February 3, 2021 @ 4:21 PM By Lounge Lizard
Imagine having free access to a huge shopping mall displaying only the products that you’re interested in — all in the palm of your hand!
Whatever a person’s interests, they are continually self-curating their Instagram feed to create a customized environment of all the things they love. This “sweet spot” is where you are able to engage with committed potential buyers on Instagram who are curious about the products you sell.
Without a doubt, for retail, as well as direct-to-consumer businesses, Instagram offers a unique platform to reach customers that are already excited and engaged with specific categories of merchandise. Especially effective for small businesses, you can easily create a brand offering that communicates your product, i.e., elegant and chic for luxury pieces or more adventurous and outdoorsy for athleticwear or camping equipment.
With over 1 billion monthly users worldwide (and over 140 million in the US alone), Instagram continues to grow exponentially. In fact, Instagram engagement grew by 13.8% in 2020 (instead of the projected 1.4%) as people adjusted to life in a stay-at-home environment prompted by the coronavirus.
Instagram recently reported that over 90 million account users clicked on a product tag every month and over 200 million users visit business profiles each day. With those stats in mind, the overall ecommerce marketplace is estimated to be worth over $200 billion per year and growing.
Instagram is home to all things visual! Users are drawn to the stunning images that are meant to captivate the imagination. Color, beauty, and a classic design aesthetic can all collaborate to tell a story and inspire the user to visualize how their world might look.
With Instagram, you can take a simple product and showcase it in the perfect way. If you sell luxury kitchen wares, it’s a whole lot more appealing to photograph that high-end Dutch oven with a scrumptious looking boeuf bourguignon (recipe included in the post of course). Next to the pan, you include the classic utensils and place setting on the perfect tablecloth with fresh flowers in a matching vase — each with its associated product tag.
Likewise, if your products are apparel, showing how several pieces go together along with the perfect necklace and shoes and you’ve choreographed a hit. Now your customers can link to any tag or the whole collection based on how you’ve set up your catalog.
As a photo and video-sharing app, Instagram shopping lends itself well to physical products that enhance the home environment or fashion sense — in particular:
During the summer of 2020, Instagram launched an immersive full-screen storefront — Shop. With an Instagram business profile, you can set up an in-app shopping destination where people can visit a shoppable storefront through your Instagram business account, as well as through your feed and stories.
Shop allows people to browse your products and collections and then purchase their selections through checkout without ever leaving the Instagram app. You can customize the overall experience by building themes that tell a curated brand story. And if a customer prefers, they can link directly to your website to shop or complete the sale while linking back to Instagram when they’re finished.
Best of all, creating a shop is easy and free!
To open your shop on Instagram, here are several things you need to do:
As part of their recent roll out of Shop improvements, Instagram launched their new Checkout feature. With Checkout, customers can be inspired, shop, and select their purchases, then check out through Instagram and return to their feed. In the past, customers had to go to the seller’s website to pay which made people uncomfortable and required filling out shipping and payment information at each new location.
Now with Checkout, customers can pay using Facebook Pay, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, and PayPal, directly in Instagram regardless of how many vendors are involved in their order. You as the vendor receive the ordering and shipping information, as well as payment through your designated payment solution.
In addition, in support of small businesses that have been struggling during the pandemic, Instagram is waiving fees for all sellers on their platform through 2021.
Also, checkout-enabled sellers are now able to utilize new shopping capabilities like making Instagram Live shopping compatible, Shopping with Creators (where creators can tag products in your posts), and a new product launch feature that allows you to notify people of upcoming events.
It’s a small business paradise on Instagram where the engagement rate is higher for businesses with 10K or fewer followers. The higher the number of followers, the less likely they are to engage directly as a customer.
That’s where Instagram Ads come in — Ads allow you to target specific audiences and reach people who aren’t following you just yet. And Instagram, of course, makes it easy to turn posts directly into ads.
When planning an advertising campaign on Instagram, the numbers speak for themselves.
First, you want to consider your goal and where you want people to land when they click on your ad. They can be directed to your business profile where you build brand awareness, showcase your products, and strengthen your customer relationships. You can direct them to your website where they can be encouraged to make a purchase, share their email, or book an appointment. Or they can be directed to your direct messages if you offer personalized services, want customers to book an appointment, or want to manage customer support.
Next, you want to reach a target audience. With Instagram, you can use the Automatic Audiences feature which works best for sellers that have a large group of followers and aren’t location dependent. If your business is location specific or you have a smaller group of followers and are interested in reaching out to more people, you can define your audience by interests and within a location radius.
You will also need to determine a budget that will affect how many times your ad is seen and over how long a period of time. At a minimum, Instagram recommends at least seven days so that their advanced ad delivery system can “learn” where to show your post most effectively.
Remember, the one draw back to using Instagram Shop to check out is you lose the opportunity to collect customer information like email addresses when they don’t visit your website.
Social media influencers have grown immensely popular over the last several years and are now more sought after than celebrities for their endorsement mojo. Unfortunately, most businesses can’t afford to hire a Kardashian, so here are some practical tips for successfully marketing your Instagram Shop.
As you execute your 2021 Marketing Strategy, be sure to consider Instagram shopping where your products can be exposed to a huge, engaged audience. Facebook and Instagram have made the Shop function user friendly and it can now even handle the checkout function, so you don’t have to.
While stay-at-home restrictions may be relaxing, Ecommerce has found an even stronger foothold with consumers that appears to only be growing and Instagram is front and center.
Contact Lounge Lizard to learn more about Instagram shopping, brand development, and improving your digital presence.
About the author:
Lounge Lizard’s BrandTenders always serve up something distinct. We mix a potent combination of digital marketing strategy with a generous splash of creative juices and blend in technology-focused, customized solutions as a chaser.