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Top Tactics for Instagram Growth in 2022: HubSpot Blog Data

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Top Tactics for Instagram Growth in 2022: HubSpot Blog Data


Instagram is a top-rated app, with more than 1 billion global monthly active users.

Given the size of its user base, businesses have valuable opportunities on the platform to generate an audience, build a community, and drive sales.

To help learn more about how to grow your business on the app and create an engaged community, the HubSpot Blog surveyed more than 1,000 marketing professionals that use the platform. Here are some of our key findings.

How Marketers Grew Their Following in 2021

In 2021, marketers reported that the key to growing an account to the first 1,000 followers on Instagram was by creating shareable content with high-quality captions. Growing their following past 1,000 followers involved posting engaging Stories, engaging with users, and partnering with influencers, all of which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

If you’re having trouble growing your following, or are losing followers, marketers report that this typically occurs for a few key reasons: not posting often enough, being too sales-y, and Instagram removing bot followers.

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How Marketers Grew Engagement in 2021

In 2021, marketers increased engagement on Instagram through audience interaction, and creating content that encourages engagement. For example,

  • Creating content that is shareable, inspiring audiences to share it on their own profiles via Stories or reposting on their feed,
  • Monitoring your comments and mentions to find user-generated content that you can share on your profile,
  • Responding to comments and DMs from audience members when it makes sense to do so.

How Marketers Grew Instagram ROI in 2021

49% of marketers reported that, out of all the platforms they leverage, Instagram has the highest ROI. Here are the strategies that they used to grow ROI:

This was the most popular strategy, as 79% of Instagram marketers have used shopping tools in their roles, and 33% plan to use them for the first time in 2022.

  • Creating content centered around a brand’s product and services.

This informs audiences of your offerings on a platform that they’re already familiar with, and has the second highest ROI of any content type.

The tool is leveraged by 45% of IG marketers, and 92% plan to increase or maintain their investment in 2022. Stories are also the number two format for gaining followers and getting your content shared on Instagram.

Instagram Growth Tips for 2022

Now that you know some of the key ways marketers found success on Instagram in 2021, let’s look forward to how you can create an organic Instagram growth strategy for your business in 2022.

1. Leverage different content formats.

Video and carousel posts are the most engaged with type of content on Instagram, especially when compared to single images. For reference, carousel posts contain multiple different media forms (image or video) in one, allowing you to create high-impact posts.

Both forms of content keep users engaged for longer, whether they’re scrolling through your 5 picture photo set, or watching a video. The longer a user stays interacting with your content, the longer they’re engaged.

While video and carousel posts are the most popular, you can also experiment with different content formats (like Reels and Stories) and see what resonates most with your audience.

2. Post at the right times.

When you post on Instagram, it’s important to post a time that allows you to meet your audiences when they’re online and more likely to engage with your posts.

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The best way to decide what time to post on Instagram is to monitor your analytics, as mentioned above. However, the universal benchmark for ideal timing is posting between 6PM and 9PM, and the best days are Saturday, Friday, and Sunday, respectively.

3. Post consistently.

Growing your profile is tied to how much you post, so aim to post consistently. The more content you share, the more opportunities you have for engagement and growing your profile. As such, create a consistent posting schedule that helps you stay top of mind for your audiences.

Many marketers report that four to six posts per week is the sweet spot. Be mindful, though, that there is such a thing as posting too much on Instagram. Don’t oversaturate your audiences, but instead be strategic.

4. Partner with influencers that are relevant to your business.

While it seems like a best practice to partner with influencers with tons of followers, HubSpot’s Instagram Engagement Report says your efforts are more worthwhile if you partner with influencers that are more connected to their audience and community over follower count.

When you do this, you’re working with someone that has built trust with their audience, regardless of its size. And, when an influencer’s audience trusts them wholeheartedly, they’re more likely to trust their opinion on products or services and be curious and eager to learn more about what your brand offers.

Micro-influencers with 10k to 50k followers and nano-influencers with under 10k followers are considered to be the next wave of influencer marketing.

5. Monitor your engagement.

You may be saying “Yeah, I knew that” but monitoring your Instagram engagement is important, so it’s an important callout. In fact, it is the most impactful way to grow your engagement, as you’ll learn exactly what works and what doesn’t.

For example, your profile insights may say that users engage more with your videos. If you spend most of your time creating Stories, you’re actively ignoring what your audiences value most. Instead, you’d want to leverage the information from your insights and focus on sharing high-quality video content.

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Consistently monitor your engagement analytics to make informed decisions that will help you grow better.

5. Write strong, compelling captions.

Always include captions on your posts — doing so can increase your engagement by almost 2%. Quick and short captions (1-20 characters) perform well, and so do longer ones (over 2000 characters).

Regardless of their length, you should always aim to create high-quality captions that are informative, engaging, and related to the content you share.

7. Use hashtags.

Using hashtags on Instagram helps you get your content seen by people who don’t follow you but surf the hashtags you use on their Explore page.

If you choose hashtags relevant to your business and use them in your captions, people can find your posts, discover your profile and follow you and help you grow your account. Case in point, 81% of marketers say that using hashtags has been somewhat or very effective for their Instagram strategy.

Over To You

Growing a following on any platform can be challenging, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Leverage the tips on this list from other marketers who have gone through it and reaped the benefits to begin creating your own Instagram growth strategy that helps you build an engaged community.

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MARKETING

8 major email marketing mistakes and how to avoid them

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8 major email marketing mistakes and how to avoid them

As email marketers, we know we need to personalize the messages we send to subscribers and customers. I can’t think of a single statistic, case study or survey claiming an email program of one-to-everyone campaigns outperforms personalization.

Instead, you’ll find statistics like these:

  • 72% of customers will engage only with personalized messages (Wunderkind Audiences, formerly SmarterHQ)
  • 70% of consumers say that how well a company understands their individual needs affects their loyalty (Salesforce)
  • 71% of customers are frustrated by impersonal shopping experiences (Segment)

But what marketers often don’t understand, especially if they’re new to personalization, is that personalization is not an end in itself. Your objective is not to personalize your email campaigns and lifecycle messages. 

Rather, your objective is to enhance your customer’s experience with your brand. Personalization is one method that can do that, but it’s more than just another tactic. 

It is both an art and a science. The science is having the data and automations to create personalized, one-to-one messages at scale. The art is knowing when and how to use it.

We run into trouble when we think of personalization as the goal instead of the means to achieve a goal. In my work consulting with marketers for both business and consumer brands, I find this misunderstanding leads to eight major marketing mistakes – any of which can prevent you from realizing the immense benefits of personalization.

Mistake #1. Operating without an overall personalization strategy

I see this all too often: marketers find themselves overwhelmed by all the choices they face: 

  • Which personalization technologies to use
  • What to do with all the data they have
  • How to use their data and technology effectively
  • Whether their personalization efforts are paying off

This stems from jumping headfirst into personalization without thinking about how to use it to meet customers’ needs or help them solve problems. 

To avoid being overwhelmed with the mechanics of personalization, follow this three-step process:

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  • Start small. If you aren’t using personalization now, don’t try to set up a full-fledged program right away. Instead, look for quick wins – small areas where you can use basic personalized data to begin creating one-to-one messages. That will get you into the swing of things quickly, without significant investment in time and money. Adding personal data to the body of an email is about as basic as you’ll get, but it can be a start.
  • Test each tactic. See whether that new tactic helps or hurts your work toward your goal. Does adding personal data to each message correlate with higher clicks to your landing page, more conversion or whatever success metric you have chosen?
  • Optimize and move on. Use your testing results to improve each tactic. Then, take what you learned to select and add another personalization tactic, such as adding a module of dynamic content to a broadcast (one to everyone) campaign. 

Mistake #2. Not using both overt and covert personalization

Up to now, you might have thought of in specific terms: personalized subject lines, data reflecting specific actions in the email copy, triggered messages that launch when a customer’s behavior matches your automation settings and other “overt” (or visible) personalization tactics.

“Covert” personalization also employs customer preference or behavior data but doesn’t draw attention to it. Instead of sending an abandoned-browse message that says “We noticed you were viewing this item on our website,” you could add a content module in your next campaign that features those browsed items as recommended purchases, without calling attention to their behavior. It’s a great tactic to use to avoid being seen as creepy.

Think back to my opening statement that personalization is both an art and a science. Here, the art of personalization is knowing when to use overt personalization – purchase and shipping confirmations come to mind – and when you want to take a more covert route. 

Mistake #3. Not maximizing lifecycle automations

Lifecycle automations such as onboarding/first-purchase programs, win-back and reactivation campaigns and other programs tied to the customer lifecycle are innately personalized. 

The copy will be highly personal and the timing spot-on because they are based on customer actions (opting in, purchases, downloads) or inactions (not opening emails, not buying for the first time or showing signs of lapsing after purchasing). 

Better yet, these emails launch automatically – you don’t have to create, schedule or send any of these emails because your marketing automation platform does that for you after you set it up. 

You squander these opportunities if you don’t do everything you can to understand your customer lifecycle and then create automated messaging that reaches out to your customers at these crucial points. This can cost you the customers you worked so hard to acquire, along with their revenue potential.

Mistake #4. Not testing effectively or for long-term gain

Testing helps you discover whether your personalization efforts are bearing fruit. But all too often, marketers test only individual elements of a specific campaign – subject lines, calls to action, images versus no images, personalization versus no personalization  – without looking at whether personalization enhances the customer experience in the long term.

How you measure success is a key part of this equation. The metrics you choose must line up with your objectives. That’s one reason I’ve warned marketers for years against relying on the open rate to measure campaign success. A 50% open rate might be fantastic, but if you didn’t make your goal for sales, revenue, downloads or other conversions, you can’t consider your campaign a success.

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As the objective of personalizing is to enhance the customer journey, it makes sense then that customer lifetime value is a valid metric to measure success on.  To measure how effective your personalization use is, use customer lifetime value over a long time period – months, even years – and compare the results with those from a control group, which receives no personalization. Don’t ignore campaign-level results, but log them and view them over time.

(For more detailed information on testing mistakes and how to avoid them, see my MarTech column 7 Common Problems that Derail A/B/N Email Testing Success.)

Mistake #5. Over-segmenting your customer base

Segmentation is a valuable form of personalization, but it’s easy to go too far with it. If you send only highly segmented campaigns, you could be exclude – and end up losing because of failure to contact – many customers who don’t fit your segmentation criteria. That costs you customers, their potential revenue and the data they would have generated to help you better understand your customer base.

You can avoid this problem with a data-guided segmentation plan that you review and test frequently, a set of automated triggers to enhance the customer’s lifecycle and a well-thought-out program of default or catch-all campaigns for subscribers who don’t meet your other criteria. 

Mistake #6. Not including dynamic content in general email campaigns

We usually think of personalized email as messages in which all the content lines up with customer behavior or preference data, whether overt, as in an abandoned-cart message, or covert, where the content is subtly relevant.

That’s one highly sophisticated approach. It incorporates real-time messaging driven by artificial intelligence and complex integrations with your ecommerce or CRM platforms. But a simple dynamic content module can help you achieve a similar result. I call that “serendipity.”  

When you weave this dynamic content into your general message, it can be a pleasant surprise for your customers and make your relevant content stand out even more. 

Let’s say your company is a cruise line. Customer A opens your emails from time to time but hasn’t booked a cruise yet or browsed different tours on your website. Your next email campaign to this customer – and to everyone else on whom you have little or no data – promotes discounted trips to Hawaii, Fiji and the Mediterranean.

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Customer B hasn’t booked a cruise either, but your data tells you she has browsed your Iceland-Denmark-Greenland cruise recently. With a dynamic content module, her email could show her your Hawaii and Mediterranean cruise offers – and a great price on a trip to Iceland, Denmark and Greenland. Fancy that! 

An email like this conveys the impression that your brand offers exactly what your customers are looking for (covert personalization) without the overt approach of an abandoned-browse email.

Mistake #7. Not using a personal tone in your copy

You can personalize your email copy without a single data point, simply by writing as if you were speaking to your customer face to face. Use a warm, human tone of voice, which ideally should reflect your brand voice. Write copy that sounds like a one-to-one conversation instead of a sales pitch. 

This is where my concept of “helpful marketing” comes into play. How does your brand help your customers achieve their own goals, solve their problems or make them understand you know them as people, not just data points?  

Mistake #8. Not personalizing the entire journey

Once again, this is a scenario in which you take a short-sighted view of personalization – “How do I add personalization to this email campaign?” – instead of looking at the long-term gain: “How can I use personalization to enhance my customer’s experience?”

Personalization doesn’t stop when your customer clicks on your email. It should continue on to your landing page and even be reflected in the website content your customer views. Remember, it’s all about enhancing your customer’s experience.

What happens when your customers click on a personalized offer? Does your landing page greet your customers by name? Show the items they clicked? Present copy that reflects their interests, their loyalty program standing or any other data that’s unique to them?  

Personalization is worth the effort

Yes, personalization takes both art and science into account. You need to handle it carefully so your messages come off as helpful and relevant without veering into creepy territory through data overreaches. But this strategic effort pays off when you can use the power of personalized email to reach out, connect with and retain customers – achieving your goal of enhancing the customer experience.

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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

Kath Pay is CEO at Holistic Email Marketing and the author of the award-winning Amazon #1 best-seller “Holistic Email Marketing: A practical philosophy to revolutionise your business and delight your customers.”

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