Social media is a key tool for driving traffic and sales to any e-commerce site. Small e-commerce businesses in particular can make the most out of Instagram, a site on which 72% of users claim to have purchased something through the app¹.

If you’re like most small e-commerce businesses, you want to leverage Instagram to:

  • Drive traffic to your site
  • Generate sales
  • Sell directly to your community

5 Ways Small E-Commerce Businesses Use Instagram to Sell Directly

Here are five ways to accomplish those marketing goals.

1. Run advertisements

The best and most effective way to leverage Instagram is to reach a wide audience within your direct community.

By running advertisements on the platform you are able to target this audience in a meaningful way, which will ultimately lead to clicks and sales. If you have a budget for advertising, you can target your specific demographic and reach the community directly.

But if you’re working with a tighter spending limit, don’t sweat it. Many small e-commerce business owners think that their small advertising budgets mean they can’t effectively employ ads on Instagram. But that’s not the case.

By running low-budget campaigns, you can use the platform to effectively execute your marketing goals.

While organic campaigns cost even less and are completely free, running a paid campaign on Instagram can offer an extremely high return of interest.

Set up your campaigns in Ad Manager and run them alongside your Facebook account to make them most effective. After all, Facebook is the most popular social media platform on the web, reaching a whopping 60.6% of all internet users.

Don’t be tempted to advertise by simply repeatedly tapping ‘promote,’ especially on a limited budget. Without spending more money, you won’t have the same opportunities to target your specific demographic, so this will be less impactful.

Instead, focus on using the ‘reach’ and ‘brand awareness’ types of campaigns. This will act as a way for you to reach the biggest audience for the lowest price.

2. Make your products look visually inviting

Instagram is a visual platform and your products and page are going to need to look inviting to ensure that when your direct community finds you on the site, they are encouraged to shop with you.

Add value to your customer’s Instagram experience by making the visuals on your page attractive.

Be sure to develop a consistent style that is present across all channels, as well as in your posts and Instagram stories. Sites like Canva are a great way to create impactful graphics for social media.

Use video features to show people how to use your products and follow this with a direct call-to-action, sending them straight to your online store.

3. Develop your social proof

When selling directly to a specific community, it’s important to develop social proof within that community.

If you have already generated some sales, use case studies and reviews to enhance the authenticity of your brand, and consequently, your products.

To develop social proof on Instagram, you should try hard to build and grow an engaged audience. When people from your direct community find your Instagram page, this will act as a marker of how much they feel they can trust your brand.

If others from that community are already following you and liking and commenting on your posts, this will give them even more reason to follow and repeat the style of customer engagement.

Sharing user-generated content is also crucial. Posts that contain content created by other users have a 4.5% higher conversion rate compared with those that don’t.

4. Use Instagram’s ‘Checkout with Instagram’ feature

Capitalize on Instagram’s latest marketing feature, which allows you to sell products directly within the Instagram app itself.

Not only is it a great way to convert sales, it can also be used to measure the success of Instagram on your marketing campaign through data collected immediately within the app itself.

Having just rolled out in March of 2019, the feature is fairly new and is currently only available to businesses in the US.

But if you are one of the brands lucky enough to be able to access this feature, it is worth using.

The app will allow you to add a ‘checkout with Instagram’ button to the product page of a shopping post.

When users tap through, they will be able to pick which size, model, and color they would like to buy and add their delivery and bank details, all within the app.

5. Do your research

Finally, it’s important to remember that any successful marketing campaign rests on great research.

In this case, hashtag research is essential. Leveraging Instagram to sell directly to your community is all about reaching the widest audience possible and encouraging them to follow and engage.

If you’re on a budget, this is particularly important. When it comes to organic marketing, hashtags are the single most effective way to reach new potential sales.

Switch to a business profile on the platform in order to see the impact of each of your hashtags. Use this information to further develop the hashtags you use on a post, improving as you go.

The best way to research the hashtags used by other brands is pretty simple. Head to the search bar, go to tags, and then look for any terms related to your niche.

It’s best to use a mix of hashtags, some that are posted extremely frequently and some that are less common. This is the best way to ensure you maximize the reach of your posts and subsequently draw new customers to your page.

Stefanos-Bournias200Stefanos Bournias is an SaaS content marketing consultant. You can reach him on LinkedIn and on Twitter @Stefaotis. 


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Staff Writer