1k milestone in under a month, and just 1% took over a year.

But just as you gain followers, it’s also possible to lose them. Let’s take a look at what has caused Instagram marketers to lose followers, so you can avoid those mistakes.

What Causes Instagram Marketers To Lose Followers?

Not posting enough and being too “sales-y” are the top culprits when it comes to losing followers. 1 in 3 Instagram marketers also report losing followers from posting too often and not being consistent with their brand voice or aesthetic.

Lastly, using “banned” hashtags can result in your posts being hidden. You can check if a hashtag is banned by searching it on Instagram and looking at the top or most recent posts — if those sections come up empty, it’s likely banned. what causes instagram accounts to lose followers

Speaking of hashtags, we asked marketers how many they use, and whether broad or niche hashtags perform better. Let’s take a look at the results.

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Instagram Video Features

In line with Instagram’s video-centric changes, 82% of Instagram marketers currently post videos on the platform, and those who do are 16% more likely to say Instagram marketing was effective for their brand last year.

The most popular video formats among marketers are Instagram Live, posting videos to their stories, posting videos to their feeds, and Instagram Reels.most used instagram video features

So let’s take a look at some feature-specific data on each of these.

Instagram Live

Instagram live is not only the most leveraged video feature, but marketers who use it are 22% more likely to say that Instagram marketing was effective for their brand last year. Here are the content types that get the most engagement when going live on Instagram:

1650395699 882 The HubSpot Blogs 2022 Instagram Marketing Trends Report

Instagram Stories

78% of Instagram marketers leverage stories, and those who do are 23% more likely to say that Instagram marketing was effective for their brand last year.

But how often should you be posting stories? 43% post stories multiple times a week, while 26% post multiple times a day, and 23% post daily.

How often do marketers use Instagram storiesAnother common question is how long stories should be. 75% of Instagram marketers who leverage stories say their audience watches 4-9 story pages before dropping off, with only 7% saying their audience watches the entire story regardless of length.

We also asked about the ideal number of stories to have up at once – 74% of Instagram marketers say 4-9 stories is best:

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how many stories do brands have up at once

Curious about which story types are most engaging? Check out this post.

Instagram Feed Posts

Though not exclusive to video, the modern Instagram feed is dominated by video content. 80% of marketers post to their feeds in their marketing role, but the frequency of their posting varies, with 45% posting multiple times a week, 23% posting once a day, and another 23% posting multiple times a day.

how many times a day do instagram marketers post to their feeds

You may also be wondering about how long your captions should be when posting to your feed. 2 in 3 marketers say the optimal caption length to maximize engagement with a feed post is medium (31-50 words).

What is the optimal instagram caption length

For a deeper dive on this, check out this post on instagram video formats.

Next, let’s take a look at whether Instagram marketers are leveraging organic or paid media on the platform, and which performs better.

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Organic vs. Paid Instagram Content

Among those who use a mix of paid and organic content, paid content is somewhat more effective for reaching business goals and for gaining followers.

organic vs. paid engagementHowever, effective marketers are 20% more likely to leverage both organic and paid content compared to those who described Instagram as ineffective for reaching their business goals in 2021.

Speaking of effective and ineffective marketers, let’s end with a look at what sets the two groups apart.

Setting Effective and Ineffective Instagram Marketers Apart

Lastly, we asked Instagram marketers whether Instagram marketing was effective or ineffective in 2021, and looked at the data by the two separate groups. Here are some of the biggest differentiators:what sets effective and ineffective strategies apart on instagram

As we end this post, here are a few themes we’ve picked up from the chart above, and the overall results of our survey:

  • Video is key: Instagram is constantly evolving to welcome more and more video formats. While you don’t need to create a large live video event, consider starting small with Reels as it is being favored by consumers and the Instagram algorithm.
  • Engage constantly: Whether you’re responding to their comments, exchanging DMs, or creating content that sparks a conversation – it’s important to ensure that your Instagram strategy caters to your audience and meets them where they are.
  • Social Shopping is the future: Shopping on social media is the future of e-commerce, and Instagram is the best place to do it. With a handful of shopping tools to choose from, there is no better time to get started.
  • Use Instagram for customer service: Using Instagram for customer service is a quick and convenient way to answer customers’ most pressing questions, and marketers who use it see high ROI.
  • Hashtags aren’t going anywhere: Hashtags are highly searchable, make your content more discoverable, and most marketers who use them plan to continue doing so. While you shouldn’t go overboard with too many hashtags, consider how you can leverage them creatively within upcoming content or if there are ways you can participate in hashtag trends on the platform.

More of Our Instagram Marketing Research

Check out these posts for a deeper dive as well as tips and tricks related to our Instagram marketing data.

Interested in learning even more about Instagram marketing and engagement from some of our expert partner brands? Be sure to download the free resource below.

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MARKETING

5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

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5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

Welcome to Creator Columns, where we bring expert HubSpot Creator voices to the Blogs that inspire and help you grow better.

I’ve tested 100s of psychological tactics on my email subscribers. In this blog, I reveal the five tactics that actually work.

You’ll learn about the email tactic that got one marketer a job at the White House.

You’ll learn how I doubled my 5 star reviews with one email, and why one strange email from Barack Obama broke all records for donations.

→ Download Now: The Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing [Free Ebook]

5 Psychological Tactics to Write Better Emails

Imagine writing an email that’s so effective it lands you a job at the White House.

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Well, that’s what happened to Maya Shankar, a PhD cognitive neuroscientist. In 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs asked her to help increase signups in their veteran benefit scheme.

Maya had a plan. She was well aware of a cognitive bias that affects us all—the endowment effect. This bias suggests that people value items higher if they own them. So, she changed the subject line in the Veterans’ enrollment email.

Previously it read:

  • Veterans, you’re eligible for the benefit program. Sign up today.

She tweaked one word, changing it to:

  • Veterans, you’ve earned the benefits program. Sign up today.

This tiny tweak had a big impact. The amount of veterans enrolling in the program went up by 9%. And Maya landed a job working at the White House

Boost participation email graphic

Inspired by these psychological tweaks to emails, I started to run my own tests.

Alongside my podcast Nudge, I’ve run 100s of email tests on my 1,000s of newsletter subscribers.

Here are the five best tactics I’ve uncovered.

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1. Show readers what they’re missing.

Nobel prize winning behavioral scientists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky uncovered a principle called loss aversion.

Loss aversion means that losses feel more painful than equivalent gains. In real-world terms, losing $10 feels worse than how gaining $10 feels good. And I wondered if this simple nudge could help increase the number of my podcast listeners.

For my test, I tweaked the subject line of the email announcing an episode. The control read:

“Listen to this one”

In the loss aversion variant it read:

“Don’t miss this one”

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It is very subtle loss aversion. Rather than asking someone to listen, I’m saying they shouldn’t miss out. And it worked. It increased the open rate by 13.3% and the click rate by 12.5%. Plus, it was a small change that cost me nothing at all.

Growth mindset email analytics

2. People follow the crowd.

In general, humans like to follow the masses. When picking a dish, we’ll often opt for the most popular. When choosing a movie to watch, we tend to pick the box office hit. It’s a well-known psychological bias called social proof.

I’ve always wondered if it works for emails. So, I set up an A/B experiment with two subject lines. Both promoted my show, but one contained social proof.

The control read: New Nudge: Why Brands Should Flaunt Their Flaws

The social proof variant read: New Nudge: Why Brands Should Flaunt Their Flaws (100,000 Downloads)

I hoped that by highlighting the episode’s high number of downloads, I’d encourage more people to listen. Fortunately, it worked.

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The open rate went from 22% to 28% for the social proof version, and the click rate, (the number of people actually listening to the episode), doubled.

3. Praise loyal subscribers.

The consistency principle suggests that people are likely to stick to behaviours they’ve previously taken. A retired taxi driver won’t swap his car for a bike. A hairdresser won’t change to a cheap shampoo. We like to stay consistent with our past behaviors.

I decided to test this in an email.

For my test, I attempted to encourage my subscribers to leave a review for my podcast. I sent emails to 400 subscribers who had been following the show for a year.

The control read: “Could you leave a review for Nudge?”

The consistency variant read: “You’ve been following Nudge for 12 months, could you leave a review?”

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My hypothesis was simple. If I remind people that they’ve consistently supported the show they’ll be more likely to leave a review.

It worked.

The open rate on the consistency version of the email was 7% higher.

But more importantly, the click rate, (the number of people who actually left a review), was almost 2x higher for the consistency version. Merely telling people they’d been a fan for a while doubled my reviews.

4. Showcase scarcity.

We prefer scarce resources. Taylor Swift gigs sell out in seconds not just because she’s popular, but because her tickets are hard to come by.

Swifties aren’t the first to experience this. Back in 1975, three researchers proved how powerful scarcity is. For the study, the researchers occupied a cafe. On alternating weeks they’d make one small change in the cafe.

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On some weeks they’d ensure the cookie jar was full.

On other weeks they’d ensure the cookie jar only contained two cookies (never more or less).

In other words, sometimes the cookies looked abundantly available. Sometimes they looked like they were almost out.

This changed behaviour. Customers who saw the two cookie jar bought 43% more cookies than those who saw the full jar.

It sounds too good to be true, so I tested it for myself.

I sent an email to 260 subscribers offering free access to my Science of Marketing course for one day only.

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In the control, the subject line read: “Free access to the Science of Marketing course”

For the scarcity variant it read: “Only Today: Get free access to the Science of Marketing Course | Only one enrol per person.”

130 people received the first email, 130 received the second. And the result was almost as good as the cookie finding. The scarcity version had a 15.1% higher open rate.

Email A/B test results

5. Spark curiosity.

All of the email tips I’ve shared have only been tested on my relatively small audience. So, I thought I’d end with a tip that was tested on the masses.

Back in 2012, Barack Obama and his campaign team sent hundreds of emails to raise funds for his campaign.

Of the $690 million he raised, most came from direct email appeals. But there was one email, according to ABC news, that was far more effective than the rest. And it was an odd one.

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The email that drew in the most cash, had a strange subject line. It simply said “Hey.”

The actual email asked the reader to donate, sharing all the expected reasons, but the subject line was different.

It sparked curiosity, it got people wondering, is Obama saying Hey just to me?

Readers were curious and couldn’t help but open the email. According to ABC it was “the most effective pitch of all.”

Because more people opened, it raised more money than any other email. The bias Obama used here is the curiosity gap. We’re more likely to act on something when our curiosity is piqued.

Email example

Loss aversion, social proof, consistency, scarcity and curiosity—all these nudges have helped me improve my emails. And I reckon they’ll work for you.

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It’s not guaranteed of course. Many might fail. But running some simple a/b tests for your emails is cost free, so why not try it out?

This blog is part of Phill Agnew’s Marketing Cheat Sheet series where he reveals the scientifically proven tips to help you improve your marketing. To learn more, listen to his podcast Nudge, a proud member of the Hubspot Podcast Network.

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MARKETING

The power of program management in martech

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The power of program management in martech

As a supporter of the program perspective for initiatives, I recognize the value of managing related projects, products and activities as a unified entity. 

While one-off projects have their place, they often involve numerous moving parts and in my experience, using a project-based approach can lead to crucial elements being overlooked. This is particularly true when building a martech stack or developing content, for example, where a program-based approach can ensure that all aspects are considered and properly integrated. 

For many CMOs and marketing organizations, programs are becoming powerful tools for aligning diverse initiatives and driving strategic objectives. Let’s explore the essential role of programs in product management, project management and marketing operations, bridging technical details with business priorities. 

Programs in product management

Product management is a fascinating domain where programs operate as a strategic framework, coordinating related products or product lines to meet specific business objectives.

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Product managers are responsible for defining a product or product line’s strategy, roadmap and features. They work closely with program managers, who ensure alignment with market demands, customer needs and the company’s overall vision by managing offerings at a program level. 

Program managers optimize the product portfolio, make strategic decisions about resource allocation and ensure that each product contributes to the program’s goals. One key aspect of program management in product management is identifying synergies between products. 

Program managers can drive innovation and efficiency across the portfolio by leveraging shared technologies, customer insights, or market trends. This approach enables organizations to respond quickly to changing market conditions, seize emerging opportunities and maintain a competitive advantage. Product managers, in turn, use these insights to shape the direction of individual products.

Moreover, programs in product management facilitate cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing. Program managers foster a holistic understanding of customer needs and market dynamics by bringing together teams from various departments, such as engineering, marketing and sales.

Product managers also play a crucial role in this collaborative approach, ensuring that all stakeholders work towards common goals, ultimately leading to more successful product launches and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Dig deeper: Understanding different product roles in marketing technology acquisition

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Programs in project management

In project management, programs provide a structured approach for managing related projects as a unified entity, supporting broader strategic objectives. Project managers are responsible for planning, executing and closing individual projects within a program. They focus on specific deliverables, timelines and budgets. 

On the other hand, program managers oversee these projects’ coordination, dependencies and outcomes, ensuring they collectively deliver the desired benefits and align with the organization’s strategic goals.

A typical example of a program in project management is a martech stack optimization initiative. Such a program may involve integrating marketing technology tools and platforms, implementing customer data management systems and training employees on the updated technologies. Project managers would be responsible for the day-to-day management of each project. 

In contrast, the program manager ensures a cohesive approach, minimizes disruptions and realizes the full potential of the martech investments to improve marketing efficiency, personalization and ROI.

The benefits of program management in project management are numerous. Program managers help organizations prioritize initiatives that deliver the greatest value by aligning projects with strategic objectives. They also identify and mitigate risks that span multiple projects, ensuring that issues in one area don’t derail the entire program. Project managers, in turn, benefit from this oversight and guidance, as they can focus on successfully executing their projects.

Additionally, program management enables efficient resource allocation, as skills and expertise can be shared across projects, reducing duplication of effort and maximizing value. Project managers can leverage these resources and collaborate with other project teams to achieve their objectives more effectively.

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Dig deeper: Combining martech projects: 5 questions to ask

Programs in marketing operations

In marketing operations, programs play a vital role in integrating and managing various marketing activities to achieve overarching goals. Marketing programs encompass multiple initiatives, such as advertising, content marketing, social media and event planning. Organizations ensure consistent messaging, strategic alignment, and measurable results by managing these activities as a cohesive program.

In marketing operations, various roles, such as MOps managers, campaign managers, content managers, digital marketing managers and analytics managers, collaborate to develop and execute comprehensive marketing plans that support the organization’s business objectives. 

These professionals work closely with cross-functional teams, including creative, analytics and sales, to ensure that all marketing efforts are coordinated and optimized for maximum impact. This involves setting clear goals, defining key performance indicators (KPIs) and continuously monitoring and adjusting strategies based on data-driven insights.

One of the primary benefits of a programmatic approach in marketing operations is maintaining a consistent brand voice and message across all channels. By establishing guidelines and standards for content creation, visual design and customer interactions, marketing teams ensure that the brand’s identity remains cohesive and recognizable. This consistency builds customer trust, reinforces brand loyalty and drives business growth.

Programs in marketing operations enable organizations to take a holistic approach to customer engagement. By analyzing customer data and feedback across various touchpoints, marketing professionals can identify opportunities for improvement and develop targeted strategies to enhance the customer experience. This customer-centric approach leads to increased satisfaction, higher retention rates and more effective marketing investments.

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Dig deeper: Mastering the art of goal setting in marketing operations

Embracing the power of programs for long-term success

We’ve explored how programs enable marketing organizations to drive strategic success and create lasting impact by aligning diverse initiatives across product management, project management and marketing operations. 

  • Product management programs facilitate cross-functional collaboration and ensure alignment with market demands. 
  • In project management, they provide a structured approach for managing related projects and mitigating risks. 
  • In marketing operations, programs enable consistent messaging and a customer-centric approach to engagement.

Program managers play a vital role in maintaining strategic alignment, continuously assessing progress and adapting to changes in the business environment. Keeping programs aligned with long-term objectives maximizes ROI and drives sustainable growth.

Organizations that invest in developing strong program management capabilities will be better positioned to optimize resources, foster innovation and achieve their long-term goals.



As a CMO or marketing leader, it is important to recognize the strategic value of programs and champion their adoption across your organization. By aligning efforts across various domains, you can unlock the full potential of your initiatives and drive meaningful results. Try it, you’ll like it.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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MARKETING

2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business: Part 2

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2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business: Part 2

2 Ways to Take Back the Power in Your Business

Before we dive into the second way to assume power in your business, let’s revisit Part 1. 

Who informs your marketing strategy? 

YOU, with your carefully curated strategy informed by data and deep knowledge of your brand and audience? Or any of the 3 Cs below? 

  • Competitors: Their advertising and digital presence and seemingly never-ending budgets consume the landscape.
  • Colleagues: Their tried-and-true proven tactics or lessons learned.
  • Customers: Their calls, requests, and ideas. 

Considering any of the above is not bad, in fact, it can be very wise! However, listening quickly becomes devastating if it lends to their running our business or marketing department. 

It’s time we move from defense to offense, sitting in the driver’s seat rather than allowing any of the 3 Cs to control. 

It is one thing to learn from and entirely another to be controlled by. 

In Part 1, we explored how knowing what we want is critical to regaining power.

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1) Knowing what you want protects the bottom line.

2) Knowing what you want protects you from the 3 Cs. 

3) Knowing what you want protects you from running on auto-pilot.

You can read Part 1 here; in the meantime, let’s dive in! 

How to Regain Control of Your Business: Knowing Who You Are

Vertical alignment is a favorite concept of mine, coined over the last two years throughout my personal journey of knowing self. 

Consider the diagram below.

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Vertical alignment is the state of internal being centered with who you are at your core. 

Horizontal alignment is the state of external doing engaged with the world around you.

In a state of vertical alignment, your business operates from its core center, predicated on its mission, values, and brand. It is authentic and confident and cuts through the noise because it is entirely unique from every competitor in the market. 

From this vertical alignment, your business is positioned for horizontal alignment to fulfill the integrity of its intended services, instituted processes, and promised results. 

A strong brand is not only differentiated in the market by its vertical alignment but delivers consistently and reliably in terms of its products, offerings, and services and also in terms of the customer experience by its horizontal alignment. 

Let’s examine what knowing who you are looks like in application, as well as some habits to implement with your team to strengthen vertical alignment. 

1) Knowing who You are Protects You from Horizontal Voices. 

The strength of “Who We Are” predicates the ability to maintain vertical alignment when something threatens your stability. When a colleague proposes a tactic that is not aligned with your values. When the customer comes calling with ideas that will knock you off course as bandwidth is limited or the budget is tight. 

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I was on a call with a gal from my Mastermind when I mentioned a retreat I am excited to launch in the coming months. 

I shared that I was considering its positioning, given its curriculum is rooted in emotional intelligence (EQ) to inform personal brand development. The retreat serves C-Suite, but as EQ is not a common conversation among this audience, I was considering the best positioning. 

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She advised, “Sell them solely on the business aspects, and then sneak attack with the EQ when they’re at the retreat!” 

At first blush, it sounds reasonable. After all, there’s a reason why the phrase, “Sell the people what they want, give them what they need,” is popular.

Horizontal advice and counsel can produce a wealth of knowledge. However, we must always approach the horizontal landscape – the external – powered by vertical alignment – centered internally with the core of who we are. 

Upon considering my values of who I am and the vision of what I want for this event, I realized the lack of transparency is not in alignment with my values nor setting the right expectations for the experience.

Sure, maybe I would get more sales; however, my bottom line — what I want — is not just sales. I want transformation on an emotional level. I want C-Suite execs to leave powered from a place of emotional intelligence to decrease decisions made out of alignment with who they are or executing tactics rooted in guilt, not vision. 

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Ultimately, one of my core values is authenticity, and I must make business decisions accordingly. 

2) Knowing who You are Protects You from Reactivity.

Operating from vertical alignment maintains focus on the bottom line and the strategy to achieve it. From this position, you are protected from reacting to the horizontal pressures of the 3 Cs: Competitors, Colleagues, and Customers. 

This does not mean you do not adjust tactics or learn. 

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However, your approach to adjustments is proactive direction, not reactive deviations. To do this, consider the following questions:

First: How does their (any one of the 3 Cs) tactic measure against my proven track record of success?

If your colleague promotes adding newsletters to your strategy, lean in and ask, “Why?” 

  • What are their outcomes? 
  • What metrics are they tracking for success? 
  • What is their bottom line against yours? 
  • How do newsletters fit into their strategy and stage(s) of the customer journey? 

Always consider your historical track record of success first and foremost. 

Have you tried newsletters in the past? Is their audience different from yours? Why are newsletters good for them when they did not prove profitable for you? 

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Operate with your head up and your eyes open. 

Maintain focus on your bottom line and ask questions. Revisit your data, and don’t just take their word for it. 

2. Am I allocating time in my schedule?

I had coffee with the former CEO of Jiffy Lube, who built the empire that it is today. 

He could not emphasize more how critical it is to allocate time for thinking. Just being — not doing — and thinking about your business or department. 

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Especially for senior leaders or business owners, but even still for junior staff. 

The time and space to be fosters creative thinking, new ideas, and energy. Some of my best campaigns are conjured on a walk or in the shower. 

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Kasim Aslam, founder of the world’s #1 Google Ads agency and a dear friend of mine, is a machine when it comes to hacks and habits. He encouraged me to take an audit of my calendar over the last 30 days to assess how I spend time. 

“Create three buckets,” he said. “Organize them by the following:

  • Tasks that Generate Revenue
  • Tasks that Cost Me Money
  • Tasks that Didn’t Earn Anything”

He and I chatted after I completed this exercise, and I added one to the list: Tasks that are Life-Giving. 

Friends — if we are running empty, exhausted, or emotionally depleted, our creative and strategic wherewithal will be significantly diminished. We are holistic creatures and, therefore, must nurture our mind, body, soul, and spirit to maintain optimum capacity for impact. 

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I shared this hack with a friend of mine. Not only did she identify meetings that were costing her money and thus needed to be eliminated, but she also identified that particular meetings could actually turn revenue-generating! She spent a good amount of time each month facilitating introductions; now, she is adding Strategic Partnerships to her suite of services. 


ACTION: Analyze your calendar’s last 30-60 days against the list above. 

Include what is life-giving! 

How are you spending your time? What is the data showing you? Are you on the path to achieving what you want and living in alignment with who you want to be?

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Share with your team or business partner for the purpose of accountability, and implement practical changes accordingly. 


Finally, remember: If you will not protect your time, no one else will. 

3) Knowing who You are Protects You from Lack. 

“What are you proud of?” someone asked me last year. 

“Nothing!” I reply too quickly. “I know I’m not living up to my potential or operating in the full capacity I could be.” 

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They looked at me in shock. “You need to read The Gap And The Gain.”

I silently rolled my eyes.

I already knew the premise of the book, or I thought I did. I mused: My vision is so big, and I have so much to accomplish. The thought of solely focusing on “my wins” sounded like an excuse to abdicate personal responsibility. 

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But I acquiesced. 

The premise of this book is to measure one’s self from where they started and the success from that place to where they are today — the gains — rather than from where they hope to get and the seemingly never-ending distance — the gap.

Ultimately, Dr. Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan encourage changing perspectives to assign success, considering the starting point rather than the destination.

The book opens with the following story:

Dan Jensen was an Olympic speed skater, notably the fastest in the world. But in each game spanning a decade, Jansen could not catch a break. “Flukes” — even tragedy with the death of his sister in the early morning of the 1988 Olympics — continued to disrupt the prediction of him being favored as the winner. 

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The 1994 Olympics were the last of his career. He had one more shot.

Preceding his last Olympics in 1994, Jansen adjusted his mindset. He focused on every single person who invested in him, leading to this moment. He considered just how very lucky he was to even participate in the first place. He thought about his love for the sport itself, all of which led to an overwhelming realization of just how much he had gained throughout his life.

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He raced the 1994 Olympic games differently, as his mindset powering every stride was one of confidence and gratitude — predicated on the gains rather than the gap in his life. 

This race secured him his first and only gold medal and broke a world record, simultaneously proving one of the most emotional wins in Olympic history. 

Friends, knowing who we are on the personal and professional level, can protect us from those voices of shame or guilt that creep in. 


PERSONAL ACTION: Create two columns. On one side, create a list of where you were when you started your business or your position at your company. Include skills and networks and even feelings about where you were in life. On the other side, outline where you are today. 

Look at how far you’ve come. 

COMPANY ACTION: Implement a quarterly meeting to review the past three months. Where did you start? Where are you now? 

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Celebrate the gain!

Only from this place of gain mindset, can you create goals for the next quarter predicated on where you are today.


Ultimately, my hope for you is that you deliver exceptional and memorable experiences laced with empathy toward the customer (horizontally aligned) yet powered by the authenticity of the brand (vertically aligned). 

Aligning vertically maintains our focus on the bottom line and powers horizontal fulfillment. 

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Granted, there will be strategic times and seasons for adjustment; however, these changes are to be made on the heels of consulting who we are as a brand — not in reaction to the horizontal landscape of what is the latest and greatest in the industry. 

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In Conclusion…

Taking back control of your business and marketing strategies requires a conscious effort to resist external pressures and realign with what you want and who you are.

Final thoughts as we wrap up: 

First, identify the root issue(s).

Consider which of the 3 Cs holds the most power: be it competition, colleagues, or customers.

Second, align vertically.

Vertical alignment facilitates individuality in the market and ensures you — and I — stand out and shine while serving our customers well. 

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Third, keep the bottom line in view.

Implement a routine that keeps you and your team focused on what matters most, and then create the cascading strategy necessary to accomplish it. 

Fourth, maintain your mindsets.

Who You Are includes values for the internal culture. Guide your team in acknowledging the progress made along the way and embracing the gains to operate from a position of strength and confidence.

Fifth, maintain humility.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of humility and being open to what others are doing. However, horizontal alignment must come after vertical alignment. Otherwise, we will be at the mercy of the whims and fads of everyone around us. Humility allows us to be open to external inputs and vertically aligned at the same time.

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Buckle up, friends! It’s time to take back the wheel and drive our businesses forward. 

The power lies with you and me.


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