Instagram is no longer an optional channel for ecommerce marketing.
With over 1 billion active users since June 2018, Instagram is now among the key platforms for businesses of all sizes and locations.
Instagram’s power goes beyond simply reaching and interacting with your audience—it also influences their purchase behavior:
- The average order value for customers referred from Instagram is $65
- 75% of Instagram users have taken an action—such as visiting a website—after looking at an Instagram advertising post
- Instagram users are 70% more likely to make mobile purchases
Instagram also launched a shopping feature in 2017 allowing ecommerce marketers to feature clickable products directly in Instagram posts. Now, as many as 90 million accounts on Instagram tap on a shopping post to learn more about products every month.
However, since Instagram definitely didn’t start out as a place to market and sell products, ecommerce businesses still have to work around some limitation in order to make the most of the platform.
In this guide, we’re breaking down native Instagram marketing tools, and suggesting some more that will help you bring your products in front of your perfect audience.
Instagram’s native marketing tools for ecommerce
Firstly, we’ll dive into some key native features of Instagram that can be used to market your online store.
The wide variety of Instagram content formats
First, we only had Instagram photos.
Then, we got videos, Instagram stories as Snapchat’s meanest competitor, Instagram live, and even a YouTube alternative—IGTV—as ways to convey our message to the world.
The main advantage: You can create content that suits pretty much any type of content consumer.
In other words, the better you know your audience segments, the better your content strategy will get—and Instagram provides you with multiple places and formats to deliver that content.
There’s a part of your audience that prefers reading over watching a video? Write long post captions daily. Others prefer bite-sized instructional videos? Go with stories. And for those that prefer real-time interactions? Live video is ideal.
Knowing your audience’s preferences will ensure you’re investing your time where it makes the most sense.
The main disadvantage: It can take some time to figure out exactly what it is that works for your audience—and to show up in front of them.
The key thing to remember is that on Instagram, patience is everything—and it pays off.
It’s a crowded space and many things beyond just your content must fall into place for you to reach your people—time of day, hashtag usage, algorithm, and more—so make sure you don’t quit too early.
The power of Instagram Stories
Instagram stories deserve a separate mention for many reasons. They are now a daily destination for more than 400 million accounts globally, and one-third of the most viewed stories are from businesses.
Instagram stories have also increased the amount of time users spend on the platform.
The main advantage: Instagram stories hook your followers with easily digestible, 15-second format, take them into your world and show them otherwise hidden parts of your business.
They are incredibly versatile, with the opportunity to share behind-the-scenes photos and videos and daily updates in order to remain top of mind of your followers.
On top of that, you can poll your audience, get them to ask you questions, play with filters and GIFs, leverage hashtags and mentions, share locations, and drive key engagements.
The main disadvantage: Not everyone has the ability to add links to stories, thus making it harder to measure their impact on sales.
Right now, the ‘swipe up’ feature to add links to stories is only available to accounts with over 10,000 followers, so most businesses have to send viewers to their profile or website to take action.
Nevertheless, stories remain a powerful driver of engagement.
The Instagram shopping feature
Instagram shopping undoubtedly started a revolution for ecommerce businesses on Instagram.
After only having the link in profile option for years, online stores can now feature up to five clickable products per image. Once they tap on it, your potential customers are taken to a product description page on Instagram where they can tap ‘View on Website’ and make a purchase on your mobile site.
The main advantage: Ecommerce businesses are no longer limited to the “Click the link in profile” strategy of sending shoppers to their store.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that your posts should only consist of your products—but they can be naturally weaved into the stories you tell with your posts.
So even though we probably don’t come to Instagram to shop, we sure love to purchase something we like when we see it. In fact, Noelle Sadler, the VP of marketing for Lulus, said they can attribute more than 1,200 orders and over 100K sessions to the Instagram shopping feature.
The main disadvantage: Instagram shopping is limited to around 45 countries.
The full list of countries is available in Instagram’s setup guide.
We have good news, though: you can sell directly from Instagram with jumper. Frictionless, instant, and conversational—without ever getting them to leave the Instagram app.
Plus, it works even if Instagram shopping isn’t available in your country. You can learn more and get started right here, in a matter of minutes.
Hashtags as Instagram’s discovery tool
Every non-celebrity on Instagram has to find a way to show up in front of their ideal followers and customers, and hashtags are essentially the only way to achieve that early on.
With up to 30 hashtags in each post, you can keep reaching new audiences for your shop’s Instagram account even when you’ve already gained momentum.
The main advantage: Hashtags show specificity, interest, and intent. Using relevant hashtags means you’re filtering out the wrong people, and attracting the right ones.
Not just that—you can use hashtags to proactively look for people interested in your niche, engage with their content, and increase your shot at being seen both by them and people similar to them.
The main disadvantage: Hashtags you believe are relevant might already be so overused that you only show up in the hashtag feed for a few seconds.
This is especially the case if you go for a general industry hashtag. For example, the #makeup hashtag has almost 200 million posts, while #makeuppassion has just over 200 thousand. If this is your niche, you have a much higher chance of showing up when using the longer, more specific hashtag.
Best tools to manage your account and drive sales on Instagram
As you can tell by now, Instagram is doing a lot to empower ecommerce owners to market and sell to their audiences.
However, there are still many challenges:
- It can be difficult to gain initial momentum to reach an audience that matters to you
- You can’t always know for sure which posts encouraged sales
- There might be limitations in features due to your follower count or location
- Managing an account as a team isn’t the easiest, especially compared to Facebook
Luckily, there are Instagram tools that can help you accelerate your growth, make your account easy to manage, and enable you to sell more on Instagram.
As we just mentioned, hashtags can be quite a tough cookie to crack.
It’s not just about finding hashtags that won’t drown your content in the sea of other posts, but also knowing which ones are monitored and liked by influencers, which hashtags generate the best engagement, and how they change and progress over time.
This is where the Hashtagify tool can be of huge help.
You can enter hashtags you’ve found through standard Instagram search and:
- Look at all-time and daily trends
- See the average engagement per hashtag
- Top influencers using the hashtag
- Top related hashtags
You can then set up hashtags you want to continually monitor so that you can always keep your list of hashtags to use on Instagram up-to-date.
Hashtagify plans start at $19/month and have a free trial available.
Instagram is an incredibly visual platform. However, it doesn’t quite enable you to make sure your posts are visually cohesive and tell a complete story. Instead, it gives you an option to upload one photo or video at a time without taking your existing feed into consideration.
This is where Later comes to rescue:
Later is a visual scheduling tool for Instagram. Instead of just letting you fill out your time slots with posts, it actually shows you what all your planned posts will look like alongside each other once they’re posted.
It gets even better: you can add your images into a media library and create posts from them, as well as drag-and-drop your posts around your feed until you’re happy with the layout.
Later offers both free and paid plans, so make sure you check them out.
Engagement on Instagram is great, but it doesn’t make you money unless there’s a sale that follows.
Instagram shopping partially solves this problem as it enables products to be tapped on so that the user can learn more and eventually purchase from the website.
It’s the best of both worlds: visually pleasing imagery connected to the ability to buy the products on it.
However, if your country isn’t yet on the list of those included in Instagram shopping, or if your mobile site isn’t yet optimized for easy purchasing, you’re back to square one.
That’s why we built jumper: to enable every single interaction on Instagram to turn into a purchase.
If you’ve built your content strategy for Instagram based on everything we discussed so far, it’s now time to turn your reach and engagement into sales.
Here’s how jumper works: when a user comments on your post with a specified product hashtag or swipe up on your story, they receive a message from your business—all automated. These messages take them through the purchase, including quantities, colors, shipping address, and payment.
There are no apps to download or websites to visit—it all happens natively within the app, quickly and frictionless.
You can start turning your Instagram into sales in the matter of minutes with a free jumper account.
Do you have a team that helps you market your ecommerce business? This section is for you.
Because unlike on the native Instagram app, Hootsuite lets you collaborate with your team through assigning messages to team members, planning campaigns across multiple accounts, and engaging with followers using a single integrated workflow.
From the Hootsuite dashboard you can also:
- Monitor your competitors’ activity
- Follow relevant hashtags to engage with people who use it
- Create your own branded hashtag and never miss a post that uses it
- Set up user search streams for profiles of influencers
Hootsuite plans start at $19/month and come with a free trial.
While the analytics available for Instagram business profiles are quite solid, they might not be enough for you if you’re an advanced marketer used to in-depth reporting.
Iconosquare is an Instagram and Facebook analysis and management tool that gives you a deep understanding of the times to post your content, your audience’s demographic breakdown, and the real-time performance of each post or story.
One of my favorite things about Iconosquare is the depth of graphs and visualizations—something I’m really missing on Instagram as the insights are only visible on a limited-size smartphone screen.
Iconosquare plans start at €29/month and you can take it for a test drive with a free trial.
Over to you
If you’re still on the fence about going all in with marketing your online store on Instagram, now it’s time to do it.
With both native and third-party tools in your toolkit, you can:
- Find hashtags that will draw the right people toward you and get influencers to spread your message
- Maintain an attractive and cohesive Instagram profile
- Turn conversations and connections with your audience into sales and profit
- Monitor your industry, including hashtags, competitors, and your own performance, to build a long-lasting Instagram strategy
Remember you can get a free jumper account here to start selling from your Instagram profile instantly (pssst—the first 10 transactions are on us!)
Happy Instagram selling!