Social media used to be a shot in the dark for ecommerce brands.
Create a profile, try to foster engagement, and hope people navigate to an external store and buy things.
Engagement has gone from a vague concept (“look how many followers I have!”) to a measurable growth metric (segmented audiences with $-specific performance stats).
Instagram and Facebook, along with the other social media giants, have dramatically shortened the distance between brand and fan. Marketing has become a two-way conversation with smart brands and real people.
The latest change, though, is where leading social media platforms have separated themselves from other online experiences.
By introducing sales tools, platforms like Instagram have transformed the ecommerce landscape. So much so, in fact, that there’s actually a term for it – social commerce.
Pete Boyle defines Social Commerce as “the act of selling products directly through the social media network the user is currently using”.
Since Instagram is the undisputed leader in per-follower interaction (2.2% vs 0.22% on Facebook), Instagram represents a large, highly engaged audience.
It’s also arguably the most commerce-oriented user base of any social media platform.
As of 2015, 53% of Instagram users followed at least one brand – more than any other audience.
Instagram alone accounts for a huge slice of social commerce. If you need any more convincing, just look at how Instagram presents itself to new business users in its Getting Started Guide:
In this article, we’re going to look at the sales tools that make Instagram such a powerful platform for ecommerce brands.
More specifically, we’re going to focus on how to combine Instagram’s native sales tools and integrated third-party apps to create a clean, efficient sales funnel for your brand.
This should be your starting point for a sales-focused Instagram presence.
We’re not going to cover Instagram ads, influencer marketing, or affiliate sales strategies. These can be great tools to explore later, but first, you’ve got nail your basic sales structure.
3 sales tools you should be using
Before getting into advertising, influencer marketing, and affiliate strategies, you need to be familiar with the primary sales tools that Instagram offers. These are the building blocks of a successful sales-oriented brand presence.
We’ll get to the sales tools in a minute – first, make sure that you’ve switched your brand profile from “personal” to “business”. It’s a simple, but vital, process outlined here:
Making the switch will open up more advanced analytics tools and allow you to post your business information.
More importantly for us, though, you need to switch to a business profile in order to integrate with the third party apps we’re going to cover.
1. Shopping on Instagram
Instagram is a great ecommerce tool because it’s so visual. The leading brands on Instagram use a variety of content types – product photography, user-generated content, Instagram stories and video – because it creates a unique, 360-degree view of a product.
Instagram’s tools have taken that experience one level deeper and more cohesive.
Shopping on Instagram allows brands to tag multiple products individually in Shoppable Posts. Brands can tag up to 5 products per single-image post or up to 20 products per multi-image post.
It’s a great way to offer your audience a little more information with minimal intrusion – and hopefully nudge them towards a purchase.
It’s no surprise that Instagram has followed up sales-enable posts with Shoppable Stickers for Instagram Stories.
Stickers offer the same functionality – brands can tag products in the images or videos that make up their Stories. Since 95% of Instagrammers also use YouTube, it’s exciting that brands can now make their video content Shoppable.
In order to use Shopping on Instagram, you need to have a Facebook brand page and set up an Instagram business page – but you’ve already done that, right?
Pro tip: Only about 50% of brands use Instagram Stories. That means half of brands on Instagram are underutilizing a highly effective tool. If this is you, start using Stories and make them Shoppable!
2. Bio links
Spend a few minutes on Instagram and you’ll probably see “link in bio” numerous times in brands’ product-based posts. Here’s one from Ben and Jerry’s:
It’s referring to the only link you’ll see on any Instagram profile.
Sticking with Ben and Jerry’s, the above post is pointing viewers back to the link on the brand’s profile page:
Instagram allows users – business or individual – to post one link on its bio section at the top of the profile. This is the only clickable link you’ll see.
It’s hard to overstate how important this hyperlink is.
Think about it from a website or funnel perspective. It’s a profile’s single conduit to another page.
If your brand has a call-to-action (and it should) – then the bio link is where to put it.
For ecommerce brands, this usually means linking to an online store or specific product page.
Pro tip: Alter the link whenever you have a campaign promoting a specific product, pushing even casual browsers to click straight to that specific product’s sales page or checkout sequence.
3. Third-Party Apps (like Jumper)
The best Instagram posts generate engagement – likes, comments, and shares.
These reactions from fans are signals of intent, possibly buying intent. It’s specific members of your audience speaking up and saying “I’m interested in this!”.
In the early days of social media, that was the end of the conversation. Your interested fans would then have to seek out the featured product, somewhere, somehow.
It couldn’t be more different now. Instagram’s sales-aware approach allows brands to use tools that mold engagement into a responsive sales channel.
Now, I will say that the functionality is not as streamlined and perfected as Facebook, but there are signs that Instagram is moving in a similar direction to allowing direct checkouts from the platform itself.
Instagram’s rollout and testing of Instagram checkouts shows a willingness to offer direct checkout options.
We don’t think it will be too long before they open similar functionality for third-party apps as is already prevalent on Facebook and Messenger.
Not to mention the growing ecosystem of sales-oriented apps thast integrate with Instagram out there. Practical Ecommerce put together a shortlist of some of the popular options – you’ll probably recognize a few names from other Instagram brand profiles.
They all offer some version of ecommerce support. Some help create Shoppable Posts, others offer external stores and product galleries.
Most are pretty great solutions, however, they’re far from perfect. More often than not, they act as mere traffic referrers. Turning Instagram engagement into traffic to your regular store.
They don’t address the modern user’s need for a more streamlined checkout.
Users still have to navigate through what is often a complex multi-stage purchase journey on a regular store. Something which has a low, low conversion rate.
That’s where Jumper comes in.
Jumper is one of the few tools that streamlines the purchase journey by doing more than simply directing people to your store.
Jumper can use in post links (or bio links) to open an automated chat with the customer.
It might not sound like much, but it allows the user to engage in real-time with your brand. Something 82% of customers think is of paramount importance.
You can customize your Jumper automated chatbot to answer user questions and nurture them toward making a purchase decision.
The best bit is you can integrate Jumper with Instagram in just a few minutes as outlined in the video below.
Bring it all together
Your brand’s Instagram profile is much more than a bunch of nice photos.
Or at least it should be.
Just like your website, your Instagram profile should be designed to accomplish your business goals.
Before getting into advertising or advanced conversion strategies, you’ve got to ask yourself – is my brand’s page guiding my audience towards the right action, the right way?
Without getting the basics of your brand’s Instagram funnel right, you won’t get very far – no matter how much you spend on ads and affiliate marketing.
The three sales tools outlined above – Shopping on Instagram, bio links, and third-party apps – can be used individually. They’re much more powerful, though, when you integrate all three as part of cohesive sales strategy.
All three are designed to push your audience one step further along your sales funnel. Since you can’t process sales directly on Instagram, all three tools will direct your audience to an external site to complete any sales.
This brings up a potentially messy scenario – suddenly we’ve gone from thinking about Instagram engagement to managing multiple sites and tools.
The good news is that we’ve got something that can help keep things efficient for both you and your buyers.
Jumper is a chatbot that acts like a virtual sales assistant. It’s designed to walk a customer through the checkout process quickly and smoothly, collecting valuable contact info on the way.
Here’s an example of it in action on a recent Marvel campaign.
It’s more than just a checkout tool, though.
Since many brands maintain a multi-channel presence, Jumper can be used to pull independent funnels and sites together without the need for more human management.
Without a tool like Jumper, the gaps between channels – like your brand’s Instagram profile and Shopify store – are significant.
You need your potential buyers to shift from one channel to another. In a busy, distracted world, that’s a lot to ask.
On Instagram, Jumper still takes your buyers off your profile – but only momentarily, and directly to a checkout chat sequence on the Instagram app.
The alternative usually involves sending your customer to a storefront page or product listing and asking them to complete the sale themselves.
Think about your experiences with helpful sales assistants versus browsing through a big, empty department store. Only one is quick, easy, and satisfying.
Since Jumper is aimed at moving interested people from a specific product to a sale, it’s best used in conjunction with a promotion or single product-focused campaign.
How to set up Jumper for Instagram
Step 1: Select Sales Channels > Instagram on your Jumper dashboard
Log into your jumper account. Select Sales Channels > Instagram from the left sidebar.
Step 2: Select the chat method you wish to use
At the top of the page you’ll see two options.
- Website links
- Messenger links
If you go with website links, you’ll redirect users who click on that link to that product’s page your dedicated Jumper store (as seen below).
If you go with Messenger links, then when the link is clicked the user’s Messenger app will open and the checkout chat will continue there.
Step 3: Paste the relevant code into the relevant space on Instagram
For a “link in bio”, insert your Jumper product link from Step 2 into your Instagram bio.
To get there, click on your profile and select the gear icon to edit. Here’s what you should see:
To use an Instagram Story, select the camera icon at the top left of your Instagram homepage (make sure you’re on the home page, not your profile page).
From there, you can create a new picture or video, or select one from the last 24 hours.
Here’s a quick example:
Keep in mind, Instagram only allows accounts with over 10,000 followers to insert clickable links into their stories.
If you don’t meet that requirement yet, you can still install Jumper on your ecommerce store or Facebook page and link your buyers through an Instagram story.
What are you waiting for? Start selling!
Instagram is a lot more than pretty pictures. The platform’s ecommerce tools combined with the right third-party apps can create a cohesive, all-in-one experience for your buyers.
Instagram’s growing audience doesn’t show any signs of slowing down yet. At the same time, Facebook – Instagram’s parent company – is continuing to deploy bigger and better ecommerce tools for all its platforms (Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram).
You need to approach your Instagram profile as another marketing and sales channel. Before getting into advanced sales strategies that involve paid ads, influencers, or affiliates, you need to take advantage of the sales tools designed for your page.
Combine Instagram’s Shoppable features, your profile link, and the right third-party sales app, and you’ll create a powerful, fundamental sales funnel that will lead to quick sales directly on your Instagram sales page – without spending a dime.
Don’t miss out. Instagram is quickly turning into an ecommerce rocket ship – is your brand on board?