With 300 million monthly active users and over 70 million posts per day, it’s difficult to argue against the recent dominance of Instagram among other social networks. The soaring popularity of Instagram and other media sharing applications such as Snapchat and Vine is proof that visual content is in high demand and is here to stay.
Instagram has entered the big leagues of social networking platforms, but when it comes to leveraging this large community for sales, some marketing strategies can fall short of their goals. Sometimes we forget to realize that each social networking platform has it’s own quirks and each require unique strategies to best align with your business objectives.
Instagram can definitely feel a bit quirky, but to start generating sales, you’ll need to understand the ins and outs, just as you would any other platform. The following tips can help you learn the latest Instagram sales strategies to begin profiting from your visuals.
Use Links on Instagram Creatively
If you have been using Instagram in any capacity, you may have noticed that there are no directly clickable links in the descriptions of an image. Any URLs that you try to add to your image will appear as text. Instagram only allows a single outbound link to be placed within your profile, which can make it particularly difficult to determine if your content is driving traffic to your website and resulting in purchases.
You could paste your product page links directing into your content descriptions or as the location tag on an image, but it’s quite a stretch to expect a consumer to exit Instagram, open a web browser and then type your URL to purchase your product every time they are interested. A stretch yes, but not impossible, you’ll need to get creative when publishing links inside your content to make this process as easy as possible.
Since a customer will need to type this link into their browser, you’ll want to simplify their user experience as much as possible. Instead of posting a complicated or lengthy URL, use a link shortener such as Bitly or TinyURL to create links that are easier for your potential buyers to remember and act upon. As an added bonus, many of these link shortening platforms also provide analytics, which can help you measure the effectiveness of your Instagram link strategy.
Alternatively, some brands, such as apparel company Lilly Pulitzer, choose to call out the clickable link from their profile description to minimize that steps that a potential buyer would need to take to make a purchase. For example, the Lilly Pulitzer marketing team took advantage of Instagram’s location feature to remind users to visit their homepage and follow the link to their e-commerce shop.
Although these are not directly clickable links within Instagram, using these techniques can help guide interested consumers to find your products or services. You’re trying to create an experience that gives your audience an easy path to make a purchase. Use caution if including a call to action in your Instagram photos or videos, as you don’t want to ruin the integrity of your content.
Customize Your Instagram Sales Funnel With Landing Pages
Potential buyers cannot purchase your products or services from within Instagram, so you’ll need to send them elsewhere to buy.
Some companies choose to drive their Instagram traffic to their homepage, but I’d argue that this isn’t always the best option for generating sales. If you are looking to convert your visitors into customers, you should send them to a landing page that helps them make a purchase directly related to the image they just saw posted from your account. When sharing an image on your Instagram account, be sure to include a link creatively to the product or service highlighted in the photo as discussed above.
When designing an effective landing page for generating Instagram sales, keep in mind that almost all of your Instagram traffic will be coming from mobile and should be optimized accordingly. Make sure that your page is responsive to cater to a variety of mobile devices to maintain a quality user experience for your shoppers. It’s best to consistently test and improve your design to learn how your landing page can better convert traffic into revenue in the long term.
In addition to helping generate Instagram sales, landing pages give your marketing team a platform to test the performance of different sales messages and call to actions. When making adjustments to your landing page, your focus should be on designing creating a conversion as quickly and easily as possible. This can be easier said than done, but with practice and by consistently making changes, you can start to discover the best user paths and optimize a better performing landing page, whether you’re selling anything from t-shirts to yoga classes.
Partner with 3rd Party Tools to Generate Sales
If creating your own landing page isn’t an option, considering integrating with a third party tool to better achieve your sales goals. Like2Buy or LiketoKnow are two tools that offer features that help close the gap between your Instagram feed and the checkout process, which ultimately helps you streamline your sales funnel.
For example, some brands, such as, Nordstrom use Like2Buy to manage this aspect of their Instagram profile. This platform gives Nordstrom the tools to track their sales traffic through a unique link pasted in their profile. Users that follow this link are taken to a landing page with all the brand’s Instagram images that are linked to the the related product pages found on Nordstrom’s website.
Nordstrom’s e-commerce landing page is managed by Like2Buy and matches their brand style.
The platform also allows for further customization of the product gallery to match your brand guidelines, re-targeting tools to re-engage your audience and email services that send product updates to your audience after they’ve simply connected their Instagram profile to Like2Buy, all of which can help convert your Instagram visitors into shoppers.
In addition, LiketoKnow allows users to simply like a brand’s Instagram content and as a result will receive an email with links to shop the products featured in their favorite images.
When considering a third party vendor to help turn your Instagram into sales platform, prepare a list of goals and features that you’d like included. Doing this research ahead of time can help you make a decision that will best align with your company’s strategies and offerings.
The Future of Ads on Instagram
If you have been active on Instagram lately, you may have noticed that sponsored posts have begun trickling into your news feed. Instagram is currently working with a select few brands to test how their advertising system should work and this feature is not yet available to the general public.
If you are interested in furthering the impact of your Instagram marketing, it may not be a bad idea to start planning on how sponsored content can help your business achieve new goals, but try not to get too far ahead of yourself. You’ll want to ensure that your mobile advertising investment strategy aligns with your organization’s content marketing sales goals.
Be sure to take another look through your sales funnel and make sure that you have a well designed user experience and system in place. This can not only help you stay prepared for sponsored content in the future but help you generate more sales from Instagram today.
Why do you think that Instagram sales strategies fail to reach their goals? What techniques have you used to generate sales through Instagram? How do you see Instagram advertisements affect the community? Put your answers in the comments section.
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Image credit: Shutterstock
This post first appeared on the Sumall blog.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.