How to sell on Instagram... the right way

by Ivana Radojevic on September 24 2019
Instagram Shoppable Posts Womens Fashion Canada

This blog post isn’t going to tell you your Instagram feed needs to contain great photos, catchy captions, and emojis… you already know that.

I want to talk specifically about how you can make money using Instagram, and the best way to do so.

Launching your ecommerce store is only half the battle. You have to figure out how to get customers in the door. No matter how unbelievably cool you think your product is, customers aren’t magically going to appear on your website. You have to drive traffic. There are lots of ways to drive traffic to your website: Google ads, Facebook and Instagram ads, YouTube ads, influencer marketing, etc.

Most importantly, once customers land on your site, you have to make sure your site is optimized for conversions. But more on that in another blog.

How_to_sell_on_Insta (2)

Let’s talk about shoppable Instagram posts

Back in the not-so-distant past, the only way to connect your customers to your products was through a link in your bio or through your Instagram Stories (if you had 10K+ followers that is).

The great thing about shoppable posts is that customers can now complete the entire purchase process, from discovery to checkout, without having to leave the Instagram app.

Instagram Shoppable Posts Womens Fashion CanadaThe best part is, tagging a product is as simple as tagging a person once you have your product catalogue set up.

Setting up your product catalogue on Instagram


Yes, there’s some homework involved, but getting set up shouldn’t take too long. Here are some ground rules:

> You must be located in one of these countries: United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, or Australia.
> You’ll need to set up an Instagram Business account.
> Make sure you have the latest version of the Instagram app downloaded on your device.
> Your business must sell physical goods that comply with Instagram’s merchant agreement and commerce policies.
> Your business profile must be connected to a Facebook catalog. This can be done in three different ways:

1. Use an ecommerce platform like Shopify where you can set up a shop on Facebook directly in the platform.
2. Use Catalog Manager. You can create a new catalog or use one you already have set up.
3. Add a “shop” section on your Facebook page.

Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to connect your Instagram business profile to your Facebook catalog.

But why bother selling on Instagram when you can just do it on Facebook?

Well, because an engaged follower on Instagram is, in fact, worth more than an engaged follower on Facebook. About $10 more to be exact.

Facebook vs Instagram Customers

Photo Credit: ecommerceCEO

You’re all set up to sell on Instagram… now what?

Once you’re all set up, try to create at least nine shoppable posts to activate the “Shop” tab on your Instagram profile. This will group all your shoppable posts under one tab and make it easier for users to shop and discover your products.

FYI: You can tag up to five products per single image post or 20 products per multi-photo (or “carousel”) post.

Instagram Shoppable Carousel AdInstagram Shoppable Carousel Ad Womens Fashion

TIP 1: Re-share user-generated content and tag your products in that post. The less “sales-y” and more genuine, the better.

The below example is from Unbelts: a stretchy, comfortable belt made for all shapes and sizes. The post was part of a maternity series campaign they ran. It was posted by this mommy-to-be and re-posted by Unbelts with a product tag. 


Unbelts Shoppable Instagram Post Maternity Campaign


TIP 2: You can re-purpose influencer content in the same way.

Herschel Supply regularly works with influencers and shares the content they create with appropriate product tags. You don’t have to be a major brand with an extensive budget to dabble in influencer marketing. You’d be surprised how accessible this form of marketing actually is (and how well it works!).

Herschel Supply Influencer Marketing Campaign Shoppable Posts

TIP 3: Don’t forget about your Instagram bio.

This is prime real estate for a good call-to-action (CTA). Your CTA doesn’t need to be complex, but it should make it easy for users to shop your Instagram feed. Forever21 does a great job at this. 

Forever 21 Instagram

To set up a CTA like Forever21 in your bio, you can use Linkin.bio. Linkin.bio lets you build a clickable, shoppable, landing page that looks just like your Instagram feed.

TIP 4: Use Instagram stories religiously.

You don’t have to be preoccupied trying to make these as perfectly curated as your feed.

Speaking for myself, there are many times now when I log into Instagram and only look at the stories. Most times I don’t even bother scrolling through the actual feed. Maybe I’m a unicorn, but I bet there are other unicorns out there who consume Instagram the same way I do. 

Stories are a great place to showcase behind-the-scenes content and give your followers a glimpse into your brand. 

NASA posts lots of cool behind-the-scenes content that makes you almost think you could be a brilliant astrophysicist. Almost.

NASA Instagram Stories

Photo Credit: Buffer

TIP 5: Run regular sales.

If you’re not good at math and you’re trying to run an ecommerce store, I suggest you hire someone who is. 

Let’s assume, for a minute, that 10,000 people are searching for your product and let’s assume further that of those 10,000 half actually land on your website. That’s 5,000 potential buyers. If you convert at the average conversion rate of 1-2%, that’s 50-100 sales. 

Not bad.

Say your average order value is $100, and your net profit margin is 25%, your profit will be between $1,250-$2,500. 

When you plan sales, you have to keep a close eye on that net profit margin. 

Once you’re comfortable with, and have a good grasp on, your numbers, try running some sales. You should plan a sale every four to six weeks, if possible, and account for this sale in your advertising budget (i.e., pump some extra budget into the sale).

For example, we had a client run a 30% off sale that generated a Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) on Facebook of over 100x. What this means is for every $1 we spent on Facebook, we made $100.

Another client of ours made $12,000 in revenue with a 30% off sale and still maintained a 50% profit margin. 

If you’re having a big sale, don’t wait until the caption to let users know it’s happening, show them in the image. We’re afraid to come off too “sales-y” on social media, but there’s also such a thing as not being sales-y enough. Archive the post later if it messes up your aesthetic.

Why its important to run regular sales on your ecommerce store

TIP 6: Don’t forget the analytics.

As with any form of digital marketing, you should be playing close attention to your analytics. Instagram business accounts will show you important analytics related to your shoppable posts, like how many people viewed the product information and how many clicked through to the product page. Use this information to inform your content: 

What product(s) resonate with your audience? 

What creative works the best?

Then: Optimize, optimize, optimize.

Check out our upcoming Events and Workshops. We host Shopify Meetups a number of times per year and also conduct regular workshops on a number of different topics related to ecommerce marketing. 

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