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The HubSpot Blog’s 2022 Social Media Marketing Report: Data from 310 Marketers



The HubSpot Blog's 2022 Social Media Marketing Report: Data from 310 Marketers

In our recent Marketing Trends survey, we learned that social media is the most effective channel marketers leverage, as well as the channel they use most.

But the world of social media is constantly evolving, with new features coming out every month, constant algorithm updates, and disruptive social apps changing the way we communicate.

To get the most out of your social media strategy, it’s critical to keep up with these changes.

The pace of social media can be intimidating. But, the great news is that with change comes opportunities for you to tap into exciting new marketing strategies and help your company grow better.

To help professionals just like you, we surveyed 310 social media marketers across B2B and B2C industries in the United States to find out:

Without further ado, let’s dive into some data that will help your social media strategy stay up-to-date as we jump into the new year.

2022 Social Media Marketing Trends Survey Key Findings

  1. Facebook is the most used social media platform and has the highest ROI, engagement, and highest quality leads.
  2. Funny, interactive, and relatable content, as well as content that reflects a brand’s values, performs best on social media and will see increased investment from marketers in 2022.
  3. Short-form video is the most popular and effective social media format and will see significant growth in 2022.
  4. When it comes to partnering with influencers, followers aren’t everything. Marketers are placing an emphasis on quality of content, engagement rates, and alignment with values before considering follower count.
  5. Overall, social media marketers located in EST say the best time to post is 6-9PM, while marketers in PST consider the 3-6PM window to be best. 
  6. The most popular demographics social media marketers target are Millennials (25-40), followed by Gen X (41-56), Gen Z (6-24), and lastly, Baby Boomers (57-75).
  7. Younger audiences prefer shorter video content that is funny, trendy, and reflects a brand’s values, while baby boomers prefer interactive/educational content, such as interviews, podcasts, expert discussions and/or live videos.
  8. Nearly two-thirds of marketers are building social media communities, and this number will grow in 2022. .
  9. Social media marketers search for new or emerging platforms/features to leverage often, and the top features they invested in this year are Twitter Spaces, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Shops.

The Top Social Media Platforms of 2022

There are many factors that go into determining which social media platforms you should consider in 2022. While below we highlight a list of the most used platforms in 2022, here’s a quick graphic with quick stats on a few of the platforms you might want to watch as they grow and evolve in the coming year.

four social media platforms to keep on your radar in 2022Download Image as File

The Most Used Social Media Marketing Platforms

1. Facebook

Facebook is used the most, has the highest ROI and engagement of any social platform, as well as the highest quality leads.

One in four social media marketers plan to invest more in Facebook than any other platform in 2022, and it is the platform marketers buy paid ads on the most.

2. YouTube

YouTube comes in second for usage, engagement, and ROI, but it’s the number one platform marketers plan to invest in for the first time this year.

On top of the fact that one in five social media marketers plan to invest the most in YouTube this year, the platform will continue to grow along with the use of video content.

3. TikTok

TikTok is only used by one-third of social media marketers. Although these marketers report low ROI and engagement levels compared to other platforms, 52% of those who use TikTok plan to increase their investment this year, tied with Twitter for the highest increase of any platform.

4. Twitter

Twitter is used by about half of social media marketers and comes in third for engagement and ROI.

52% of those who use it plan to increase their investment this year, and 16% of all social media marketers plan to invest more in Twitter than any other platform in 2022.

5. Instagram

Instagram is leveraged by 45% of social media marketers, coming in 4th for usage, ROI, and engagement.

However, Instagram comes in second place for generating the highest quality leads. And,

the platform is set to grow in 2022, with 40% of marketers planning to use it for the first time and 15% planning to invest more in Instagram than any other platform.

6. LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become host to lots of B2B marketing and expert thought leadership over the past few year. It’s unique professional social media experience is likely why it’s leveraged by more than one-third of social media marketers. In 2022, LinkedIn marketing will only grow with 38% planning to use it for the first time.

Which platforms will see less investment in 2022?

You may also be wondering which social platforms marketers plan to reduce their investment in this year.

Clubhouse, Snapchat, and Reddit are the top platforms marketers plan to decrease their investment in for 2022.

Although Clubhouse was a viral app in 2021 — and offered marketers a new way to connect with consumers — this expected dip in investment could be due to the platform’s brand challenges. For example, Clubhouse offers minimal advertising opportunities or ways to share outside content or URLs, because of this, it will yield less ROI to brands than platforms like Facebook where advertising and link-sharing opportunities are always growing.

Not to mention, like many viral social media apps, Clubhouse has gotten some tough competition from social media channels owned by larger corporations like Twitter, Meta (formerly Facebook), and LinkedIn which could have social media marketing managers considering these options as those platforms are much more familiar to them. 

While Snapchat and Reddit have also hosted viral content in the past, they too cater to more niche audiences and consumers looking to avoid ads and branded content, which could cause more ROI-generation challenges than the most-used social media platforms. Like Clubhouse, they have also had a more difficult time competing with larger social media channels to win over brands.

Think one of the three platforms we just mentioned should still be part of your strategy? Don’t panic!

It’s important to remember that what works for your brand might not be what works for everyone else. And, while many marketers might not see their bottom line impacted by evolving platforms like Clubhouse, Reddit, and Snapchat just yet, that doesn’t mean no marketer ever has or will benefit from using them.

Ultimately, you’ll need to build your strategy around your audience and brand and take steps to determine which channels are best for you. 

4 Content Types Social Media Marketers Will Lean Into in 2022

1. Value-based Content

Content that reflects your brand’s values is the most popular type of content among social media marketers right now and has the 3rd highest ROI of any content type.

This type of content will see more investment from users in 2022, with 95% of those who leverage it planning on increasing or maintaining their investment, and 21% planning to use this type of content for the first time.

Additionally, we found that social media marketers who say their social media strategy has been effective in 2021 are 21% more likely to leverage content that reflects their brand’s values than those who reported an ineffective social media strategy last year

which social media content types have the biggest ROI

2. Funny Content

Funny content is tied with interactive content at #2 in terms of usage by social media marketers.

However, funny content has the highest ROI and is the most effective content type. The use of funny content will continue to grow in 2022, with 33% of all social media marketers planning to invest more in funny content than any other format.

Additionally, 95% of those who use funny content will increase or maintain their investment, while 56% of those who don’t leverage it plan to use it for the first time in 2022.

3. Interactive Content

Interactive content is #2 when it comes to usage, ROI, and effectiveness and will grow significantly in 2022.

97% of those who leverage it plan to invest more or maintain their investment this year, while 49% of those who don’t plan to use it for the first time in 2022.

On top of all that, we found that social media marketers who say their social media strategy has been effective in 2021 are 25% more likely to leverage interactive content than those who reported an ineffective social media strategy last year.

types of social media content marketers will invest in

4. Relatable Content

Relatable content is currently leveraged by 39% of social media marketers and will see increased investment among current users as well as first-time users.

93% of marketers who leverage relatable content plan to increase their investment or continue investing the same amount in 2022 and 54% of social media marketers who don’t leverage it are planning to for the first time this year.

which social media content types will get the biggest investment

The Top Content Formats for Social Media Marketing

1. Short-Form Video

Short-form video is the most popular and effective social media format and will see significant growth in 2022.

50% of social media marketers plan to leverage short-form video for the first time this year, and 95% of those who already use it will increase or maintain their investment.

On top of that, 26% of all social media marketers plan to invest more in short-form videos than any other format this year.

Building a video strategy for 2022 and not sure which platforms to share it on? Check out this data on the best social platforms for video or watch the video below to learn more about short, or snackable, content.

2. Live Video

Live video is No. 2 when it comes to usage and effectiveness, and will continue to grow in 2022.

43% of social media marketers plan to leverage it for the first time this year, and 66% of those who already use it plan to increase their investment next year, the highest increase of any format.

3. Audio Chat Rooms

While marketers are still easing on to platforms like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces, this doesn’t mean they have no interest in the audio experience. Audio chat rooms rank third in usage and effectiveness, though social media marketers report low ROI.

However, 44% plan to invest in live audio for the first time in 2022, and 17% of marketers plan on investing more into live audio than any other content format.

Social Media Strategies

This section will go over a wide range of social media metrics, from the best time and day to post on social media, to which metrics marketers use to measure the ROI of their campaigns, and much more.

The Best Times to Post on Social Media

73% of marketers say their company has a posting schedule or calendar for social media marketing. While tools like TK, TK, and TK can help the social media marketers we surveyed in building out an effective scheduling strategy, it’s also helpful to know the best times to post social media content to optimize likes, clicks, and other engagements.

Overall, social media marketers located in Eastern Standard Time say the best time to post is 6-9PM, while marketers in Pacific Standard Time consider the 3-6PM window to be best. 9-12PM and 12-3PM are also popular times to post.

Keep in mind that while all of these times can work, the best time will ultimately depend on when your audience is most active on the platform, so make sure to look at your insights when deciding when to post. You can also run your own tests to see which posting time results in the most engagement.

Speaking of platforms, the best time to post can vary based on which one you are using. Here’s a breakdown of the top three times to post for each platform:

  • Facebook: 6-9PM,  3-6PM, and  9-12PM
  • YouTube: 6-9PM, 3-6PM, and 12-3PM
  • Twitter: 6-9PM, 3-6PM, and 12-3PM
  • Instagram: 6-9PM, 3-6PM, and 9-12PM
  • LinkedIn: 6-9PM, 3-6PM, and 12-3PM
  • TikTok: 6-9PM, 3-6PM, and 12-3PM

When it comes to the most engaging days of the week, social media marketers say Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the best days to post across social media platforms.

Documenting and Templating Social Media Strategies

Much like posting schedules, more than two-thirds of marketers say their company has a documented social media strategy. If you need help getting started, check out these templates.

Below are some of the top questions social media marketers ask themselves when building out a social media strategy and our data-backed guidance around them:

1. Which metrics should I use to measure the ROI of my social media marketing campaigns?

Measuring ROI is one of the biggest challenges marketers anticipate in 2022. With more data available to us than ever before, it can be hard to zero in on the metrics that are most important.

According to social media marketers, website traffic is the most important metric when measuring ROI of social media campaigns, followed by

  • impressions/views
  • clicks
  • sales/conversions
  • likes/comments

2. How do I know if I should keep using a platform for social media marketing?

Believe it or not, the biggest challenge marketers anticipate struggling with in 2022 is determining which platform to market their brand on.

If you are one of those marketers, you may be wondering what metrics you should be looking at when deciding whether to continue leveraging a social channel.

Coming in at number one is impressions/views, followed by sales, then subscriber/follower count, website traffic, and clicks.

3. Which new or emerging platforms or features are marketers investing in for 2022?

With new social media platforms popping up every few months, it can be overwhelming to keep up with all of them while also managing your active campaigns.

Nevertheless, you might be wondering which new platforms marketers plan to invest in this year, how often you should be searching for new platforms to leverage, and when you do find a promising opportunity, how do you determine whether it is worth your time and investment? Let’s break it down.

emerging features brands will invest in in 2022

  • Twitter Spaces is a new live audio feature on the already popular Twitter platform, so it’s no surprise that 39% of marketers invested in it in 2021, the highest of any platform. Twitter Spaces is also the #1 new feature marketers plan to invest in more than any other in 2022.
  • YouTube Shorts is widely considered YouTube’s response to TikTok and 31% of marketers invested in it in 2021, with 15% of marketers planning to invest more in Shorts than any other new feature next year.
  • Instagram Shops is the 3rd most popular new feature marketers invested in last year, with 30% of social media marketers giving it a try in 2021.
Emerging Social Channels and Features That are Losing Steam

When it comes to reducing their investment, social media marketers are pulling back on lesser-known live audio platforms as more established ones like Twitter begin to incorporate live audio features.

In 2022, marketers plan to stop their investment in live audio platforms like Spoon, Discord, Spotify Greenroom, and Riffr.  These platforms all involve live streaming and audio discussions, adding to the over-crowded audio social market. While the saturation of this social media category could be one issue causing stagnant marketing growth, these platforms could also host similar niche audiences or low-ROI challenges like Clubhouse. 

How often do marketers search for new platforms to leverage?

Marketers search for new platforms often, with 29% searching once a month, followed by 22% searching once a week and 20% searching multiple times a week. 14% search once a quarter, 4% search once per year, and only 1% never search for new platforms.

So if you aren’t currently setting aside a small chunk of time to search for new platforms, you run the risk of missing out on a new and exciting opportunity. But once you find something, how do you determine if it’s worth the investment?

How do marketers determine if a new platform is worth investing in?

Marketers determine which social media platforms are worth investing in based on the potential for driving traffic to their website, then the potential for lead generation, followed by the potential audience reach, the cost of paid ads, the cost of influencer partnerships, and the demographic makeup of the platform’s users.

Social Media Demographics

When we asked social media marketers about the age groups they target, we discovered:

  • Millennials (ages 25-40) are the #1 group being targeted by social media marketers by far, with 84% of those surveyed saying they target them.
  • Gen X (ages 41-56) are targeted by 52% of social media marketers
  • Gen Z (ages 6-24) are targeted by 22% of social media marketers
  • Baby Boomers (ages 57-75) are the least targeted demographic among social media marketers, with just 14% saying they target them.

which age groups will brands target on social media in 2022

And, when it comes to targeting each age group, the strategies can be slightly different. Below are some additional learnings we gained from our survey:

What type of content do Millennials and Gen Z prefer?

According to marketers, younger audiences like Millennials and Gen Z prefer shorter video content that is funny, trendy, and reflects a brand’s values.

If you’re targeting this audience, you’ll want to leverage short-form video platforms such as TikTok, as well as YouTube and Instagram now that they’ve implemented similar short-form features.

What type of content do Baby Boomers prefer?

On the other hand, Baby Boomers prefer interactive/educational content, such as interviews/podcasts/expert discussions and live videos.

If you’re targeting this audience, you’ll want to leverage those formats on Facebook, which marketers say is the most popular among baby boomers.

To learn even more about social media demographics, check out and bookmark this post.

The State of Social Media Communities

In an increasingly online world, you may be wondering if you should be investing in building social media communities.

Let’s go over what they are, which platforms are most effective for building social media communities, and some of the top challenges marketers face when leveraging them.

Currently, around 64% of marketers are leveraging social media communities (or online groups where members interact over shared interests).

This number will only keep growing, as 30% of those who don’t use social media communities plan to start in 2022. Additionally, 51% of those who already leverage social media communities plan to invest more this year, while 45% will continue investing the same amount.

Which platforms are marketers building social media communities on in 2022?

Facebook is the top platform marketers build social media communities on, followed by YouTube and TikTok tied for #2, with Instagram and Tumblr close behind.

social media community investments of 2022

What are the biggest challenges marketers face with building social media communities?

Despite the growth in online community building, social media marketers are still learning how to build the perfect strategy and navigate regular challenges associated with community management.

According to social media marketers we surveyed, the biggest challenges marketers face with building communities are:

  • actively managing their community
  • measuring the ROI of their community-building efforts
  • growing their community,
  • fostering an engaged community.

What sets effective social media marketers apart from others?

In our survey, we asked marketers how effective or ineffective their social media strategy has been this year. I then examined our data through these two separate groups, the first being those who said their social media strategy was effective, compared to the second which rated their social media strategy as ineffective.

Here are a few key differences between those who say their social media strategy was effective (77% of respondents) vs. ineffective (7% of respondents):

The effective group is 25% more likely to leverage interactive content (polls, games, etc.) and 21% more likely to leverage content that reflects their brand’s values.

When determining which influencers to partner with on social media, the effective group is 26% more likely to consider the quality of influencers’ content and 18% more likely to consider whether influencers align with their company’s values.

When trying to find their audience on social media, the effective group is:

  • 21% more likely to use social listening
  • 17% more likely to research the demographics of social media platforms
  • 17% more likely to research relevant online communities
  • 14% more likely to analyze demographic data their company already has

effective vs. ineffective social media marketers

In terms of the age demographics they target with their social media marketing efforts, the effective group is:

  • 5% more likely to target Millennials
  • 14% less likely to target Gen X
  • 7% less likely to target baby boomers
  • 6% less likely to target Gen Z

Oh, and one more thing. Those who use HubSpot to track social media analytics were 16% more likely to say their social media strategy was “very effective” in 2021, compared to those who use another analytics tool.

Want to learn more about our social media findings? Check out our most recent follow-up posts below, and stay tuned for even more research-driven content:

For even more data and exclusive tips from social media thought leaders, you can also download our free Social Media Trends Report.

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5 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve the Content Experience for Readers



5 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve the Content Experience for Readers

Who doesn’t like to have a good experience consuming content?

I know I do. And isn’t that what we – as both a consumer of content and a marketer of content – all want?

What if you create such a good experience that your audience doesn’t even realize it’s an “experience?” Here’s a helpful mish-mash of easy-to-do things to make that possible.

1. Write with an inclusive heart

There’s nothing worse than being in a conversation with someone who constantly talks about themselves. Check your text to see how often you write the words – I, me, we, and us. Now, count how often the word “you” is used. If the first-person uses are disproportionate to the second-person uses, edit to delete many first-person references and add more “you” to the text.

You want to let your audience know they are included in the conversation. I like this tip shared in Take Binary Bias Out of Your Content Conversations by Content Marketing World speaker Ruth Carter: Go through your text and replace exclusionary terms such as he/him and she/her with they/them pronouns.

Go through your text and replace exclusionary terms such as he/him and she/her with they/them pronouns, says @rbcarter via @Brandlovellc @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

2. Make your content shine brighter with an AI assist

Content published online should look different than the research papers and essays you wrote in school. While you should adhere to grammar rules and follow a style guide as best as possible, you also should prioritize readability. That requires scannable and easily digestible text – headings, bulleted text, short sentences, brief paragraphs, etc.

Use a text-polishing aid such as Hemingway Editor (free and paid versions) to cut the dead weight from your writing. Here’s how its color-coded review system works and the improvements to make:

  • Yellow – lengthy, complex sentences, and common errors
    • Fix: Shorten or split sentences.
  • Red – dense and complicated text
    • Fix: Remove hurdles and keep your readers on a simpler path.
  • Pink – lengthy words that could be shortened
    • Fix: Scroll the mouse over the problematic word to identify potential substitutes.
  • Blue – adverbs and weakening phrases
    • Fix: Delete them or find a better way to convey the thought.
  • Green – passive voice
    • Fix: Rewrite for active voice.

Grammarly’s paid version works well, too. The premium version includes an AI-powered writing assistant, readability reports, a plagiarism checker, citation suggestions, and more than 400 additional grammar checks.

In the image below, Grammarly suggests a way to rephrase the sentence from:

“It is not good enough any longer to simply produce content “like a media company would”.


“It is no longer good enough to produce content “as a media company would”.

Much cleaner, right?

3. Ask questions

See what I did with the intro (and here)? I posed questions to try to engage with you. When someone asks a question – even in writing – the person hearing (or reading) it is likely to pause for a split second to consider their answer. The reader’s role changes from a passive participant to an active one. Using this technique also can encourage your readers to interact with the author, maybe in the form of an answer in the comments.

4. Include links

Many content marketers include internal and external links in their text for their SEO value. But you also should add links to help your readers. Consider including links to help a reader who wants to learn more about the topic. You can do this in a couple of ways:

  • You can link the descriptive text in the article to content relevant to those words (as I did in this bullet point)
  • You can list the headlines of related articles as a standalone feature (see the gray box labeled Handpicked Related Content at the end of this article).

Add links to guide readers to more information on a topic – not just for SEO purposes says @Brandlovellc via @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

You also can include on-page links or bookmarks in the beginning (a table of contents, of sorts) in longer pieces to help the reader more quickly access the content they seek to help you learn more about a topic. This helps the reader and keeps visitors on your website longer.

5. Don’t forget the ‘invisible’ text

Alt text is often an afterthought – if you think about it all. Yet, it’s essential to have a great content experience for people who use text-to-speech readers. Though it doesn’t take too much time, I find that customizing the image description content instead of relying on the default technology works better for audience understanding.

First, ask if a listener would miss something if they didn’t have the image explained. If they wouldn’t, the image is decorative and probably doesn’t need alt text. You publish it for aesthetic reasons, such as to break up a text-heavy page. Or it may repeat information already appearing in the text (like I did in the Hemingway and Grammarly examples above).

If the listener would miss out if the image weren’t explained well, it is informative and requires alt text. General guidelines indicate up to 125 characters (including spaces) work best for alt text. That’s a short sentence or two to convey the image’s message. Don’t forget to include punctuation.

General guidelines indicate up to 125 characters (including spaces) work best for alt text, says @Brandlovellc via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

For both decorative and informative images, include the photo credits, permissions, and copyright information, in the caption section.

For example, if I were writing an article about Best Dogs for Families, I would include an image of a mini Bernedoodle as an example because they make great family pets. Let’s use this image of my adorable puppy, Henri, and I’ll show you both a good and bad example of alt text.

An almost useless alt-text version: “An image showing a dog.”

Author’s tri-colored (brown, white, black, grey wavy hair), merle mini Bernedoodle, Henri, lying on green grass.

It wastes valuable characters with the phrase “an image showing.”

Use the available characters for a more descriptive alt text: “Author’s tri-colored (brown, white, black, grey wavy hair), merle mini Bernedoodle, Henri, lying on green grass.”

It’s more descriptive, and I only used 112 characters, including spaces.

Want to learn more? Alexa Heinrich, an award-winning social media strategist, has a helpful article on writing effective image descriptions called The Art of Alt Text. @A11yAwareness on Twitter is also a great resource for accessibility tips.

Improve your content and better the experience

Do any of these suggestions feel too hard to execute? I hope not. They don’t need a bigger budget to execute. They don’t need a lengthy approval process to implement. And they don’t demand much more time in production.

They just need you to remember to execute them the next time you write (and the time after that, and the time after that, and the … well, you get the idea.)

If you have an easy-to-implement tip to improve the content experience, please leave it in the comments. I may include it in a future update.

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

If you have an idea for an original article you’d like to share with the CMI audience, you could get it published on the site. First, read our blogging guidelines and write or adjust your draft accordingly. Then submit the post for consideration following the process outlined in the guidelines.

In appreciation for guest contributors’ work, we’re offering free registration to one paid event or free enrollment in Content Marketing University to anyone who gets two new posts accepted and published on the CMI site in 2023.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The Ultimate Guide to Product Marketing in 2023



The Ultimate Guide to Product Marketing in 2023

Product marketing is essential, even if you only sell one or two products at your organization.


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3 email marketing shifts to make in 2023



3 email marketing shifts to make in 2023

Whew! We made it to 2023! As we closed in on the end of the year in December, the finish line seemed awfully far away. Many marketers told me they were busier than ever. 

I myself was fielding calls for strategy help, working on business deals and managing the chaos all the way to the eve of Christmas Eve, something that rarely happens in my 20-plus-year career. 

Look back and celebrate, then move on

The first business for 2023 will be to step back, clear your head and take stock of all the great things you accomplished in 2022 despite the odds (i.e., coming out of COVID, going into a rebound and COVID round 2, moving into supply-chain shortages and other hiccups, facing down a potential recession) and how they affected the work you did to succeed.

And now it’s 2023. I hope you got your budget request approved and you’re ready to move ahead with a clean slate and new KPIs to hit. You’re probably wondering, “What can I do now to grow my program?

3 directional changes to grow your email program

Naturally, every marketer’s goals will be unique. We have different audiences, challenges, resources and goals. But I’m focusing on three major directional changes with my clients this year. Which of these could help you succeed this year?

1. Stop sending so many emails

Yeah, I know. That sounds strange coming from somebody who believes wholeheartedly in email and its power to build your business. But even I have my limits!

Email during this last holiday shopping season was insane. In my 20+ years in the email industry, I cannot remember a time, even during the lockdown days of COVID-19, when my inbox was so full. 

I’m not the only one who noticed. Your customers also perceived that their inboxes were getting blasted to the North Pole. And they complained about it, as the Washington Post reported (“Retailers fire off more emails than ever trying to get you to shop“).

I didn’t run any numbers to measure volume, isolate cadences or track frequency curves. But every time I turned around, I saw emails pouring into my inbox. 

My advice for everyone on frequency: If you throttled up during the holiday, now it’s time to throttle back.

This should be a regularly scheduled move. But it’s important to make sure your executives understand that higher email frequency, volume and cadence aren’t the new email norm. 

If you commit to this heavier schedule, you’ll drive yourself crazy and push your audience away, to other brands or social media.

If you did increase cadence, what did it do for you? You might have hit your numbers, but consider the long-term costs: 

  • More unsubscribes.
  • More spam complaints.
  • Deliverability problems.
  • Lower revenue per email. 

Take what you learned from your holiday cadence as an opportunity to discover whether it’s a workable strategy or only as a “break glass in case of emergency” move.

My advice? Slow down. Return to your regular volume, frequency and cadence. Think of your customers and their reactions to being inundated with emails over 60 days.

2. Stop spamming

In that Washington Post article I mentioned earlier, I was encouraged that it cited one of my email gripes — visiting websites and then getting emails without granting permission first. 

I could have given the Post a salty quote about my experiences with SafeOpt and predatory email experiences (“Business stress is no excuse to spam“) for visitors to its clients’ websites. 

Successful email marketers believe in the sanctity of permission. That permission-based practice is what you want to be involved in. Buying a list means you don’t hire a company to sell you one, whether it’s a data broker or a tech provider like SafeOpt. 

Spamming people doesn’t work in the long term. Sure, I’ve heard stories from people who say they use purchased lists or companies like SafeOpt and it makes them money. But that’s a singular view of the impact. 

Email is the only marketing channel where you can do it wrong but still make money. But does that make it right? 

The problem with the “it made us money” argument is that there’s nowhere to go after that. Are you measuring how many customers you lost because you spammed them or the hits your sender reputation took? 

You might hit a short-term goal but lose the long-term battle. When you become known as an unreliable sender, you risk losing access to your customers’ inboxes.

Aside from the permission violation, emailing visitors after they leave your site is a wasted effort for three reasons:

  • A visit is not the same as intent. You don’t know why they landed on your site. Maybe they typed your URL as a mistake or discovered immediately that your brand wasn’t what they wanted. Chasing them with emails won’t bring them back.
  • You aren’t measuring interest. Did they visit multiple pages or check out your “About” or FAQ pages? As with intent, just landing on a page doesn’t signal interest.
  • They didn’t give you their email address. If they had interest or intent, they would want to connect with your brand. No email address, no permission.

Good email practice holds that email performs best when it’s permission-based. Most ESPs and ISPs operate on that principle, as do many email laws and regulations.

But even in the U.S., where opt-out email is still legal, that doesn’t mean you should send an email without permission just because somebody landed on your website.

3. Do one new thing

Many email marketers will start the year with a list of 15 things they want to do over the next two months. I try to temper those exuberant visions by focusing on achievable goals with this question: 

“What one thing could you do this year that could make a great difference in your email program’s success?”

When I started a job as head of strategy for Acxiom, I wanted to come up with a long list of goals to impress my new boss. I showed it to my mentor, the great David Baker and he said, “Can you guarantee that you can do all of these things and not just do them but hit them out of the park?”


“That’s why you don’t put down that many goals,” he said. “Go in with just one. When that one is done, come up with the next one. Then do another. If you propose five projects, your boss will assume you will do five projects. If you don’t, it just means you didn’t get it done.”

That was some of the best advice I’ve ever received and I pass it on to you. 

Come up with one goal, project or change that will drive your program forward. Take it to your boss and say, “Here’s what I’m going to do this year.”

To find that one project, look at your martech and then review MarTech’s six most popular articles from 2022 for expert advice.

You’ll find plenty of ideas and tips to help you nail down your one big idea to drive growth and bring success. But be realistic. You don’t know what events could affect your operations. 

Drive your email program forward in 2023

The new year has barely begun, but I had a little trouble getting motivated to take on what’s shaping up to be a beast of a year. You, too?

I enjoyed my time off over the holidays. Got in some golf with my dad and his buddies, ate great food and took time to step back and appreciate the phenomenal people I work with and our amazing industry. 

What gets me going at last? Reaching out to my team, friends and you. Much of my motivation comes from fellow marketers — what you need, what you worry about and what I can do to help you succeed. 

If you’re on the struggle bus with me, borrow some motivation from your coworkers and teammates, so we can gather together 12 months from now and toast each other for making it through another year. 

It’s time to strap on your marketer helmet and hit the starter. Here’s to another great year together. Let’s get the job done!

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

About the author

Ryan Phelan

As the co-founder of, Ryan Phelan’s two decades of global marketing leadership has resulted in innovative strategies for high-growth SaaS and Fortune 250 companies. His experience and history in digital marketing have shaped his perspective on creating innovative orchestrations of data, technology and customer activation for Adestra, Acxiom, Responsys, Sears & Kmart, BlueHornet and infoUSA. Working with peers to advance digital marketing and mentoring young marketers and entrepreneurs are two of Ryan’s passions. Ryan is the Chairman Emeritus of the Email Experience Council Advisory Board and a member of numerous business community groups. He is also an in-demand keynote speaker and thought leader on digital marketing.

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