It’s getting increasingly harder to rise above the noise online. Brands with humongous advertising budgets hoover up most of the traffic and dominate Google search results. Facebook has plateaued and its organic market reach decreased by 63% since 2012. Twitter is in shambles as its future is unclear. Almost everything looks rather grim for lower league players like us. Can Instagram ads really change that?
While other social media channels muddle in uncertainty, Instagram ads seem to be transforming into the new Holy Grail for eCommerce retailers. Instagram users happily embrace and engage with branded content. In fact, engaged Instagrammers are worth more than Facebook followers, while brands on Instagram are able to reach 100% of their followers per post.
So why haven’t Instagram ads captured every marketer’s attention yet?
Well, in most part it’s down to the prevailing opinion that Instagram is still a hub of #foodporn lovers and selfie addicts. And many struggle to crack the strategy of success.
But there’s a tangible excitement in the air about the platform’s glimmering potential for advertising reach. We’ve already covered the step-by-step process of how to set up Instagram ads, so let’s look at some of the alternative ways how to use Instagram ads to successfully generate eCommerce sales.
- Productivity hacks for Instagram ads: batching & automation
- #1 Content creation tools that you’ll love
- #2 Scheduling Instagram content in advance
- #3 Make engaging with your Instagram followers part of the strategy
- How can Instagram posts contribute to your bottom line?
- #1 Adding a link in the bio
- #2 Optimising your landing page
- #3 Consider third-party tools to sell directly from your feed
- Harvest the power of user-generated content and contests
- #1 Post content created by your customers and followers
- #2 Explore contests, giveaways and special offers
Productivity hacks for Instagram ads: batching & automation
You’re determined to make Instagram work for your online store but creating unique content to share with your followers daily feels a little much? That’s because it is!
Creating fresh content, logging into your Instagram account every day and responding to your followers’ comments can turn out to be a major time suck. Most eCommerce entrepreneurs are seriously pressed for time already, so working smart rather than hard is the only option.
How can you keep your Instagram account topped up without losing your grip on efficient schedule? Here are 3 ideas.
#1 Content creation tools that you’ll love
Block some time in your calendar for content creation and put on the creative hat. Instagrammers have a keen eye for quality and style, so high-resolution images is a must.
You want your content to fit nicely with your marketing goals, so creating posts around hashtags relevant to your products is a smart strategy. You’ll find that sometimes well-crafted posts don’t even need to be boosted to generate sales!
Pablo by Buffer, Snappa and Canva are your go-to resources. With plenty of free templates and access to free stock photography, these content creation tools will make the whole process feel like a breeze. Honestly. Crafting Instagram ads may even become fun.
Make sure all your images are cropped to the recommended size, which is 1080 x 1080 pixels, and have compelling captions. Captions can include emojis and up to 30 hashtags but need to be no more than 2,200 characters in length. Bear in mind, though, that those captions are cut off in the user feed after 3 lines of text, so make those 3 lines attention-grabbing!
If you’re struggling to craft truly compelling captions, follow these smart Instagram caption-writing tips by Hootsuite.
Take your time to research competitors’ feeds and review leading brands’ content to get a feel for what type of posts are collecting most likes and shares. This will help you optimise your Instagram content strategy for maximum success and generate sales faster. According to Unoboy, the most effective Instagram photo types are manicured product photos, active shots, memes and cool pictures.
Others include inspirational quotes, flatlays, and still life photos into the mix.
#2 Scheduling Instagram content in advance
When you have your month’s worth of content created (yes, that’s a top tip, by the way), you should start looking into content scheduling tools that will take the headache out of this task.
Now, we’re all familiar with the market leaders Buffer and Hootsuite that are often used to schedule and post content to the major social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). The problem with Instagram is that it doesn’t allow any third-party apps to post directly to the platform, only the official Instagram app can be used for that. However, both giants offer Instagram solutions – Buffer for Instagram and Hootsuite for Instagram that can prove to be rather convenient if you’re already using either of these tools to schedule content for other networks.
However, social media experts agree that it might be better to use an Instagram-focused app to schedule your visual content in advance, as many of them offer more relevant features and can improve the overall experience. The top three tools that always come up in Instagram scheduling discussions are ScheduGram, Lattergramme, and Buffergram. You’ll need to dig deeper to understand which one is best for you as all of them highlight different features and USP’s.
Note that these apps won’t be able to post for you directly to Instagram and you’ll need to publish the update from your Instagram app.
#3 Make engaging with your Instagram followers part of the strategy
Although Instagram really wants us to post updates in real-time and capture moments as they happen, it’s sometimes a mission impossible for brands that have a million other things to do. So we choose to automate our visual content campaigns, and there’s no shame in that.
Yet, posting every day is likely to create a good dose of buzz. If your Instagram ads and posts are receiving a lot of attention from followers – likes, shares and comments – it’s crucial to keep on top of them and respond within a reasonable timeframe.
You can’t afford to react to every notification as it comes in, though. This will eat into your schedule and won’t bring any meaningful results. A better way would be to allocate some time in your calendar every day to deal with all the comments at once. Even if it’s 30 minutes a day, it’s better to sit down and get it over with in one go.
If you notice, however, that your Instagram followers ask any support related questions or touch on delicate topics, such as returns or customer satisfaction, you’ll be better off integrating customer service with your Instagram marketing and making sure all the complaints and enquiries are handled appropriately.
Your feed is looking fab and your following is growing. Fantastic.
Does that make you any richer? Well, not really.
Although more likes and more followers always mean more exposure for the brand, ultimately, these metrics are incredibly difficult to tie in with the bottom line. If we think about the sales funnel, it’s just the first step in the buyer’s journey!
It’s difficult to prompt people to buy something when you’re not allowed to add links in your posts. However, one of the most effective workarounds that most of the brands are using is adding a link to your online store or a specific landing page in the bio.
What The Economist is doing:
What Asos is doing:
#2 Optimising your landing page
It’s no secret that the majority of Instagrammers connect to the platform through their mobile app. Which means most of the traffic coming from this social channel is mobile. If you want to convert at least a share of this traffic into sales, your landing page must be mobile-friendly and (ideally) customised to capture Instagramers’ attention.
Here’s how Urban Outfitters is streamlining their sales journey.
- A link in their bio:
2. Customised landing page
3. Smart call-to-action buttons
#3 Consider third-party tools to sell directly from your feed
Making an Instagram feed shoppable is probably every e-retailer’s dream. The good news is — it’s actually possible! As its catchy website copy states, Like2Buy can help you generate more sales from Instagram by using Instagram’s missing link.
Besides giving your followers the option to go beyond window-shopping, Link2Buy also offers other great features, such as ROI Reporting, email capturing and localisation.
Harvest the power of user-generated content and contests
As an entrepreneur, your primary goal is to generate profit. But Instagram is a social network, so you must be careful to find the right balance between promotional and inspirational, value-filled content. Remember, you can try to skip a few steps in the buyer journey, but essentially, Instagram is best fit for generating more prospects at the top of the sales funnel.
So what are your options here?
#1 Post content created by your customers and followers
Yes, buying online is becoming second nature. And still, one of the biggest sales hinders is the prospect of having to return an unwanted item — “what if it doesn’t suit me?”. Adding high-quality product photos and videos can help you overcome this objection, but nothing can replace the “real-life proof” of seeing the product on a fellow human being.
By tapping into your buyer community and sharing their images, you will not only generate positive sentiment but will also increase the appeal of your products.
#2 Explore contests, giveaways and special offers
Contests, giveaways and special offers are effective on all social media platforms — it’s just one of the incentives for people to engage with your brand — but Instagram is a particularly suitable platform for these initiatives thanks to its very visual nature.
Here a few different examples of what format your contests and giveaways could take:
When it comes to advertising, numerous surveys have demonstrated that Instagram is yet to experience explosive growth. It’s still very much an untapped powerhouse overlooked by the majority of brands. So if you’re running an online shop, I would strongly encourage you to integrate Instagram ads and campaigns into your marketing mix to generate more sales for your eCommerce products.
Implement the tactics explained in this article and you’ll have your answers in 30 days. #nokidding