28 min read
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Updated: September 29, 2022

How To Use Instagram For Ecommerce Marketing

How to Use Your Instagram Account to Grow Your Ecommerce Business

What started out as a simple app for sharing photos in 2010, has skyrocketed into a colossal user-generated content company, with an estimated value of $102 billion. Today, we associate Instagram with celebrities, memes, influencers, and eCommerce advertising.

Influencers such as actor Dwayne Johnson earn as much as $1,015 000 per sponsored post—and that’s just one individual!

Roughly 69% of American marketers invest the bulk of influencer budgets on Instagram. There are even Instagram-first companies, meaning they spend their entire marketing budget exclusively on the social media platform.

The cost-per-click on Instagram is comparatively low, ranging from $0.50 to $3.50. As a marketing tool, an Instagram business account offers impressive capabilities for brands to advertise products.

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Why is Instagram Important for Ecommerce?

Instagram using statistics

Instagram has over 500 million active users. 80% of them follow an Instagram business account, and over 200 million users visit more than one business profile daily.

If major brands are taking advantage of Instagram’s Shop functionality, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t leverage it to reach a wider audience.

Instagram shipping offers your Instagram followers an immersive storefront where they can explore your products.

In 2020, the social media platform launched a range of features specifically designed to improve the purchasing process, which includes the ability to:

  • Create customizable business pages with online store functionality;
  • Add products tags with brand and price details to encourage shopping;
  • Complete the shopping process without leaving the app;
  • Sell products directly from influencers’ posts; and
  • Produce live product presentations to convert new followers in real-time.

Instagram is a revenue-generating resource for new and established eCommerce stores. 44% of people use Instagram shops to make weekly purchases. It’s about time you captured your market share, too!

How to Set Up an Instagram Shop

How to set up a shop in Instagram

1. Meet The Eligibility Requirements

First things first, an Instagram Shop can only be used to sell physical products. And only businesses that comply with Instagram’s eCommerce policies qualify.

You have to be located in a country with access to the Instagram Shop feature and have the latest version of the app. You also have to have an Instagram business account, which provides you with access to Instagram ads and insights.

Lastly, you must own a Facebook Business account and Facebook page that’s linked to your Instagram account.

2. Add your Product Catalog to your Facebook Shop

Once your Instagram and Facebook accounts are connected, you need to create a Facebook shop and sync your product catalog to it.

There are two ways to connect:

  1. Catalog Manager: You’ll find this within Facebook Business Manager.
  2. eCommerce Platform Partner: You can integrate it through certified eCommerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce.

3. Submit Your Account for Review

After connecting your Facebook shopping catalog, submit your account for review by:

  1. Going to your Instagram business profile and tapping on the menu icon;
  2. Selecting “settings”;
  3. Signing up for “shopping”; and
  4. Following the steps to submit your account for review.
  5. You can visit “Shopping” in your “settings” to check on your review status.

Note: Account reviews take a few days, sometimes longer. Occasionally, businesses have to provide additional information to prove they own their website domain. If this happens to you, just complete the domain verification process as instructed.

4. Turn on Shopping

To turn on shopping features once your account is verified, do the following:

  1. Go to Instagram “settings” and tap “business” and then “shopping”;
  2. Select the “product catalog” that you wish to connect your account to; then
  3. Finally, tap “done.”

Your Instagram Shop will now appear on your Instagram profile page.

Different Types of Instagram Video Marketing

Videos in Instagram

It’s crazy, but video represents 80% of all internet traffic! As a visual medium, it engages users better and evokes stronger emotions compared to text.

We’re not saying ditch blogging, but just be aware that Instagram is first and foremost a visual platform, and Instagram videos get customers excited about your brand (Blogging is just as effective elsewhere.)

Instagram Video

In October 2021, Instagram ditched IGTV and rebranded it “Instagram Video.” Its in-stream video ads shifted to Reels.

Instagram video posts are added the same way images are posted. Either you record using the platform’s built-in camera, or can upload a video from your photo library.

Its features include trimming tools, filters, and the ability to tag people and locations. Users can preview videos for 60 seconds, except for ads, which preview for 15 seconds.

Videos can be up to 60 minutes long, providing creative freedom unavailable on competing platforms, except YouTube.

Once posted, Instagram users can engage with likes and comments, and share videos in Stories and direct messages.

Instagram feed videos display in user feeds as well as on your Instagram account profile page. They are best for promoting a product or service. H&M’s Pride Month commercial is a good example.

Stories

500 million people use Instagram Stories every day. On average, each user spends at least 30 minutes on the Instagram app.

Stories let eCommerce businesses share photos and videos (their own and user-generated) throughout the day with stickers, doodles, and music. Together, these photos form an animated slideshow that stays up for 24 hours. Afterwards, you can save it as a highlight on your profile.

With branded Instagram Stories, retailers can promote sales and discounts and inform customers about topics related to the products they offer. It’s also possible to conduct polls. While these may be entertaining, they’re also valuable target market research.

Instagram Live

This feature lets online stores broadcast videos to fans in real-time via Instagram Stories. The difference between Facebook’s Livestreams and Instagram’s is that Instagram’s are temporary and disappear when the broadcast is over. In some ways, this offers increased exclusivity.

While Instagram Live may not be the most effective channel to increase revenue, it does provide the possibility of direct contact with customers. Events, product reviews, launch announcements, and Q&As are all suitable for this channel.

Viewers can also interact directly with the Livestream broadcaster via comments and questions, which is really great for brand engagement!

Reels

As Instagram’s alternative to TikTok, Reels is Meta’s attempt to reach Gen Z. This latest integration allows users to make 15-30 second video clips set to music.

Reels are less formal and more enjoyable. For instance, Starbucks’ reels are a fun combination of internet jokes and promotional content.

These short videos are simple to create and an excellent method to reach a wider target audience, especially when businesses adhere to trending hashtags or contests to develop related content.

It is possible to create something truly original and go viral with these creative videos.

What about Instagram Guides for Ecommerce?

Types of Instagram guides

Instagram Guides really don’t get enough mention and are vastly underrated. They’re like miniature blogs (a cross between image carousels and blog posts) and can be used to curate gift guides, make product highlights and content roundups, provide travel recommendations, etc.

For example, Luxury fashion label Prada utilizes guides to advertise new season lookbooks.

Each Instagram guide includes a cover image, a title, an introduction, and optional descriptions for entries.

There are three types of guides—products, places, and posts.

  • Products is for showcasing products from your Instagram store. You can create tutorials, listicles, etc. For example, Top Father’s Day Gift Ideas.
  • Places is for sharing travel or location-related content. For instance, you could share a road trip itinerary of the best hotels in x location. Travel and tourism content works well with this type of guide. For example, The Best Museums in New York.
  • Posts is for commentary, articles, or any actionable tips you want to share with people interested in your brand. For example, The Six Best Stretches After Running.

Instagram product guides are excellent for influencer marketing. They can promote your products by sharing your guides on their stories, as well as feature items on their in-feed posts.

Overall, guides are best for content marketing (not direct sales) and can also be used to drive traffic back to a specific business page on your eCommerce site.

How to Use Instagram to Grow Your Ecommerce Store

Brands like Warby Parker, GymShark and Tiffany & Co have used Instagram to fuel their eCommerce success and influencer their followers.

Here’s how you can leverage your Instagram business account to achieve greater sales.

Instagram Link Stickers

Purchases in Instagram

70% of users who see appealing items in Instagram Stories make purchases. Instagram lets brands place external links to their Instagram stories with link stickers. These replaced “swipe up” links in 2021.

Link stickers make it easy to drive traffic to external content and products on Instagram. The best news is you can track link taps with Instagram analytics.

Stickers allow viewers to actively engage with your Stories with replies and reactions and offer more creative control over how your story looks, compared to the previous “swipe up” feature.

Post Consistently

Like other social media platforms, Instagram has algorithms. A publishing routine boosts your reach and increases the chances of your Instagram posts getting noticed, particularly in the case of increasing the organic reach of your content.

There’s no set rule as to often you should post, but we’d recommend between 3-7 times a week. Not too long ago, social media management software app Hootsuite published an article with Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri, who recommended posting two feed posts per week and two Stories per day if you want to build a solid following.

Create Client Testimonials

95% of customers read online reviews before buying. Instagram stories are great for sharing customer reviews. You can also create an ongoing testimonial showcase on your page for users to check out at any point.

Instagram Stories, highlights, and posts are also popular ways to share reviews. Asking for permission to repost a review or story is the best way to engage with your following while encouraging others to leave reviews.

Don’t just repost a review screenshot. Create attractive graphics and layouts to showcase the review and the product. Some Instagram eCommerce accounts create Story highlights for potential customers to view. Customers love reading social proof, and keeping all your reviews in one place helps a lot.

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Instagram and Influencer Marketing

Instagram is an excellent platform for influencer marketing because it offers the highest reach. Despite having a smaller base than Facebook, it is far more engaged. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, which analyzed 1,000,000 influencer profiles across social media platforms, Instagram has the highest interaction rate.

You can partner with micro-influencers and superstar celebrities. We’d be lying if we said it didn’t come down to budget because it mostly does. Reputable influencers will likely be represented by an agency that will take a cut of their marketing fee.

There are also niche influencers or fledging content creators who want to get into the influencer market and would possibly work for a trade exchange or lower rates.

Things to Consider When Finding an Influencer

Naturally, there are a couple of points to think about:

  • Niche: The influencer should fit your target audience niche. For instance, if you’re an organic product seller, you’ll likely choose an influencer who has a healthy lifestyle, like a sportsperson or business person.
  • Reach: How important the size of the influencer’s followers is, depends on your campaign goal. For example, a celebrity is great to raise brand awareness, but a micro-influencer might be better to drive sales.
  • Voice: Think about who your influencer is and how they fit into your brand. Do you need someone who has a sense of humor or is more serious? How old should they be, and how do you want your audience to perceive their affiliation with your brand?

Determine a Collaboration Structure

Like all marketing plans, you need a strategy and KPIs. We recommend signing some type of agreement to formalize how you’ll work with influencers. This protects everyone and keeps them happy.

  • Timeframe: To avoid having to follow up a dozen times, set a timeline from the beginning that outlines expectations.
  • Content production: Have a clear idea of the kind of content you want them to produce. The last thing you need is for them to create something different from what you had in mind. Some businesses have very strict guidelines about the format and product placement; others are laxer. We suggest you communicate this clearly beforehand and put it in writing!
  • Content usage rights: Always request full usage rights if you want to use an influencer’s content in ads or testimonials, etc. You may have to negotiate this with them.
  • Compensation: Some influencers charge a flat rate per post or content piece, while others are paid based on performance. Again, you’ll have to figure out the fine print. However, you should always be prepared to make a monetary payment.

Decide on Campaign Type

Your campaign goals will usually determine the types of posts you want influencers to create:

  • Sponsored posts: With these, you pay influencers to create content on behalf of your brand. They’re expected to tag posts that are “sponsored” and comply with Instagram disclosure agreements.
  • Competitions: Here you send free products to influencers, and they run giveaway contests.
  • Reviews: This content is self-explanatory, but you basically pay influencers to review your products.
  • Branded content: This entails sharing posts through your Instagram eCommerce profile, but you feature influencers in the content. So, essentially, you have greater creative control.

How to Engage Instagram Users: Paid vs. Organic Posts

Besides the monetary aspect, the most significant difference between paid and organic Instagram content is that organic posts show up on the feeds of those who already follow you, whereas paid content will help you reach a larger, targeted audience.

It’s also possible to “boost” organic posts. This is an effective strategy when shoppable posts perform really well.

One isn’t superior to the other because they have different purposes. Organic social media builds your eCommerce brand and engages existing followers, while paid content attracts new followers who might not have found you otherwise.

Types of Posts

Tips for Paid Content

Organic algorithms are challenging, which is why you should always invest in Instagram ads. According to Instagram insights, 50% of people are more interested in a brand after seeing ads for it on the platform.

Below are some branded content tips:

  • Keep your advertisements simple. Showcase the product and have a strong call to action. Remember, potential customers are quickly scrolling through feeds, so you have milliseconds to grab their attention.
  • Target the right audience at the right time. You can narrow down audience segments according to location, interests, and demographics. Restaurants, for instance, will time their ads to hit feeds just before lunch or dinner.
  • Optimize your ads. From clear CTAs to succinct messaging, and A/B testing. Always make sure your ads achieve what they’re set out to do. Moreover, choose the right ones! There are Story ads, feed ads, carousel ads, and collection ads to help get your products in front of the right audience.

Tips for Organic Content

While consistency is key, there are still a few things you need to know to generate sales from organic posts.

  • Don’t hard sell! Organic shopping posts should focus on sharing valuable content. Aim to get your audience to know you, trust you, and feel like they resonate with your brand. User-generated content is also a great source of authentic material for your brand.
  • Build communities and partnerships. Occasionally, it’s possible to collaborate with other brands. For example, let’s say you’re a thrift store, and you do a photoshoot where the models use products from a small beauty brand. This is a win-win for both companies!
  • Keep your visuals consistent. Actually, before you post any visual or video content, make sure you’ve decided on your brand’s visual identity. You want your branding on your Instagram account to be instantly recognizable and consistent across all social media channels.

What to Know About the Instagram Algorithm

Instagram’s algorithms are constantly changing. An algorithm is basically a set of rules and signals that help the platform rank content. It analyzes every piece of content posted on the Instagram app, taking relevant hashtags, metadata, and engagement metrics into account.

Interest, relationship, and timeliness are the three main factors that affect where and how your post is shown to Instagram users.

Our trusted partner Shopify has written extensively on 2022 algorithm updates. To put it succinctly: engagement is key!

The platform considers how likely users are to comment, like, save, spend time, or tap on a profile.

When planning your content (more so organic Instagram feed content), ask yourself:

  • Are these Instagram posts likely to be commented on or liked?
  • Will users save these posts and come back to them?
  • Do the posts include a strong CTA, that will prompt sales or conversions?

There isn’t really a cookie-cutter “hack” to win at Instagram, besides just investing in good marketing practices like using appropriate product tags and trending hashtags when applicable.

If you create content with the above questions in mind, you’re on the right track to working with the Instagram algorithm.

How Do You measure Instagram Marketing ROI?

When we think of traditional ROI, we correlate it with a monetary value. Yet, in the digital marketing world, there is both tangible and intangible ROI.

Non-monetary metrics include social influence, brand awareness, and the emotional sentiments loyal followers have towards your company.

Measuring intangible Instagram metrics is tough because the output isn’t always clearly defined. The best way to measure this is by having set KPIs.

To give you a simplified example, you might decide that you want to increase your brand’s engagement rate by 20%, which is a tangible ROI. When evaluating this goal, you’ll assess things like comments, shares, and saves.

Then, of course, there’s a simple formula to help calculate monetary ROI:

(Value achieved – costs) / costs x 100 = Instagram ROI

If the number you reach exceeds 0, then your investment is paying off. If it’s lower than 0, it means your costs outweigh the “profits” generated.

The most important Instagram metrics to measure include; reach, sales, engagement rate, Stories views, Reels engagement, traffic, saves, and shares.

As you can see, it is specific and technical, which is why it may worthwhile hiring a digital agency to help your Instagram business account reach its full potential!

Conclusion

The majority of Instagram users are on the social media platform at least once a day. eCommerce businesses have much to gain from Instagram shopping, most notably, improving their bottom lines!

Here at Comrade Web Digital Marketing Agency, we specialize in helping eCommerce companies maximize their reach by implementing proven digital marketing strategies.

If you require assistance from an expert with your Instagram shopping and marketing strategy, get in touch with our team. We offer free complimentary consultations to determine the best to create leads on Instagram.

Instagram FAQs

Is Instagram Good for Ecommerce?

Instagram is an excellent channel to drive more sales. Its built-in eCommerce capabilities make it easy to sell your products online and reach your target audience. Brands that use Instagram experience a 1,416% increase in traffic and a 20% boost in revenue.

How Do I Set Up Ecommerce on Instagram?

Instagram Shopping is free. You just need to connect your Facebook business page and Instagram business profile. Log into your Instagram profile. Tap open the menu in the upper-right hand corner and then tap “Settings.” Select “Business” and tap “Set Up Instagram Shopping Link” to get started.

Which Ecommerce Platform is Best for Instagram?

Most popular eCommerce platforms like Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, and WordPress have integrated functionality or plugins that connect with Instagram and allow you to sell there. You can also visit our WooCommerce development services page to learn more.

Can I Sell Products Directly on Instagram?

With Instagram eCommerce, you can sell through posts, Stories, live streams, and paid ads when you have a Shoppable Instagram page. While you don’t even need a website, we’d strongly advise using both your website and Instagram business profile to drive sales.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where do you operate?

Comrade originates in Chicago, but we worked all around the United States. We can help your business grow and increase revenue whenever you are. We have offices across most major cities in the US. For example, we can offer digital marketing services in Austin or Cincinnati. You can even find our internet marketing experts in Denver! If you want to know more about our Miami digital marketing agency or find out how exactly we can help you, contact us via the phone or email.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you would like to discuss your project, reach out to our specialists.

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About the Author
Stan Bogdashin
Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
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