The internet has revolutionized all aspects of our lives, and shopping is no exception. Online shops are on the rise, and many businesses and individuals are putting traditional stores aside.
Social media platforms like Instagram are among the best means of boosting sales. In this article, you’ll learn how to create and run an online store on Instagram.
Is selling online worth it?
Before speaking of how to start your sales on Instagram, it’s good to know if online selling is worth it in the first place.
Of course, you have probably heard some advantages of selling online, but it’s good to review them to have a clear understanding of your reason for starting this new career.
Here are the benefits of selling online compared to the traditional means:
Shopping online is convenient and appeals to Gen Z
It’s not a secret that Gen Z is really different from the previous generations. They just like spending time on “cool” and “comfortable” things, and online shopping provides both.
All a buyer needs is a smartphone or a laptop and a suitable internet connection. Getting products delivered to your home is another benefit of online shops, which is many times free of charge.
Online stores are cheaper than the traditional shops
It’s proven that an online store requires less budget compared to a traditional one. You probably need fewer workers, and your initial costs will be way lower.
Receiving orders 7/24
When selling online, you don’t need to be worried about the time. No matter what the time is and what day of the week you’re on, customers can easily order the product they love.
Easy and rapid setup
You just need a few days to set up an online store, while a physical store needs a tremendous amount of work.
Advantages of online selling on Instagram
Now that you know the benefits of selling online, it’s time to choose the platform. Apart from running a website, social media platforms like Instagram have outstanding features that make it easy to sell online.
Here is why you should choose Instagram for online selling:
Purchasing trend among users
Instagram is best for online shopping as its users are highly engaged with businesses on the platform. Over 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business account. Also, around 30% of users have purchased at least one product using Instagram.
As a result, many small businesses and influencers buy Instagram accounts that already have a considerable number of niche followers. Acquiring an existing account helps them to save time and money in establishing a brand identity among niche audiences.
Products can be discovered easily
With an Instagram shop, the product discoverability will extremely increase. Users can easily explore all the details and pricing of the products in real-time just with a click on the shoppable tags. This can make a purchase decision quite straightforward.
Different features for content marketing
As you know, content is king in digital marketing, and the platform that provides the best content marketing features is best for digital marketing.
With some of the best features like Stories, Live, IGTV, and Reels, Instagram can’t be outperformed by other platforms in terms of diversity and quality.
So you can effectively generate relevant content and encourage niche audiences to follow your Instagram account and buy your products.
Almost all famous influencers in every niche have an account on Instagram. So this is the best place to take advantage of influencer marketing for promoting your products.
High engagement rates
The engagement rate is probably the most important factor to consider for choosing a platform. Friendly engagement is key to encouraging niche audiences to stay connected and interested in what you want to sell on Instagram.
The engagement rate of businesses on Instagram is way better than other top platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
So if you generate quality content on Instagram, you will highly likely get higher engagement rates compared to other platforms.
Starting online sales on Instagram
If you’ve made your mind about selling on Instagram, look at the following guide to do it.
Define your goals
Having a written set of objectives is necessary when you want to run an online store. You need to know what exactly you want and how much money and time you’re spending on it.
This helps you to stay focused on specific strategies. It’s recommended to define SMART goals, meaning that they need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Create a shop on Instagram
Here are the basics as to how to create a shop on Instagram:
1. Confirm your brand eligibility
You need to prove that you are eligible to sell on Instagram.
- Your business should be located in a supported country.
- Your business should have an accepted product.
- Your business agrees with Instagram’s eCommerce policies.
- Your business should have a website to sell from
These criteria are required to be able to sell on Instagram.
2. Switch into a business account
You should establish a business account to be able to link to your website and sell directly.
Here is how:
- Go to your Instagram profile and tap Settings in the upper right corner.
- Tap Account.
- Then tap again to switch to Professional Account.
- Tap Business.
You’re now all set.
3. Connect to a Facebook Page
You can follow the steps below to link your business account on Instagram with your Facebook page.
- First launch your Instagram profile.
- Then select where it says “Edit Profile.”
- Select “Page” in the “Public Business Information” section.
- Choose your Facebook Page.
- Obviously you need to have a Facebook Business Page in order to proceed further, but if you don’t already have one, you can select the “Create a New Facebook Page” option.
The process of setting up your shop has now been complete.
4. Upload your catalog
Use one of the following methods to add your catalog to your business account:
- Catalog manager
- eCommerce platform partner
Your catalog will power your Instagram account.
5. Account review
Now, you have to submit your account to be reviewed by Instagram. Go to your Instagram profile and select “Settings” to sign up for Instagram shopping.
6. Turn on shopping
If you can’t see the Shopping feature in your Settings, your account is under review or hasn’t been proved.
Optimize your profile
You need to optimize your business profile to make it more recognizable. Instagram name, profile photo, bio, and finally, your link to your store are necessary to draw the attention of your visitors.
Remember that the first impression is of paramount importance and can encourage the audience to keep buying from your store.
Generate compelling content
As mentioned earlier, Instagram is great for content marketing. Try to use all its potential to feed your audience with entertaining and educating content.
Remember that being too promotional can bother your audience. Instead, you can provide them with useful content to appear like niche thought leaders.
It’s recommended to have a unique style in all your posts, stories, IGTV videos, and Reels. This makes a great impression on the first visit and causes users to remember your account. Also, creating Instagram feed themes can make your account more attractive.
Of course, generating enough content might be time-sucking. That’s why many brands use content marketing services to increase their efficiency. If it’s a bit pricey for your small business, you can use user-generated-content instead of paying for content services.
Generate niche and branded hashtags
Being discovered by the most relevant audience is key to win the competition in online sales. Hashtags are central to discoverability on all social media platforms.
If you use an accurate set of hashtags in your posts and stories, you’ll find the chance to put your content in the eye of as many users as possible.
You can use up to 30 hashtags in a single feed post and 10 hashtags in a story. Try to search for the best hashtags in your niche on the internet. Also, try to create branded hashtags and use them together in your posts and stories.
Don’t forget captions
Remember that videos and pictures are not enough to encourage visitors to finalize their decisions. Captions can add context to your Instagram content and let visitors understand your intent. Try to use a storytelling approach in your captions. It’s recommended to have a friendly tone of voice to make audiences feel comfortable.
Use scheduling tools to get maximum exposure
Putting your posts in the eye of as many users as possible is key to increasing the engagement rate.
Social media scheduling tools allow you to maximize your exposure by offering the best posting times that vary by your location and industry.
Use A/B testing in your Instagram ads
A/B tests (also known as split tests) are done by changing an item in a social media advertisement to see how people interact with two different versions.
For example, if you change your captions in an ad and post two versions, you can figure out which one appeals more to your audience.
Apart from the caption, trying different images, changing an image with a video, changing link format, and using different CTAs are common ways to implement A/B testing on Instagram.
Use UTM links to track and improve your performance
You need to track your Instagram campaigns and determine the effectiveness of every single strategy you use.
UTM links are best to do this task. UTM links are like this:
They can help you determine the source of your selling pages’ traffic, the type of them, and many other important parameters.
They can also helo you run A/B testing easier and improve your performance in Instagram marketing.
Try to use Google Analytics for creating UTM links to track your Instagram marketing and measure the performance of your Instagram shop.
Offer discounts to gain more followers
You can boost your sales on Instagram by offering a discount using Instagram. You can offer discounts to everyone who comments. This will help your business account to gain more followers.
Try to avoid buying fake followers as it can damage your brand reputation. Gaining organic niche audiences can be a bit time-consuming, but it is worth it.
Partner with Instagram influencers to promote online sales
Influencer marketing is one of the most effective means of increasing brand awareness. Instagram influencers can boost your sales and ensure a massive following.
Try to choose Instagram influencers wisely as there are many fake accounts with a huge number of followers. This can damage your brand reputation, so try to find niche influencers from legit sources and establish a long-lasting partnership with them.
Add your product links to your Instagram stories
When you reach a following of 10K, you’ll be able to use some outstanding features on Instagram. The ‘Swipe-Up’ feature on Instagram is an incredible opportunity for boosting your online sales.
With this feature, you can add your store link in your stories to direct your visitors to your online shop. This has proven to be the best way to drive traffic to your selling pages.
Add product tags to shoppable Instagram feeds
You can also add product tags to your photos and videos in your feed posts to highlight your products. Of course, only physical goods can be sold at the moment, and services are not covered.
You can showcase your products and encourage visitors to purchase from your online shop.
Analyze your performance and calculate your ROI
Remember that you have to consistently track your performance by using social media analytics tools. Instagram provides you insightful data on how your contents have performed.
Accordingly, you can optimize your future activities and get higher engagement rates. Also, you need to calculate your ROI to figure out whether your investment is worth it or not.
Creating an Instagram account and throwing some posts might be easy, but getting true engagement and building a sales funnel is quite different. The truth is that you can learn many things only when you do them yourself. Remember that practice makes perfect. So take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and try creating your own online store on Instagram.
This is a post contributed from one of my marketing partners.
Hero photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash