An E-Commerce Guide to Marketing on Instagram

It’s estimated that 28% of Internet users are on Instagram. That makes the image-share platform a better marketing tool than most social sites, including Twitter and Pinterest.

However, what most people don’t realize is, marketing on Instagram is its own brand of content marketing. Without special instructions on what to do to grow your audience, marketers are left relying on dated techniques for growing their e-Commerce business.

If you want to utilize Instagram marketing for your company, you will need to update your strategies to keep up with the ever changing world. Once you master them, turning followers into conversions will be a breeze.

An E-Commerce Guide to Marketing on InstagramIs Your Audience on Instagram?

First things first, it’s important to understand who your audience is, and if they are even using Instagram to begin with.

For instance, if you’re catering to the over 50 crowd, you might want to consider a different approach. Most Instagram users are between the ages of 18 – 49.

There are other things of demographic importance too:

1. America make up a higher-than-average percentage of Instagram users

2. Instagram users are largely female

Understanding who is using Instagram is critical to know whether it makes sense for you to invest the time involved with managing an e-Commerce Instagram account.

However, for the majority of shops selling things online, Instagram is a valuable tool.

Tips for Marketing on Instagram

So, you want to learn about using Instagram for marketing? Here are the tips that will grow your Instagram following, drive site traffic and conversions, and help set yourself up for Instagram fandom.

Scope Out the Competition

When you are starting your e-Commerce Instagram journey you want to do it right, and that means looking to the competition.

First, make a list of your competitors. If you know your target market already, you can include brands that market to the same audience you do.

Take note of what their Instagram feed looks like:

1. What works for your competition to drive engagement?

2. Are they using certain colors, filters, stylistic choices?

3. How often are they posting?

4. When are they posting?

5. What hashtags are they using?

These are things to consider when scoping out the competition for Instagram marketing tips.

Create a Marketing Plan

When you create a plan for marketing on Instagram, it’s important to remember the significance of visual content online. Consistently, visual content outperforms other kinds of media.

Instagram is a platform entirely driven by visuals. The trick to leveraging visual content is to understand what types of visuals resonate with your audience.

There are several kinds of posts that perform well:

Influencer marketing: using images of influencers using or endorsing your brand

Behind-the-scenes content: images of what’s happening in day-to-day operations, images of your business giving back to the local community

User-focused marketing: this could be user-generated content in the form of a video testimonial, or an image asking users to do something like leave a review

Call-to-action posts: timely, relevant posts that request user engagement. These are important to any plan

Advice, tutorials and inspiration: whether fitness inspiration or a video tutorial, these types of posts enhance users lives, and so they perform well

When you create a marketing plan you need to base it on attainable metrics. Instead of saying: “I’m going to grow my following”, use specific language.

“I’m going to grow my following by 5,000 users in 90 days.” This is a better metric to follow.

Include an Instagram Style Guide

One of the most important facets in growing a successful Instagram marketing plan is you can’t stop at thinking about types of content to share. You also have to include what marketers refer to as a style guide.

Creating a style guide for Instagram means including standards for posting that can be replicated over and over again.

This guide, usually a document that’s a page or two, should include filters to use, colors to look for, type of shots you want to see on your account and more.

To some e-Commerce owners, this step may seem tedious, but it all amounts to is good branding.

When creating a style guide, think about:

1. Including your logo, how often and how will you accomplish this? By simply slapping your logo on a photo, or taking photos that include your logo in the background?

2. Decide if you want to have a signature filter, some bloggers use the same filter on every photo in their feed

3. Create a consistent format for how-to content and tutorials

4. If your logo has bright colors, try to find images with those colors to enhance brand recognition when marketing on Instagram

There’s no one right way to make a style guide, but your style should exude your brand. Spend some time thinking about what that means for you.

Select a Username & Write a Bio

Once you’ve done all the pre-planning work, it’s time to get started on your account.

The first step to creating the best Instagram account is to select the right username. You have to choose something that resonates well with your audience. The last thing you want to do is leave your target market scratching their heads. Something succinct that applies to your brand, like your brand name, is the best choice.

Once you’ve doubled down on the right name, create your bio. The bio is the single most important spot on your Instagram page. It’s the only place on the platform that offers the opportunity to backlink.

Read that again: It’s your only chance at conversions directly from Instagram to your website.

Your bio must be short and punchy. Describe your brand and use a call to action that entices people to click on the link.

Saying you are “a foodie with a passion for clean eating” is nowhere near as clickable as a bio that reads “New York Foodie offering clean eating tips to help you lose weight fast, click here.”

See the difference?

Grow Your Following

There are several known strategies for growing a following on Instagram. Here are some of the methods more popular to marketers.

Share-for-Share

When you implement a share-for-share approach you look for accounts that have a similar look-alike audience to yours with a similar number of followers.

Once you’ve identified a few accounts you want to interact with, it’s simple. Just reach out and ask.

When asking for a share-for-share, what you are really saying is: “If I share your post on my feed and ask my followers to follow you, will you do the same for me?”

InstaPod

Instagram pods are a good way to drive engagement with your posts and gain followers.

You can search on Facebook and other social platforms for Instagram pods related to your niche, or create one with accounts you’ve selected because of their audience similarity.

When you become a part of a pod, you are committing to commenting and liking the posts of others in that pod. Don’t worry, they will do the same for you.

Instagram’s feed algorithm favors engagement, so by getting with other business owners who have a similar goal, you can help one another grow.

Follow/Unfollow

This is a popular technique but be advised it’s a little annoying for Instagram users.

Instagram is not a platform that’s been fully leveraged by marketers, so this type of follow/unfollow program is still highly effective.

When you follow users who follow accounts similar to yours, you make yourself known to them because your account will pop in their notifications.

Often this inspires users to follow back. Meaning they will click on the button to follow your feed.

To get around this type of marketing, Instagram allows users to follow a finite number of accounts: 7,500. That means savvy marketers need to unfollow the accounts that don’t follow them back.

The annoying thing is that lots marketers will pretty much unfollow everyone regardless of whether or not the account followed them back.

That shows a lack of appreciation for the content of your followers and can be viewed as a bit of faux pas.

If you implement this approach, make sure you do it the right way.

Hashtags

Another common way to raise awareness and grow a following is through the strategic use of hashtags. On Instagram, hashtags are like your keywords, and are an important part of searching the platform.

For instance, if I search #catsofinstagram, I expect to see a bunch of cute, fuzzy kittens, not what you ate for breakfast.

Using hashtags correctly will put your content in front of people who are seeking it out, making it an awesome way to grow your audience.

Get Used to CTAs

Now, I know I said earlier that the bio link is the only backlink on the platform, and that’s true. However, when you send people to your website you can do that in two ways:

1. The super important bio backlink

2. Call-to-action (CTA) posts

Call-to-action posts were mentioned briefly above, but I’m going to stress their importance here.

A call-to-action is a phrase that tells your users to do something.

Since Instagram is driven by visual content, a call-to-action can really only exist in three places, and you should have call-to-actions in all three wherever appropriate for the content.

1. The bio

2. The body of an image

3. The comment on an image

Numbers 2 and 3 refer to what we call a call-to-action post. This can be a compelling image instructing people to head over to your newest blog (link in bio), or a comment to drive engagement.

Something like: “If you’re feeling the burn double tap now” in the comments.

Use Conversion Techniques

Using tried and true conversion techniques can help you gain more shoppers from Instagram. Here are a few we think you should try:

Change up your bio link: your one backlink can be changed as often as you like, keep it fresh to reflect a new blog post or product you are promoting that week

Make your posts shoppable: focus on products, product details and product photography, how-to’s, etc.

Work with influencers and affiliates: these are people who can help you sell your products

Do continuous hashtag research: to stay fresh, and also put branded hashtags in your bio

Utilize Instagram Stories: this is a relatively new feature that competes with Snapchat, content erases over 24 hours so use it to share timely insights from your fans or go live

Analyze Website Traffic

Instagram isn’t doing marketers any favors by not letting them track traffic. Luckily, most business owners are already using Google Analytics for much-needed insight, so small tweaks can help them track the source of a conversion.

UTM tracking is a process where you add a series of characters, i.e. a UTM code, to the back of a URL. This code will tell Google Analytics where your visitors came from.

Additionally, if you aren’t using Google Analytics, you can deploy a short link through Bitly and have limited tracking capabilities.

A Picture is Worth 10,000 Followers

That’s right. A picture is worth 10,00 followers. At least, it can be if you’d like to reach for the stars.

Your success marketing on Instagram starts and ends with you and the work you are willing to put into it.

So, before you go nose deep into Instagram planning, make sure your audience is there. Because once you start to form a plan it’s important to dedicate yourself to it if you are going to be successful.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t make changes if something isn’t working. In fact, you absolutely should track, analyze your results, and make changes as needed.

Instagram can be tricky, and you may not get it right on the first try, but there’s a wide range of users seeking products on Instagram. If you don’t capitalize on it, you could be losing big money.

For information on how to leverage Instagram for conversions and more tips like this, check out our free digital marketing review.

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Owner and Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Hall, and his team specialize in creating brand awareness / traffic and lead generation / marketing funnel and conversion optimization, while utilizing the appropriate marketing channels available within your industry. With diverse clients throughout the world, Jason's team is well connected within many industries to assist with your marketing strategies. With no long term contracts and various levels of service, Jason's team will increase the quality of your online traffic, leads, and sales.

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Located in the heart of the Emerald Coast - Destin, FL, founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Hall, and his team specialize in creating brand awareness / traffic and lead generation / marketing funnel and conversion optimization / and PR campaigns, while utilizing the appropriate marketing channels available within your industry.

With diverse clients throughout the world, Jason's team is well connected within many industries to assist with your marketing strategies. With no long term contracts and various levels of service, Jason's team will increase the quality of your online traffic, leads, and sales.

Jason Hall 5Channels.com

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