Users will no longer have to leave the app to make purchases.
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Instagram has become one of the hottest social media platforms around, with its total number of daily active users now at 1 billion. Marketers worldwide have started to tap into its hidden potential for targeted advertising.
In fact, a lot of attention has been directed toward the massive power of Instagram for boosting a company’s revenue and growing its customer base. As a brief example, many restaurants have managed to attract a flood of traffic to their stores, simply by posting visually pleasing images of their dishes and keeping their audience updated on their latest creations.
However, a feature called “Instagram Stories,” launched in August 2016, is currently much of Instagram’s current user base occupied. Companies that are serious about making 2018 their highest-profiting year yet should do themselves a favor and take advantage of the new update to Instagram Stories that was released on June 12 that adds a shopping component.
The game-changing update that turns “Stories” into sales
Previously, it was somewhat difficult to use Instagram Stories as a means of generating sales. Creators could add clickable links to their Story, which viewers could access by “swiping up” on an Instagram Story and clicking on the link.
Naturally, marketers would do everything in their power to create engaging Stories that captivate their audience and keep their attention for as long as possible. Done right, Instagram Stories are a great way to drive a lot of targeted traffic toward one’s website.
There’s just one problem: Clicking on a link would take users out of the Instagram app, to a website in a separate web browser application. This means that more effort had to be put into generating a persuasive website or a sales funnel. After all, you only have a few seconds to keep peoples’ attention, and if it isn’t effortless for the customer to buy your products, you’ve lost a potential sale.
The newest update to Instagram Stories changes all of this: Companies will now be able to put shopping links in their Stories — for free! — that allow people to directly buy an item, while still being in the Instagram app.
The ability to sell a product through a third-party retailer, as commonly seen in affiliate marketing, is presently unavailable, but you still have the opportunity to promote items that you are directly selling yourself.
At launch, the new Instagram Story feature was immediately available to accounts for larger brands, such as Louis Vuitton. However, Instagram users with a business account connected to a Facebook shop can begin enabling product tagging.
To prepare to take full advantage of this feature, here are some strategies you can start planning to use for the new and improved Instagram Stories to boost your bottom line:
Strategy 1: Maximize a celebrity endorsement
Imagine that you had a major celebrity, whom your audience loves and adores, take a “selfie” video in which she is promoting your product in real time and encouraging everybody to buy it.
Visual testimonials are a highly effective marketing tool, as humans are able to better connect with people that they are familiar with, or can even relate to. The new Instagram Story feature takes this principle, and combines it with the concept of “effortless selling.”
The No. 1 killer of online marketing is a sales process that makes the act of purchasing something too long or difficult. Before this new update, the customer would have to click a link in an Instagram Story, leave the app and go through a website’s lengthy buying process, while you hoped that your customer could stomach the entire process.
Now, it’s literally as simple as including a “click-to-shop” link in your Instagram Story while you are editing it. People will see the celebrity endorsing your item, a link will instantly pop up that tells viewers they can buy the item right now, they click the link, enter their purchase details and voila!
Strategy 2: Sell out a pre-order event.
This idea is going to be a smash hit among authors who are trying to make their new book become the next No. 1 New York Times bestseller. I have personally used this method for selling thousands of copies of my book Instagram Secrets.
All you have to do is create an Instagram Story in which you are showing a preview of your book, and physically holding it in your hands. You may choose to talk about why people need to get their hands on it, flip through the book and read a few pages of it or even provide a “bonus incentive” for the first 100 people who sign up for the pre-order.
Strategy 3: Take advantage of holiday events.
While many companies are aware of the power that a huge discount has during holiday events where shoppers are in a buying mood, most do not know how to properly capitalize on it. Email marketing is a common way to go about this, as a subject line mentioning a “50 percent discount” often gets people to open up the email and start shopping. Instagram Stories will now offer a superior option, thanks to the ability to directly buy items in the Instagram app itself. No need for mindless browsing — if you like the product being featured in a Story, you just click and buy.
This “Instagram Story” update is just the beginning.
Despite this “click to buy” feature within Instagram Stories being brand new, it is anticipated that there will be several changes that will make Instagram more competitive, from a marketing standpoint, against YouTube and Snapchat. For instance, early reports speculate that the update may possibly allow for more targeted advertising options. In other words, an Instagram Story could also be displayed to viewers who are not currently following a company’s Instagram page.
One thing is for certain: Instagram is becoming a powerful force when it comes to online marketing and sales. Businesses would be very wise to invest their time, effort and money into figuring out how they can best use the mobile app for attracting more paying customers and consistently generating predictable profits.