How to Successfully Sell on Instagram in 2021

It’s no secret to anyone that Instagram is an insanely popular platform with a multimillion audience. This fact alone shows it has huge potential for those who want to sell on Instagram. And there are really little to no limits to what you can do. You can be an owner of a tiny personal brand or a big chain of retail stores; the platform has something to offer for everybody.

Recent statistics prove that. For example, a Facebook survey showed that over 80% of users admit that Instagram is helpful when it comes to learning more about products and services. Over 100 million users show interest in shopping posts and what they offer every month. Nearly 60% of users admit that their interest in products increased after they’ve seen it in a Story.

That being said, successful sales come out of nowhere. It takes time, hard work, and dedication. The good news is you can rely on the experience of people who made it on Instagram before you. Here is what you need to know to be well-prepared.

Why sell on Instagram?

promote-business-on-Instagram in 2021

There are multiple reasons why you should start selling on Instagram:

  1. You don’t have to invest a lot of money in it. Instagram and the features it has to offer today allow saving on things like a website, personal domain, and hosting and get by with a relatively modest start-up budget. Alternatively, it can become just an additional efficient channel for sales to add to the main one you’ve got. In other words, the platform has everything you need to start. For example, Instagram Shopping features transform your profile into an adjustable storefront.
  2. Instagram brings you closer to your potential customers. You can directly interact with your target audience both in comments and DMs and learn more about their problems, needs, and preferences. This kind of close contact with your audience helps to create a truly valuable offer that perfectly matches their interests.
  3. It’s extremely user-friendly. It takes little effort to turn your Instagram account into a beautiful online catalog. And it takes just a few minutes. And you can add as many products as you like.
  4. Huge, highly engaged audience. As of today, Instagram is one of the most popular social networks in the world with over 1 billion active monthly users. Instagram’s audience engagement is much higher than that on Facebook, which says something.
  5. Instagram promotion is fast and efficient. There are multiple tools and applications, both free and paid, developed specifically to enhance the platform’s marketing potential. People view Instagram’s main feed from all types of devices, at any time of the day. They always stay in step with the latest trends. This means you can significantly shorten the buyer’s journey and speed up your sales cycle.

What you need to start selling on Instagram

girl holding money

Instagram is eager to become a marketplace and keeps offering new updates that make selling on the platform much easier. You are free to use one of the available methods to boost your sales or a set of them depending on what will prove to be more beneficial for your business.

Instagram shopping

Until recently, there was no way for users to shop on the platform. Luckily for you, two years ago Instagram introduced a set of features called Instagram Shopping. What it does is turn your feed into a digital storefront and allow users to shop by tapping on your photos and/or videos.

Setting up is extremely easy. All you have to do is go to settings and link your product catalog to your IG profile. The downside is shopping on the platform isn’t yet available worldwide. The good news is that will likely change soon after the new feature is properly tried and tested. You can see the list of countries where Instagram Shopping is available here.

Shopping tags

Before Instagram Shopping came around, the platform launched the feature of shopping tags. The idea behind this feature is simple but already proved to be very effective. You tag products in your photos and videos (whether it’s regular posts, Stories, or other content formats) and Instagram users can click on them to be redirected to your online store.

Unfortunately, just like Instagram Shopping, shopping tags are not available for all countries. Besides, they only allow selling tangible products. This means that if you are selling tutorials, webinars, or master classes, this feature isn’t for you.

Swipe up links

Swipe up links are a great way to attract traffic to your website and this way, boost your sales. Are you a happy owner of an Instagram account with 10k followers and more? Thank you can add a link to your Stories so that other users could view them, swipe up and go to your online store or website to purchase whatever products and/or services you offer.

Link in bio

In case you use your Instagram profile to advertise your products or services and the methods above are unavailable to you, you can still use the link in bio. It can lead to your website, your online store, to your other social media profiles. Or all of the above, if you use one of the online services that allow ‘hiding’ multiple links under a single short link.

How to sell on Instagram

brands on instagram

1. Define your strategy

In other words, answer the following questions:

  • What kind of objectives do you want to accomplish?
  • What kind of tools are you prepared to use to that end?
  • What kind of results would you like to achieve?

First of all, define your goals and then break them down into smaller objectives. For example, your ultimate goal is to increase sales by 10%. There can be various objectives to achieve that goal: partnering with bloggers, increasing interactions with the audience, launching ad campaigns, etc.

Also, make sure that your strategy includes such aspects as:

  • your brand positioning in social media;
  • your target audience profile;
  • content strategy;
  • traffic strategy.

2. Research your competition

Learn from your competitors’ mistakes. Use their successful tactics for your own benefit. Researching your competition allows getting a full picture of what kind of market you are going to enter, what its specifics are, and what your target audience really wants.

1. Do you own a local business? Look for competitors in your area by using appropriate keywords and hashtags. Just put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes and imagine you are looking for the products/services you need.

2. Once you find a few competitors, use trendHERO analytics to see their profile stats. Just enter their profile names in the service’s search engine to run a profile check.

Remember that you only need to analyze profiles that grow organically and have an authentic audience. So pay attention to metrics like engagement rate, audience quality, audience demographics, and likes and comments.

3. Based on the results of your analysis, define your competitors’ weaknesses and strengths. Apart from that, note what kind of content they post and what kind of response it gets. Needless to say, copying their style would be unacceptable. But you can still adopt some successful ideas.

3. Define your unique selling proposition (USP)

Your USP is what people will be ready to pay you for. Post it in your bio, use it as your brand message in your posts and ads. USP is a short story of your brand and what it is about. Something that will stick in their memory and make you stand out.

Here’s how you can define your USP:

  1. Make a list of characteristics that make you different. What kind of words would you use to describe your product’s advantages?
  2. Again, look at your competitors and their USP. What are the gaps you can fill? After all, even similar products can be marketed in very different ways.
  3. Define your target audience’s needs. What are their issues you can appeal to?

4. Analyze your target audience

It’s important to know who you are going to sell your products to. The effectiveness of your targeted advertising, your brand positioning, and ultimately your sales largely depend on how well you know your potential customers.

Paint a detailed portrait of your target audience: their behaviors, issues, needs, how they make decisions when they are shopping for products, what they like, and where they live.

There are multiple ways to define your TA: do a survey, analyze your customer’s profiles, or use analytics tools to get a comprehensive picture. For example, you can run your own profile check on trendHERO to learn more about your audience demographics.

5. Optimize your profile

niches

When it comes to Instagram, the way your profile looks plays a significant role. Pay special attention to each element of your profile: your username, your profile picture, your bio, Highlights, and the feed. All of that must have a distinct unified style and match a certain concept.

There’s no universally accepted principle you can follow to design your Instagram profile. You just need to personalize your brand and understand what kind of visuals, themes, and style will reflect its values and appeal to your audience. Sure, you must have your unique style but you can always find inspiration elsewhere.

  1. Think of a concise, easy to remember profile name. The best option would be a combination of your brand name and a keyword that describes your business.
  2. Upload a high-quality profile picture: a photo portrait, a logo, or a product photo would be perfect.
  3. Fill in your bio. Think of a concise description of your brand, its values, and key advantages. Also, this is where you can post an active link to your website, landing page, or other social media profiles.
  4. Post all the important information like contacts, customer feedback, FAQs, etc. in Highlights.

6. Switch to a Business account

Selling on Instagram would be extremely hard if not impossible if you don’t convert your account to Business. Go to your Settings – Account – Switch to Business account; it’s completely free.

Instagram Business account has a number of undeniable advantages. You can:

  • get access to Instagram Insights, the platform’s analytics tool that lets you monitor changes in basic metrics.
  • add swipe-up links to your Stories (in case you’ve reached the 10K followers mark).
  • launch targeted ad campaigns.
  • add a quick contact button to your profile.

7. Post high-quality content on a regular basis

High-quality, relevant, engaging content is one of the best ways to keep your potential customers interested. Remember that a commercial Instagram profile is more than just a product catalog. Apart from trying to sell your products or services to your audience, you also have to tell them about:

  • who you are;
  • your goals;
  • your mission, values, your product advantages.

All of this can be reflected in your bio, your profile styling, the post descriptions. Remember that the way you communicate with your audience affects their trust and your sales in a major way.

Here are a few recommendations on the kind of content you can post:

  • Post both photos and videos about how your products work, behind-the-scenes pieces, guides, tutorials.
  • Be creative with your written content. It’s likely that blatant advertising won’t work. Water your ads down with news, fun facts, memes, interactive events. Your texts must not be boring. The same concerns your Stories and Highlights.
  • Use all content formats available on Instagram: photos and videos in Stories and your feed, live streams, and IGTV. You can run a live master class or answer your followers’ questions during a live stream, for example.

8. Use methods of promotion that work

Brand advertising

Without a competent strategy and constant active actions you take to attract customers, there will be no sales. And let me tell you upfront: unless you want to get rid of your profile in record-breaking time, better forget about things like fake followers, mass liking, or mass following. They won’t help you in the slightest.

Luckily, there are many methods of promotion that can really help you attract a quality target audience:

1. Targeted ads. You can set them up on your Facebook account or via the Instagram mobile app. Instagram ads allow attracting potential customers based on characteristics like gender, age, location, likes, and family status.

2. Shoutout for a shoutout (S4S). Collaborate with other users and brands by trading posts or Stories where you tag each other. Remember that before collaborating with anyone, you have to make sure that their audience is authentic and matches your target audience. For that, use trendHERO’s profile check tool.

3. Advertising with bloggers and influencers. They post content sponsored by you that recommends your products and services organically. These partnerships with bloggers can come in various forms. But the most important thing to remember is that before starting any kind of collaboration, you must thoroughly analyze your potential partner’s profile and its performance:

  • as mentioned above, run a profile check on trendHERO to see the level of their audience quality, notice any signs of inauthentic activity on their profile, and make sure that their followers are your target audience;
  • use Ad Posts feature to see how often they post sponsored content and how often they partner up with your competitors;
  • when your collaboration is in progress, use the Tracking feature to monitor your sponsored content performance over time.

4. Contests and challenges. Events like this help to boost engagement and raise your brand awareness. The main goal here is finding like-minded people, drawing attention to social issues, and simply having fun. Think of unique hashtags you can use to invite users to participate.

5. User-generated content. Share brand-related content produced by your followers on your feed or in Stories. It’s one of the easiest and at the same time, effective methods of promotion.

6. Instagram widget on your website. Integrate your Instagram feed into your website to motivate your visitors to follow you on Instagram.

9. Communicate with your customers at all stages of your sales cycle

  • answer your followers’ comments and promptly answer their questions in the DMs;
  • offer your professional advice to your customers; help them choose the product that suits them best;
  • offer as many details on available products and payment/shipping terms as possible;
  • be in touch during purchase and after it. Ask them if they are satisfied with your products, motivate them to post reviews, offer discounts for future orders.

Selling on Instagram tips

  1. Be patient. Chances are your sales won’t sky-rocket right off the bat. However, in a few months, your efforts will pay off.
  2. Remember that impressive visuals are a great part of your success on Instagram.
  3. Use viral content to increase your reach.
  4. Meaningful descriptions matter. Give your followers some food for thought; motivate them to share their opinions on what you say.
  5. Communication is crucial. Interact with your followers and their content, answer their questions; make them feel that their opinion matters. Use all methods available to motivate users to address you, ask you questions, comment on your posts and stories, take part in Q&As.
  6. Use filters and VR masks when posting photos and Stories.
  7. Use topical hashtags, unique brand hashtags, and popular hashtags. But don’t go overboard and start spamming irrelevant tags: it’s a sure way to get banned.
  8. Plan a marketing budget in advance and don’t be too stingy with it. Learn how to do it right or hire an SMM professional to do it for you. It will pay off when you get more interested followers aka potential customers.
  9. Make sure your customers can choose between multiple payment methods to pay for your products. Lack of convenient payment methods often scares people off.
  10. Post consistently but avoid posting too often. Nobody likes spammers. One or two publications a day is enough.

Conclusion

When used right, Instagram can play a huge role in your business growth and increase your sales dramatically. Just makes sure that you have the patience and perseverance to make it happen. In the highly competitive environment, Instagram is today organizing successful sales takes hard work and a great deal of diligence. However, it’s far from impossible, if you are ready to go the whole nine yards.

check influencer

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