Selling on Instagram: Shoppable Content

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Just in time for the holiday season, Instagram has announced a test of their new shoppable content feature.

It’s designed to finally make it super easy to buy on Instagram, until now it was tricky to get customers into a sales funnel because there was no good way to direct them using the system alone. Shoppable content is about to revolutionize selling on Instagram for both retailers and customers.

Why Shoppable Content Matters

Shoppable content is currently in test mode on the Instagram app, but if all goes well it’ll be a feature regular business users should be able to access.

Brands that currently are trialing this new form of Instagram marketing include Abercrombie & Fitch, BaubleBar, Coach, Hollister, JackThreads, J.Crew, Kate Spade, Levi’s, Lulus, Macy’s, Michael Kors, MVMT Watches, Shopbop, Tory Burch and Warby Parker. For the time being, these retailers are going to be the focus of marketers and social media mavens alike, as we all watch to see if this new program is going to truly revolutionize Instagram shopping and possibly influence shopping on other social media platforms.

As the younger sibling to Facebook, anything that succeeds on Instagram may well be a future feature on the ultimate social network. Shoppable Instagram could be to social selling what Snapchat has been to social content. Since shoppable Instagram is feature-rich and provides plenty of analytics, it’s going to be easy for retailers to perform A/B testing and see immediate results of their efforts. This is really a very exciting development.

Shoppable Instagram Helps Customers

Under the current system, if Instagram users sees a product they’d like to purchase or are even curious about, they’re typically faced with a web hunt to locate the item on an eCommerce site somewhere.

The trouble with this is that many shoppers don’t want anything bad enough to spend the time to hunt it down if the process is too clunky. They’ll tell themselves that they’ll find that product later, that it’ll wait, that they’ll do it when they have more time – but being human and fickle, later either never comes or they’ve managed to talk themselves out of the product by the time they do go to look for it.

Instagram Shoppable Content changes all of that. Instead of having to find the product themselves, users are given virtual catalog pages where items can be clicked on and a balloon full of information appears. There’s even a link so they can just go and buy it, no muss, no fuss. This helps those shoppers by making it easy to buy, and it helps retailers by connecting their sales funnel directly to Instagram. It’s the kind of beautiful marriage of convenience and data that marketers love.

Like Facebook, Instagram promises high quality analytics and targeting by demographic so marketing efforts aren’t wasted. For now, the feature is free to use, but expect the service to come with a price tag eventually. Facebook has been attempting to mold Instagram into a virtual catalog for a while now, this is really just another step in that process. And it’s a great one, to be sure.

How to Make Shoppable Content Even Better

If history is any indication, Instagram will soon release shoppable content to the general public, so it’s a good idea to get ready if this platform is part of your marketing effort.

Here are a few tips to get the most out of shoppable content:

  • Use pictures that tell a story. Evoking a story or emotion is always effective for sales and that will hold true with shoppable Instagram. Instead of just showing a handbag, show how it’s used, what kind of people you think will be most interested in it, what it might experience during a day.
    For example, you might have a photo of the bag looped over the arm of a professional woman going into her office. If you also sell the outfit, even better! You can tag the bag, the suit, the shoes, whatever else in the photo may be relevant to your shop.
  • Don’t over tag. You’re going to be limited to just a few tags per photo, but you don’t have to max them out every time. Too many tags can make the image seem cluttered and certainly more difficult to navigate. Spread your tags out or limit the number you include in each image. Remember that a large number of your visitors are mobile, which will make tags smaller and more likely to blend together. Make it easy to buy, that’s the trick here.
  • User content is “king.” Companies like ModCloth have long known that user content garners looks in a big way. People want to see products being used by other real people, the authenticity is extremely appealing. It’s also much cheaper and faster than generating a lot of model-driven content, if we’re being honest with ourselves. Encourage your fans to submit photos of themselves using your products and be ready to ask them to sign image releases so you can turn them into Instagram stars (and effective marketing tools).

It’s been an exciting year to be involved with digital marketing, Instagram Shoppable Content is just icing on that cake. Being able to connect users directly to retail items for the first time on this platform should prove to make Instagram a more useful sales tool and ensure that it’s more able to satisfy the needs of its user base moving into the future.

 

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