How To Use Instagram To Generate Leads As A Small Business
Over 200 million businesses are on Instagram. These businesses have common goals, one of which is to generate leads that can convert to sales.
Instagram has become a goldmine when it comes to generating leads, and the competition is now fierce. It's like the red ocean, where many hooks are competing for the same fish. So how sharp are your hooks?
In a recent survey we conducted of small businesses, Instagram was the second most widely adopted channel for distributing content, with 87% of respondents reporting they post content on Instagram. Further, almost half do so on a weekly basis!
So if you are a small business struggling to generate leads on Instagram this article is for you! In it, you will learn 10 strategies you can use to generate quality leads that can convert to sales.
What is Instagram lead generation?
This is the practice of using various forms of content, and other activities to spark the interest of a target Instagram user in your business. As any marketing guide will tell you, the first goal of marketing is to make potential customers aware of your company. This allows you to begin forming a relationship with your ideal audience, such that with further engagement you have an opportunity to convince them why your company is the solution to whatever problem they face.
Why is it important to small businesses?
If you’re a small business looking to grow, the reality is that you have to go where your customers are. And for most small businesses, that means having a meaningful presence on Instagram.
Worldwide, there are 1.44 billion people using Instagram. That’s a big sea with a lot of fish in it! Not only that, but these users aren’t just posting pictures and videos of their lives, they’re using Instagram to interact with and buy from small businesses.
In fact, according to The Small Business Blog:
- 81% of people use Instagram for research on companies, products, and services.
- 50% of people have visited a website to purchase a product or service they saw on the app
- Shoppable posts are tapped by over 130 million user every month
What these stats make clear is that Instagram is a goldmine when it comes to being able to attract, engage and convert users into leads and customers for your small business!
What impact can it have for your small business?
While there’s a ton of people and engagement on Instagram, we recognize many readers may not be convinced that can translate into actual leads and revenue for their small business. We get it, the proof is in the pudding!
So before we explain exactly how your small business can utilize Instagram to generate new leads that can turn into customers, we wanted to highlight a small business doing just that.
Dr. Benjamin Caughlin of Many Faces of Chicago
“Instagram won’t work for my business, we’re in a small niche,” you say? It doesn’t get much more niche-y than buccal fat removal services, but that’s exactly what Dr. Caughlin offers at his clinic in Chicago.
Dr. Benjamin Caughlin, or as he is also known, ‘Dr. Buccal Fat’, has been utilizing Instagram as an effective lead generation platform for years. As you can see, he’s amassed over 10,000 followers, which in and of itself is great, but doesn’t mean much if he can’t take that reach and turn it into leads.
So how's he doing on that front? You decide...
As you can see from his Google Analytics data, Instagram is his second most valuable channel in terms of actual lead conversions and revenue to his business, accounting for 66 booked appointments via his online scheduler and $264,000 in actual revenue for his business over the selected time period. WOW!
But perhaps the most incredible statistic from Dr. C’s Instagram marketing efforts is this:
7.92% of visitors that land on his website from his Instagram posts end up becoming a lead. To put that in perspective, Google’s organic traffic is often considered the most targeted traffic a small business can generate. It makes sense…if someone is searching for ‘buccal fat removal in Chicago’ or ‘jawline sculpting chicago’ and arrives at Dr C’s website, that’s the ‘perfect’ website visitor. But that type of traffic ‘only’ converts into leads 2.71% of the time. In other words, Instagram is almost 3X better than Google organic traffic.
That’s insane, and speaks to just how ‘warmed up’ Instagram visitors are prior to taking that crucial step of wanting to meet with Dr. C. It makes sense, through Instagram they’ve had a chance to interact with and ‘get to know’ Dr. C and his practice. They’ve been able to see the transformative results from previous clients and hear from him directly about the quality of his services. They’re better leads because of it, and clearly the data shows that!
10 Tips to Using Instagram to Generate Leads For Your Small Business
So now that you know it's possible, let's dive into strategies you can use to generate leads on Instagram as a small business.
1. Let your Instagram profile speak about your business
Let your profile photo represent your business. A well-designed logo is a good fit. Have a username that is easy to remember. If possible, let it relate to the products and services you offer.
Write a keyword-optimized description that states what an ideal audience stands to gain from your business. All these build credibility and give a user a reason to learn more about your business on Instagram.
An optimized business profile can influence clicks when users search for businesses on Instagram. Also, Instagram's algorithm tends to favor it.
For example, I searched for an interior designer on Instagram.
Most of the accounts that appear on the search results have logos and usernames that relate to my search term.
The screenshot below is what Alice Lane Interior Design’s Instagram business profile looks like:
2. Create content that solves the pain points of your target audience
Content is king on Instagram, and that's the hook to attract and retain a target audience.
Users will first learn about your business from the content you dish out. After which they will decide to show interest in your product and services.
Text, video, and images are three forms of content that move the needle on IG. Identify the problem of your ideal audience and package your solution in any of the content formats.
For text, you can create content using the 2200-character limit for captions, which Instagram allows. That's like microblogging on Instagram, where you have a chance to provide some written context around your post for your audience to read.
As you can see from the data above, it’s imperative that you provide some captioning for your posts if you want to boost engagement, and it’s preferable that you make them longer versus shorter. If you’re struggling to come up with great copy to accompany your Instagram posts, you may want to look into AI writing tools to help you defeat writer’s block and churn out great captions that fit with your small business’ style and voice.
Videos cut it on Instagram. According to a recent study, video posts on Instagram are the most popular content types when it comes to both likes and comments, outpacing both carousel and image posts.
Creating videos for Instagram is now easy. Prepare your content, record it with your smartphone, and edit your video to enhance its quality.
“Gosh, that sounds hard, is it really worth it?” you ask…absolutely! We recently surveyed consumers about their habits when patronizing a small business, and one thing they made perfectly clear is that videos matter to them!
A majority of consumers say that they are more likely to buy from a small business if they have a chance to watch videos from the business prior to making a purchase!
Awesome product photos also wow Instagram users. There is no shortage of image editing softwares you can choose from to make brand-consistent, compelling images Instagram users will love.
For example, you can make transparent backgrounds, customize text fonts and add other effects that can enhance the quality of the photo.
Here is an example of how Boyds Madison Ave uses photos and texts to create content that helps its target audience discover its various product offerings:
3. Engage & interact
Engaging and interacting with your audience breeds familiarity and builds relationships.
This can be in the form of responding to their questions in the comments or in your DM. When a user begins to ask questions about your business and what you offer, it's a sign they have interest.
Pay more attention and engage more to ensure that such lead is not lost.
But you can't be available 24/7 to engage your ideal customer. Making use of a chatbot might be the answer. You can do this easily with an Instagram chatbot from platforms like SendPulse or Manychat. No coding skill is required. These chatbots can generate leads for your business on IG by requesting emails, or phone numbers of your target audience.
4. Leverage Instagram stories
A study indicates that the most popular activity of Americans on Instagram is to watch other people's IG stories.
This is a cool way to convert your IG followers to leads. A user who follows you on Instagram derives value from your content. When you post stories on Instagram, they see it on their feed. Video of how your products and services can solve their problem is a good fit for IG stories.
Thankfully, Instagram allows you to add a link to your Instagram stories. Have a call to action towards the end, and add a link to your landing page where they can join your email list or request more information about your products or services.
5. Share user-generated content
Sharing user-generated content is like having your verified customers testify how helpful your products and services are. It also makes them feel they're part of your community and encourages them to continue to spread the good news about your business.
Ask happy customers to share their results with your product. Social proof is one of the most compelling things you can provide someone to convince them to take the next step and become a lead for your business.
Happy customers love to share their experiences with your business, you just need to make sure and ask them to do so!
In our consumer survey, we found that 71% of customers are happy to share their experience SO LONG AS the business makes it easy for them to do so!
So go ahead, ask them to take a super quick video of their thoughts/experience with your company then compile and share them in the form of a video with your audience. This can prompt users who are skeptical to take action.
Gymshark is one brand that leverages this on Instagram. Here’s an amazing ‘testimonial’ from a customer of theirs that changed their life entirely…if you’re in the market to make a physical transformation and get into better shape, what more social proof do you need?
6. Go live on IG
Your target audience needs to see the human side of your business. Going live on Instagram will boost their confidence and encourage them to try your products. It's also an opportunity to interact with them in real-time, and offer more explanations why your products and services are better than your competitors.
Consider it as a live webinar where participants want to learn how to solve a problem, and in the end, become leads to try the solutions you offer.
7. Host giveaways
People like free things, especially from businesses they admire. And that could be a strategy to convert them to leads.
You will wow your Instagram followers if you announce a giveaway for your products or services. Those who are lucky to get it will have a first-hand experience of your product. If it meets their expectations, the chances of having them buy and remain a loyal customer are high.
Some of them will spread the good news about your product through their Instagram stories and post with their followers. This creates more awareness for your business and also prompts others to at least check out your products.
Here are simple tips on how to create and host a giveaway on IG:
- Decide the goal you want to achieve (lead generation in this case)
- Set criteria for your audience to participate
- Upload the product you want to give out
- Set a hashtag or keyword for it
- Have a time limit for it
- Announce winners at the stipulated time
8. Collaborate with Influencers in your industry
Instagram is a platform where influencers shape the behavior and decisions of people towards businesses and brands. A lot of Instagram users trust the judgment of influencers who they adore. So it's to your advantage if you identify and work with any of them in your industry.
Although it can be expensive for businesses with a small marketing budget, brands with deep pockets don't mind because it pays off.
What do you think will happen when an influencer in the fashion industry with over 2 million organic followers makes a post or IG story about your latest business class handbag?
Of course, their followers will rush to check the landing page link on the Instagram story and probably become leads. Others will follow your account to keep up with your business, and also like, comment, and share the post.
That's the power of an Instagram influencer.
You are tapping from a target audience in a particular niche warmed up with content from someone they trust.
Here is a great example of a micro-influencer sharing a post promoting Get Bezel, a new marketplace for watches.
This type of collaboration makes perfect sense for Get Bezel. By working with Lauren Caruso, who has a strong following of fashion-obsessed fans, they are able to tap into her relationships with people that have already shown a strong interest in buying high-priced fashion items.
9. Try Instagram ads
While you try organic methods for lead generation on Instagram, keep in mind it may take time to generate the number of leads that will boost your sales.
So, you may have to consider Instagram ads since it's a fast way of generating leads. Instagram ads aren't cheap, but it's worth it if you want to get quick results.
Also, you can leverage the tracking code you added to the landing page to target the audience who visited it but didn't become leads.
10. Analyze Performance
You won't know if your lead generation efforts are yielding results unless you analyze your performance. All the clicks, shares, comments, and sign-ups on your post and landing page shouldn't only be tracked but also analyzed.
Although Instagram has an analytics feature, it isn't advanced. You need a dedicated tool to look at the metrics and KPIs that matter to create an Instagram analytics report.
This will help you make an informed business decision as to what changes to make to boost your lead generation on IG.
Quality leads are key to making more sales on Instagram and hopefully we have shown you strategies to adopt as well as great examples you can pull inspiration from. Begin with having an IG business account that reflects your business. Create quality content to win the hearts of your target audience, engage and interact to build relationships.
Create IG stories to demonstrate how helpful your products are, go live on IG, and share user-generated content.
Host giveaways, work with influencers, try Instagram ads to scale up the process, and don’t forget to analyze performance to ensure you are on the right track. By following these best practices, there's no doubt your small business can expand your presence and generate valuable leads that turn into happy customers!