There are a few unspoken rules that ecommerce merchants must follow to be successful. One of these is to meet prospective customers where they are—and for most ecommerce brands, that's Instagram. Your Instagram followers represent a potential goldmine for your business.

90% of accounts follow at least one business on Instagram. 83% of users say they discover new products and services on the platform. It's simple: If you're in the business of selling and you're not on this social media network, you're putting your brand at a disadvantage.

But of course, it's not enough to just be on Instagram. You've got to do it well. Fortunately, Instagram has several tools in place to help you succeed on their platform. After all, it's in their best interest: The more you invest in your Instagram social media marketing, the more users will be engaged. That means they'll spend more time on the app, and Instagram ads will reach more sets of eyes. It's a win-win for you and the social media platform.

So ecommerce merchants, listen up! Here are three tools and features your business absolutely must be using to get more ecommerce sales from Instagram:

  1. Shoppable posts on Instagram
  2. Click-to-Messenger ads on Instagram
  3. IGTV

#1. Use shoppable posts as a portal to your online store

A shoppable post looks almost like a regular Instagram image at first, except that it has a small white shopping-bag icon in the corner. Once an Instagram follower taps the photo, the names and prices of the product(s) pictured appear. If the user taps one of those, they'll be taken to that product on your store's website. The best part: This all happens right within the Instagram app. There's no redirecting or app-switching involved, which minimizes drop-off and makes the user's shopping experience quick and seamless.
This swimwear company uses shoppable posts in their feed often, so users can easily browse and buy the items they see in the photos.

Tips for getting the most out of Instagram's shoppable posts

  • Make sure your posts fit with the rest of your feed 📸 Aesthetics come first on a social media marketing platform like Instagram. The more these posts naturally fit in with the others on your profile, the more likely users will be to view them. (And of course, the more users who view your shoppable posts, the more conversions you're likely to get!)
  • Use carousels 🎠 If you have several products you want to showcase at once (like a collection), use a carousel instead of a single image. You'll be able to tag products in every photo (up to 20 total). Carousels can also help you create shoppable posts that match your feed. The first one can be of your products "in the wild," like on a model or in a room. The following ones can be close-up images of each item, or photos of the items from other angles.
Use image carousels to show your products from different angles, like this apparel retailer does.
  • Create shoppable posts regularly 🗓️ Once you've posted nine, you'll have the ability to show a Shop tab on your business profile. It's just one more way to make it easy for users to browse what you offer, so you can get more ecommerce sales from Instagram. Plus, the Shop tab has a Wish List & Recently Viewed section. So if a user looked at or favorited one of your items in the past, they'll show up at the top of this tab.
Once your account has nine shoppable posts, they'll show up in a tab where users can browse your products more easily and even save them to their Wish List.

#2. Create a personal shopping experience with click-to-Messenger ads

PSA: Click-to-Messenger ads aren't just for Facebook feeds! If you're already running ads on Instagram, this ad type is one to add to your social media marketing strategy as soon as possible. Here's how they work:

  1. The user clicks the CTA on your eye-catching ad in their Instagram feed
  2. They're instantly redirected to Facebook Messenger
  3. Your Messenger chatbot initiates a conversation to take the user down the sales funnel toward a conversion, so you can get more ecommerce sales
Click-to-Messenger ads work on Instagram too! They'll direct users right to your bot in Messenger, which can then start moving them down the funnel.

Once your bot starts chatting with a prospect, there's a lot it can do to increase the likelihood of a conversion. It can answer FAQs for your Instagram followers, like Do you ship to the UK? or Are your products organic? That means prospects can get their questions answered without combing online FAQ lists, or waiting hours for a response from customer service.

A Messenger chatbot can also recommend products based on the user's individual tastes and preferences. It can then share links to your ecommerce site where they can buy. Chatfuel customer Beauty Player, a Taiwan-based skincare startup, does this well.

  1. Their chatbot quizzes users to find out their skin type: dry, oily, sensitive, etc.
  2. The chatbot then recommends masks, moisturizers, and other products relevant to that user, and shares the links to buy.

Thanks to this effective tactic, the startup attributes 40% of their $250k monthly revenue to their Messenger chatbot! Learn more about this ecommerce store's success story.
A chatbot can quiz users on what they're in the market for and recommend products on your site that fit their needs.

To learn more about setting up a Messenger chatbot to sell your ecommerce website's products, check out these resources:

#3. Build trust and show products in action on IGTV

Videos on Instagram Stories are limited to 15 seconds. Regular video posts are limited to 60 seconds. If your brand wants to post longer-form content than that, IGTV—or Instagram TV—is your solution. These videos can be up to an hour long, and they'll stay on your profile permanently, unlike Stories. They appear in your feed and in a separate tab, just like shoppable posts, so your Instagram followers and prospects can view them any time. You can also create a Series of IGTV videos that go together.
Lululemon is an often-cited example of an ecommerce brand that uses IGTV well.

Here are a few ways IGTV videos can boost your ecommerce business:

  • Build brand credibility and trust 🤝 Show the shoppers on Instagram that you're experts in your field. Share helpful or entertaining content related to your brand on IGTV to build trust. As you can see in the example above, athletic-wear brand Lululemon does this by sharing workout videos users can follow along with. It shows that they care about the health of their audience, and conversions often follow that kind of trust.
  • Showcase how your products work 🔎 Use IGTV videos as opportunities to bring Instagram followers up close and personal with your products. Share videos of unboxing, of how they work, of how to set them up, etc. Give users that "behind-the-scenes" feel with your IGTV content and help them get to know your products better.
  • Tell stories 📖 Video presents a great opportunity to humanize your ecommerce business. Share videos of customers using your products or explaining why they love them. Have your founder introduce themselves and explain how the brand was born. Get creative and use IGTV to establish that emotional bond with your prospects to lay the groundwork for sales and loyalty.

Instagram and ecommerce go hand in hand

As an ecommerce website owner, you've got to bring your A-game to Instagram in order to stay competitive and continually attract new customers. It's true that there's a lot of ecommerce competition on the platform, but there are also billions of users to reach. Focus on creativity and consistency as you use these three tools to supercharge your sales.

We're about to release brand-new tools to help you automate conversations with prospects and customers on Instagram! Learn more and join the wait list.