Looking back on 2016, when Instagram Stories appeared, no one could have predicted this feature would become a powerful marketing tool. Today, the popularity of Instagram Stories is on its rise.

If you’re an Instagram user, chances are that you can’t help watching new Instagram stories when you see a colorful ring around your Instagram friend’s profile picture.

That’s the fear of missing out (FOMO) in action.

Just imagine: the Instagram Stories feature has increased the time spent on the platform from 15 to 32 minutes a day. Over the last two years, the number of daily active Instagram Stories users has grown 4x times, and it’s the main reason why marketers get on the bandwagon to amplify marketing efforts.

(Source: Statista)

As a marketer, you have to keep up with trends. However, posting Instagram Stories on your brand account means nothing until you know how to do it the right way.

Case in point:

In May 2018, J&Co Jewellery ran Instagram Stories ads to connect with new potential customers and promote their products with short-lived content. Just within 3 days of promotion, they were able to achieve 58% of total sales driven by ads in Instagram Stories.

So, wouldn’t it be great if you could drive sales with Instagram Stories, too?

Today, we’ll take a look at three lessons we’ve learned from retail brands that can help marketers make the most out of Instagram Stories.

1. Customer trust is a way to increase sales

Who wants to rely on a company you can’t trust? Obviously, no one.

With a big number of companies on the market, people always have options. For brands, it means working in a competitive environment. If you want to stay ahead of your competitors, it’s important to invest in customer trust, as it is one of the most important aspects of customer experience.

Believe it or not, you can boost sales without showing off your product if you know how to use Instagram Stories for customer trust.

Here’s how you can gain customer trust with Instagram Stories:

Publish behind-the-scenes moments to stay authentic

Modern customers crave authenticity, and there’s no better way to be genuine than humanizing your brand with the behind-the-scenes content. People connect with people, not brands, so showing off your real life is a proven way to establish relations with followers.

When people trust you, they are more likely to recommend you to their friends and consider your brand when it comes to making the purchase decisions. Thus, staying authentic with backstage content is an investment in your relationships with customers.

Let’s take a look at Tommy Hilfiger. Being a sponsor of the Way Out West Festival, they added Stories to take even online users to the event. Plus, they showed their ambassador,

Peggy Gou, which helped to prove their Instagram followers that influencers choose their brand.

How does this work? For most Tommy Hilfiger followers, this content doesn’t look promotional, and users love the idea that the brand takes care of them and shows the offline event.

Post UGC to show other happy customers

First things first: 93% of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making a purchase decision.

“People don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves”, claims one headline at Buffer, and it’s the brutal truth. It may cost you much time and effort to sell a product nobody has never tried. On the other hand, show people choose your product, and your sales will go high.

For this reason, finding user-generated content (UGC) and sharing it via Instagram Stories is a great way to convince other followers to buy your goods. Moreover, it’s a cost-effective method to create content – just find a featured post, ask for a permission, and post!

Whether you are a small brand or a big one like Converse, it helps potential customers find out more about your product and people who love it. For example, Converse shares UGC via Instagram Stories, and it stimulates other users to take photos of their sneakers (for a chance to be featured on the brand account).

One important thing that helps to gain customer trust is a nametag. Every time you add UGC post to your Stories, don’t forget to thank the author and add a tag. While it costs nothing for you, UGC can affect the buying decision process on Instagram.

Publish how-to videos to prove you’re an expert in the niche

Being an expert in your niche is great: it’s a proof you’re the best among your competitors. If your customers trust your opinion, your brand gain authority and credibility. It means customers will associate this niche with your brand. As a result, your company will be the number one option when it’s time to choose whom to trust.

And there’s no better way to prove your expertise than educating your followers and solving their problems. Thus, you’d better publish tutorials and how-to videos on your Instagram account.

When it comes to helping customers solve their problems, Lululemon knows how to satisfy their needs. As a sportswear brand, it’s obvious their audience is interested in workouts, so they often share tips, tricks, and how-to videos on this topic.

How does it work for ecommerce? Since Lululemon helps followers get advice and features products in the videos at the same time, customers start thinking about using these goods in the future.

2. The easier the buying process is, the more people buy

According to one research by Business Insider Intelligence, 72% of Instagram users have purchased a product after seeing it on the platform. For marketers, it means huge sales potential. However, it’s up to you to convince your followers to buy on the platform or leave your page. Obviously, you want to boost sales on Instagram, and you need to do your best to take care of customers and simplify the checkout process.

While most marketers know about shoppable posts, just a few of us think about Instagram Stories as something more than just a fun add-on feature.

Here’s the deal: Instagram Stories can drive ecommerce sales.

After analyzing successful retail brands, we’ve found out several actionable ways how to make your customers buy more:

Include clickable links to provide users with more info

One of the biggest problems for marketers who want to convert Instagram followers into customers is that it’s impossible to add clickable links to captions. Redirecting your followers to the website isn’t easy.

However, the situation has changed since 2017. Now marketers can use clickable Stories links.

If you have 10k+ followers on your business Instagram account, don’t miss a chance to drive website traffic to your landing page and provide your followers with additional information. Here’s how clickable Stories links can help you grow your business.

Here’s a case study by H&M. Taking care of their customers, they link to the brand’s website so that users can learn more about the featured products.

What can we learn from this example? There’s no need to link to a particular product. Instead, you can add a link to a group of products and highlight the important information on the site (free shipping and sale).

Add shopping stickers to make the purchase decision process faster

If you’re new to Instagram marketing and your following isn’t big enough to add clickable links, don’t be upset. Since Instagram rolls out many new features to turn this platform in a selling machine, there’s a way how to provide your followers with a possibility to see more details about your product without leaving the app. And this feature is shopping stickers.

When you add shopping stickers to Stories, your followers can see a clickable shopping bag icon that can include details about the product and its price.

For most customers, it’s important to get this information quickly for two reasons: they value their time and they impulse buy. Just look at GAP. Not only write they a short product benefit on the Story, but they add also the shopping sticker with more info.

As a visual platform, Instagram is a perfect place to promote products. When you include shopping stickers, you take your Instagram marketing to the next level as you give your followers an opportunity to discover your product details fast. When customers know everything they want about the product, it helps to make them ready to purchase.

Create Stories Highlights to simplify the navigation

Wouldn’t it be great if your visitors could explore your brand and products without wasting much time? With Instagram Stories Highlights, you can give a permanent home for your content without clogging up the main feed.

The Instagram Highlights feature allows people to save short-lived Stories for more than 24 hours and group them into different albums. Stories Highlights appear as circles right below your bio. It’s a perfect chance to keep all the relevant information in one place so that your followers can find more about your company and the products without scrolling the main feed.

For example, ASOS has many albums for different goals. Whether a visitor wants to get tips or find out new items, it’s easy to navigate Stories Highlights and get further information. To make the most out of this feature, use your creativity to come up with unique ideas for your Stories Highlights.

Your Highlights descriptions matter. If you use short and clear descriptions, you can help Instagrammers navigate your account with ease. For example, if a person is interested in buying activewear, he or she can start exploring that Highlights group.

If you want your followers and visitors to spend much time discovering your Stories Highlights, take care of the covers. Using simple custom design is the best way to grab and hold their attention. Plus, Stories Highlights covers can be a part of your Instagram feed design.

3. Not only your followers can be your customers

Most marketers are obsessed with the idea of a big following. The more followers you have, the more potential customers you can convert. Although it seems logical at the first blush, there’s no need to follow a brand on Instagram to be a customer.

One thing that matters is your product relevancy. If an occasional visitor believes your product can solve his or her needs, it’s more likely this person will become your follower and/or customer with time. Thus, it’s important to seek out alternative ways to engage all Instagrammers who fit your target audience.

Collaborate with niche influencers to enter an already-established community

For a variety of reasons, influencer marketing is gaining popularity and 94% of marketers have found influencer marketing effective. As specified in one study by Influencer Marketing Hub, there’s an increase of 325% in the searches of the term “influencer marketing” on Google in one year. There’s no wonder more and more marketers collaborate with influencers to promote their products.

When it comes to Instagram Stories, influencers can take your business to the next level. First of all, it’s a way to enter an already-established community. Plus, modern customers trust recommendations more than traditional ads, so they’re more likely to pay attention to your product.

Still, not convinced? Collaborating with influencers with 10k+ following, you can ask them to add a link to your website via their Stories even if you can’t use this feature on your account. However, it’s important to keep a focus on niche influencers to ensure you can attract the right audience.

Let’s take a look at Instagram Stories by Alex Stedman. In partnership with Ace&Tate, this fashion influencer promotes their products, inviting her followers to visit the brand page.

While most marketers want to collaborate with macro-influencers (10k+ followers), audience relevancy and engagement matter. If you don’t have much budget to pay celebs for their promotion, work with micro-influencers. Although they have fewer followers, their accounts have a higher engagement rate and they charge less for the collaboration, making it more cost-effective.

Use geotags to get discovered in location-level

Without a doubt, Instagram allows you to reach your potential customers all over the world. Whether you want to attract people from New York or Moscow, you can do it with Instagram. And to target the right audience, there’s a simple trick: use geotags.

Speaking about Instagram Stories, adding geotag stickers or hashtags is a proven way to get discovered by occasional Instagrammers in location-level. Since users can search Instagram Stories by location, using geotags helps to attract other Instagrammers who are interested in a particular location.

Obviously, McDonald’s fast-food chain needs no introduction. However, they use Instagram marketing to connect and engage with their customers, and they often post Stories with geotags to target customers in specific regions.

No matter what type of local business you promote on Instagram, whether a cafe or store, it’s important to attract the right audience who lives in your area and can visit your place.

In a Word

Instagram Stories is one of the best ways to boost engagement, build brand loyalty and customer trust, and increase sales in a funny and interesting way. For a fear of missing out, this form of short-lived content attracts more and more users, making it a perfect place to promote your product and convert interested followers into customers.

If you haven’t used Instagram Stories for ecommerce, it’s high time to give this feature a try and hope the above-mentioned lessons can convince you to take the first step.

About the Author: Hugh Beaulac is a content manager at MC2 blog. He also works as a freelance social media manager and contributes to different websites to share his tricks on Instagram marketing. Follow Hugh on Twitter to stay tuned for more.