writer and editor of Marketing Digest. He helps SEO agencies with link building, content marketing, online reputation management, and blogger outreach. When he is not writing and editing for Marketing Digest, he spends time on learning more about content marketing and getting better at it.
Shoppers these days do not visit a physical store as their first step. They check out the brand website online — or, even before that, they check out the brand’s Instagram page.
Research shows online purchases have risen by 6%-10% across most product categories due to COVID-19. On top of it, the average Instagram usage time is 29 minutes — which asserts that it is a brilliant platform for businesses to connect with potential customers.
Those who do visit Instagram business pages are frequently in a buying mindset, which makes it crucial for eCommerce brands to have the kind of feed that sparks interest and incites purchases consistently.
However, uploading a string of posts on the platform is not going to fetch you results. It would be best if you leverage Instagram for your eCommerce business’ benefits strategically.
With so many features Instagram offers, it can get overwhelming for you to begin, but do not worry. Here is an excellent guide to everything you need to make Instagram work for your eCommerce business:
1. Optimize your Instagram bio for SEO
This might seem too necessary to mention, but plenty of eCommerce brands miss out on just these basics. To improve your brand SEO, your Instagram profile bio needs to highlight what problem you solve for your customers, include a primary keyword and hashtag, a link and a call-to-action (CTA), and reflect the latest industry or market trends.
For instance, many brands are featuring COVID-19-related information in their bios, such as changes in delivery timescales or the launch of a new range of masks, and so on.
Moreover, to attract the attention of shoppers, your Instagram feed needs to reflect your brand aesthetics in an appealing manner. For instance, if you sell organic and earth-friendly clothing and lifestyle-ware, your feed should represent just that.
Your branding should Infuse earthy, warm, and soothing vibes through an artistic curation of their product photos. Another significant feature of Instagram is “story highlights” — use these to your advantage by featuring highlights for new collections, blogger mentions, customer feedback, tips and tricks your customers might like, and so on.
2. Ensure all your posts are shoppable with product tags
If your eCommerce business sells physical goods that are locally available, connect your Instagram account with your Facebook page and add shoppable product tags to your posts that allow shoppers to view the name of the product and its price without having to switch apps — thus ensuring a seamless experience across platforms or even devices.
Those who do want more information on the product can tap the product tag and directly go to the individual product page — including more details, similar products that can be interesting, and other shoppable posts from the brand — all without going into the actual brand website — thereby saving a lot of time and reducing the purchase cycle.
This is a great way to boost sales and can increase the number of impulse buys from shoppers who see your product while scrolling and can click on it right away.
Before you can add shoppable product tags, your account needs to have been approved for Instagram Shopping. The review process usually takes some time, so do not be alarmed if you cannot immediately add product tags.
3. Grow your brand followers the right way
This is something a lot of brands still go wrong with. When it comes to followers for your Instagram brand page, the number you have does not matter as much as the quality of those followers. Imagine being followed by hundreds of bots!
So, you might have 50000 followers, but if they are mostly unengaged users who do not fall within your target customer demographic, they add nothing to your page.
You are much better off, in fact, if you have 5000 or even fewer followers, all of whom are highly engaged and likely to buy from you or have brought from you at least once. This means that you need to focus on authentically growing your followers rather than resorting to buying followers.
Ways to achieve this authenticity include:
- Engaging with niche-related content
- Offering your most active followers incentives in return for brand mentions
- Collaborating with a brand that is in your niche but not a direct competition (such as a vegan leather brand with a vegan skincare brand)
- Using hashtags strategically for a wider reach
- Using store traffic and incentives to grow your follower list
- Running a good old fashioned contest to gain referrals from time-to-time
4. Create and optimize your Instagram ads smartly
A large fraction of today’s Instagram users bases their purchase decisions on the brand content they have seen on Instagram. Clearly, it would be best if you optimized your Instagram ads to attract the maximum number of customers.
To accomplish this, be sure to segment your ads as much as possible to cater to niche audience segments and to keep your ads friendly and authentic so that people can relate to them and feel like engaging with them.
You should also take the time to test your ad content, including the headlines, artwork, CTA, and format, until you have a winning result. Your CTA is what will motivate people to click or not click in the brief impression they have of your ad, so be sure to craft a good one.
5. Take ad segmentation to the next level
Instagram ads cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach, and luckily have enough filters to tailor a highly-specific campaign. You need to have a suitable audience segmentation in place and show tailored ads to each of those segments.
The more segmented your ads are, the better you can directly address customers’ needs and thus incite them to buy. That’s where Facebook’s audience insights and custom audiences come in handy.
Aspects of segmentation include retargeting ads to connect with people who have already shopped from your brand or have visited your online store repeatedly before, as well as using the Lookalike feature to display ads to customers similar to those who have shopped from you.
6. Boost Instagram marketing with web content displays
Integrating your Instagram brand page with your eCommerce website is a great idea. Not only will it highlight your Instagram account to people browsing your website, but it will also highlight your lifestyle product photos and the reposted user-generated content (UGC).
The online custom design and print shop Popsigns showcases a mix of UGC and their products through their Instagram feed on the website.
Lifestyle photos showcase how your products can be used in real life, while user-generated content adds a boost of credibility as genuine buyers are vouching for your products. That is what Popsigns successfully does on their website.
Plus, with apps such as Instagram Shoppable Feeds, you can make your Instagram feed shoppable from your site homepage and ensure a convenient buying experience for your shoppers.
7. Partner up with relevant influencers
Influencer marketing has been popular for a while now, and with good reason. However, Instagram allows you to take this a step further and engage with micro-influencers.
These are influencers with up to 100,000 followers who are highly particular about posting niche-specific content. This specificity increases the engagement from their followers, who also share an interest in that niche.
It makes sense for you as an eCommerce brand, therefore, to connect with a few micro-influencers who can share your product with highly segmented and engaged audiences — ones that are more likely to listen and act on their recommendations.
This works out better in the long run than a collaboration with a more prominent influencer with a vast but unsegmented following and cheaper.
Good ways to identify micro-influencers include examining your following and looking at niche hashtags and using third-party tools such as HypeAuditor that will help you connect with influencers of your choice.
8. Boost your Instagram sales with contests and user-generated content
An essential part of boosting your Instagram sales is helping your followers feel like they are part of a special community where their voice is valued. Promoting the content generated by users is a crucial step here.
By reposting what they share about your products, you help them feel like brand ambassadors and add authenticity to your page. Shopify Plus does that brilliantly.
Another great way to interact with your followers is by running exclusive Instagram-only competitions and giveaways — which in turn will spur your followers to create more user-generated content and to tell their friends about the brand.
In fact, brands that host Instagram content grow followers 70% quicker than brands that do not, so you should start planning your next contest right away. Be sure to promote the contest on your stories so that you amplify your reach.
9. Use the Story feature and organize your Stories via the highlight reel
Data shows that about one-third of the most-viewed Instagram stories are from business pages. Stories allow you to share content different from what you post on your main page, such as behind-the-scenes footage, Q&As, polls, product launches, and so on.
Moreover, you can also access GIFs, stickers, and different font types and colors to make the stories more aesthetically appealing.
You can sort them into different categories with the highlight reel feature, using branded images to attract your customer’s eye and allow for more tailored engagement based on specific things they are looking for.
Daily Harvest, for instance, packs in a lot of critical information in its Story, as seen above, but keeps its messaging clear and concise. Users can quickly see that there are multiple meal options via the bolded copy. There is also a discount which the users can avail themselves on swiping up the Story.
Wrapping it up
At the end of the day, consistency, originality, and authenticity are what will set you apart from the millions of other Instagram accounts out there.
While it can seem challenging to manage a creative content schedule and respond to all of your followers’ comments and queries, using tools to schedule your posts for up to a month in advance will make things easier for you.
You can also batch your Instagram work by creating as much content as possible in one sitting for the next few posts.
Above all, keep tracking your performance to see how your page is doing in terms of sales. That way, you can address any issues as they crop up and be responsive to what your customers need in real-time.
One of our experts will get back in touch with you soon.