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How to Attract Shoppers Using Instagram

In a recent study, ecommerce solution provider Volusion found the most successful categories by average revenue across the US were Electronics, followed by Arts & Crafts and Home & Garden. In reviewing its selections, Volusion also provided four suggestions to help sellers find more sales:

1) Sell on Instagram, especially in the categories of apparel, beauty, home goods, sporting goods, automotive, food & beverage, which are all industries in the top 10 enterprising cities list.

Volusion has seen the greatest success for Small and Medium sized Businesses on IG when they:

– Post high quality videos and photos;
– Focus on telling a story that people can relate to;
– Feature testimonials or repost photos from satisfied customers.

2) More ecommerce products equals more sales. More items in your store leads to more money. If your product needs batteries or would go great with a carrying case, sell those as additional items. An extra few bucks adds up over time. And the larger your selection, the greater the opportunity to reach a wider audience. This is a strategy that has worked for many of Volusion’s biggest SMBs on the top 10 enterprising list.

3) Know your cart. Every ecommerce business knows the dreaded A-word… abandonment. When someone is in the final stages of checkout and ultimately abandons their shopping cart before clicking purchase, what do you do? Take time to understand how to diagnose abandoned carts, trouble shoot by offering multiple payment options, re-think your shipping options, and use retention emails offering deals or promotions to get in touch right away if you’ve lost a customer.

4) Use Google Analytics (if you aren’t already!). Successful ecommerce entrepreneurs live and breathe by the data provided by Google Analytics. While audience data includes shopper demographics, lifetime value, and interests, acquisition information highlights which channels are successful at driving website traffic and sales. If applied correctly, these business insights fuel an effective growth strategy, give merchants a leg up on the competition and provide a better user experience for their visitors.

Kate Ngo, Senior Product Manager at Volusion, said social media site Instagram “has become an important channel to focus on for social media marketing efforts, one that’s much easier now that Facebook bought the visual platform and allowed ads to run on both sites.”

Ngo further emphasized Instagram works for both retaining and attracting business. “For example, Volusion founder Southern Fried Chics features their Instagram posts directly on their ecommerce site. For shoppers who are already on their site, this is an effective way to showcase the brand’s community, grow their following, and bring back repeat customers.

“Another Volusion founder, Gigi New York uses Instagram to drive new customers. Their Instagram feed celebrates fashion and design and appeals to a wide audience of over 100K followers. Posting inspirational content for this audience is a great way for potential shoppers to find them, and offers a gateway to their store.”

As with any social media marketing efforts, sellers work on making valuable word-of-mouth content appealing without over-commercializing. “Successful Volusion sellers know that the trick is to not just balance promotional content with valuable content, but to combine them,” Ngo said.

She also recommended sellers on Instagram “ask followers to use a branded hashtag so you can share their photos, and don’t forget to check your DMs for photos and other content and correspondence.”

On the analysis side of selling, Ngo expanded upon Volusion’s recommendation of Google Analytics and getting the most from that service. “Those who are more successful tend to do a deeper analysis into customer behavior, such as what customers are typing in search, how much time they are spending on the site, and to which pages customers are bouncing. Google Analytics also provides data on which products are converting into sales, so that level of data allows merchants to forecast inventory levels, as well as customer trends,” she said.

“Google Analytics can also help your social media efforts. Merchants should get familiar with Click IDs – they allow you to see which posts are sending traffic to your site. This is extremely helpful if you have access to adding links to your Instagram Stories.”

An Instagram presence poses the potential for helping sales with upselling and cross-selling products. “This varies on the merchant, depending on relevancy, type of product, and how the upsell/cross-sell is implemented. However, merchants can usually expect between a 10-30% increase in sales,” Ngo said.

“Specifically, we’ve seen increases in sales that include coupon codes tied to Instagram or an Instagram Story clip. Dynamic ads also play a key role in driving customers from social media back to a website to complete their purchase.”

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.