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How to boost eCommerce sales on Instagram

Whenever eCommerce presents a challenge, it also brings an opportunity. Online shopping lacks the tactile experience of physically handling items, but it compensates with advantages like easy price comparison and peer reviews. Importantly, platforms such as Instagram offer inspiration and recommendations.

Among all social media platforms, Instagram stands out for its impact on eCommerce brands. The extensive rollout of Instagram Shopping to diverse businesses in 2020 solidified its position as the preferred social media platform for online sellers. The key question is: How can you make the most of it?

In this guide, we detail how to leverage Instagram for eCommerce, providing practical tips to help you begin. First, let’s delve into why Instagram is exceptionally beneficial for online shopping and what this signifies for retailers like you.

Why Instagram is ideal for eCommerce

Leveraging social media, in general, is a highly effective strategy for eCommerce marketing, and Instagram, in particular, surpasses other platforms. Not only is its widespread popularity a compelling reason for marketing efforts, but Instagram also stands out due to its distinctive features, setting it apart from other leading social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.

Instagram remains, and has consistently functioned as, a visual platform. Whether you identify as an artist, fashion enthusiast, or food lover, Instagram’s focus on photos rather than text is ideal for showcasing. For retailers, this signifies that well-crafted product photos, particularly those with an artistic touch, are highly valuable.

Visual medium perfect for product photos

Moreover, you have the flexibility to enhance your visuals on Instagram by experimenting with filters, making them even more captivating. Utilizing multi-image posts allows you to display various angles or variations, and capturing candid shots of your products in real-life settings, particularly essential for fashion and apparel brands, is also a viable option.

Direct channel to shoppers ages 18-34

While Facebook boasts the highest overall user count across social media platforms, it doesn’t hold the top spot among the younger demographic. If your goal is to connect with individuals aged 18-34, your most effective platform is Instagram.

What’s even more noteworthy is the receptivity of young people toward brands on Instagram. Among American teenagers, a substantial 73% believe that Instagram is the most effective channel for discovering new products or promotions. This stands in stark contrast to Twitter (20%) and the industry leader, Facebook (12%)

Access shoppers with purchasing intent

Retailers are well aware of the distinction between potential buyers and those who are simply browsing. If your aim is to skip the persuasion and target committed shoppers directly, Instagram is the ideal platform. The #shopping hashtag on Instagram alone can place your content directly in the feeds of individuals actively seeking to make a purchase. Additionally, utilizing more specific niche hashtags allows you to precisely target your audience.

Instagram Shopping makes it easy

Finally, Instagram Shopping simplifies the online selling process for both you and the shopper. The feature enables the tagging of items for purchase and facilitates direct checkout on the platform, streamlining the entire buying process and subsequently boosting sales and conversions.

In essence, every instance where a customer needs to click away to finalize a purchase introduces the risk of losing the sale. Implementing a direct checkout on Instagram allows customers to make quick purchases while their enthusiasm is at its peak. The need to navigate to an external site, especially on a mobile device, can discourage what could otherwise be a straightforward sale.

How to use Instagram for eCommerce

Now that you understand why Instagram outshines other social media platforms for eCommerce, let’s delve into how retailers can make the most of it. While this guide covers advanced tips, it’s crucial not to overlook the basics—such as maintaining a consistent content theme and posting at optimal times.

1. Create an Instagram Shop for shoppable posts

First things first, if you’re serious about using Instagram for eCommerce, open an Instagram Shop. This gives you access to all the useful eCommerce features we’ve been talking about:

  • In-app shop with customizable storefront

  • In-app checkout for American brands

  • Individual product pages with multiple images and technical details

  • Shopping tags for both posts and stories that connect to your store page and provide product details like the price

  • Curated collections for gathering related products in the same place

  • Seamless integration with Instagram advertising

  • Shopping through Instagram Live broadcasts

The good news is that it’s free to sign up. However, you have to satisfy all the eligibility requirements, like selling in a supported market and owning a Facebook page. You can get started right now—just follow the instructions on the Instagram Shopping setup page.

 

2. Advertise directly on Instagram

 

Content marketing, such as social media posts, stands out as a potent form of inbound marketing.  Outbound marketing, including advertising, doesn’t substitute for inbound marketing; instead, it complements it. Instagram, uniquely, allows you to link your posts or product pages directly to your ads, offering a level of synchronization not found on all social media platforms. For American brands, there’s even the option to connect ads directly to checkout, enabling complete purchases within seconds of viewing the ad.

 

3. Experiment with Instagram stories

 

Instagram Stories, inspired by Snapchat and characterized by videos that vanish after 24 hours, can be a valuable tool for the right retail brand. While not every brand will discover their audience through Instagram Stories, the platform itself is lucrative enough to warrant at least giving it a try.

This style of social media video is most effective when your brand possesses a distinct personality, whether in visual style or through a designated spokesperson. Stories provide an opportunity to directly engage with your audience in a dynamic and interactive manner, and the added benefit of linking directly to your Instagram Shop product pages.

For those willing to explore this avenue, we recommend incorporating custom Instagram stickers, especially featuring your brand logo or the logos of the products you’re selling.

 

 4. Engage with the community

One of the biggest mistakes digital marketers make with social media is that they treat it like a promotional tool. To be clear, social media is a promotional tool—but that doesn’t mean you should treat it like one! You’ll get a better response from your shoppers if you use it as intended: for socializing and engaging with a like-minded community.

Even if you’re using Instagram primarily for business, you can still like and comment on people’s posts as you would with a personal account. This forges stronger, more human relationships with your customers, allowing you to joke around with them, answer their questions straight away, and let them feel heard.

As always, stick within your niche and engage mostly with your target community. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin with people not interested in your products.

5. Encourage branded content from customers and influencers

Boost credibility by incorporating testimonials into your self-promotion efforts, particularly on social media. In retail marketing, influencers are pivotal due to their substantial audiences and trustworthy endorsements. Leverage their impact or explore smaller-scale collaborations with micro-influencers. Encourage user-generated content through contests and giveaways, consolidating posts with a relevant hashtag to enhance brand visibility.

 

A new way to sell

The features of Instagram Shopping may be relatively new, but they’ve been a long time coming. People have been discussing and recommending products online since the beginning of social media, so the next logical step is buying those products right then and there. Any online retailer should welcome Instagram Shopping with open arms because it’s more in line with modern customers’ preferences—and the customer is always right.

 

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