This is a special guest contributor post by Jonathan Chan from Foundr Magazine.
At Foundr, Instagram has been a huge part of our success.
Back in 2015, we grew our Instagram followers from 0 to 400,000 in less than a year. Today, we’re sitting at over a million.
Followers, however, were just the start. Instagram was also central in …
- Creating a monthly readership of over a 100,000 unique visitors
- Generating 30,000 new email subscribers in 30 days and eventually building a list of over 250,000
- Increasing onsite conversions by 30%
- Bootstrapping ourselves into a multimillion-dollar digital-media company
And we’re far from alone. Deona Monique built her first million-dollar store — Boho Exotic Studio — selling hair extensions using our teachings on Instagram:
“Because of Instagram, my eCommerce business made $900,000 within 24 hours. With Instagram, I can reach A-list celebrities, I can reach musicians, I can reach customers all over the world immediately. And I don't know any other form or outlet that has that contact.”
Deona Monique, Owner Boho Exotic Studio
Unfortunately, engagement alone doesn’t generate revenue.
That’s why today, I want to reveal not just the tactics we use at Foundr but how ecommerce brands can supercharge their funnels and drive bottom line results.
How Competitions Drive Qualified Leads and User-Generated Content
Everyone loves a chance to win — whether they’re already following your brand or aren’t anywhere close to your funnel yet.
To launch a lead-building Instagram contest, all you need is:
- A giveaway featuring a specific product (or set) you want to promote.
- An easy-to-remember hashtag that combines your brand, competition, and followers’ interests.
- A contest type: like-to-win, tag-to-win, or photo challenge.
- A simple set of share-friendly instructions.
- A top-of-funnel metric to measure your end goal.
- And an immediate plan for follow-up.
“Like to win” contests are great for keeping your existing audience active. But these types of competitions, while they’ll increase engagement, won’t increase brand awareness or generate quality leads.
On Instagram, “tag to win” competitions consistently generate the most ROI.
What’s also interesting is how SkinnyMe Tea has created a special competition page for their followers to sign up on. While this isn’t necessary for your Instagram competition, it is a very clever way to track the health of your Instagram sales funnel by checking to see how many people are clicking through to your link and gather more subscribers to your email list.
Next, notice how Drop Bottle adds extra call-to-actions in the caption of their post: “Enter as many times as you like” and “Regram for extra brownie points.” This pushes followers to go beyond simply tagging their friends and gives preference to those who promote their competition.
Keep your competition’s instructions short and to the point. A general rule of thumb is to be like Stadium Goods and limit them to three steps or less.
Tap into the power of referral marketing by teaming up with adjacent brands. It’s a fantastic way to spread your brand’s awareness and generate even more leads in an organic way.
Photo or selfie challenges work brilliantly as well. Not only is this a form of referral marketing, without being overt, it also drives user-generated content, which is social media ecommerce pay dirt.
Lulus involves their community with “#luluspetcontest” where they ask followers to share a post of their pets.
Image via Lulus
Frank Body encourages their customers to post photos of themselves using their product to win an extra bag of their coffee scrubs.
Image via Frank Body
Remember that top-of-funnel, your goal on Instagram is to generate as many qualified leads as possible.
For example, if you're looking for a way to quickly boost engagement and heighten awareness, then a “like-to-win” competition might be enough to do just that. It doesn’t require a lot of effort from participants because it’s about as straightforward as contests come. However, these competitions probably aren’t going to give you very invested leads.
On the other hand, if someone’s willing to go somewhere, take a photo, share that photo with your company and their friends, all for a chance to win something — then they’re far more interested in what your company has to offer. It’s a higher bar, often generates less engagement, but drives followers toward becoming customers.
Generally speaking, you don’t want to run a competition more than once a month because your followers will associate your brand with “freebies” and lower its value. With that said, you should definitely take advantage of everything competitions and contests have to offer and grow your leads and customers.
How Lead Magnets Generate the Most Valuable Lead of All: Email Subscribers
The tricky thing about selling your products through your Instagram’s bio link is that the more actions someone has to take, the less likely they are to follow through.
No matter how great your posts may look, if you want someone to take action, you need to make it worth their while.
This is where lead magnets come in.
Because you want to get someone from your Instagram to your ecommerce store as quickly as possible, you need to be able to offer an incentive that entices.
On Foundr’s Instagram, we offer a variety of free eBooks that we know are relevant to our audience. We include these offers — like How to Connect with Influencers & Land Interviews — every ten or so posts, following Gary Vee’s “jab, jab, jab, right hook” strategy.
The link drives followers to an Instagram-specific landing page where they have to input their contact details in order to receive the eBook.
To this day, that strategy remains one of our best sources of lead generation.
But, how does that apply to ecommerce?
Coupon codes exclusive to Instagram are a straightforward starting point. Not only will this attract new followers, but it’ll give your current followers a reason to stay engaged.
By offering a coupon code that’s exclusive to Instagram, Fashion Nova can reward their Instagram followers and subtly let their audience know to keep coming back to their Instagram for more exclusive deals. Plus, once someone places an order via the code, they’re able to track Instagram ROI easily.
Instagram exclusive sales are another foundational way to bridge the gap between your posts and products:
As with GOATcase, always ensure that your bio link drives followers directly to the promotion itself:
Sand Cloud takes a similar approach through the newly enabled link feature in Instagram Stories:
Swiping up takes you directly to the product page where they use an ingeniously engaging overlay to capture new visitor’s email addresses immediately:
Beyond coupons and sales, think creatively about how you can help your Instagram followers.
A great lead magnet is something that always adds value to your follower’s lives in some way, shape, or form. The Pawsome delivers a great lead magnet by offering to educate their followers to take photos with their classic aesthetic.
Schiller Fitness offers a very simple lead magnet by reminding followers that this is the last day to register for their Summer Fat Loss program. Notice how the caption drives people to the bio link, and how this post uses as many hashtags as possible to get even more exposure.
Green Thickies regularly posts recipe previews on Instagram to draw followers over to their blog.
Once visitors arrive, two things happen:
- They get the recipe (so they do not bait and switch).
- They get an overlay offer tying the recipe to their e-course.
You can also use Instagram as a way to convert more people into your mailing list, especially if you have an upcoming product launch. By using the relevant lead magnets, you can quickly start building an interest list for your product before you’ve even started selling it.
From free samples and giveaways, to training and eBooks, the most important thing to remember about your Instagram lead magnet is that it should be relevant, attractive, and tailored to your brand.
That’s a Wrap...
There are plenty of great ways that you can use Instagram to attract, develop, and sell to high-quality leads — these are just a few of them. The important thing to remember is that the visual, personal, and inherently social nature of Instagram makes it a powerful tool for getting your brand both seen and heard.
The only thing you need to do is make sure that you have the right impression on your audience with high-quality, relevant images, valuable lead magnets and competitions, an incredible brand bio, and plenty of social proof.
About The Author
Jonathan Chan is the Content Crafter and Marketer for Foundr. You can often find him happily writing about anything to do with entrepreneurship and the startup scene. Or spending way too much time pretending to be the next MMA star at the gym.