Using Instagram To Generate Ecommerce Sales – What Smart Marketers Do
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How important is social media marketing and how does mobile marketing affect it?
This is the age of mobile marketing, where consumers prefer their smartphones to desktops, as demonstrated.
Instagram is therefore, a good social media platform of choice, if not the best for marketers, because it works so seamlessly on mobile phones.
Instagram boasts of 800 million active monthly users, a marketing goldmine! Consequently, 71% of US businesses are using Instagram, adding to the 8 million global business Instagram accounts, and 2 million monthly advertisers.
So, how exactly do these businesses benefit from Instagram?
Compared to other social media sites, Instagram posts the most customer engagement, at 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest and 84 times higher than Twitter.
80% of these 800 million active monthly Instagram users search, browse, and compare products on their smartphones, with 86% of them buying via the smartphones. Their quality of business is also great, as Instagram consumers are known to have deep pockets– 38% of them make less than $30,000 annually, 32% make between $30,000 and $49,999 annually, while 31% make over $75,000 annually.
60% of these buyers find new products on Instagram, with 75% taking action whenever they get a product that they like.
How good is the ROI for businesses?
A study on Instagram marketing ROI among local businesses in the U.S revealed that as of the 3rd quarter of 2016, 24.6% of these businesses had good returns and 18.8% had excellent returns, as shown in the graph below.
Instagram sounds good, right?
Well, there’s a catch!
These results are not automatic. Generating sales on Instagram requires marketing prowess, and here are 8 ways top marketers are doing it.
- Create A High Converting Instagram Profile
For most users, starting an Instagram account is as simple as downloading the app to your device, filling in details and begin posting. As much as this is the usual procedure for everyone, it is not for the sales-oriented marketer.
The first crucial step is creating an Instagram BUSINESS account. Download and launch the app, fill in the required details to sign up, then go to the settings tab and switch to business account.
A business account sets you on the path to great sales, by getting real-time metrics on post performance throughout the day, follower insights and how they interact with your brand, as well as allowing you to add relevant information about the business, such as opening hours, physical location and contact details.
So, what are the elements of a high converting business Instagram profile?
- Appropriate Username and Full Name
The full name slot is where you write the business name in full, information that Instagram uses to automatically suggest possible existing usernames. You should pick a username that’s most relevant to your business.
Here’s how Jersey Wine & Spirits does it:
For best results, the username and full name should be used across all your social media platforms for brand consistency, leading to better brand recognition.
- Have A Great Profile Photo
As you can observe from the Jersey Wine & Spirits example above, the Instagram profile includes a profile photo, which in this case, is the business logo, which further improves brand recognition.
Profile photo size matters, and Instagram has set guidelines on the right size for images used for different reasons on Instagram, to aid proper image optimization. A good Instagram avatar should be at least 150 by 150 pixels, cover photo 399px wide by 150px long, Instagram photos 1080 by 1080 pixels, horizontal photo size 1080p by 566p, and video or photo size for InstaStories should be a minimum of 750p by 1334p.
This is clearly demonstrated below:
- Create a Simple, Yet Engaging Bio
Your Instagram bio serves as the first sales pitch to prospects who visit your profile. Can you use 10 words to clearly state what the business does and what makes it better than the rest? How do these 10 words show value to a prospect?
Here’s how AirBnB does it:
Other than stating what the business does, Airbnb further shows a prospect that it is confident in user reviews, where one can find user-generated stories about their Airbnb experience. What better way to show how you are better than the rest, than allowing customers to share their personal experiences?
Note: It is not advisable to include a hashtag in the bio unless it is associated with the business, just like Airbnb has done in the illustration above. Hashtags in your bio are not clickable, and will never show up in search results.
In case your Instagram bio is full of keywords, kindly edit them out. They have no value.
- Post Captions, Choosing Words Carefully
Business captions mostly end with a call to action. While these calls to action might be the best, their success is sometimes stifled by the caption used in the Instagram post. This is actually why copy writers try different wordings before settling on a billboard ad.
In marketing, the justification effect is at play, as proven by a 1978 Xerox study. In the study, it was discovered that someone’s decision after a request by somebody, will depend on the wording used in the request.
The experiment used line cutters, who used 3 different questions to request to cut the line. The three questions were:
- “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”
- “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?
- “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?
94% of the participants allowed line cutters who asked the first question to cut the line, while 93% allowed those who used question 3. A mere 60% of the participants allowed line cutters who used question 2 to cut the line.
What’s the take home point?
Prospects and marketers need justification on why they should answer to a call to action. By using the word ‘because’, line cutters were over 90% successful in getting their request accepted.
Marketers at Whole Foods understand this concept quite clearly. Here’s how they justified why post visitors needed to visit the link in the bio. Also take note of the post’s engagement.
- Use Hashtags
Instagram allows users to use up to 30 hashtags per post, but 11 is the optimum number, as demonstrated below.
- Think Before You Hijack Hashtags
Hashtag success rate birthed a new marketing trend- hashtag hijacking, also known as trendjacking. This is a common practice among businesses when something goes viral. Smart marketers have used this to reach an insane number of Instagram users.
A great example is the Snickers post in 2014, when Luis Suarez made headlines in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for biting another Italian football player.
This incident caused social media users and brands to jump on the #luissuarez hashtag, and no one did it as sleek and smart as Snickers. With reference to their slogan, ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’, Snickers quickly used a compelling image to poke fun at the footballer, while promoting the brand, as shown below.
This tweet garnered 44,132 retweets and 20,858 likes.
On the flip side, there are marketers who get trendjacking all wrong, just like DiGiorno did. The business unwisely used a hashtag about domestic violence to sell pizza.
After going through a domestic violence incident with her fiancé, NFL player, Ray Rice, Janay Palmer Rice decided to stay in the relationship, consequently leading to the hashtag, #whyIStayed.
The hashtag trended, and DiGiorno decided it was a great marketing opportunity, jumping on it by tweeting, ‘#WhyIStayed You Had Pizza’.
The tweet was taken down within minutes, after DiGiorno understood the context, with the brand apologizing for the insensitive act.
What do you learn?
Always, check the context on hashtags, and think before you post!
- Always Respond To Followers
You have followers because they want to engage with the business and buy. That’s clear. But, do you know why the business has been unfollowed lately? Why sales have reduced?
Before you blame the economy, assess the business’ Instagram etiquette. Do you respond to customer queries, concerns and suggestions or do you ignore them?
Here’s how brand behaviour affects ecommerce sales on social media:
- 48% of consumers want to buy from brands that are responsive to their clients on social media.
- 88% of clients hate it when you make fun of buyers
- 71% loathe political discussions
- 67% are offended by slang
- 67% don’t like it when brands make fun of their competition
Well, what are the consequences?
51% of these consumers will automatically unfollow your business on Instagram if it does any of these annoying things. That’s not all, 27% will block the brand, 26% ignore the brand, and 23% boycott the business.
Yet, ill-informed marketers will blame the economy instead of addressing etiquette issues.
- Get Creative When Seeking Engagement
The first 5 rules will definitely increase engagement and sales. There’s another way to further increase engagement, and this calls for creativity. By allocating money in your marketing budget for giveaways, your business will be buzzing on social media.
The noise is further increased by encouraging comments in a smooth way like MVMT Watches did. The business announced a giveaway, and also asked its followers to tag their friends.
Each follower introduced a prospect to the business, and the post generated close to 17,000 likes.
- Understand The Best Times To Post On Instagram
When is the best time to post on Instagram?
This is a question that experts have tried to answer, and the answers are sometimes overwhelming. What stands out however, is the fact that this is also dependent on the kind of audience and business statistics such as where your audience is based, and the most active time zones.
80% of Instagram users are located outside the U.S, and this could be where your main market is located, calling for the need to review business insights from Instagram analytics, and understand your most relevant time zones.
Here are 3 main rules to follow:
- Know your most active time zones and post for them- If their local time is your sleeping time, stay up, or schedule posts.
- Lunchtime between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., as well as evenings, between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. enjoy peak engagement
- Make the most important posts on weekdays when brands record most user engagement
- Post at least 5 times weekly like most top businesses– Experts report that 3 posts per day is high and 1 post low, making 1-2 daily posts ideal.
- Invest In InstaStories
Video posts have been insanely successful on Instagram since their launch in 2013. 24 hours after the launch, Instagram users had uploaded over 5 million videos. Annually, Instagram users have increased the time they spend watching videos by more than 80%, causing Instagram to introduce InstaStories.
Instagram stories, otherwise known as InstaStories, has further enticed users to spend more time watching video content, with users below 25 spending over 32 minutes daily, and those above 25 spending over 24 minutes daily on the platform.
This has presented marketers with additional opportunities on the gram, with 50% publishing at least a story a month.
The results are amazing too. 1 in every 5 organic business InstaStories gets a direct message. As a result, brands are now uploading on the gram more than twice as often as they do on snapchat.
InstaStories are great for short campaigns because they are live for only 24 hours. With the current developments, you can keep these stories longer by using stories highlights and Instagram stories archive.