August 27, 2020 5 Smart Ways to Start Selling Products on Instagram
Selling products on Instagram is a constantly changing process.
At one point in time, you couldn’t even include clickable links in posts…
Now, your profile can act as an eCommerce marketplace with shoppable images, story calls-to-action, and optimized bio links.
So, how do you sell products on Instagram? What are the best tactics?
Let’s take a look at five ways you can ramp up Instagram sales with examples from top brands.
#1. Shoppable Posts
Shoppable posts are the most obvious starting point if you’re looking to sell products on Instagram.
They are exactly as they sound – if you feature one of your products in a post on your Instagram page, you can tag the product and viewers can click to find out more and make a purchase.
To create shoppable posts you need to have Instagram Shopping set up. Instagram Shopping connects with your online store via Facebook Business Manager and pulls in the photos, descriptions, and pricing for your catalog of products so it is visible on Instagram. Once set up, this information will be dynamic – so if you make any changes to your website they will be picked up automatically on the social network.
By setting up Instagram Shopping you will then be able to see a “Shop” icon on your Instagram page where viewers can browse your products. See it below on the ASOS Instagram page:
Instagram Shop on the ASOS Profile
If someone clicks on the shop icon, they will then see your products instead of your posts, like this:
ASOS Instagram Shop
Each product is clickable, creating an in-app buying experience for viewers so they don’t need to leave Instagram:
ASOS Product on Instagram
Of course, for someone to find your shop they would need to navigate to your profile page. That’s why shoppable posts are so popular. In the picture below, ASOS has a model wearing a product that is available in their store. By tagging the product, Instagram users are able to “View products” and quickly buy the things they love:
Tagging products on Instagram
After clicking on “View products,” the featured product from the photo is shown in a slide-up graphic:
Product overlay on Instagram post
You can even include multiple products in the post if you like. For example, Kylie Skin has tagged three different products in this Instagram post:
Tagging multiple products in one Instagram post
By using shoppable posts you are reducing the friction of a potential customer leaving Instagram and navigating your website. They are already comfortable on Instagram and love to scroll through photos and engage with posts.
#2. Story Links
As I mentioned in the introduction, the evolution of “linking” and shopping on Instagram has been significant in recent years.
For example, many accounts don’t have the option of adding a custom URL to their Stories. This is a feature reserved for verified brands with over 10,000 followers.
However, what you can do if you have Instagram Shopping set up is to link to your shop or to individual products from your Story posts.
See how Fossil has done this below. The “See More” option at the bottom of the screen opens the product page for this watch:
Promoting products in Instagram Stories
This feature has revolutionized the way you can promote flash sales, launch new products, and generally increase shopping activity on your Instagram account.
You could create standalone Stories for products, or you can even repost photos from your profile page to increase their exposure. After all, some Instagram users spend most of their time watching and engaging with Stories rather than looking at images.
Here are two more examples of this tactic in action from home decor brand GUBI. They have utilized the “Highlights” section of their profile to showcase different product lines and increase activity on their shop.
Products in Story Highlights
“Home Office” Highlights:
Products in Story Highlights
Once you have Instagram Shopping set up and running, use Stories to drive traffic to your store.
#3. Bio Links
As much as Instagram Shopping is a great way to increase exposure for your products on the social platform, not everyone is ready to buy when they first meet your brand. That’s why a portion of your content should aim to grow awareness and build trust with prospects.
For someone who doesn’t know much about your business, they may go to your Bio page and click on the URL. Given this is the only external URL that is clickable on your account, it’s critical to make the most of it. Unfortunately, many brands under-utilize this opportunity and place a basic link to their website.
Instead of sending Instagram users to your website, consider creating an interactive gallery landing page. They look like this:
Basically, these landing pages are an interactive replication of your Instagram feed. The key difference is that viewers are able to interact with all of your images, rather than having the basic “Like” or “Comment” options.
The best thing about customizing a landing page like this is you control the content and where it takes people. You can promote offers, link to product pages, collect email addresses, and convert more passive viewers into active prospects.
By sending all of your Instagram profile referral traffic to this landing page, it allows you to promote multiple offers in Stories, posts, videos, and more. All you need to do is refer to the “Link in your bio” as the call-to-action.
#4. Instagram Ads
Shoppable posts, Story links, and interactive galleries are all free and organic ways to sell products on Instagram. However, a more direct approach is to run ads.
Instagram ads come in a range of different forms from Stories to clickable posts. You can either promote pages on your website, grow your following, or drive traffic to your Instagram store. For the most part, ads are quite affordable, if you have an experienced expert working on your strategy and optimizing their delivery.
Stories ads are shown every three or four stories in a user’s stream. They could be videos, static images, or a combination. Here is an example of a static Stories ad from brklz that is promoting a timebound offer on their eCommerce website:
Instagram Story ad
For something a bit different, Turned Yellow tapped into user-generated content for their Stories ad with a customer unboxing in this Father’s Day promotion:
Instagram Story ad
You’ll need to test which ads work best for your brand, but if Stories don’t sound like a good fit, you could go for an in-feed sponsored post. Here is an example of what they look like:
Instagram sponsored post
The key to a successful in-feed post is to let it run for a while. You’ll notice in the above example there is only one comment, whereas, in this post from The Flashery, there are 925 comments! That is some serious social proof that will decrease your cost per acquisition.
Instagram sponsored post
Whatever your goals are for selling products on Instagram, ads are a measurable way to scale.
#5. Instagram Influencers
A guide to selling on Instagram wouldn’t be complete without mentioning influencer marketing.
All the craze on Instagram, influencer marketing combines the power of user-generated content with significant user reach. If you find the right influencers for your brand, the return on investment can be excellent.
Some influencer posts are subtle, like this one from yoga influencer Amina Taha:
Instagram influencer post
The yoga apparel brand, Alo Yoga, is mentioned at the bottom of the post, and users can shop for products on their profile via the shop:
Alo Yoga products on Instagram
For a less-subtle approach, influencer Ketlen Weber has posted a straight-up product photo for fish oil brand Pure:
Product-centric influencer post on Instagram
And for something in-between, this influencer post is promoting tires with a photo of a car:
Subtle influencer post on Instagram
The way you represent your products with influencers will come down to their style and your preference as a business. Choose influencers that will bring a unique take on your products but still uphold the true meaning of your brand.
In the end, selling products on Instagram requires more than one approach. It all starts with building awareness and credibility with high-quality content on a consistent basis.
Of course, setting up your store and shoppable posts are important, but without the trust of your audience, all of these tactics will be insignificant and ineffective.
Be patient. Turn up every day. Reap the rewards.