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“How to Instagram” – all sales formats at a glance

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To the German article

Instagram – a social media channel that could hardly be more versatile. From a platform where users can share their pictures, it has grown into an effective marketing tool where companies can place their products and reach their target audience without wasting resources. Social shopping and social commerce have become immensely important in ecommerce. Instagram, especially, is becoming an increasingly important touchpoint in the customer journey thanks to its strong growth, visual design and sales opportunities.

Our partner, TWT Interactive, has already explained how to lay the foundation for building an active community and developing Instagram as a sales channel in the blog article “Social Shopping on Instagram” from 30 April 2019. Today, we want to look at these sales opportunities more closely. In the following, you will learn how to successfully market your products on Instagram and what options are available to you.

How to get started with Instagram Shopping

To be able to use Shoppable Tags and other features, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have an account in Germany, USA, Canada, Brazil, UK, France, Italy, Spain or Australia
  • It has to be an Instagram business account
  • You must have the latest Instagram version installed
  • You are selling physical goods (not services)
  • Your profile must be linked to Facebook Business Manager
  • You must have a product catalogue stored and connected to Instagram on Facebook
  • You can also use an external shop system instead of the catalogue manager on Facebook. For example, you can connect Instagram as a sales channel with Shopware 6!
  • After that, you just have to wait for the go-ahead from Instagram.

Creating your first post with shoppable tags

To build a strong brand using your Instagram feed and the company’s account, you should, first and foremost, focus on attractive and target group-specific product images. Such images generate more attention and attract potential customers as users to the company’s account. The goal is to make them fans of your brand. Once the relevant content is ready, you can start with shoppable tags.

A post with an integrated shoppable tag is a post that appears in the user feed, presenting the company’s products informatively through product tags. In its post, the brand can connect the displayed products with the linked product catalogue, tagging the products just like we would normally tag people. You can tag up to five products in one post and up to 20 products in the carousel view. Posts containing shoppable tags are marked with a small shopping bag icon in the lower left corner.

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If a user scrolls through the feed and sees an image with a shoppable tag, the customer journey takes place like this:

  • The user is prompted to tap the image (“Tap to View Products”).
  • If the user clicks on the shoppable tag, the product title and the price of the tagged items will appear.
  • If the user clicks on the tag one more time, they will be redirected to a product page integrated with Instagram for more detailed information.
  • By clicking the “Shop Now” button integrated on this page, the user leaves Instagram and is forwarded to the company’s external web shop and to the corresponding product page.

Instagram is where conversion is achieved and a potential customer is made aware of the product, but the purchase itself takes place by redirecting the user to the brand’s separate online shop.

Quick overview: The changing face of Instagram

Before the introduction of shopping offers, Instagram was focused on branding. The social platform was THE point of contact for staging products on an emotional level and reaching a target audience. This is why it was only logical for Instagram to use this opportunity for a strategic change, combining branding with sales. Since 2018, retailers and companies have been able to bring their products to users as posts through product ads in their feeds and stories. An in-app checkout was then added to shoppable posts in 2018.

Shoppable posts – rolling out an in-app checkout

Thanks to shoppable tags, Instagram has turned into a marketplace where products can be tailored to a target audience, ushering in the next level of social commerce: Shoppable posts!

What makes shoppable posts stand out?

  • This shopping feature handles the entire buying process on Instagram, without having to redirect the user to an external web shop.
  • An in-app checkout is planned. The social platform receives a commission from the company with every in-app purchase.
  • From a product’s discovery to payment: All steps take place through the merging of marketing and sales within the social platform.

Currently, the in-app checkout is still in a closed beta phase and can only be tested on selected brands within the US. But you can start getting used to it. At least 80% of users have already subscribed to at least one company on Instagram and will quickly become familiar with the new feature. This means that shoppable posts will most likely be integrated into user behaviour very soon and will be viewed as a natural part of Instagram. The “direct-to-consumer” approach is incorporated directly into daily consumer behaviour, in particular meeting the needs of the fast-growing and affluent Generations Y and Z.

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To use the in-app checkout, you must meet the same conditions as with shoppable tags. Shoppable posts are also marked with a shopping bag icon in the lower left corner and can be recognised at a glance. Here too, as already explained above, the products are linked with shoppable tags from the product catalogue. The users only have to store their address and payment information on Instagram once. After that, the selected product can be ordered and paid for on Instagram.

The advantages at a glance:

  • Easier and more convenient shopping for the buyer directly in the app
  • Faster purchasing process, which facilitates the purchase decision
  • Sellers benefit from direct customer contact by bypassing middlemen
  • If the customer agrees, companies will receive the respective contact data with each order directly. This is beneficial for customer relationship management as this data can be used for marketing purposes.

Targeted use of shoppable posts

Shoppable posts should be naturally incorporated into your brand’s content strategy. This means that Instagram should primarily be used for entertainment purposes so that the user doesn’t get the feeling that the app has become a pure sales channel.

Strategically, you could embed shoppable posts into influencer's content. Influencers act as the dominant and far-reaching interface between the buyer and the brand. They act as a convincing sales pitch and, by using shoppable tags, can bring the presented products to a target audience quickly and directly.

Another option that is not intrusive in terms of selling is user generated content (UGC). User-generated content published by the company through reposting conveys authenticity, actively engages followers, motivates them to create their own content, and radiates appreciation for customer loyalty.

The performance of shoppable posts is measured using different analytics data, breaking down detailed information and evaluations – from impressions to the click rate. These findings help implement shoppable posts in the account. This allows you to find out which formats and ideas work best for your target audience, ensuring the most sales.

Don’t forget about Instagram Shopping in Stories

Instagram Stories is a format that has been enjoying ever-increasing visit duration and activity as well as rising popularity for some time now. It gives companies the opportunity to present themselves in an authentic and personal light in order to bring followers and businesses closer together. 300 million users look at Instagram Stories every day, and a third of the most watched stories are those from companies. 20% of these Stories are responded to with a direct message. Instagram recognised the great potential and made shopping in Stories possible worldwide in September 2018.

The shopping option in Stories means the buyer can be directly reached. This gives companies new creative scope for shoppable content. Products can be experienced in an entertaining way and can be integrated into the brand’s storytelling in a variety of ways, which improves the customer experience and attracts users to the account.

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Companies that have set up Instagram Shopping can use product stickers in the form of a shopping bag icon to tag their products within a story. When a potential buyer taps on such a sticker, they are redirected to a product detail page (just like with the shoppable tags). This page is identical to the product information page that would appear when tapping on a shopping post with the same tagged products. Here, the user can see the accurate product information, additional images and the link to the company’s external online shop where the item can eventually be purchased.

Thanks to this feature, Instagram Stories are now also an interesting option in terms of conversions, and customer acquisition that can be tailored to the target audience.

Bottom line

Instagram Shopping offers enormous potential for brands and companies. According to information provided by Instagram, 130 million users tap on shoppable tags every month to learn more about the advertised products. This gives you a great opportunity for targeted product placement. By using the shopping features, you can increase traffic and revenue. The user experience is also enhanced since with Instagram Shopping, the products are integrated into content that is relevant for the users, which attracts them to your brand even more. All this makes it worthwhile to test the shopping feature and find out which results it can bring.

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