While engagement is a crucial component to building a robust brand presence on social media platforms, this isn’t really why so many retailers have made Instagram their network of choice.
Because of the platform’s visual nature and its various retail-oriented features, such as the ability tosell products with Shoppable posts, eCommerce Instagram traffic and sales are the real draw for sellers.
This begs the question: How can retailers convert Instagram users into paying customers for their eCommerce store?
To help retailers establish a blueprint forhow to do social media marketing in 2020 via Instagram, here are nine tactics that sellers can use to transform their eCommerce Instagram traffic into business revenue.
Make Posts Shoppable
This is one of the most obvious but profitable of the eCommerce Instagram tactics.Using Instagram Shoppable posts enables retailers to not only showcase their products in a visually appealing and inspiring manner, but it also gives sellers the means to drive traffic to their stores and convert customers.
With this feature, which is now rather prevalent on the platform, sellers can tag specific products, thereby showcasing product details, prices and other relevant information for earning sales.
While this feature has made generating conversions through Instagram much more straightforward than it was in previous iterations of the platform, there is another feature on the horizon that promises to remove nearly all friction in the eCommerce Instagram sales process.
Apply for Instagram Checkout
This feature could be a game-changer for Instagram. However, before diving into the details, it is only fair to warn sellers that Instagram Checkout is still in beta.
Announced in March 2019,Instagram Checkout was rolled out to a select group of merchants. However, with the acceleration of online shopping caused by the COVID-19 virus, there is a good chance that this feature will soon reach retailers worldwide.
Checkout provides eCommerce Instagram accounts with the ability to provide shoppers with a quick and secure means to buy directly through the social site. This means that sellers can enhance the Instagram shopping experience of their products by eliminating the need to navigate to the browser, instead, completing their purchase without ever leaving the app.
Moreover, completing a purchase is as simple as can be as well, given that shoppers merely need to enter their name, email, shipping information and billing address the first time they use Checkout.
After placing their order, consumers will receive shipping and delivery information from Instagram.
As far as sellers are concerned, this feature stands to greatly assist small businesses as Instagram handles just about everything, meaning that merchants don’t need to optimize and maintain a dedicated store or payment processor (though these things are still recommended).
As was mentioned earlier, Instagram Checkout is still in beta. However, as it becomes more widely available, the company plans to enable merchants to integrate the feature with partners such as Shopify, BigCommerce and others.
While most sellers will likely have to wait to access the feature, it is poised to be a potent tool in converting Instagram traffic into paying customers.
Cultivate a Consistent Brand Image
Aesthetics are a powerful thing.
Instagram sellers who generate significant amounts of traffic, which they subsequently convert through alluring imagery, know this well.
Therefore, the single most valuable asset that retailers possess through this visual platform (aside from their followers) is the appeal of their profile.
To cultivate a consistent and enticing brand image, retailers must:
Use High-Quality Images
Whenever possible, merchants should avoid using stock imagery. These kinds of images are often contrived and don’t present the type of identity that a company wishes to portray.
Instead, sellers shouldgenerate stunning images that sell, creatively showcase product offerings, integrate user-generated content (more on this later) and deploy other strategies for presenting followers with exciting, eye-catching imagery.
Before posting anything, retailers should ask themselves if a post would be enough to get them to engage. If not, go back to the drawing board.
Create Consistent Themes
Creating content centered on themes gives retail profiles a cohesive, unified appearance, thus producing a strong brand identity. This is something that retailers like Bark are fantastic usingits Instagram profile for, clearly depicting its character in a powerful way.
By intentionally crafting content that is closely related, sellers make a strong first impression, acquire new followers and generate sales through intriguing image collections.
In fact, this is such a powerful eCommerce Instagram tactic that many merchants across the platform intentionally lay out their grids to produce unified images across many posts.
Which leads us to our next point.
Employ a Grid Planning Tool
Usinggrid planning tools is a great way to craft a consistent, alluring brand image that can help drive sales.
In addition to ensuring that a merchant’s Instagram profile is impactful and enticing, such tools can aid sellers in panning out their social media posts in advance. This is extremely useful for retailers who have social media teams coordinating posts at different times.
Publish Promo Codes
While getting shoppers to make that first purchase is one of the most significant hurdles that sellers face,encouraging the elusive second purchase can be even harder. Therefore, merchants must devise eCommerce Instagram strategies for generating repeat transactions.
A fantastic way to achieve this is through promoting special discounts to followers, thereby making following a brand’s Instagram account a valuable proposition.
However, retailers need not limit this to their following. By combining special offers promoted exclusively through Instagram and combining it with the right hashtag, retailers can score tons of shares and sales.
This eCommerce Instagram tactic can prove extremely lucrative, as consumers who know that they can likely get a discount by following a merchant’s profile are more likely to remain engaged.
Run Regular Contests
Social media users love contests, and Instagram is no exception.
Through thepromotion of Instagram contests, users have the opportunity to win awesome prizes in just a couple of clicks. Moreover, once retailers have these folks on their site, many will happily browse the store’s offerings and purchase products that appeal to them.
With tools likeWishpond, retailers can easily manage social media contests and giveaways.
Contests are one of the most effective ways to drive engagement, boost follower counts and earn sales via Instagram. One particularly useful contest type for sellers is a photo contest.
Through this scheme, retailers can ask followers to post images of themselves using the merchant’s products. This not only helps to encourage sales through the contest itself (user-generated content provides social proof to others), but it also serves to allow merchants to harvestuser-generated content for their eCommerce site or Instagram profile.
This point leads us right into our next eCommerce Instagram sales tactic.
Post User-Generated Content
One of the best ways for a retail brand to use its Instagram profile to generate sales is by promoting user-generated content on a regular basis. Naturally, user-generated content signals to other consumers that those who shop with the company love its products. This lends credence to the brand and its goods.
Additionally,65 percent of consumers have stated that they would be honored if a brand liked their post. Just imagine how elated they would be if they were featured on the business’s Instagram account. Therefore, by sharing user-generated content, merchants are also likely to increase the brand loyalty of those whose images they share.
This means that posting user-generated images to a merchant’s profile can score sales from new customers and additional transactions from those who have already purchased before.
Influencer marketing has long been a popular and effective means for retailers to get the word out about their products and drum up sales.
Through this platform, sellers can access social superstars of all stripes. From foodies to fashion connoisseurs, they’re all on Instagram. However, to make the most of this eCommerce Instagram tactic, sellers mustfind and approach the right influencers. In many cases, niche nano and micro-influencers are likely to be a more profitable route for retailers to go as these folks have a highly refined and engaged audience.
Moreover, when opting to leverage the clout of influencers to generate traffic and sales from Instagram, merchants must trust the personalities with whom they partner, meaning that it is best to let them decide how to present the message to their followers.
While there are tons of different influencer marketplaces where retailers can find folks who might be a good fit for a campaign, these should not replace the manual legwork of searching Instagram, scouring hashtags and the like as merchants can often find amazing up-and-coming personalities who aren’t found in the marketplace platforms.
Through this strategy, sellers can get their items in front of new consumers who are more likely to trust the content they consume via an influencer than a standard Instagram advert.
However, this isn’t to say that Instagram advertising isn’t worth the effort. Quite the contrary, it is one of the most powerful means of generating sales through Instagram.
Use Instagram Advertising
Advertising on Instagram is an epically powerful means of generating sales through the platform. Because of the way in which Instagram ads seamlessly blend into a user’s timeline, Instagrammers are far more likely to engage with these ads than those on other platforms.
Additionally, the variety of ad formats that the platform provides gives retailers a wide array of options for grabbing a user’s attention and earning a conversion. With everything from Story ads to carousels and more, merchants have tons of tools at their fingertips.
Moreover, given that retailers canrun retargeting ads on Instagram and leverage Facebook’s incredibly refined targeting tools to reach the most relevant consumers possible, eCommerce Instagram ads are a prime methodology for converting social media traffic into retail revenue.
Use Hashtags to the Fullest
Over time, hashtags have evolved into a social media staple. As a result of their ubiquity, sellers can sometimes forget that these are still an incredibly important component of a profitable Instagram marketing strategy.
Hashtags help people to find new accounts (in this case, those of eCommerce retailers) that are relevant to their interests and desires. By tagging posts and shoppable content with the right hashtags, merchants can successfully reach a whole new subset of potential buyers whom they can convert into customers.
To successfully utilize hashtags as an eCommerce Instagram sales tactic, sellers will need to:
Find the Right Hashtags for the Brand
Naturally, the hashtags leveraged should be relevant to the company and the post. However, retailers will also want to harness the power of popular, trending hashtags, as these can help them generate awareness and traffic.
That said, depending on the popularity of the hashtag, multiple posts could be getting published per second, thereby burying a retailer’s post. To avoid such vain efforts, sellers should seek out hashtags that have similar types of images appearing in the “top posts” section and look at the engagement that they are receiving.
An ideal tag will generate just above the average number of likes that a seller gets on their typical posts, as this will help to ensure simultaneous visibility and growth.
Use the Right Number of Hashtags
Instagram allows users to include up to 30 hashtags per post.
While they allow that many, it doesn’t mean that merchants should use them all. As Hootsuite proclaims in itsguide to Instagram hashtags:
“There’s no right number of hashtags for every business, or even for every post by the same business. The consensus is that about 11 hashtags is a good number to start with. But the most common number of hashtags to use on Instagram is between one and three. You’ll need to do some testing to determine what works best for your particular business.”
By following these guidelines, sellers will be able to maximize the reach of their post, while still reaching an audience that is likely to convert.
Keep Captions Clean
There are some posts on Instagram that use hashtags every few words, thereby making the caption appear cluttered and unorganized. This practice can negatively impact the user experience and dissuade someone from engaging with a post.
Therefore, retailers can either:
List the hashtags at the end of the caption
Place hashtags in the first comment of the post
Either of these methods will keep the post looking clean and presentable, thereby increasing user engagement.
Using eCommerce Instagram tactics for scoring sales doesn’t require massive marketing budgets or even a complete mastery of the platform. However, it does demand that merchants study the most useful strategies of the day, the ways in which the brand’s audience engages with the platform and a creative approach for developing eye-catching posts.
Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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