Over the last nine years, Instagram has grown to more than one billion active users. No matter what your business is, chances are that your audience uses Instagram. Long gone are the days when only image-based companies could engage in Instagram marketing.
Want to know the best part? Instagrammers are ready to buy on the platform: 60% of users discover new products on the platform, and 200 million people visit at least one business profile daily, according to Instagram for Business.
For companies, it means an opportunity to achieve their marketing goals, so it’s no wonder 25 million businesses are marketing on Instagram, and around 2 million advertisers are using their Instagram business profiles on the platform to deliver brand messages and drive business results.
But with a great variety of companies on the market, winning new customers is getting increasingly more difficult. In fact, Forrester research claims that it costs 5x more to acquire a customer than to retain an existing one.
At first blush, it’s logical to focus on nurturing relationships with existing clients, but business growth requires systematic customer acquisition, too.
So, wouldn’t it be great if you could create an Instagram marketing strategy dedicated to attracting new customers? Let’s explore how to use Instagram for business, and, more specifically, how to sell on Instagram.
1. Create an Instagram bio that’s optimized for search
First things first: to acquire new customers, you need to make sure your Instagram profile will attract your target audience.
Writing a perfect Instagram bio is a must as it’s your visit card when users come across your account. Moreover, it takes just 2.6 seconds to make the first impression online, so your Instagram bio is the only way that a potential customer can decide whether your brand resonates with them or not.
Limited to just 150 characters and a single link, your Instagram bio should tell visitors who you are, what you do, where you’re located, and even provide interested users with more information. With an eye-catching and informative Instagram bio, your Instagram profile can help hook your target audience by giving them a reason to follow you.
If you run an Instagram business account, you have more options, so it’s recommended to switch to Instagram Business profile.
Let’s take a look at an example of a good Instagram bio:
Source: Instagram/J Brand
Even if you have never heard of J Brand, its Instagram bio provide visitors with enough relevant information that they would be able to understand what the company is selling. First of all, the bio shows Clothing as the category which hints at what the company does. Plus, the description is short yet informative. As a denim company, it’s no wonder J Brand has used ‘jeans’ as a focus keyword in it’s bio. And if a visitor is interested in J Brand, he or she can tap on the link on the Instagram profile to find out more on the website or click on action buttons below the bio section to see the prices and contact info. All in all, J Brand has everything visitors may need to decide whether or not the company meets their needs, wants, and expectations.
Tips on how to optimize your Instagram bio:
- Choose an appropriate category
- Provide a description of your company
- Include a focus keyword
- Insert a link
- Add action buttons
Bonus tips for marketing on Instagram:
- Tag your other Instagram business profiles: In March 2018, Instagram allowed users to add clickable profile links in a bio that would lead to other profiles. Since modern customers crave authenticity, this functionality allows you to tag your brand owner to bring transparency. And if your company has sister Instagram business profiles, it’s the perfect way to drive traffic to your other accounts.
- Add a branded hashtag: While marketers have been using hashtags to attract an audience, just a few of us make the most out branded hashtags to actively engage visitors. So to enhance your Instagram marketing strategy, try adding a branded hashtags to your Instagram bio, which allow visitors to find more photos with the same hashtag.
- Use emojis: To stand out from your competitors, it’s important to stay creative, and using emojis can be a great option. As 90% of people find emoji messages to be more meaningful, adding an emoji to your Instagram bio can help engage visitors in a more meaningful manner.
Having an Instagram bio that delivers the right message is the first step in executing an effective Instagram marketing strategy. Thus, once your Instagram bio is complete, you’ll be one step closer to figuring out how to sell on Instagram.
2. Use geotags to attract local audiences
The best thing about marketing on Instagram is having the opportunity to reach people all over the world. And although you can expand your audience and acquire international customers, it’s important to make sure that your Instagram marketing strategy is tarteging the right audience.
Many companies use geotags on Instagram, but it’s not just about local businesses that drive brick and mortar sales; it’s also about e-commerce brands that don’t ship internationally. Additionally, marketing on Instagram using geotags can help you drive traffic to your physical store in a specific area.
Using geotags can also help connect with a niche audience. Here’s an example:
Although Shake Shack has separate Instagram profiles for different countries, the company announced the opening of a new cafe in Shanghai via its global Instagram profile with a geotag. Therefore, this post not only acts as a signal the company is growing, but is also a way to attract local audiences – making it an excellent example of how to use Instagram for business
Source: Instagram/Shake Shack
No matter what your business is, you must focus on the quality of your followers, not the quantity. And if your target audience lives in the US, reaching European citizens won’t give you any business results. Thus, using geotags in your Instagram marketing strategy is a great idea even if you’re an e-commerce store doing business online.
Bonus Tips for Marketing on Instagram:
- Use geotag Instagram Stories stickers: Since 500 million accounts use Instagram Stories daily, adding geotag stickers is a simple way to begin appearing in Instagram’s news search and attract more potential customers.
- Write geo as hashtags: although a hashtag isn’t a new feature on social media, it’s quite popular among people who want to monitor particular events. When users tap on a hashtag, they can see the list of posts with the same note. For brands, it’s another opportunity to be discovered by potential clients who are interested in the same geolocation.
3. Set up shoppable tags and Stories
Back in 2016, Instagram introduced shoppable product tags to make the buying process easier. This feature allows Instagram business profiles to feature products via posts, and is a clear example of how to use Instagram to sell.
When an Instagram user sees a post with a small shopping bag icon, they can tap on it to get additional information about the featured item(s). With quick access to pricing and product descriptions, Instagram shoppable posts make it easier for potential customers to dive into the buying process.
And the easier the buying process is, the more likely it is that customers will complete the purchase. Since the majority of Instagrammers discover products on the platform, it’s a great idea to let them buy within the app. For now, companies can tag products in posts and Instagram Stories.
Product tags: If your business engages in Instagram marketing, chances are that you generate content to post on the newsfeed. When visitors come across your Instagram business profile, they start scrolling through the feed to see whether or not your products can meet their needs. And if you want to generate any sales as a part of your Instagram marketing strategy, then showing off your product isn’t enough: you need to provide users with pricing and product details. Thus, tag products on Instagram Shoppable Posts or Instagram Stories are a great way to provide people with more information around the featured items.
Source: Instagram/Next Menswear
Instagram Stories tags: With the rise of ephemeral content, the amount of time people spend on the platform has grown from 16 to 32 minutes, on average. It means short-lived content attracts audience’s attention, so Instagram Stories are a great opportunity for businesses to reach their potential customers without clogging the newsfeed up with content.
To make the most out of Instagram Stories features, brands can tag products so that viewers can see details about the items. What is more, this feature allows companies to convert followers into customers as Instagrammers can make impulse purchases, buying in-app.
Source: Instagram/Made Well
Bonus tips for marketing on Instagram:
- Save feed posts as draft: Since most people are visual-oriented, it’s important to have a coherent newsfeed on Instagram. Thus, don’t hasten to publish your posts. Once your post is ready, save it as draft and preview to see whether it fits your newsfeed.
- Pay attention to Instagram insights: To understand what posts work better for your audience, view Instagram insights to sort the Instagram shoppable posts your audience engages with the most. If you use shoppable stickers, swipe up on the Story to see insights.
- Tag all products: You never know what products will interest your target audience, so it’s important to show the name and price of all items. When using Instagram posts, you can tag up to 5 products per single image. When using shoppable stickers, you can tag only one product.
4. Organize branded giveaways
Wouldn’t it be great if you could cause a buzz around your product within a day or two?
With branded giveaways, you can grab an audience’s attention and outshine your competitors. People love free stuff, so running contests is a way to increase engagement on Instagram, attract people unfamiliar with your business, nurture relationships with followers, and use Instagram to drive e-commerce sales.
Moreover, you can choose your product as a gift to ensure your giveaway attracts the right audience. Once a potential customer has tested a product, it can generate desire for a particular item, and therefore it’s a creative way to boost sales through Instagram marketing.
Plus, there’s no need to giveaway your own products. For example, TRX Training works with brands related to sports & health industries to organize massive giveaways, and all sponsors get results.
Bonus tips for marketing on Instagram:
- Work with niche-focused brands: If you’re interested in getting new customers, you need to find alternative ways to reach your target audience, and being a sponsor of a giveaway is a great chance for customer acquisition.
- Rely on the rule of reciprocity: It’s in humans’ nature to return the favor, so giving away branded freebies is a proven way to attract attention to your Instagram business profile and convince participants to consider your product as an option when it comes to making purchase decisions.
5. Combine both your influencer marketing & Instagram marketing strategies
Modern customers don’t trust ads anymore: 86% of women shoppers do research on social media before buying products and 70% of millennial consumers rely on their peers’ recommendations to make purchase decisions. Moreover, influencer marketing generates 11X more ROI than traditional forms of marketing, so it is no wonder it’s getting more and more popular.
Working with niche-focused influencers, you can reach the existing user base that fits your target audience and promote your product in a genuine way.
Tahnee Elliott, Founder & CEO of T.C.Ellie’s, is a clear believer in the power of including influencers in an Instagram marketing strategy:
“Today’s Instagram users increasingly seek content that is personal, authentic and relatable. In the age of micro-influencers and celebrity bloggers, polished product images are a thing of the past. A 2016 survey revealed that 77% of the shoppers surveyed prefer to see authentic customer photos when making a purchase decision, rather than professional product images.”
Case in point: Coral Rosado, better known as CurlsWithCoral on Instagram, is a blogger from Philadelphia who works with beauty brands that meet her interests. In collaboration with Sephora, Coral has tested oil spray and created several posts to promote this product.
Bonus tips for marketing on Instagram:
- Provide a briefing form: Depending on your business goals, think about the KPIs for your influencer campaign. For example, if you don’t have access to the “Swipe Up” function in Instagram Stories, you can ask an influencer who has 10K+ following to help you get website traffic by featuring your product via Instagram Stories.
- Establish long-term relationships: Even if you’ve decided to work with micro-influencers, this collaboration can give more results in the future. Since opinion leaders grow their following, nurturing relationships is your chance to stand out from other brands and work with them again to get better results.
6. Run Instagram ads
Customer acquisition is about connecting with new audiences, and running Instagram ads can be way to target people who don’t know your product. While there are some organic ways to reach new audiences, advertising on Instagram helps to deliver your brand message and attract people who match your market without spending much time and effort.
With a tough competition in the market, you need to seek out ways to stay one step ahead of your competitors, and one way to that is by creating Instagram ads that cut through the noise. When done right, your ad can reach the right people, deliver the right message, and turn strangers into loyal fans and customers as a result.
Moreover, some brands use Instagram ads as a marketing tool to boost sales. For example, Wedding Paper Divas has offered a discount when running an Instagram ad campaign. This way, the company not only attracts new followers but also encourages them to buy, and is just one example of how to use Instagram to sell a service.
Source: Instagram/Wedding Paper Divas
Bonus tips for marketing on Instagram:
- Use Instagram carousel ads: With this ad format, you can upload up to ten images or videos within one post. Thus, it helps marketers to show off the products they are selling from different angles, teach potential clients how to use the product, or tell the story of the brand. All in all, it’s a way advertise on Instagram on a budget.
- Add a call-to-action: Since you’re interested in increasing customer acquisition, it’s important to convince Instagrammers to take an action after seeing your ad. Thus, you should always add a CTA button when you create your Instagram ad (Shop Now, Install Now, etc.)
The wrap up
Instagram is not just a photo-sharing platform anymore; it’s a great marketing tool with sales potential that is attracting more and more marketers. And if you’re focused on acquiring new clients or increasing sales, this platform is right for you. With over one billion of users, your target audience is very likely on Instagram, so don’t miss a chance to turn fans into customers in a genuine way.
About the author:
Hugh Beaulac is a digital marketer, social media specialist, and content creator at MC2 Bid4Papers. With over 6 years experience in marketing, he helps SMBs grow online. Hugh also contributes to different websites to share his tips and tricks, so follow him on Twitter to stay tuned for more.