How to Build an E-commerce Brand Using Instagram When You Have No Followers

How to Build an E-commerce Brand Using Instagram When You Have No Followers

There’s a ton of advice about using Instagram as an effective online marketing tool, but it can be challenging to scale your e-commerce brand on Instagram if you are a new brand without many followers yet.

New accounts often have low engagement rates, which can be disheartening, but there are ways to navigate this period strategically. 

Let’s talk about why Instagram as a marketing tool matters, how it can help you grow your business, and look at effective strategies to grow your e-commerce brand—even when you have no followers

Why Is Instagram a Powerful E-Commerce Tool?

Today, 81 percent of people use Instagram to research products and services to buy. Therefore, using strategies to stand out from the competition and attract potential customers to your Instagram e-commerce page can reach a wider audience. 

To do this, you have to understand what makes Instagram a powerful e-commerce tool. 

Research shows we remember more of what we see through photos and videos than what we read through plain text. This makes visually-oriented platforms like Instagram a prime tool for marketing.

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Instagram lets you upload product photos, share demo videos, launch partnerships with influencers, connect with engaged followers, and boost your ROI. 

This can help you grow your e-commerce business faster than marketing only through Facebook and Twitter (which have less than half of Instagram’s brand engagement rate). 

Instagram has more than double brand engagement rate compared to Facebook and Twitter.

10 Ways to Grow an E-Commerce Brand on Instagram

We now know Instagram has a lot to offer marketers at all levels, but how do you capitalize on these benefits when you have no followers? 

Don’t worry. Here are actionable strategies you can use today to start growing your Instagram following. 

Engage With Comments and Review Feedback 

Having a ton of followers is useless if you are not engaging with them. The best way to gain and maintain a large number of followers is to engage with potential customers. 

Engaging with users takes mere minutes but has the potential to boost your revenue significantly. 

Here’s how to get started. 

Step to turn on Instagram e-commerce notifications
  1. Turn on notifications for all comments. 
  2. Respond to every comment you receive, be it positive or negative. This will help increase engagement on your posts. 
  3. Review feedback and see if there are areas you can improve in. 
  4. Thank users for taking the time to interact with your posts. 
  5. Avoid starting fights in your comment sections, even if you disagree with a user’s perspective. This will help you maintain a positive impression online. 

Research Competitors 

If you’re not sure about how to get started, look at what your competitors are doing. 

Your competitors have already done a ton of the heavy lifting and collected a huge base of engaged followers. You can use this to your advantage.

All you have to do to attract your own following is to head to the Instagram profiles of your competitors and steal their audience.

You should already have a pretty good idea of who your competitors are. If you don’t, try using Instagram’s discover tool to find popular accounts in your industry.

Instagram e-commerce discovery tool can be accessed via menu.

You can also search for keywords and hashtags that relate to your brand to get started. The top accounts relating to that keyword should appear.

#Fashion shows several hashtags related to fashion

Host Giveaways in Exchange for Engagement

Instagram giveaways can be an excellent way to generate user engagement. You may have seen some of these in your feed. 

They typically say, “like this post and tag a friend to win a free product, but that strategy might not be the most effective way to gain real followers. 

Giveaways often attract people who want free stuff and are willing to like your images to get it.

Instead, ask users to upload Instagram photos about your e-commerce brand or follow your page. If you ask users to post content, be sure to share a branded hashtag to get discovered by more users.

An Instagram e-commerce giveaway hosted to generate user engagement.

To start, announce your contest with an Instagram post. Include the rules in the description section so people will know how to enter. 

If you need help coming up with giveaway ideas, try out a tool like Woobox. The tool helps brands of all types and sizes create social media contests that drive sales, increase followers, and collect leads.

Consider offering your own products for free instead of prizes unrelated to your niche or brand, like a free iPad. Otherwise, people may only follow you for the prize rather than their interest in your brand.

Post User-Generated Content (UGC)

If you want to drive engagement, make a habit of posting user-generated content. This can be as simple as asking users to review your product in exchange for a free sample. 

User generated content can help increase engagement for your Instagram e-commerce brand

You can also choose to host bigger UGC contests where dozens (or hundreds) of users share their experiences related to your product and industry. This can help you reach new users you wouldn’t have found otherwise

Customize and Optimize Your Shop

Giveaways and hashtags might be easier than a customized, well-optimized shop, but they aren’t more important. 

In fact, having an easy-to-navigate and memorable storefront may increase your sales. 

Here are a few ways to customize and optimize your Instagram e-commerce store for maximum visibility. 

  1. Offer promotions right in the photo or the first line of the description, so users don’t scroll past it. 
Offer sales', giveaways' and prizes' description in the Instagram e-commerce photo.
  1. Add shoppable links to your photos so customers can buy your product directly. 
  2. Keep your descriptions simple, clean, and easy to understand so new users can quickly get an idea about what your Instagram e-commerce brand stands for. 
  3. Add links to your store on other channels, including your Instagram description (or bio), website, other social media pages, and email signature. 

Create a Branded Hashtag

A simple way to keep track of who is talking about your e-commerce store on Instagram is to create a branded hashtag. You can use your business name, an existing slogan, or another creative phrase.

Then, let your customers know what the tag is by adding it to your bio and encouraging followers to use it in their posts.

Later, you can search for your hashtag to find and quickly share user-generated content. You should also add these tags to your images to remind your followers about it.

For instance, when you search the tag “#topshop,” millions of photo results show popular UGC related to the brand. 

User-generated images don’t just give your brand more exposure; they also give other Instagram users exposure so they can gain more followers, too. It’s a win-win situation.

Prioritize Customer Experience

Sometimes you can do all the right things and still not get satisfactory results. You used all the right hashtags, engaged with your customers, and created tons of user-generated content, but you’re still not getting many sales.

Why is that?

It could be because your customer experience is lacking. 

The easier you can make for users to find, browse, and buy from your shop, the more sales you can see. 

A simple way to try to catapult your sales numbers is to prioritize the customer experience

Are you making it easy for Instagram users to find your website or buy your products? Is your storefront easy to navigate? Do you have alt-text for your images? Do you offer a prompt response to questions? 

These may seem like trivial things, but a good customer experience can go a long way in helping you find lifelong customers. 

Partner With Influencers in Your Niche

Instagram influencers are users with a large number of followers and a great engagement rate. 

Why do they matter for your Instagram e-commerce business?

They can help you expand your brand’s reach. These individuals have hundreds, thousands, sometimes millions of followers interested in hearing what these influencers have to say.

So if they recommend your product on their account, you are likely to see an uptick in sales. 

Influencers can help boost your Instagram e-commerce sales.

How can you partner with influencers to grow your Instagram e-commerce business?

Find influencers and large accounts in your niche. For example, if you’re a beauty company, reach out to beauty bloggers and ask them for a product post. 

If a user puts an email address on their profile or says something like “DM for business inquiries,” it typically means they’re interested in sharing sponsored posts.

Email or DM these accounts and ask what their standard pricing is for sponsored posts. Try and establish a relationship with these users.

If they’re willing to work with your competitor, they may be willing to work with you.

Then, make a spreadsheet comparing each account’s followers, cost per post, CPM, average likes per post, and followers divided by the average likes per post.

A simple spreadsheet comparing accounts for Instagram e-commerce partnerships.

Pick the account(s) with the biggest payoff and lowest price.

If you’re selling an original or unique product, it may be better to ask for a review instead of a product post.

Don’t think you have to go for the big names. Sometimes micro-influencers with just a few thousand followers have a better ROI because they have a more targeted audience. 

Use Product Tags

Another way to increase customer convenience is to use product tags to amplify your Instagram e-commerce sales. 

Product tags let users buy products directly from the app without having to jump through many hoops.

This makes it easier for them to purchase, especially if they are browsing on the go (like most of us.)  

Create Product Collections

Instagram has been working hard to create user-friendly shop interfaces to increase e-commerce activity. 

Along with handy features like product tags, Instagram launched product collections, where users can browse through products from a similar category. 

This image from the Instagram business blog shows that product collections make it straightforward to find what you want while scrolling through attractive pictures of the products. 

Instagram product collections example e-commerce for instagram

Instagram E-Commerce FAQs

Do I have to pay for an Instagram e-commerce shop?

Creating an Instagram account highlighting your products is free, but you may have to spend money on advertising, shipping, taxes, transaction fees, and other tools to make a sale. 

How to know if I’m eligible for an Instagram e-commerce shop?

Instagram has posted official eligibility guidelines on their help page. These include having a legal product, being located in a supporting market, and providing accurate information about your business, among other rules. 

How many followers do you need to get Instagram shopping?

Unlike the 10,000-follower rule for the swipe-up feature on Instagram Stories, anybody can access Instagram e-commerce features as long as they meet the eligibility criteria. 

Do you need a website to sell on Instagram?

Yes, Instagram’s e-commerce rules state that your business must own a website domain from which you intend to sell your products to qualify for an Instagram shop. 

Conclusion of Instagram E-Commerce Guide

Building a successful Instagram e-commerce business won’t happen overnight, but it can be done. 

Start with these strategies to get your business up and running, then look for tools, tips, and strategies to make your first sale. 

Which of these Instagram e-commerce tips will you try today? 

Why You Should Build Interactive Tools to Increase Sales

Why You Should Build Interactive Tools to Increase Sales

The average American sees up to 10,000 ads and brand messages every single day. Sounds a little overwhelming, right? That’s because it is.

After seeing this many ads every day, viewers simply stop noticing them—meaning they aren’t engaging with them. As a result, you miss out on sales opportunities.

You need to go further to engage your target audience and convert them by personalizing the whole marketing experience through interactive marketing tools. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are Interactive Tools in Marketing?

Pretend for a moment that you’re looking for new hair color. It’s tricky because you’re unsure which colors suit you, and you could use some personalized help.

Finally, a website catches your eye because there’s an interactive tool designed to help you pick a hair color. All you need to do is input some simple details, such as your skin tone and eye color, and you’ll see a list of compatible hair dyes.

The outcome? You purchase a hair dye. In other words, you just went from a potential lead to a paying customer, and it’s all thanks to that interactive website tool.

Essentially, this is precisely how interactive tools for marketing are meant to work. And this particular example isn’t imaginary—you can check out Boots to see what I mean:

If you go through the sequence, you’ll find a list of compatible colors. Then, when you click on a color, a link pops up to take you straight to the right product:

How’s that for convenience?

With just a few minutes of interaction, users get helpful, meaningful results—and you may make a sale.

Examples of Interactive Tools

That’s just one example of interactive tools in a sales context. However, you can build many interactive tools and discover at least as many ways you can use them in your marketing strategy.

Here are five common types of interactive marketing tools we can use in different ways.

Virtual Try Ons for Interactive Marketing

This one’s similar to what we just worked through, but it’s not quite identical—we’re taking it one step further.

Embedded “quizzes” like the one we just looked at rely on customers clicking on certain answers. The algorithm then presents people with solutions matching their answers.

Conversely, virtual try-ons use augmented reality or simple image captures to let people use selfies to “try on” everything from makeup to glasses.

The benefit? Customers know whether the product suits them or not, so they’re more likely to buy. Briefly, here’s how they work:

  • Someone visits your product page.
  • They tap the “try on” link, which activates the user’s phone camera.
  • With augmented reality, the user places the product on their face to see how it looks.
  • If they’re happy with the appearance, the prospective customer moves the product to their basket and goes through checkout.

It’s not just limited to beauty products or accessories, either. For instance, platforms like Amazon allow their users to “place” furniture around the room to see if they look good in their home. The same technology applies.

Interactive Measurement Tools

Customers sometimes find buying products like shoes online challenging because it’s hard to determine what size to get.

That’s where measurement tools come in. Let’s break down Nike’s Digital Foot Measurement Tool as an example.

  • Customers shop through the Nike app.
  • They decide on the shoes they want and opt to “try them on.”
  • The camera scan’s the person’s foot to get measurements rather than using augmented reality.
  • Once the scan is complete, the app tells the person which size they should choose.

It’s easy to see how this may lead to more sales and, happily, fewer returns.

Interactive Calculators

Calculators are useful interactive tools for your website and can be used in more ways than one might think, including as:

  • Nutritional calculators
  • Pricing calculators to help potential customers build customized product “bundles”
  • Financial calculators to help people select the right financial product for their circumstances

Whichever sector you’re in, there’s a good chance you can use an interactive calculator to personalize the user experience.

For example, say you run a kitchen supplies website, and you want people to buy your recipe books. They’ve asked questions about how healthy the recipes are.

A nutritional calculator can help them out and, in turn, encourage people to spend more time on your website and potentially have more trust in your brand.

7 Reasons You Should Use Interactive Tools to Increase Sales

We’ve explored what interactive marketing tools are and how they work. There’s still a fundamental question remaining: Can these tools increase your sales?

The answer is: Yes! Here are my top seven reasons why interactive tools in your marketing strategy can increase sales:

1. Interactive Tools Boost Engagement Levels

Customer engagement is vital, but it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. Here are two reasons why:

  • The average person spends almost two and a half hours a day scrolling through social media. In this time, they’re exposed to countless marketing messages, from banner ads to PPC.
  • We’ve become “conditioned” to ignore banners (a phenomenon dubbed “banner blindness.”)

Don’t worry, though. This time is where interactive tools have their chance to shine. 66% of marketers report an increase in engagement levels after introducing interactive content to their marketing plans.

Ultimately, increased customer engagement is a pretty effective way to generate more sales in the long-term, so it’s worth using interactive tools in your content.

2. Improved UX Using Interactive Tools May Convert Customers

Conversion is what marketing is all about, and interactive tools could help you do just that. Let me show you how it’s working for JINS, a prescription eyewear provider.

As a forward-thinking company, JINS wanted a new, innovative way to increase conversion rates and improve customer experience. Their solution came via virtual try-ons for glasses.

All someone needs to do is turn on their camera and upload a selfie to the platform. Once that’s done, the user chooses which frames they’re interested in and puts them onto the selfie.

Here’s what it looks like in action. On the left, we have the selfie, and on the right, the actual frames after the customer made their purchase:

Potential customers now have a quick and accurate way to gauge which glasses to buy! According to JINS, conversion rates have drastically improved since they added this interactive tool.

3. Interactive Tools Allow Customers to Feel Confident in Large Purchases

Like I said earlier, this is not just about trying on hair colors or checking out fashion accessories. This technology is about making big purchases, too.

Take Target, for example. Users upload a picture of their room and place a true-to-life copy of a furniture piece in the space. They can also download the Target app and try out the augmented reality version instead, which is a little more engaging because you can move the product around the room. Amazon does this with many of their products in their app as well.

This feature allows users to check if the furniture or other large item fits their space before purchasing it, which means they’re more likely to click “buy” and less likely to make returns.

4. Personalized User Experience via Interactive Tools Can Increase Conversions

Do you see a pattern of personalization forming? Interactive tools allow us to personalize marketing like never before. Here’s why it matters from a sales perspective:

These stats tell us two things:

First, customers crave personalization. They want to feel valued by companies.

Second, they’re more likely to become loyal customers if there’s a personal touch to your marketing efforts.

This is a no-brainer way to build brand loyalty and increase your chance of future sales.

5. Interactive Tools Increase Lead Generation

I’ve touched on this already, but it’s worth emphasizing just how effective a lead generation strategy using interactive tools can be from a sales perspective.

Firstly, there’s an SEO angle. If you can attract more social media shares and inbound links, you should generate more traffic. Additionally, if people spend more time on your website and there’s a lower bounce rate, your search engine ranking can improve. Social shares may boost your SEO ranking by over 20%, too. (You can check who’s linking back to you with my free backlink checker.)

The upshot of interactive tools catching people’s eyes is that there could be more organic traffic and better quality leads because the people you’re attracting are already looking for your product or service.

Let’s think about this from another angle, too. The data you’re capturing from prospects as they use your tools may help you figure out what your customers want so you can improve your products and services.

Consequently, you can generate more quality leads in the long-term, all without much extra effort from a marketing perspective.

Sounds great, right?

6. Automate Your Marketing With Interactive Tools

Yes, interactive tools can help you automate your marketing efforts, and the tools do much of the work for you. The algorithms detect what the customer wants and make recommendations or offer solutions based on this information.

This can help you increase sales and make alterations as needed because you can:

  • Check your metrics to ensure the tools are working how you want them to
  • Make changes to the UX based on what you’re seeing
  • Compare performance across different interactive tools and invest time, energy, and resources in the ones performing most effectively

7. Interactive Tools May Draw Traffic to Your Website  

Without traffic coming to your website, there’s little chance you’ll make sales. Again, interactive tools can help you out here. Here’s why.

Firstly, 47% of people use ad blockers now, so there’s a chance some potential customers won’t even see your marketing if you’ve focused efforts on those. Interactive tools help you sidestep this problem.

Secondly, 79% of successful marketers say interactive tools and content encourage people to return to their websites. It’s not just about creating new content, either—you can use the same content time and time again when you have interactive tools.

Think about it. If a customer loves the eyeglasses they purchased from you the first time around, they’re more likely to return to your online shop. There, they’ll use the same virtual try on tool they used before to check out different pairs. You didn’t have to try to impress them with new interactive tools, promotional emails, or any other marketing strategy—they liked what they used the first time and engaged with it again.

How’s that for a cost-efficient way to solidify a lasting relationship with your customer base?

Conclusion

Why should you build interactive tools to increase your sales? Well, as we can see, they’re not just a reliable way to generate leads and improve conversion rates, but they’re cost-effective, too.

They’re not especially challenging to deploy, either. It’s easy enough to find interactive tools you can tweak to suit your needs and embed them on your website. If you want more help with introducing interactive tools into your marketing strategy, check out my consulting services.

Have you tried interactive marketing tools yet?

How To Leverage Content To Build Trust

How To Leverage Content To Build Trust

Your content plays an important role in building trust. It affects how people perceive your brand in obvious as well as subtle ways. In this post, we’ll look at different ways you can leverage content so that your audience trusts your brand sooner and is willing to buy from you.

Both trust-building and content creation are ongoing processes that will help you get results in the short and long run. Here are the different content types you need to create to build trust continuously and to create a solid brand image.

Publish blog posts regularly

Have you ever visited a website and then wondered why they haven’t posted any content recently? Visitors to a site will notice if a website does not update their content. This can create discomfort because it indicates a lack of activity and will make users wonder if the business will respond to them.

This makes it important to create blog posts regularly. Whether you post a blog post once a month or every week, the important thing is to do it consistently. And you can also update your create evergreen posts by adding edits and making the date field show when the post was last updated. Google notices when your posts are updated too and this impacts how well your content ranks on search engines.

Stay on top of your social media posts

Just like your blog or website, you need to create and post content regularly on social media. If you’re starting out or are a small company and don’t have a large following yet, it’s still important to keep posting content often.

Even if you get most of your leads from other places, your social media content still matters because your activity level implies that you are likely to respond to queries from your audience.

So, create posts on a daily basis if not multiple times a day. And make posts that use natural conversational language so that your audience feels like you’re talking to them directly and in a friendly way.

Respond to comments

Along with your blog and social media posts, visitors to your site or social media profiles will explore comments people leave. It is critical to reply to comments that users make on your posts. When your audience sees that you respond to comments, they’ll feel assured that you listen to people. They’ll expect you to similarly respond to customer complaints, which will make them comfortable.

It’s important to create responses that are personalized, informative, and that sound authentic. Canned responses like ‘We appreciate your feedback’ alone will make your audience feel like you’re not really listening. Try to speak to your readers in a natural tone of voice and have a conversation instead.

It’s small touches like these that create a good image of your business.

Keep your emails out of the spam folder

One powerful way to make sure that your content builds trust is to make it ‘spam-proof’. Today, email service providers take spam protection seriously. Steps like making sure that your email copy doesn’t have any spam trigger words will ensure that your content doesn’t land in the spam folder.

It is also vital that you send email content only to people who have explicitly agreed to receive content. Sending newsletters with helpful content to your email list helps you build a relationship with your audience. So, it’s important to ensure that your email arrives in their inbox.
Make sure that you configure your email settings correctly and authenticate your email so that it lands in your user’s inbox. This step can be difficult to do and it’s a good idea to use a plugin like WP Mail SMTP to help you. You can also get a white glove set up done for you in case you need additional help.

Leverage user-generated content

Your audience expects marketing messages to portray your company in the best light. However, if customers and other audience members engage with your business and leave positive feedback, then your leads are more likely to trust you.

User-generated content consists of posts, reviews, testimonials, and other types of content created by your audience or customers. Content on forums, pictures on social media, discussions, ratings and similar material can be leveraged on your website or social media.

Ask your customers for testimonials and add them to your website with the customer’s headshot, company name, and position.

Use a social media feed tool to integrate social feeds into your website so that you can share posts created by the public in a feed on your site pages.

Highlight the number of users your product has or feature positive reviews left by happy customers on your landing page.

Steps like these add social proof to your site, creating compelling arguments in favor of your business. Visitors to your site and people researching your brand will trust you sooner and buy from your business.

Create FAQ pages

An FAQ page makes it convenient for users to find critical information. It also shows foresight on your part. As you carry out your usual business activities, take note of challenges that your users face or common questions people ask about your solutions.

Address these issues with an FAQ page so that users can quickly get the answer they’re looking for and make the decision to buy from you.

This type of content subtly conveys a large amount of information about how prepared and aware your business is. The effort and research you do to create content that helps your users by providing just the information they need will speak volumes about your reliability.

Back to you

To build trust, you not only have to explicitly promise your users that you’re reliable, you also have to back your claims by carrying out ongoing content creation activities.

We’ve covered several ways that you can build trust through content. You are certain to come up with more ideas of your own that will lead to a stronger brand image. So, focus on your content creation and management to win over your audience.


Syed Balkhi is an award-winning entrepreneur and online marketing expert. He is the co-founder of OptinMonster, WPBeginner, MonsterInsights, and WPForms.