Instagram’s known for engagement. Some 4x that of Facebook. But what you don’t know is how it excels at driving product sales, too.
Quick, without looking — what’s your mobile conversion rate? A paltry 1.55% on average?
Compare that to the 30%+ of Instagram users who purchase products on their mobile device. (Which places them at 70% more likely to do mobile purchases than non-Instagrammers.)
Instagram users also spend the most coin per order, too. Their $65 bucks per order is more than Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Oh. And mobile-first Instagram is also killing the competition in driving ad revenues, outpacing both Google and Twitter (Despite only being around a fraction of the same time).
Not bad for a platform that didn’t even exist before 2010. Discover how to start selling more products today by following these five eCommerce Instagram ad strategy steps.
1. Start with Audience Targeting
The first step in any social ad campaign is to first select your objective.
That’s poignant because there are some things that stand the test of time, no matter what year it is or what platform we’re talkin’.
The two biggest drivers of your conversion rate include:
Instagram ads feature the same interest-based targeting you’d use on Facebook to reach new audiences who’ve never been to your website or even engaged with your profile before.
So you’d take a similar approach, layering in different demographics and interests and exclusions until you arrive at an audience size that fits within your budget.
There’s a common pitfall if you’re not careful. It’s like a hidden landmine that’s out of sight, out of mind.
“This is going to sound a bit complex, but it’s the blueprint we use at KlientBoost and continues to work very well:
For lookalike and saved audiences (not custom ones), always consider that what you’re asking your target audience to do is not going to get a conversion on the first impression.
You’re much better off asking for a smaller request first, and then use your thank you page, email, and new custom audiences to push those converters on to the next step towards your core conversion goal.”
He’s referring to the potential threat people feel when you use a bottom of the funnel offer (like a product sale) to a brand new, cold audience who lacks that intent.
So instead of leading with the new $100 pair of jeans to cold, top of the funnel audiences, go with a newsletter opt-in first.
If you sell product subscriptions, your first step is to simply get the app install.
Then once you’ve got them on the hook, come back later when they’re ready to reel them in with a purchase (seamlessly switching over to custom audience targeting and updating the offers you’re sending them).
Not exactly sure exactly what’s going to work best?
Test your potential creative organically first, before coming back to double down with your ad budget.
2. Test Your Creative & Products Organically Before Doubling Down with Paid
That’s the rule of thumb, anyway.
Of course, that’s also not enough.
You’re eventually going to need to show products and scenery to move the needle.
But how do you know which creative works best? How do you know?
The short answer is you don’t. Not until you test it first.
That’s what Walls Need Love struggled with initially, too. They started off strong by partnering with influencers to create excellent content (more on that in the next section).
But then they ran into a wall (pun intended) when it came time to pour gas (spend) on the fire (ads).
So they took to their organic following, first, running new ad creative variations across them before watching the analytics for discernable trends to pluck out.
That’s when their analytics team figured out that “light and air pictures get the most likes on Instagram.”
So that’s what they went for:
Those all look pretty “light and airy” to me!
Turns out, marketing ain’t that hard after all. See what your audience wants and then give it to them.
But this is just scratching the surface.
Let’s go all-in, bypassing the eCommerce store entirely to see which products sell best.
Smack Store lists a Whatsapp number in their bio that people can use to send a direct message to buy products instantly.
Check out MadeWell’s Instagram bio to see something similar.
See a look or product you like while scrolling through their feed?
Simply click on their Like2Buy link…
… and boom:
The same exact feed, but shoppable.
Now you can see which products get the most views and purchases before embarking on a big paid campaign.
The best part? You can go back to create lookalike audiences based off who’s interacting with your Like2Buy store.
3. You Can Double Down on Influencers, Too
People find new products in one of two ways.
Both of which illustrated on the far left of Google’s Customer Journey to Online Purchase visualization:
People find new products through display ads and social. Those two things just so happen to be blending together right now, too.
The solution? Branded content.
Still advertising, albeit through indirect partnerships to increase brand awareness and distribution.
Get your feet wet with BrandSnob, a DIY tool to search from over 2,000 influencers that can expose you to 350,000,000 Instagram followers.
Getting started is as easy as they come. Download the app, swipe left or right like you’re looking for your next Tinder date, and negotiate with the influencer on the terms or payment.
One level up the influencer food chain is the Tribe Group which inverts the process, having brands (that’s you) submit information that the influencers can then decide if you’re their type (or not).
Once again, costs are extremely affordable considering the distribution. Pay per post (or pay for a few posts) to see which creative or products take off. (Before later retargeting those influencer’s fans who checked you out.)
Last but not least, Whalar provides access to the cream of the influencer crop. These are self-described “Pro Influencers” (as if there was such a thing) who tend to be a little more choosy between brands and campaigns to partner with.
4. Hone in on Your Audience(s)
Most product companies have multiple audiences.
They have multiple personas or customer segments that each buy different products for different reasons.
That’s a problem.
Because it means that you’re going to need to target multiple audiences for your ad campaigns, too.
A single custom audience (in the next step) is fruitless if it’s full of these competing interests.
Fortunately, there are a few solutions.
The first is an OCD-level hierarchy. For example, go ahead and Google “Gap Instagram” right now, I dare you.
‘Cause you’re gonna see something nuts that resembles this:
I think their Instagram profiles might even have their own Instagram profiles, too.
But there is some logic when you dig deep.
Check out Gap Kids for example:
Exactly what you’d expect, right?!
The content is extremely well tailored for a very specific audience. So it works. (Despite all of the extra admin hassle on the backend.)
This also helps you laser target ad campaigns for both interest-based audiences (see #1) and custom ones for product purchases (#5 below).
Compare that last example to this adult Gap version to immediately notice the difference:
The products are wildly different, as is the mood and stylistic, creative decisions.
This is an example of funnel segmentation at its finest, isolating the variables to help you segment audiences as soon as they give you an indication of which camp they’re in (parents searching for young kids or adult searching for… ugly 90’s clothing?!).
That click, profile engagement, product view, or website visit is the trigger you need to take your ad campaigns to the next level.
5. Now Segment Audiences to Go for the Kill
You’ve been laying the groundwork for four steps so far.
Instagram is similar to big brother Facebook like that. Seduction and foreplay need to fill the void left in the absence of intent.
But now you’ve done it. The hard work is finished.
“Developing an Instagram ecommerce strategy has to rest on a foundation of organic engagement. While Instagram is one of the few social platforms that loves branded content and product posts, it, unfortunately, has notoriously low conversion rates from clickthroughs.
For ads, combining your Instagram engagements with Facebook marketing takes advantage of Facebook’s native selling capabilities and higher onsite conversion rates.
You can do this either through (1) retargeted ads from people who visit your site through an Instagram story or ad or (2) by creating a custom audience based on Instagram engagement.”
And there it is. The coup de grâce.
Digital advertising’s saving grace is personalization.
You’ve got nothing at first. That’s why you’ve spent the last four steps building up to this. But every hint and clue and click now get neatly compiled for you, silently in the background.
Then you can go back to what you’ve already learned this far:
- Which offers works best, when
- What creative variations resonate most
- Which products consume attention
- What influencers transform eyeballs into credit cards
- What personas buy which products
Now you just put the pieces together based on what you know already works.
Instagram users spend the most per order of any social network. And they convert higher on mobile devices than any as well.
Instagram users aren’t primed to buy. That’s not their first inclination. So it takes a little wine, Gaye, and roses to set the mood, first.
That means an Instagram sales funnel. It means teasing new top of the funnel audiences. It means testing new creative options with your organic audience before pouring an ad budget behind the winners. It means working with influencers to help test distribution channels and campaign messaging. It means cleverly segmenting your users to identify who’s interested in which products, and why.
And most of all, it means running through all of these intermediate steps so that you can quietly build out custom audiences in the background that will allow you to eventually laser target specific products to specific people.
It’s not fast. Or necessarily easy. But it is effective. And profitable.