Instagram has a growing audience, and thanks to Instagram Ads, it’s easier to connect with that audience than ever.
Gaining followers and increasing engagement has taken up most of the focus on Instagram, as it gives brands the opportunity to share images of their products and cultivate brand loyalty and interest among followers.
This is partly because, until recently, there wasn’t any way to actually sell from Instagram.
With Instagram’s popularity, it’s no surprise that methods of selling on Instagram have been slowly rolling out—some from Instagram and some from third party services that use a little creativity. In this post, we’re going to look at the best ways to sell on Instagram, and what makes it harder to do so.
What Makes it Harder to Sell on Instagram?
The night after I convinced one of my clients to start marketing on Instagram, I got a call in the middle of the night.
“I’ve been trying to post something,” he told me, “And I haven’t been able to figure out where to post the link. Where does the link go?”
This says everything about why it’s harder to sell on Instagram than most other platforms.
On Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, you can upload an image of your product accompanied by a link, all in one post; that link can take a user to a designated landing page, or to the product page where they can make a purchase right away. On Instagram, you can post an image and a description, but you can’t post clickable link that will take users to your site.
In fact, Instagram only gives you one place for a link on the entire platform, and it’s the link in your profile’s biography. This takes away the option to put links with correlating images, making it significantly harder to sell on Instagram than any other platform.
Because of this, users would have to see the product in an image, get off Instagram, find your site, and locate the specific product. For sites with a long list of products, this can be a time consuming and frustrating process most users won’t go through, losing you a large amount of potential sales.
Fortunately, there are two solutions to this: the newest Instagram Ad objectives, and third party Instagram selling tools. We’ll look at both in-depth in the next two sections.
Sell with Instagram Ads
Until recently, Instagram Ads had objectives that only really focused on views, followers, and engagement. Now, Instagram has objectives that you allow you to drive mobile app installs and—best of all—to send traffic to your site or to generate conversions (including sales).
To create Instagram Ads that will help you sell, you can choose either objective of “Send people to your website” or “Increase conversions on your website”—both will send users to your site, though the second optimizes for conversions of your choice.
Make sure that your campaign has Instagram enabled as a placement. You can also disable all Facebook Ads placement options if you only want to run an Instagram Ad.
Instagram has different image and video requirements than Facebook, so select the appropriate visual content and crop it if necessary.
Here’s the most important part: choose the appropriate call to action button, so there is a clickable link to your site that users will be prompted to visit your site and convert.
The Instagram Ads selling and traffic objectives use the same tracking pixels as Facebook Ads.
These ads are the most direct way to send traffic to your site and generate sales and other types of conversions, because it’s the only option that allows you to put a clickable link (via the CTA button) directly onto each post. This, in my opinion, makes these ads the most valuable selling tool we have for Instagram so far, and is worth the cost it takes to run the campaigns.
Instagram Selling Tools
While the Instagram Ads selling options are probably the most effective, there are other options you can use to make sales on Instagram. A number of third party companies have developed what are commonly referred to as Instagram selling tools, which offer software to make sales via Instagram.
There are different types of selling tools and software that work in different ways. These include:
- Comment buying. Some software allows for users to purchase an item just by commenting on the post the product is featured in. Soldsie is a great example of the comment buying selling tools. With this tool, you upload images of products through the Soldsie dashboard (which needs to be installed), turning the images into shoppable Instagram posts. Users can purchase directly from these posts by commenting “sold” on it, along with other necessary choice information (i.e. “sold, XS red”).
- Storefront link in the bio. I believe that this is the most effective type of selling software tools available for Instagram. It works by turning the sole link available on the platform into a clickable storefront; users are taken directly to this virtual storefront with all your products, and can purchase from it. Though your individual posts don’t feature these links, you can encourage users to visit the link in your profile to access the products.
Like2Buy is my personal favorite tool for this purpose; it allows you to associate multiple products within a single image, as well as using UGC content in your virtual, sellable gallery.
Analytics and an email capture is also available with Like2Buy.
Have2HaveIt is another great and similar tool that I recommend, and is directly related to Soldsie.
- Hashtag selling. Inselly is a great example of software that encourages selling on Instagram with hashtag promotion. Though it uses the storefront link selling method, it comes with the added feature of the unique #Inselly hashtag, which flags products as buyable to users who search for it. Sellers can process transactions and payments through paypal. And it’s free to use.
Regardless of whether you use Instagram Ads to sell on the platform, these selling tools can still offer a lot of value and potential increases in sales and traffic—particularly the tools that create virtual storefronts via a link on your profile’s bio page. Ultimately, selling in as many places and ways as possible can only result in more sales, not less. Just don’t take the lazy way out and expect to sell based on buying Instagram followers.
Instagram was already a great tool for marketers and businesses, and that value has only increased now that ads and selling tools have made it possible to make sales directly from Instagram marketing. With the competition relatively low—and many brands not actively selling on Instagram yet—there’s never been a better time to take advantage of the platform to connect with your audience and show off your products.
Whether you use the third party selling tools, the selling objectives on Instagram Ads, or a combination of both, Instagram is officially increasing its potential and value as a platform to drive sales.”
What do you think? Is Instagram an active part of your marketing strategy? Have you used any of these tools to sell on Instagram yet? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!