As an eCommerce business owner, you don’t have to do much searching online to see why a strong Instagram presence is essential to growing your brand. Studies have shown that about 93% of buying decisions are made based on visual appearance and 52% of customers will not return to a store due to bad overall aesthetics. In this post, I’m going to go into some detail with examples of how you can monetize Instagram and drive ecommerce sales using the platform.
Since Instagram focuses heavily on visuals, it’s perfect for showcasing your product and brand in a way that makes your target customers want to buy from you.
Of you’re not quite convinced of the power of this powerful social network, consider this data:
Instagram has about 58x more engagement per follower than Facebook does.
Even Twitter, which is widely used and loved by all kinds of marketers, often fails to drive as much post engagement as Instagram. Take a look:
Now that you know how effective Instagram can be for your eCommerce growth, you’re probably wondering how you can harness its power to drive more sales.
You’ve come to the right place. By the time you’re done reading this post, you’ll be well-equipped to create a marketing strategy that will allow you to sell products on Instagram.
Let’s dive right in.
How to Monetize Instagram and Drive Sales
Set up your profile the right way
First, realize that your eCommerce account should be separate from your personal Instagram account so you can focus on delivering the content your target audience wants to see. That mindset will guide you as you set up your profile and begin to plan the kind of content you should share.
Now you’re ready to set up your profile in a way that helps you attract customers. Let’s talk about the two main elements you’ll need to set up: your profile image and your bio.
If you have a company logo, consider using it as your profile image. If not, you may want to consider creating a social media logo for your brand – one that you can use across all of your social media platforms.
For example, here’s the profile image that popular retailer Anthropologie uses:
You can see that the “A” logo isn’t featured on their company website.
However, it is featured on their other social media profiles. Take a look at how they incorporate the “A” logo on their Twitter profile:
If they had used the entire name of their store as their logo, it’d be impossible to read on most mobile screens – and probably on regular computer screens too.
Be smart about your profile picture decisions like Anthropologie, and make sure you use the same one across all your social media platforms.
And regardless of what you decide to use as your profile image, make sure it’s the right size. An illegible, blurry image will hurt your brand credibility and send potential customers running off to your competitors.
Your bio shouldn’t just be a place where customers can read a sentence or two about your company. Instead, you should use that space on your profile to get your customers to take action.
Not sure what I mean?
Let’s take a look at an example.
QuéGuapa uses their profile to drive engagement by putting their branded hashtag there, which encourages people to use that hashtag when posting a photo that includes one of their products.
They also have a link that redirects the customer to a site where they can shop for the items they see displayed on the QuéGuapa Instagram account.
This approach encourages customers to engage with them on social media and buy from them. Pretty smart, if you ask me.
Think about what you want your customers to do, and write your bio in a way that encourages them to take that action. If you want to include a link they can click to shop your feed, use the Photoslurp Shoppable Instagram Feed feature – it’s a great way to help customers quickly find what they want so they can make a purchase without having to navigate to your site and search for the product.
Share the right images
When a potential customer visits your Instagram profile, they’ll typically make a decision about whether or not to follow you based on:
- Your bio
- Your brand
- Your 9 most recent photos
We’ve already talked about how to optimize your bio, so now, let’s discuss what kinds of images will build your brand and make customers want to connect with you. Here are some best practices you should follow:
Only post high-quality images to your Instagram account.
This is an important step since shoppers are 3x more likely to make a purchase online when they see high-quality photos.
So, find some good lighting, figure out the best angles, and use your smart phone to take pictures. Then you can use photo editing app like VSCOCam or A Color Story to make your photos look like they were taken by a professional (To discover more Instagram tools that will help you with your eCommerce account, check out this eBook).
Post in-context photos.
These kinds of photos will help customers envision themselves using your product like the person in the picture.
For example, Nike doesn’t just post pictures of shoes and clothes. They post pictures of people who are working out while wearing Nike clothes and shoes, like this:
This works because it’s inspiring to Nike’s target audience (people who work out) by helping them picture themselves getting a good workout in while wearing Nike gear.
Think about what kind of images would inspire your audience to purchase your products, and focus on creating and sharing those images. If you’re feeling unsure about what to share, experiment with a few different types of images to see what works best with your following.
Post clean-looking product photos
In-context photos are great, but you’ll want to post simple images that showcase your products sometimes too. Here’s a great example of one from Eames Office:
Using a plain white photo helps them showcase their product by ensuring that the viewer is focused on it rather than other things going on around it. If you’d like to create similar images, consider using a tool like Pixc to remove the background from your product photos.
Hashtag it up!
On Instagram, hashtags allow you to categorize your content and attract your audience.
Let’s look at it from their perspective for a second.
Imagine you’re a consumer browsing Instagram, and you’re interested in buying some new running shoes soon. So, you look up the hashtag “#runningshoes” using Instagram’s search tool.
These six images are the first that pop up after you search, so you see them right away. The beige pair of Nike shoes in the top right image catch your eye – they’re exactly what you’ve been looking for! So, you head over to the Nike website, find those shoes, and make a purchase.
See how that works?
Regardless of what you’re selling, you can use hashtags to help customers find your products.
But you have to pick the right hashtags to make that happen – hashtags that put you in front of your audience.
For example, if you sell workout clothing for women, you might use “#activewear” as a hashtag pretty frequently. You could even search for popular tags related to your product by typing “activewear” into Instagram’s search bar, like this:
Another effective way to find the right hashtags is to look at what your most successful competitors are using. Using the activewear example, you could look up Lorna Jane, a popular activewear company with over 694K Instagram followers.
Then, you’d want to look at several of the images they’ve shared to see which hashtags they’ve been using. Here’s one of them:
While you wouldn’t want to use “#lornajane” since that’s a branded hashtag, you could experiment with using the other three hashtags they picked for this image. Since you and Lorna Jane would share the same target audience, there’s a good chance you could attract that audience by using similar hashtags.
Whatever you do, keep the hashtags relevant.
It might be tempting to look up the most popular hashtags on Instagram and use those just to get engagement, but that engagement won’t matter if it’s not from your target audience.
Also, try to limit yourself to 3 to 5 hashtags per image. If you use any more than that, you’ll just look spammy and desperate, which is likely to drive customers away.
Share exclusive discount codes
Doing this gives people a reason to stay engaged with your brand on Instagram, and it’s a pretty simple process. After you set up a discount code, all you have to do is create an image that advertises the code and share it with your followers.
Here’s an example from The Coffee Canary:
You can see that they’ve included the discount amount and the time frame for the discount in the image, which makes the details of the promotion completely clear to anyone who’s interested.
The Coffee Canary used Retype to create the image above, but you could also use a free graphic design tool like Canva to make yours. Whatever tool you decide to use, make sure you stick to your brand colors and fonts, clearly state the time frame for the discount, and let customers know which products the discount can be applied to so there is no confusion.
Feature happy customers on your feed
Customers who post pictures of themselves wearing or using your products are your brand advocates, and sharing their photos can help you build even more brand loyalty.
So if you aren’t already, encourage your followers to share photos of themselves using your products with you. Let them know you’ll choose some to re-post, and they’ll want to participate even more because of the exposure their photo will get when it’s featured on your account.
Here’s an example from Caked Makeup:
See how they put “#CAKEDMAKEUP to be featured” in the image description?
Using that branded hashtag allows them to easily find customer photos and pick the ones they’d like to repost to their account.
It’s a great strategy for driving sales because 92% of consumers trust user-generated content more than traditional advertising.
To make the content curation process easier and monetize Instagram effectively, use Photoslurp’s visual commerce platform. It’ll search for and collect all photos related to your brand and provide you all the tools you need to make them shoppable. Best of all, there is an extensive analytics suite that will help you figure out what kinds of images get the best results for your business.
Partner with influencers
We’ve talked about featuring customers on your feed. But have you ever thought about reaching out to an Instagram influencer so they can feature your product on their feed?
If not, now is a good time to start. Many popular eCommerce brands partner with influencers so they can grow their following, drive engagement, and sell more products.
The trick is to find an influencer whose audience is similar to yours. For example, if you sell makeup, you could reach out to a popular makeup artist and start collaborating – their following would be full of people who are interested in makeup (and therefore likely to be interested in your products!).
Tip: For a more in-depth look at how to use Instagram influencer marketing to drive sales, check out this blog post!
Over to you
Once you start using the strategies here, track your results so you can adjust your overall approach to monetize Instagram based on what works best with your target audience.
And don’t get discouraged if you don’t see major results right away. Social media marketing takes time to pay off, but when it does, you’ll be happy with the return on your investment.
Now, I want to hear from you. Which of these Instagram eCommerce marketing strategies are you most excited to try? Share in the comments section below!
About the Author
- Ebook: Instagram Marketing Guide For Ecommerce Businesses
- How to Use Instagram’s New Features (Zoom and Stories) to Make Money for Your eCommerce Store
- Instagram Captions – Craft the Perfect Caption for your eCommerce Photos
- How to create a hashtag for your brand [7 experts weigh in]
- Instagram Contests – 7 tips to successfully leverage contests
- 26 Instagram Tools To Develop Your eCommerce Marketing Strategy
- Instagram for B2B – 5 Ways To Grow Your Following
- Instagram Best Practices – 9 Content Tricks Used By Top Brands