The Instagram business scene is booming with over 25 million business profiles, 2 million advertisers and 200 million users visiting an Instagram business page at least once per day.

The fast-growing social media platform — which started out as a humble photo-sharing mobile app — has a plan to change the way ecommerce brands interact with their consumers. And it seems to be working.

Instagram and Ecommerce Marketing: A Perfect Match

A survey by Global Web Index found that over one-third of Instagram users are making purchases via a mobile device. Other studies reveal that the average order value for customers referred from Instagram is $65.00 — compared to $55 from Facebook. “Instagram is popular with ecommerce brands because it's a proven acquisition channel and revenue driver. The platform's amazing capabilities for images, video and shopping are unparalleled,” said Scott Ginsberg, head of content at New York-based Metric Digital.

Acknowledging the fact that 68 percent of Instagram followers regularly engage with brands through likes and comments, compared with 32 percent of users on other social networks, Sean Si, CEO at Metro Manila-based SEO Hacker commented on how the platform “solidified itself as one of the most visually appealing social media channels available for users.” In addition, Si said Instagram’s appeal eventually made it a “hub for influencers and entrepreneurs to boast about their brand.”

As to why Instagram became so popular with ecommerce brands, Si said following the introduction of the “Buy” button in 2016, Instagram has been working hard to accommodate ecommerce marketers. For instance, Instagram began testing Shopping in Stories earlier in 2018, a feature which is now present in 46 countries. Si noted that, “Since the [primary] Instagram feed is limited to photos and short videos, Instagram stories [help] give your audience context, not just content. Context is where you gain a consumer’s trust. [Also, you can] incorporate links [into your] Instagram stories to point to, for example, the newest product page.”

“So, after your customer watches your stories, they can immediately head to the page of the product you marketed through the link [that was embedded] in the stories,” Si said.

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Instagram Marketing in 2019: It's All About the Explore Tab

Megan Jones, senior director for client strategy and service at New York-based January Digital, added that, as part of Instagram’s motive to change the ecommerce landscape, the platform has unveiled a host of different features. “In the last year, Instagram has been developing new ad and organic formats to help drive more direct conversions in order to increase an advertiser's drive to purchase ads on the platform.”

Such ad features include the new collections unit, a feature which showcases multiple slides in one Instagram post, enabling retailers to showcase a range of items at once. This was followed by the shopping via “Stories,” as previously mentioned. 

Learning Opportunities

The latest feature to be added is shopping through the “Explore” tab. The “Explore” tab showcases popular posts across the platform that Instagram’s algorithm believes users will be interested in. This globally released feature will bring a “Shopping” tab within the “Explore” tab, allowing Instagram users to seek out products from brands they follow, and brands they might like, according to Instagram. Si said that the feature will allow brands to achieve even higher visibility and exposure to Instagram's 1 billion users.

John Nash, chief marketing and strategy at Wellesley Hills, Mass.-based RedPoint Global, believes that to get the most out of this touchpoint and increase engagement through the “Explore” tab, it’s “essential that brands have all their customer data collected into a single view so they have the most complete and up-to-date understanding of the customer.”

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Nash went on to explain that when brands have the right data at hand, they can more accurately target customers on Instagram, sending personalized advertisements based on past interactions or real-time engagements. “When customers see a relevant product advertised in their Instagram feed, it will increase the chances they will want to explore the product or brand further — shifting them into a shopping mindset where the option to purchase a product is just a click away,” Nash said

Ginsberg underlined the importance of incorporating video, or a video-like ad, when it comes to approaching this new Instagram feature — no matter how small your budget is. “Even if your ecommerce company doesn't have a huge creative budget, showing a product across changing backgrounds is an easy, fast and affordable way to create movement without using video. You can use static images and still manage to create a creative, eye-catching ad. Make sure your product shots experiment with interesting angles, backgrounds and environments. You only have a few seconds, so keep users entertained while clearly showing the versatility of your product,” Ginsberg said.

What’s your Instagram marketing strategy for 2019?