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Instagram is one of the biggest social platforms around, with a user base of more than one billion at the last count.
Savvy brands everywhere are cottoning on to its massive potential, with businesses from a range of industries using it to communicate with and engage their consumers to drive up sales.
But your sales funnel for Instagram will look a little different to funnels for your other channels. To help you perfect your Instagram sales funnel (and to find out why it matters), read on…
Why is Instagram important for sales?
In its early years, Instagram was mostly known for its role in the awareness stage of your sales funnel. It emphasized gorgeous visuals such as photos or videos over sales, offering attractive flatlays and image curation rather than sales opportunities.
That all changed when Instagram introduced its Shoppable posts function this year. Now, your customers can make purchases without ever leaving the app. And with social media playing such a pivotal role in your consumer’s lives, this is a valuable opportunity to ramp up sales that you shouldn’t miss.
Instagram will play an important role for your business’s growth. Let’s find out how you can nail the Instagram sales funnel today.
The awareness stage
To start with, your brand needs to get itself seen by your customers by increasing your follower count. Only a small percentage of your followers will end up converting according to industry figures, so it’s important that you amass as many as you can.
There are some simple ways you can get started with this:
- Use your hashtags wisely: Instagram’s hashtags are its users ways of creating and joining conversations. They’re also your way of getting seen by your target audience. You should be using hashtags in every post you share, but only ones that are relevant. Generic hashtags have their place but they don’t net you genuine engagement. Instead, use specific hashtags to draw followers to your profile. Hashtagify is a great tool for identifying relevant hashtags quickly and easily.
- Get local with geotags: geotags are similar to hashtags in that they let people join conversations, except they work on a local level. If your business has a physical event such as a conference, festival, or pop-up shop, you can use geotags to tag your location and get yourself seen by people in the area. You can also use them to promote special events to draw in a local audience too.
- Create a competition: this is a tried-and-tested method by almost every brand on Instagram. By offering a freebie or entrance into a competition in return for a like, comment, and tagging of three of your users’ friends, you can swiftly grow your follower count virtually overnight.
Instagram has a range of features that can help you grow your follower count and get your brand seen. Experiment with them all to find an approach that suits both your business and your audience.
The engagement stage
By now, you will have accumulated a strong follower count. At this stage you should be focusing on engaging them with your brand so they sit up and take notice, becoming more cognizant of the product or service you offer — the engagement stage.
To achieve this, you should be posting excellent visual content on a regular basis. Each post should relevant hashtags (always as the first comment) and an appealing caption. And it’s important to emphasize that this should be regular — brands post on average around 1-2 times a day, so use that as a baseline.
It’s a good idea to implement an editorial calendar to help you with this. Plan your content ahead of time to save you time and stress trying to decide what to post in the future. It also lets you see your Insta feed as part of the bigger picture too. Use a social media automation tool to automate to speed up your process even more.
Finally, always engage with your followers. If they comment on a post, like and reply to them to let them know you value their input. It will help you build up a strong relationship with them, a valuable thing that will pay dividends for your brand as your customers move through the sales funnel.
The conversion stage
So you’ve built up a solid follower base and you’re posting great visual content regularly. They’re engaging with your brand, and you’re engaging with your followers right back. Now it’s time to push your followers to convert into paying customers.
There are two ways that brands currently use Instagram to target engaged customers to ramp up sales:
“Check the link in our bio!”
Since Instagram’s inception, the main way to lead followers to your online store was by captioning your content with an obligatory “link in bio”. Followers would see a photo of a product or service they were interested in, and would click the URL in the brand’s profile to search for the product on their website.
But with the introduction of Shoppable posts, this isn’t as common for brands, who pin Story Highlights on their profile page instead. And nowadays, it’s rare that your followers will need to leave the Instagram app to make a purchase.
But if they do, it’s important that you make the experience as seamless as possible for them. Ensure your landing page matches your Instagram’s content, and make sure they’re optimized for mobile devices.
Finally, use a trackable link shortener to let you track (albeit only broadly) what portion of your conversions are a result of Instagram traffic.
Instagram Shoppable posts
The rollout of Shoppable posts earlier this year was a turning point for brands on Instagram. By tagging your products in your feed, your followers can make purchases in-app through a seamless customer experience.
The main requirement for brands wishing to use Shoppable posts is that you have a existing approved Facebook Page and Shop — but it’s a valuable investment. One need only take a look at the revenue figures for some of the highest grossing online stores for sale online to see how profitable selling through Instagram can be, even for the smallest of brands.
But perhaps the best thing about Shoppable posts is that they are 100% measurable. You can track direct sales made within the app to accurately calculate the ROI from your social spend. This lets you accurately finetune your funnel to ensure you receive the maximum value from your followers — an enticing option for any online business.
Instagram is a fertile platform for brands to expand their reach and increase consumer engagement. But above all, it’s great for ramping up sales — but only if you nail the sales funnel. Follow the tips above so you can really get the most from your Instagram followers.
Victoria Greene is a freelance blogger and branding expert. On her blog, Victoria Ecommerce, she regularly shares tips with marketers and business owners looking to make the most of social media advertising.