Social network giant Instagram recently announced that they had grown to 600 million monthly active users. It took the app nine months to grow from 400 million users to 500 million users in June 2016. Out of these, 300 million users log onto the platform every day and are active Instagram followers.

instagram

What this means is that Instagram is now at the fore front of social media marketing!

This is undisputed, given that 68% of Instagram followers engage regularly with brands (compared with 32% of users on other social networks like Facebook).

TrackMaven research found that the engagement ratio (interactions per post, per 1,000 followers) on Instagram is 8 times greater, on average, than on any other social media marketing platform.

Like Facebook and twitter, Instagram has updated its algorithm to show you the best posts in your feed. This could have various implications for media marketing experts (both positive and negative).

But, to sum it up nicely, brands will need to create content worthy of paid promotion, to ensure that they get good engagement.

If you’re looking to generate eCommerce sales from Instagram, then here are 8 ways to do so.

1. Using your bio space effectively

This one is pretty straightforward. To make the most out of your Instagram bio include full information about your business: website address, business location and so on. By including a link to your website, you lead people to your website, generating plenty of traffic.

credit: neilpatel

But clicking on a bio isn’t a normal Instagram action.

Make sure to include CTA’s (calls-to-action for example – “click the link in the bio”) in your posts and your URL over your image using tools like Canva in order to help them know which site to visit.

2. Make it effortless for your followers to BUY from your business

It’s important to share good content and get great engagement and user generated content on your Instagram account. Congratulations if you’ve started getting attention from your target audience by filling their feed with value-adding posts.

More Instagram followers are good to have. Higher engagement means better brand visibility. But. ultimately all of these are vanity metrics. To create a sustainable business, you’ll need to smooth your funnel and translate your media marketing activities into sales.

Carefully gauge the user journey from your Instagram profile to the checkout process

  • Is it possible to reduce the number of steps before conversion?
  • Can you earn trust and remove the objections of your target audience by tweaking your strategy?

If you’ve only got one product to offer, then you can directly link to it from your Instagram profile link. It should be obvious at this point, but including a link in your bio to your website is a must.

It is highly recommended that you create a customized landing page (optimized for mobile, since Instagram traffic will mostly be coming from mobile phones) for this profile link.

On top of that, there are additional tools that can improve the click through rate for your followers and also increase sales.

Like2Buy allows you to turn your Instagram photos into shoppable images. When they click the link in your bio, they are taken through to a page containing all your products on mobile friendly pages. From there they can purchase the items.

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And with the link, they can track their sales traffic, while maintaining their brand scent on the eCommerce landing page. You can further customize your product gallery and even leverage retargeting tools for sending your product updates to re-engage your prospects.

3. Increase your engagement with user-generated content

While trying to sell directly and garner eCommerce sales from Instagram might work, it’s important to make your followers feel special and focus on creating an engaged community with plenty of user generated content. The strength of the social platform is in generating more prospects for you at the top of the funnel, by creating an artistic and inspiring feed for your target audience.

There are 2 types of content that followers trust and often engage with on Instagram.

i. Behind the scenes photos of your products – An Instagram feed that regularly shares personal and private photos displaying the progress of the goods/services will create a powerful emotional connection with followers. Giving them a sort of peek backstage makes them feel special and makes your brand feel authentic.

You can also strengthen that bond further by sharing exclusive footage and photos from live events. Don’t forget to geotag your exclusive inside access photos from such events. It’s an underused Instagram social media tool (only 5% of posts have it), but posts with a geotag have been found to get 79% more engagement.

ii. User generated content – Want to cultivate an approachable, down to earth and human brand image?

Then post pics of your customers showing off your products. User generated content leads to positive sentiment and gives people a taste of how your products look when they use or wear it.

Also by featuring great user generated content, you make those users feel special. You can even pull out hashtags related to your product and display them on their product page, using a tool like Instafeed.

For starters, you could post a picture with some text saying ‘@ us in your picture and we will feature you on our feed’.

4. Create Unique Lifestyle Photos That Capture Your Brand Culture

Since your Instagram account isn’t a direct sales market, you’ve got to focus on adding value and appeal to your feed if you want followers to stick around. The ultimate party trick for injecting your IG feed with appeal is lifestyle photos!

What’s a lifestyle photo?

Use life-inspired backgrounds, scenes, and models to add a scenario to your product so users can imagine how great those earrings would look wearing them out on a date, or visualize that laptop bag in an office looking sleek.

The big brands understand this and milk it for all its worth. Research found that 60 percent of Nike’s posts in 2014 contained lifestyle content (as opposed to traditional product photos and calls-to-action), while Adidas shared only about 32 percent lifestyle content. Nike saw 8 times more interaction on social media (993 shares per post versus Adidas’s 122).

In marketing terms, by presenting not only your products but also the culture and lifestyle that surround them, you’re strengthening your brand equity; that is, the feelings associated with the brand. And strong brand equity becomes valuable in the long run.

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5. Social proof

The concept of “social proof,” was made famous by Robert Cialdini, a noted psychologist, and the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Social proof is the simple but powerful concept that people tend toward conformity, especially when feelings of uncertainty are high. Basically, we’re sheep. We tend to like what other people like and mimic the behavior of the groups we want to be a part of.

When consumers visit a product page, they are immediately shown professionally produced photographs of products, and, in the case of fashion, often on models that don’t look anything like them. What would happen if we could show real customers using your products on your product pages? You guessed it – conversions would increase.

You could flip the script and showcase these customer photos on your e-commerce pages instead of just your Instagram account. This serves two purposes. First, seeing real people using your products helps build consumer confidence about your products. Second, it helps demonstrate social proof by showing your products are desired by others, precisely at a time when a customer may be feeling uncertain about making a purchase.

Try it yourself with an A/B test. Serve up two versions of the same product page, one with embedded customer photos from Instagram and one without, and you should see a noticeable increase in conversions from product pages with customer photos.

Ensure you make your intentions clear to your audience. If your intention is to use fan photos on your e-commerce pages, get your customers excited about the opportunity. Encourage them to share their best photos with your brand for a chance to be featured on your product pages. You’ll find your fans love to associate with your brand as long as they know what you’re up to and they are participating willingly.

6. Jumpstart Your Instagram Engagement with Contests and Giveaway

In a survey by iconosquare, 41% of Instagrammers confessed that they follow brands purely for perks and giveaways. The survey further revealed that a considerable amount of Instagram users (about 70%) had entered a photo contest or competition at some point.

Simply put, Instagram is a great place for your business to treat your customers well and boost your conversions.

Decide what you want to give away.

Give away one of your best-selling t-shirt designs, a bundle of popular gadgets from your collection, or a significant gift card for your online store. Make sure it’s something desirable and relevant to your brand.

Post appealing and eye-catching photos of that prize

If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. Show them what they could be winning. (Text overlay can also be useful here, but don’t hide the prize image too much).

Include details of the contest in the caption

Since 33% of users think that the easiest way to enter an IG contest is to post on an official hashtag, try something like: “Take a selfie with one of our shoes and tag it #SleekShoes – our winner will be announced next week!”

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Here is one additional note about contests:

Do not run a contest until you have a pretty solid level of engagement and a sufficient number of followers. On average, for every 33 likes your content receives, you’ll get one comment. So consider your followers’ engagement, because a contest with no response is more damaging than helpful.

7. Influencer marketing

Consumers will trust an individual’s recommendation over yours. So, it’s wise to recruit those influential Instagrammers.

Influencer marketing has been the marketer’s go-to secret weapon when it comes to building brand loyalty, message recall and even conversions.

Of course, you may say, I don’t have the budget to afford an endorsement from a celebrity. However, you don’t need a big budget to find influential people within your niche.

Using a tool like Webstagram can help you find influential brands or people within your niche to promote your product for you. From this, you can then search the relevant accounts bios, which hopefully might contain an email address. If not, you can find contact details on their site or direct message them.

Simply send them a message asking if they would kindly promote your product. They might well ask for a fee, but if it is relevant, they may do it for free.

Ensure they include your Instagram handle in the image and also include a link to your own bio for people to click through to.

Neil Patel generated $332,640 in 3 Months from Instagram, by relying on Instagram celebrities.

Depending on the influencer’s following size, you can request sponsored posts at $20 or more. You can get incredible engagement from such shoutouts.

Get creative with this approach. For example, Madewell conducted an Instagram flash mob, an effort that saw collaboration between their 500 employees, fashion bloggers and the editors of Marie Claire and Elle, to launch a campaign getting users to think about denim in their everyday lives.

8. Don’t hesitate to showcase your products

The power of product photos has always been essential to online shopping, and Instagram’s visual platform takes that power to the next level.

A lot has been said about not being too salesy on your Instagram account and for good reason. It may be boring for an e-commerce brand to showcase its products on its feed, but a little creativity can make it very appealing.

Brainstorm and experiment with ways to promote your products/services in an appealing and creative way without being too direct. For example, staging a photo shoot where your product/service is in use, whether subtly or blatantly is sure to gain a lot of attention. You could also use creative positioning, interesting and unusual backgrounds etc coupled with Instagram filters to give the pictures a little extra kick.

Depending on the nature of your business, a little humor also warms hearts and encourages customers to empty their wallets.

Conclusion

Instagram is a fantastic platform for increasing sales through lifestyle photos, relevant hashtags, influencer marketing, user generated content and so on. Instagram does not require you to have a huge budget to generate sales. And, its audience likes to shop. So, if you’re an eCommerce website owner, go to town with any of the advice on this article.