How to Make Sales from Instagram (Tips for E-Commerce Brands)

When it comes to Instagram marketing, you hear a lot about gaining followers, increasing engagement, and creating an aesthetic. But what  if you want to make sales from Instagram?

Instagram has become a huge sales channel for online stores and e-commerce brands, and with new features like tagging products and shopping stories, you have more ways to convert your followers into customers than ever before!

But it’s more than just using a new feature: you need to have a strategy in order to make sales from Instagram, especially with the upcoming holiday season.

To help you make some serious sales from Instagram, we interviewed the social media managers behind three Insta-famous brands: Ban.do, MeUndies, and Popflex.

Watch our free video to learn the secrets behind their Instagram success and how you can make sales from Instagram:

How to Make Sales from Instagram Tip #1: Find the Feature that Converts for You

When it comes to shopping on Instagram, there are now three ways that you can drive traffic to your product page and encourage your followers to shop: tagging products in Instagram posts or stories, using the “swipe up” feature in Instagram Stories, or driving traffic through the link in your Instagram bio.

When we asked the social media managers behind three leading Instagram brands what feature converted the best for them, they surprisingly all had different answers! 

It turns out that right now, there is no leading Instagram feature when it comes to making sales from Instagram, and since every audience is different, it’s important that you test each feature to find out what works the best for your account.

Here’s an overview of each shopping feature on Instagram, and which brand it converts best for:

1. Tagging Products to Make Sales from Instagram

With the new shopping on Instagram features, you can now tag individual products in both your Instagram feed posts and your Instagram Stories (learn more about the new stories feature here).

If you’re a business selling physical goods, you can link your inventory or e-commerce platform to your Instagram account, which then allows you to tag products in your posts (learn how to get started here).

make sales from Instagram

For Popflex, they found that tagging products and creating shoppable Instagram posts offered the highest conversion for them.

Their audience is able to find out more information about the product, like the price or sizing, and can easily click through to shop.

“I tag products pretty much all the time,” says Laurel Elfenbein, social media coordinator at Popflex. “I also think it’s very important to tag products if you’re promoting a sale because it makes it easier for people to find the products you’re selling.

Right now, we’re basically trying it out for as many posts we can.”

On the other hand, MeUndies has found that they get less engagement on their shoppable posts, and they result in lower conversion for them compared to shopping in stories or the link in bio.

For some audiences, tagging a product in their Instagram post can come across as too sales-y, so they prefer to keep it more organic by driving sales in other ways.

Another challenge of tagging products in your posts: what do you do with the post once you’re sold out? MeUndies offers a lot of limited edition, short-run prints, and still likes to keep these posts in their feed. But if a sold out product is tagged in that photo, then it could be misleading and it’s best to archive these.

2. Swipe Up in Instagram Stories to Make Sales

Before the new shopping sticker for Instagram Stories came out, consumers were already used to shopping through stories. Brands with a business account and over 10,000 followers can add a link to their Instagram Stories, and then encourage their followers to “swipe up” to shop the item or learn more.

The Insta-famous lifestyle brand Ban.do has found a ton of success with swipe up shopping, and they even created their own branded “swipe up” Instagram Stories GIF to use as a call-to-action.

Ban.do finds that swiping up to shop comes most natural to their audience, and it’s their highest converting feature for making sales on Instagram. 

It’s not just about the feature, though: if you take a look at Ban.do’s stories, they do a lot of storytelling in their stories before asking you to swipe up to shop.

“One of our products has this pearlescent cover and the colors change when you move it — but unfortunately you can’t really photograph it well,” says Annie Pontarelli, social media and copy assistant at Ban.do.

“So we went on Instagram Stories to promote it, moving it around to show how the light hits it, and the sales went up. People needed that extra push to see what was so great about it,” she explains.make sales on instagram stories

Ban.do uses their stories to make sales from Instagram by showing videos of what their products look like in “real life,” showcase features and function that may be hard to communicate in just a photo, and answer common questions.

If they’re getting a lot of questions about sizing, for example, they’ll show comparisons of different sizes so you can get a better idea of what you’ll be getting if you buy.

But most importantly, Ban.do also shares a lot of fun, lifestyle content in their Instagram Stories, whether it’s a trip to the fair or a singing telegram that was sent to their office, which keeps their followers engaged and gets them coming back to their stories for more than just a sales pitch.

3. Shop the Link In Your Bio to Make Sales from Instagram

Even with Instagram Stories exploding in popularity, driving traffic through the link in your Instagram bio is still an effective way to make sales from Instagram.

To make the most of your bio link, ensure that the website you’re linking to is optimized for mobile traffic, since people will be clicking it from the Instagram app on their phones.

For MeUndies, they’ve found that using Later’s Linkin.bio feature offers the highest conversion when it comes to making sales from Instagram.

make sales from Instagram

While they still link to products in their stories, a lot of their followers still want to browse their Instagram feed to see what other products and prints they offer.

“Even if we do have a shoppable Instagram story, a lot of the time, people want to see our other products or prints,” explains Caroline Judd, community coordinator at MeUndies.

“People will view our story, then go to our feed, scroll down a bit, and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I love this print.’ And then they can click-through to our Linkin.bio page and shop there.”

By creating a shoppable landing page with Linkin.bio, and then driving their followers to visit that link, MeUndies can link each Instagram post to the specific product page, making it easier for their followers to find exactly what they are looking for.

 

So if there’s no best feature for making sales on Instagram, what’s a brand to do?

You need to experiment!

For example, if your products are complex and require a lot of explanation, it might be best to focus on creating high-quality Instagram Stories that capture the minute details, and then using the “swipe up” feature to send viewers to your product page.

On the other hand, if you’re getting a lot of engagement on your regular Instagram posts, it might be better to create beautiful product photos and add shopping tags to them.

Depending on your audience and your products, you need to find the shopping feature that works best for you. But remember: it’s not just about the feature, it’s about the strategy behind the feature.

How to Make Sales from Instagram Tip #2: Write Longer Captions that Convince People to Buy

When it comes to Instagram marketing, almost everyone has the same pain point: trying to come up with an Instagram caption.

We asked our e-commerce panel what strategy they were using to come up with creative captions, and there’s one tip everyone can agree on: if you want to make sales from Instagram, longer captions really work.

“I used to believe that short and sweet captions were the best way to go — but  long captions are how we connect with our audience,” explains Elfenbein.

“We make [our captions] almost like a blog post where we pour our hearts out whenever we have a new product — we show we’re excited. So the captions can be kind of lengthy, but it works in our favor because people actually like to read through the whole thing and respond back.”

According to Pontarelli, longer captions tend to outperform shorter captions when it comes to Ban.do’s product shots, too.

“We ran some tests with longer captions and it’s true, a lot of people want to read that longer caption, they want to know why you’re making it, what’s different, what’s new, and why they should get it,” she says.

“It’s a way to sell our products without just being like, ‘It’s great!”

For MeUndies, they also see great results for longer captions, but generally only use longer captions if it’s a new release or holiday promotion.

“Underwear shopping can be intimidating,” explains Judd. “So I think adding a lightness to our captions makes it easier and more approachable. It’s much more relaxed and relatable. You see that we’re not taking ourselves too seriously, so you don’t have to either.”

make sales from Instagram

Judd also mentions that not all captions need be the same length. “You have to mix it up. The customers that are shopping our feed, they don’t want to see all long captions. Sometimes they just want a pretty picture with a short caption,” she says.

So, what about captions on Instagram Stories?

Elfenbein is a big proponent of using Instagram Stories to share details about Popflex’s products. “What I’ll usually do is pick a really pretty product shot and I’ll post with a little bit of text, save the story, add some more text, save the story, add a little more, just to give as many details that our fans like to hear,” she says.

This is a fairly common strategy. By breaking the info down into smaller pieces, you can share more details about a product without overwhelming people with a giant block of text.

Using GIFs is another great way to draw attention to your CTAs. Because the “See More” text on clickable Instagram Stories is so small and easy to miss, a lot of ecommerce businesses are now using to GIFs to grab people’s attention and point them in the right direction.

And if you want to up your GIF skill, take a page out of Pontarelli’s book and use Instagram Stories GIFs that match your brand colors and aesthetic by searching for “swipe up.”

You can also search “Later” when looking for a GIF to find our own fun and branded Instagram Stories GIFs, featuring all the calls-to-action you’ll need like Swipe Up, Giveaway, Shop Now, and Link in bio!

These are just a few ways that online stores and e-commerce brands can grow their business and make sales from Instagram.

If you’re looking for more tips on how to make sales from Instagram, including tips for how to make the most of holiday season, don’t forget to check out our full video panel above!

Looking to grow your business with Instagram? Later can help you plan your feed, schedule posts, optimize your analytics, and make sales! Sign up for free: 

Written By

Taylor Loren

Taylor Loren is the Head of Marketing at Later. She was named a LinkedIn Top Voice for social media marketing, and you can follow her writing on LinkedIn or connect with her on Instagram at @taylor.loren.