Learn how to sell on instagram in this infographic
November 20, 2016 | Shares:

How to Sell on Instagram: 5 Tips for Guaranteed Success

Harnessing Instagram is the single most impactful move you can make right now to boost your eCommerce sales.

Instagram has become a game-changer for businesses.

A major part of Instagram’s dynamism is that it’s completely powered by word-of-mouth marketing.

Scrolling through your Instagram feed transports you to a visually visceral view of the products, places, and experiences your social circle shares and recommends.

Brands understand that being featured on this feed is the holy grail of word-of-mouth marketing, and they’re quickly looking for as many ways as possible to monetize this.

Studies show Instagram produces some of the most engaged and qualified traffic of all social channels.

With 75% of online businesses taking part, to miss out on Instagram is to miss out on a serious slice of the online sales pie.

Fortunately, creating a dynamic Instagram storefront that will take your online sales to the next level is easier than you might think. This post will give you a top-to-bottom approach for getting started and upping your Instagram game.

We’ll cover how you can:

  • Create an Instagram storefront in line with your branding & story.
  • Set up a shoppable Instagram gallery to ensure purchasing items from your photos is easy and quick.
  • Harness user-generated content to amplify Instagram’s word-of-mouth power.
  • Combine customer photos with customer reviews to create powerful social messaging in your Instagram ads.
  • Use influencers as your Instagram megaphone – and how connect with them and get word-of-mouth advertising about your amazing products.
  • Give the quality Instagram UGC you curated a home on your brand’s website – and the easy steps to make the transition.

Before we begin, you might want to take a look at How to Sell Online by Beeketing for some general advice.

Here Are Our Top 5 Tips For How to Sell on Instagram:

Tip #1: Sell Through Instagram Directly with Shoppable Instagram

According to our Instagram data, 72% of customers say seeing Instagram photos of a product increases their chances of buying, and 38% of customers say they frequently purchase products they find on Instagram.

The will and interest are there – it’s up to you to let your customers shop online on Instagram with ease.

The easiest way to sell through Instagram is to set up a shoppable Instagram gallery, which is a parallel site you link to in your Instagram bio.

This link will take customers to an augmented version of your Instagram storefront, which contains dynamic clickable images that lead to different product pages where they can make a purchase.

Like in the example below, the path from Instagram photo to purchase is shortened. Followers don’t have to go out of their way to find the product in the site.

Shoppable Instagram explanation

Tip #2: Boost Instagram Engagement by Creating Images That Tell a Story

Even more than boosting direct sales, your Instagram gallery is a great way to build up brand awareness and tell the story of your products.

Take a look at this shot from Rhone’s Instagram:

Rhone's Instagram storefront tells a story

Sprinkled in with shots of their products are images that tell the story of their customers – who are they? Where do they hang out? What do they eat? What do they do?

The combination paints a picture of what Rhone is about, and enables shoppers to easily identify with the Rhone customer and place themselves in that world.

For instance, you may be selling clothes on Instagram, so of course you’ll want to highlight great shots of customers wearing your items, but compliment those shots with photos that set the scene for your brand’s story.

Don’t forget, detail is everything.

There are many subtle ways to portray your brand through storytelling images, from product positioning to lighting. Be sure to choose your theme and apply it across all photos, using cohesive filters, subjects, and contexts to create a true shop environment on your Instagram.

Instagram curation is like designing any shop front – all elements should work together to draw your customer in.

Shoppable Instagram banner

Tip #3: Use Customer Photos in your Instagram Storefront 

One of the best ways to tell your brand’s story is through customer photos.

The value of customer photos is that they tap into a phenomenon called social proof, which describes the way humans respond positively to what others enjoy, and avoid what others dislike.

MrStraps is great at highlighting customer photos, like this example:

Use influencers to sell through Instagram

This photo is powerful because:

It’s a real, normal person’s selfie, so it blends right into a customer’s Instagram feed.

Branded, professional photos feel like advertisements that customers easily swipe past without a second thought.

Customer photos are much more eye-catching.

According to our research, 77% of consumers say that authentic photos from customers affect their purchasing decisions more than professional photos from stores do.

Prospective buyers can identify with the customer in the photo, placing themselves in her shoes and imagining themselves holding the cute phone case in their own hands.

This identification is much stronger than what customers feel through text reviews, for example. In fact, 57% of consumers say user-generated photos and videos are more likely to affect purchasing decisions than other forms of user-generated content (UGC).

The photo feels more authentic and reliable because it was submitted by a customer, giving shoppers a sense for the real size, shape, colors, and features of the product without the possibility that it was doctored by the brand.

Featuring customer photos has the added benefit of building up the customer loyalty, showing them that you noticed their passion for your products and are using your Instagram to spotlight them.

Tip #4: Turn Customer Photos and Reviews into Engaging Instagram Ads

You can take UGC one step further on your Instagram by integrating customer photos and 5-star reviews into authentic Instagram ads that speak to your customers on that social, peer-to-peer level we discussed above.

Instagram ads using UGC

Unlike flashy, branded promotional ads, this one uses only UGC to send a message straight from a happy customer to a prospective one.

This ad flows well in a customer’s Instagram feed while using the data-backed marketing strategy of social proof.

According to Facebook, ads with customer reviews have a 4x higher CTR and a 50% lower CPA, making them cheaper and more effective than standard ads.

Experts on how to sell on Instagram know that Instagram is the most impactful platform for your ads.

Forrester reported that customers are 60 times more likely to interact with a brand’s Instagram account than Facebook.

And they’re 140 times more likely to interact with a brand’s Instagram post than Twitter post!

And, it pays off to make your ads sponsored posts – Michael Kors reported that their first paid Instagram ad got them 40,000 new followers – 16x more than their normal posts.

And with tools like Ads for Instagram, creating an ad like this is simple and quick, and comes with robust, trackable customer behavior data.

Tip #5: Let Influencers Do the Talking

When asked whether seeing a friend post about a brand on Instagram would increase their chances of checking the brand out, 83% said yes!

Imagine what you can do with this power of peer influence if you can get an Instagram user with thousands or even millions of followers on your side!

More importantly, when you work with the right influencer, you reach tons of potential customers who are in your target audience and interested in exactly the types of products and experiences you offer.

Take a look at these two Instagram photos from Pura Vida:

Example of selling products on Instagram

The one on the left has 53 comments. The one on the right has 181, more than 3x as many, and 3,000 more likes.

Why?

Because the one on the right features an influencer -tagged in the caption of course!- holding the product!

When you reach out to influencers, it’s important to let them choose the products they want to try, so their feedback is the most authentic and excited.

One last thing….

Harnessing Instagram goes a lot farther than your Instagram shop front!

All of that amazing UGC you cultivated through Instagram can be powerfully integrated into your brand’s website to improve its visual commerce.

Check out how Vanity Planet uses customer Instagram photos right on their product pages:

Use Instagram photos on your product page

According to an A/B test of 5,723 visitors to a top eCommerce site, including Instagram photos on site increased orders by 24.3%!

An Instagram hashtag gallery like the one above not only leverages social proof to create customer trust in the brand and the product, creating immediate, tangible increases in sales, it also invites further engagement from happy customers and enhances customer loyalty.

Recap: How to Sell on Instagram

Now you have the tools and tricks to enhance your Instagram storefront and engage more fully with your customer base.

Whether you choose one tip or all our Instagram marketing tips, Instagram lets you connect more fully and authentically with your customers.

Effective marketing is all about telling your brand’s story in a compelling, memorable way.

By harnessing UGC through Instagram, you and your fans can tell that story together.

So go! Polish off those hashtags and get Instagram’s benefits working for you. #MarketingRevolution


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Ariane Mandell
Ariane Mandell,
Writer, reporter, and sometimes slam poet, Ariane has a background in sales and sales training. Born and raised in the US, she now lives in Tel Aviv.
  • Avery M. Smith

    Instagram works really well if you sell something that looks good on photos. You should have a dozen beautiful pictures for a start + add 1-2 daily and do a lot of Instagram marketing:
    1. Liking & commenting people, who already follow similar Instagram accounts (it’s not nice, but you can always engage with your competitors’ followers)
    2. Promoting via Instagram influencers
    3. Having giveaways and competitions
    Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to establish a Instagram shop.: http://www.wikihow.com/Establish-an-Online-Shop-through-Instagram

    • Ariane Mandell

      True, keeping up regular posting is key. It can be more challenging for less visually oriented products, but you just have to get creative!

  • Be clear on what you are selling. Posting an image that is not relevant to your advertisement will not help earn profit. If you have images of your products from e-commerce databases, find a way to connect it. This will help you define your own social selling style and to stand out from the crowd.

    • Ariane Mandell

      You’re totally right! It’s important to stay true to your brand in whatever you post, it’s all about authenticity on Instagram.

  • Eren Mckay

    What a great strategy! I didn’t even know that we could set up a shoppable Instagram gallery. When my eCommerce clients already have fabulous images on their site, it makes my life much easier. Even if they don’t have great images, I can always spruce them up with my graphic editors before posting them to Instagram. I’m sharing this post on my social platforms 🙂

    • Ariane Mandell

      Thanks for sharing! Shoppable Instagrams really do open a lot of doors commercially. And you’re right – sprucing up UGC is always an option 🙂

    • Aimee from Yotpo

      Yep – super easy and very effective.

  • This is a brilliant idea. I sent this post to Kiyonna because they already have user-generated photos that would be perfect to use this way. Now I’m thinking about how bloggers could use it to generate another income stream. Trying to remember who it was who had a friend selling custom jewelry on Etsy. This would be great for her, too.

    • Definitely a great strategy for Etsy users.

      • Aimee from Yotpo

        Definitely! Any visual and social platform benefits.

    • Ariane Mandell

      Yeah, that’s a great point, a lot of these strategies apply to other platforms as well. And Etsy designers should definitely utilize Instagram to grow their personal brand!

    • Aimee from Yotpo

      Thanks for sharing it around to people who can benefit Gail!

  • One of the best Instagram for business articles I have read. These strategies when implemented will skyrocket your business for sure. My favorite strategy was number one as it engages the customer very quickly into what is being sold for the customer.

    • Ariane Mandell

      Thanks so much! I hope it helps you out.

    • Aimee from Yotpo

      Wow! What a huge compliment. Thanks so much =)

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