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How to Drive More Sales with Instagram

By on September 13th, 2018 Reading Time: 9 minutes

The multichannel approach to selling products online is no longer just a buzzword, but a necessity, period.

Being where your customers are is vital for any online store. And right now Instagram is the platform where brands of all sizes can easily connect with their customers. But creating an Instagram account isn’t enough. Every online store owner should be aware of what’s happening on this social media channel, and this year it’s all about engaging stories, hashtags, and shoppable posts.

So read on to learn a couple of well-tested tactics on how to convert your business Instagram account into a stable source of traffic and orders.

1. Start posting Instagram stories regularly

Instagram Stories have over 300 million daily active users. It means that approximately 60% of Instagram’s 500 million daily active users are viewing or publishing content on Instagram Stories. Needless to say, not using this feature puts your business at a great disadvantage.

But apart from the numbers, why should you care about Instagram Stories? Well, they only appear for 24 hours. So if you have plenty of content to share, you don’t have to spam your Instagram feed. Just use Stories!

Let’s take a look at some of the features that can make your Instagram Stories more effective:

  • Highlight stories. As we mentioned above, Instagram Stories vanish after 24 hours. But now you can save them to Highlights. This feature lets your followers rewatch your best Stories, or discover the ones they haven’t had a chance to see before they started following you.

  • “Swipe up” feature. It’s easy to send your customers directly to your shop – just add the link to your Instagram story. But remember that at the moment this feature is only available for accounts with 10,000+ followers, or accounts that are verified.
  • Promoted stories. Organic Instagram reach is slowly decreasing, so it can get tricky to maintain the same engagement without paid advertising. That’s why promoted stories can help you cut through the noise and get in touch with potential customers.

What should ecommerce business owners do to really SELL via stories

  • Make them eye-catching. Make your stories noticeable using Boomerang, GIF stickers or Face Filters. Simple behind-the-scenes photos of your business also work well, since they make you closer to your audience, and adds that ever-important sense of trust.
  • Engage with your followers through Q&A and poll stickers, or emoji sliders. Today like never before, customers want to be part of your brand. So let them contribute by submitting a question, voting or expressing their emotions. This way customers are invested in your brand, and are more likely to continue to shop in your store.
  • Add outbound links to your content. Create an excellent post, add the link to your store, or to the product you’re telling about, choose the right target audience, and enjoy higher conversion rates.

2. Try to make more live videos

Live video streaming is on the rise, and according to multiple studies, its’ popularity will continue growing by the day. Live streamed content is popular among people of all ages, and 63% of people between 18 and 34 are already watching this type of content regularly.

Live streaming is a great tool you can leverage to engage with your audience in real time. Besides, it gives you an opportunity to build a stronger connection with your customers by showing them the person behind your brand name.

If you’ve never hosted an Instagram live stream, here are a few ideas of what you can do during one:

  • give your customers a glimpse of exclusive brand events
  • do an interview with someone whose experience is valuable to the audience
  • show you or your customers unboxing the products
  • announce upcoming events and novelties in the assortment
  • give the link right to your store and encourage people to act immediately, so you’ll get more leads

What should ecommerce business owners do to really SELL via Live Videos?

The first step is to involve as many viewers as possible. Make an announcement in a post and/or a story before streaming and explain what you’re going to do during the Live video. This way more followers will be aware of the event beforehand, and when Instagram sends all your followers an automatic notification that your account is going live, they’ll know exactly what to expect in the video.

And don’t forget to prepare beforehand: plan the content you want to share and make sure your stream session is fun and engaging. Last but not least, don’t forget to test the video and audio quality before going live!

All these preparations show that you’re dedicated to your brand and your followers, who are more likely to become loyal buying customers.

3. Make your Instagram profile your second home page

More and more people use Instagram, not Google, to find more information about the brands they like, or are curious about. And this means that your Instagram account should be not only aesthetically pleasing but informative too.

For example, Tommy Hilfiger’s Instagram feed has a recognizable branded style that immediately shows off their unique identity. It’s also very easy to contact the company – there is a direct link to the store in the bio,  as well as an option to email them. Moreover, in Highlights, you can see the best of their content.

What should ecommerce business owners do to really SELL via their Instagram profile?

  • Use your brand’s style to make the profile recognizable. If you don’t have an individual style yet, it’s time to create one
  • Write a bio that will help followers understand who you are and what you are doing
  • The bio is the only chance on Instagram to add a clickable link. So, don’t forget to add it

By creating a unified, sleek look on your Instagram account, you create a sense of a well-established, trustworthy brand, and anyone who browses your Instagram might be convinced to become part of what you represent by ordering one of your products.

4. Start using user generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is the most significant source of content for many brands.  Using UGC puts the customers in the center, and lets them tell your story. It also provides social proof and shows that you’re open to conversation with your audience. All these things make UGC more trustworthy than branded advertising. And it’s free!

But the question is: how do you legally repost UGC on Instagram? You can follow Stitchfix’s example:

When a customer tags one of Stitchfix’s products in their photo, the brand requests a permission to repost that photo on Stitchfix Instagram account by leaving a comment under it. If a user agrees to have their photo reposted, they can reply to the comment with a unique confirmation hashtag. For Stitchfix it’s #yesstichfix.

What should ecommerce business owners do to really SELL via UGC?

  • Carefully follow your brand mentions on Instagram to find the best possible content you might use
  • Reach out to individuals who shared content related to your brand and ask for permission to repost their content on your account or website

If you want to legally repost content of your customers, you must ask the author’s permission, and after posting the photo on your profile add the proper photo credit.

Everyone likes to be seen, and Instagram users are no different. That’s why posting UGC on your account is another way to help you build a trustworthy brand with long-term customers.

5. Use relevant and popular hashtags

Hashtags help people find you, discover your brand, and decide if they want to become your customers. They can also be used for promotion, and tracking what your competitors are doing. After all, 7 out of 10 hashtags are branded.

Now there’s a feature on Instagram that allows you to follow a certain hashtag. People can follow content the same way they’d follow friends and influencers, so the omnipresent tagging becomes even more critical.

TrackMaven reports that 11 hashtags is the optimal amount for boosting engagement on the platform.

What should ecommerce business do to really SELL via hashtags?

  • Create branded tags to make content related to your online store easy to search and follow.
  • Look up trendy hashtags that can be associated with your brand and products.
  • Don’t forget to mix up the hashtags, depending on what appears in your post. Using the same list every time limits your exposure to new followers

When used strategically, hashtags on Instagram can help you connect with new audiences, and grow your brand awareness. So be deliberate with your hashtag selection in order to be discovered by users who care about what you do.

6. Work with micro influencers

First, let’s define who a micro influencer is. It’s a brand advocate who has between 2,000 and 100,000 followers. Advertising on micro influencers’ accounts was a prevalent tendency in 2017, and it seems like it’s only going to grow.

But are micro influencers the right choice for your brand? There are both pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Compared to A-class opinion leaders, micro influencers have a closer bond with their followers. It’s quite simple – a smaller following allows them to interact with the audience, and respond to comments or direct messages more often.
  • Working with micro influencers costs less.
  • Followers trust the opinion of a micro influencer more than they would trust an ad.

Cons:

  • It can take time to find the right micro influencer.
  • To meet your campaign goals you might need to work with more than one micro influencer at a time.
  • In that case, managing content and payment can take some time, since each influencer will have their own pricing scale and requirements.
  • It’s possible to buy followers, so you should make sure that influencers you want to work with aren’t doing that. Here are some tips on how to find out whether an influencer’s followers are real.

What should ecommerce business owners do to really SELL with the help of micro influencers?

  • Find a micro influencer with the audience which is close to yours for the opportunity to sponsor their content.
  • Measure the success of your campaigns to determine if your chosen micro influencer strategy works. For example, provide the micro influencer with a discount promo code.  If the results don’t satisfy you, try another micro influencer with a different audience.

Investing in partnerships with other content creators is worthwhile if these people are trusted and appreciated by their followers. Needless to say, an honest recommendation by these thought leaders can build awareness of your brand and what you produce.

7. Use shoppable posts

Earlier this year Instagram introduced Shoppable posts. Now all Instagram business account owners can mark up to five products per image, or up to twenty products per carousel, to display product names, short descriptions, and prices. If a user clicks on the product on the picture, they’re automatically directed to your shop for more details. It’s that simple.

Instagram shoppable posts are available in a lot of countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Sweden, Netherlands, Argentina, Mexico, and others.

What should ecommerce business owners do to really SELL via shoppable posts?

The main selling point is that Instagram followers don’t even have to leave the app to make a purchase, so this is the easiest and most direct way to sell on Instagram. Your task is to use everything the feature offers, so your followers would have as much information as possible:

  • Create an attractive product picture
  • Make a short product description that will fit the space
  • Set the price
  • Add the link

Tag your old posts as well. This way, if someone’s looking through your account, they can buy the products seen in posts that were created before the shoppable feature went live. What’s more, creating more than 9 shoppable posts will trigger a new “shop” tab in your account, where followers can see all your shoppable posts in one place.

Bonus: Other services that’ll make your Instagram account shoppable

Linkinbio

Linkinbio creates a landing page which looks like your Instagram feed, but the photos are clickable.

By clicking on the link in bio, you are taken to the landing page. On the landing page you can tap on any picture with a product you like and buy it. Quite easy, isn’t it?

The Shopify Shopping Feature

Recently Shopify announced its integration with Instagram, making any Instagram post shoppable. The new Shopify Shopping Feature offers tagging the products that are in stock and, what is really cool, purchasing them within the app.

Foursixty

Foursixty turns Instagram content into shoppable galleries that you place on your website. The page looks exactly like the Instagram feed. The difference is if you tap on the photo you can see the tagged products that you may purchase.

michi ny shoppable ig

Like2buy

Like2buy provides clickable photos with products tagged right inside the feed. This might be a perfect option for those store owners who aren’t using Shopify.

Is your Instagram shoppable yet?

Instagram is perfect for ecommerce businesses, but you need to find out what works the best for you. There is no “one size fits all” solution, so coming up with your own Instagram strategy requires some work.

That’s why testing and analyzing data is essential. Implement the techniques one by one, closely monitor the results, and keep only those features that perform best. Choose wisely, focusing on your target audience, and its’ interests and needs.

Let us know about your own experience with Instagram in the comments below.

Veronika is a Marketing Manager at X-Cart. The company provides X-Cart, an open-source ecommerce platform, along with the full range of services for online business.

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  1. Anita Paylor

    Thank you for the tips and advise. I was thinking of going that route for my streetwear business. I’ll do as you’ve suggested. . .doing some homework before the launching into a venture that may not work to Activate Mindsets Positively. AMPLifeU.

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