There is a wealth of advice on using Instagram as an effective online marketing tool. If you’re a new brand with not many followers yet, scaling your e-commerce brand on Instagram might seem challenging.
New accounts usually have low engagement rates, which can be discouraging, but there are ways to strategically navigate this period.
Let’s discuss why Instagram is important as a marketing tool, how it can help grow your business, and explore effective strategies to grow your e-commerce brand on Instagram even without a large follower count.
Why Instagram Is a Powerful E-Commerce Tool
Today, 81% of people use Instagram to research products and services they want to buy. Therefore, standing out in the competition and attracting potential customers to your e-commerce page requires strategies.
To understand why Instagram is a powerful e-commerce tool, you need to grasp its current significance:
Research shows that we remember what we see through photos and videos more than what we read in plain text. This makes visually-oriented platforms like Instagram a primary tool for marketing.
Instagram allows you to upload product photos, share videos, collaborate with influencers, engage with followers, and increase your reach.
This can potentially help you grow your e-commerce business faster than marketing solely through platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which have less than half the brand engagement rate of Instagram.
10 Ways to Grow an E-Commerce Brand on Instagram
Now that we understand the potential Instagram holds for marketers at all levels, how do you leverage its advantages when you don’t have followers yet? Let’s delve into actions and strategies you can use to start growing your Instagram follower count.
Engage with Comments and Review Feedback
Having a lot of followers is meaningless if you’re not engaging with them. The best way to gain and retain numerous followers is by closely interacting with potential customers.
Engaging with users only takes a few minutes but can significantly boost your revenue.
Here’s how you can start:
- Enable notifications for all comments.
- Respond to every comment, positive or negative. This will enhance engagement with your posts.
- Review feedback and check if there are areas for improvement.
- Thank users for taking the time to interact with your posts.
- Avoid starting arguments in the comment sections, even if you disagree with a user. Leaving a positive impression online is crucial.
Research Your Competitors
If you’re unsure where to start, take a look at what your competitors are doing.
Your competitors have already done a lot of heavy lifting and accumulated many relevant followers. You can use this to your advantage.
To attract your own followers, focus on your competitors’ Instagram profiles and examine their target audience.
You should have a good idea of who your competitors are. To do this, try using Instagram’s discovery tool to find popular accounts in your industry.
You can also search for keywords and hashtags related to your brand to identify top accounts.
Organize Giveaways in Exchange for Engagement
Instagram giveaways can be an excellent way to generate user engagement. You might have seen some of these on your feed.
However, the strategy of simply asking users to like a post and tag a friend for a chance to win a free product might not be the most effective way to gain real followers.
Instead, ask users to upload Instagram photos related to your e-commerce brand or to follow your page. If you ask users to submit content, make sure to share a branded hashtag that users can use to increase their chances of being discovered by more people.
To start, announce your contest in an Instagram post. Include rules in the description so users know how to enter.
Consider using tools like Woobox if you need ideas for prizes. The tool helps create social media contests that boost sales, gain followers, and collect potential customers for all types and sizes of brands.
Instead of non-branded rewards, consider offering your own products for free. Otherwise, people might follow you just for the reward rather than a genuine interest in your brand.
Don’t forget to review the terms of your giveaways to avoid potential penalties for distributing high-value prizes, as regulated by the National Lottery Regulatory Commission!
Utilize User-Generated Content (UGC)
If you want to boost engagement, make sharing user-generated content (UGC) a habit. This can be as simple as asking users to review your product in exchange for a free sample.
You might also consider hosting larger UGC contests where dozens (or even hundreds) of users share their experiences with your product and industry. This can help you reach new users who you might not have discovered otherwise.
Customize and Optimize Your Store
Giveaways and hashtags might be easier than customizing and optimizing your store, but they’re not more important.
In fact, having an easy-to-navigate and memorable storefront can boost your sales.
To maximize visibility, there are a few ways to customize and optimize your Instagram e-commerce store:
- Present promotions directly in your photo or the first line of your caption to encourage more engagement.
- Add clickable links to your product photos, allowing users to purchase your products directly.
- Keep your descriptions simple and easy to understand, so new users can quickly grasp what your business is about.
- Include links to your store in various channels, including your Instagram description (or bio), website, other social media pages, and email signatures.
Create a Branded Hashtag
A simple way to keep track of who’s talking about your e-commerce store on Instagram is by creating a branded hashtag. You can use your business name, an existing slogan, or another creative phrase.
Then, let your customers know what the tag is by adding it to your bio and encouraging your followers to use it.
Later on, you can search for your hashtag to find user-generated content and quickly share it. Make sure to also include these hashtags in your own posts to remind your followers to use them.
For instance, searching for “#topshop” shows millions of photos related to the brand, displaying popular UGC that might not be found otherwise.
User-generated images not only give your brand more visibility but also grant more visibility to other Instagram users who might gain more followers themselves. It’s a win-win situation.
Prioritize Customer Experience
Sometimes, you might do everything right and still not get satisfactory results. You’ve used all the right hashtags, engaged with your customers, and created tons of user-generated content. Yet, you’re still not making a lot of sales.
The reason could be a lack of attention to the customer experience.
If you make it easier for users to find, browse, and purchase from your store, you could see an increase in sales.
Making your Instagram e-commerce store easy to navigate and your images easy to shop could help you see better results.
Are you making it easy for Instagram users to find your website or purchase your products? Is your storefront easy to navigate? Do your images have alt text? Are you responding promptly to inquiries?
While seemingly minor, a good customer experience can go a long way in attracting lifelong customers.
Collaborate with Influencers in Your Niche
Instagram influencers are users with a large following and great engagement rates.
So, why are Instagram influencers important for your e-commerce business?
They can significantly expand your brand’s reach, for instance, these individuals have hundreds, thousands, and sometimes millions of followers who are interested in hearing what they have to say.
If they endorse your product on their accounts, you might see a boost in sales.
How can you collaborate with influencers to grow your Instagram e-commerce business?
Identify influencers and prominent accounts in your niche. For instance, if you’re in the beauty industry, reach out to beauty influencers and request a product post.
If a user puts an email address in their profile or says something like “DM for business inquiries,” they’re often interested in sharing sponsored posts.
Reach out to these accounts via email or DM and inquire about their standard rates for sponsored posts. Aim to build a relationship with these users.
If they’re willing to work with competitors, they might be willing to work with you too.
Next, create a spreadsheet that compares the followers, cost per post, BGBM (average likes per post divided by average followers), and average likes per post of each account.
Select the accounts with the highest return and the lowest cost.
Don’t assume you have to go for the big names. Sometimes, micro-influencers with just a few thousand followers have a better ROI because they have a more targeted audience.
Utilize Product Tags
Another way to enhance customer convenience is by using product tags to increase your Instagram e-commerce sales.
Product tags enable users to purchase products directly within the app without having to go through multiple steps.
This is particularly helpful when users are on the go and browsing while using their phones, as many of us do.
Instagram is actively working to enhance e-commerce activity and create user-friendly store interfaces.
In addition to useful features like product tags, Instagram has introduced product collections, where users can easily browse through similar products as they navigate attractive images.
Conclusion of the Instagram E-Commerce Guide
Building a successful Instagram e-commerce business won’t happen overnight, but it is achievable. Start with these strategies to make your business profitable, then explore various tools, tips, and strategies to make your first sale.