Instagram Marketing Strategies to Drive More Sales

instagram Feb 19, 2018

Here’s a stat for you - Instagram has over 8 million users that are using the business profile option.

That means that your brand needs to have a presence on Instagram if it wants to compete with millions of other businesses online. And tap into 800 million active users. In fact, over half of these users log in daily, according to Pew Research.

Delving into the world of Insta opens up lots of opportunities to interact and engage with demographics you might find difficult to access on other platforms. And with 60% of Instagram’s users aged 18-29, it’s the perfect place to pitch to millennials, Gen Z…and all the other bizarre names for younger audiences.

It’s a valuable platform with valuable audiences and your brand can connect with them in a fun, dynamic way.

But it’s not all about selfies with your dog and photos of sunsets. If brands want to succeed on Instagram then they need to come up with customer-focused, creative and thoughtful content strategies.

Let’s look at how to implement some marketing strategies on Instagram:

Decide on your Goals and Objectives

Like any good marketing strategy, you need to set out what you want to achieve…before you achieve it. This will keep you accountable and gives you metrics to measure, so you can tell if you’re making progress or not (obviously you are, cos you’re awesome!)

  • So first up - WHO are you looking to target on Instagram? Create some audience personas to give your brand more clarity. Dive deep and think about demographics.
  • WHAT are you setting out to achieve? Driving more revenue? Generating more leads? More brand awareness?  i.e “Increase sales of x product by 15% by the end of September.”
  • HOW are you going to measure success? Will this be with the amount of followers you gain? Your post engagement rate? Leads generated from Instagram profile clicks?

The metrics you pick to measure your campaign success need to tie in with your marketing objectives.

For example, you could be a pet store (life goals!) who wants to:

  • Increase the amount of people aged 25-35 following your brand in 6 month by 20%.
  • Improve local brand awareness by 30% in 6 months.
  • Drive 25% increase in sales over 6 months through Instagram traffic.

So, you have some goals that are fixed in terms of time frame and progress and you can assess whether you’re on track or not using analytics software and change elements if you need to.

Identifying your Audience

Before you set Instagram alight with your amazing content, you need to identify your audience and do some research.

Otherwise you’re just churning out posts with no direction or purpose. No one wants that!

You can access demographic data by tapping on the analytics bar graph in the top right corner, inside your app:

Optimizing your Instagram Profile

As well as creating loads of fantastic content, you need to make sure that your profile is optimized, so you can connect with as many users as possible.

A bit like making sure you’re listed on Google with all the correct details about your business.

Figure 1: Source - Etsy Instagram Page

Here you can see that Etsy has written a clear, concise and snappy bio description – if you’ve got a tagline, use it or work out how to encompass who your brand is and what it does in 150 characters.

Etsy has got a strong brand logo, it’s clear who they are and they’ve got a link to their e-commerce site.

If you’re a local business with a physical store then you can pop your location details in too.

Remember, you can only post links in your bio if you’ve got a Business Account, so it’s essential you sign up.

Your Content Strategy

It’s time to get creative and start putting some themes and ideas together for your content strategy. Get your thinking cap on!

Ideally, your content should be informed by what you’re audience is interested in and you can pull in other data you’ve collected to help you. For example, use your CRM to determine FAQs and common queries, so you can build content from this.

You want your content to do a few things (let’s keep going with the pet store analogy):

  • Solve customer problems and add value to their i.e  great local dog walking routes
  • Give them information about new products/services lives i.e the best treats you offer for specific breeds with dietary problems
  • Show your brand’s personality and identity i.e a behind-the-scenes look at the pet grooming process

Taking some time out to work on your Instagram voice and tone is really important. Are you going to be slick and professional? Goofy and fun? This will be the sound and feel that your brand communicates.

Make sure the content you’re planning aligns with your brand identity. Fun, quirky posts can help to reflect your ethos, values and brand image. Take a look at MailChimp’s style guide to see how they use their voice and tone to run throughout all of their content, across platforms.

Mind map lots of different themes and angles that you can cover with your posts. Using posts to boost info about products, services, team members and culture is a good start.

Types of Content

There are a fair few different types of content you can use on Instagram to reach your target audiences. Let’s look at what’s available to play around with:


Obviously, Instagram is a predominantly visual app, so images are your brand’s bread and butter. You can use traditional image formats to post photos of all sorts of things, within the guidelines.

Users are looking for authentic, honest posting, so if you can avoid stale product photos that scream ‘advertisement’ then you’re on the right track. Remember to focus on your brand’s personality.

Think about your brand aesthetic and create your own style guidelines. Are there colors, backgrounds, and subjects you’re looking at using consistently?

So, your brand could use images to post:

  • Behind-the-scenes photos that show off your brand’s personality and culture. You could give your audience an insight into what goes on behind a product launch or just a typical day in the office etc.
  • Reposting photos from your employees, so you show things from their perspective i.e preparing for an event.
  • Images that are educational and show your audience how to do something or things to look out for i.e tips and advice for a recipe.
  • If you work with influencers then you can let them take over your account for the day and post their own content, in connection with your brand. This can work really well if you’re working with an influencer that’s a great fir for your brand and you can reach out to their followers as well as your own.
  • Motivational posts or insightful info can be effective too. You don’t always have to post visuals of scenes or people; you can post text-visuals. This is good for showing off your brand’s ethos.
  • Seasonal content is great and you can piggyback off a trend, news event or season i.e a tongue-in-cheek post with Halloween outfits for dogs.
  • User-generated content’s a fantastic way to connect with your audience, engage with them and show you’re interested in their ideas. This content is curated by your followers and you can repost it. It’s great exposure for a follower and gets them excited and involved in your brand. 

Here’s an example from Etsy where they’ve referenced the user in the Insta caption:

Figure 2: Source - Etsy Instagram Page

When you’re taking photos, think about what will look good and what will stand out. Use symmetry, patterns, natural light and cool perspectives for your images.

Instagram has brilliant editing and filtering options, so you can tweak and perfect your images to your hearts content if you’re not happy with them first-time around.

Instagram Albums and Collages

A fairly recent new addition to Instagram’s offering is the ability to create albums. You can include a maximum of 10 photos in one post. This is really cool because it allows you to create a story or a narrative – sort of like a comic strip or a storyboard.

You can also give instructional tips, show what happened at an event, launch a new product with different perspectives and loads more ideas.

Figure 3: Source - Etsy Instagram Page

Collages are possible too, where multiple photos can create a large-scale image. This can look really effective and you need to break down your images into a grid-like format so they fit together.

Video Content

You can also post video content to Instagram, anything up to 60 seconds in length. Remember that Insta videos start off with no sound, so it’s a good idea to include captions or make a video that’s understandable without sound, as lots of people can be watching videos in public places or places they shouldn’t be watching videos…the office, maybe!

Experiment with what your audience is engaging with. If it makes sense to create videos and your audience is responding positively then work in more story-telling and video in your content strategy.

You can add locations and captions to videos too.

Download external apps, Boomerang and Hyperlapse to create GIF-style videos and time-lapse videos for more variety.

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories give you a different way to tell brand stories. This is a great tool if you’re on location somewhere, organizing an event, doing an interview, FAQs, behind-the-scenes content. Basically, anything where you’re capturing a dynamic situation that’s changing and interactive.

Your Stories will disappear after 24 hours, so they’re a good way of flooding your account with content, but not intruding on users’ main timeline.

This is where you can create authentic, honest and unfiltered content. It’s a good place to experiment and test out content ideas too.

Tap the camera in the upper left, hit the Your Story + button or swipe right to start.

In Stories, you can:

  • Add locations, tag users, doodle, create polls, add funny filters and labels
  • Post photos and videos
  • Create GIF-style posts with Boomerang and fun features like Superzoom, Rewind

Figure 4: Source - Etsy Blog

You can also broadcast to your audience using Instagram Live, so you can create real-time content and chat with your followers. This is good for FAQs, interviews or product demonstrations.

Captions and Hashtags

The maximum caption count is 2,200 characters, so you’ve got loads of space to play around with. It’s good to get a clear message across and you can use your copywriting skills to craft a compelling narrative for your post, if you so wish. It’s probably safer to keep your messaging quite concise though as you want your audience to receive your messages loud and clear, instead of having to sift through reams of text – after all, it is a visual app.

Add geotags for more engagement and make sure that you include CTAs in your captions. What do you want your audience to do – give them a gentle instruction on how to do what you want them to.

Instagram is fab for:

  • Launching promotional offers and competitions
  • Giving teasers for new products and services
  • Releasing products live

Perfecting your Hashtag strategy is important too. Look at the hashtags in your industry, what’s trending at the moment and which hashtags are your audience are engaging with.

Research shows that the best number of hashtags to use is 11, so that’s your magic number – of course, you can go over this too.

You can use the search function within Instagram’s Explore tab to see which hashtags are being engaged with and what others are using. Spend time researching your hashtags and make sure they’re relevant to your audience and industry.

Use general, popular and more specific hashtags.

A Content Calendar

You don’t want to bombard your users with hundreds of photos every day, you’ll end up seriously annoying them. Setting up a good content schedule is an effective marketing practice, regardless of what platform you’re on. There are dashboards that allow you to schedule posts and analyze results which can be really useful.

First of all, do some research on the best times to post content. Because of Instagram’s new algorithm, that favors engagement over chronology – you need to ensure that you post at times when users are most active and ready to engage with your images. This means that you’ll appear higher up in newsfeeds.

Take a look at some insights into good times to post. On average, brands are posting 6 times a week to create an editorial calendar to plan content and record engagement. Be consistent, post regularly and try to highlight patterns and trends you’re finding with times, engagement and your audiences.

Have a schedule, but leave room for spontaneous content too. This will look more authentic to your audiences and it’s good to keep them on their toes. You can also automatically post your Instagram content to Facebook too.

Analyzing Results

Tracking your Instagram success is crucial for your long-term marketing strategy. You can deliver better content for your audience and stuff they’ll find more valuable.

Instagram doesn’t have a really detailed insights tool, but you can see basic follower growth, impressions, reach, and engagement info.

There are lots of third-party apps you can use though.

But even if you don’t use detailed analysis, in basic terms, if your followers, likes, comments and video views are steadily increasing over time – you’re doing something right!

You can set up advertising through the Facebook Ad Manager and it’ll take you through the steps you can take for your Insta ad.

Final Thoughts

A strong Instagram marketing strategy that’s built on personality, authenticity and intelligent posting is a great way to connect with younger demographics, new users and showhigh-qualityality content about your products and services.

It’s a really creative, experimental platform and your brand can have a lot of fun.

Boost your brand identity and curate an attractive brand image for your audience to engage with. In the long-run, this will drive sales and create more awareness for your brand’s product.