I wanted to use this short guide to share with you what I personally do to turn Instagram followers into new customer leads. This is also the same method I use with my client accounts. With that in mind, I can vouch for how effective it is. As online marketing goes, it’s also a pretty simple way to get customers from one of the most popular social media platforms.
If you have an Instagram – big or small – and want to start using it to generate new customers for your business, this is the post for you.
This method is a process, or in marketing terms, it’s a funnel. I often refer to it as the Instagram lead funnel.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, and I may earn a commission from any referral. Please see my disclosure page for full details.
Before We Start – What Tools Do You Need?
I’ve tried to make this post as simple and beginner-friendly as possible and also keep it to a low-cost approach for boot-strapping businesses on a budget who currently lack brand awareness. However, there are a couple of must-have tools. Here is what you need.
- An Autoresponder. I recommend ConvertKit which has a free starter package up to the first 100 subscribers.
- An optin landing page builder. I recommend either:
Let’s start with the first step of that process – your current Instagram account.
Provide a combination of value and promotional material on your Instagram page
First things first: content.
Let’s start with a look at what you should be posting on Instagram.
After all, if you want customers, you need to start attracting those people the moment they scroll past a post you’ve put on Instagram.
Once you’ve got their attention and they are following you, you then need to up your game. You must provide content that is going to promote and showcase your business.
So really, content on Instagram falls into two categories: value, and promotional.
Let’s start by looking at promotional content.
Promotional content on Instagram
There are two common mistakes that many accounts make on Instagram when it comes to promotion:
Mistake #1: the account promotes all the time, in a not-so-subtle, rather annoying way that puts people off
Mistake #2: The account never promotes because it seems “icky” and out of step with their brand
Do you fall into either?
The truth is, you have to promote on Instagram if you want to attract new business. However, you can do that in a classy way, and you can do it infrequently. That promotion is still going to work wonders.
You have a lot of options open to you. A good way that works for many small businesses is to create a challenge. Or a competition. You can advertise. You can use stories. I don’t want to spend too long on this post on how to create good promotional messages, as I have other blog posts that go into it in more depth, such as this post on 6 quirky ways to market on Instagram.
But my point is this. Get comfortable with promoting yourself. Find a method that works in alignment with your values, your brand, and your audience.
Next, let’s talk about value content because this is important to understand if you want your promotional messages to remain “classy”.
Value content on Instagram
The majority of your content on Instagram should be value content. By that, I mean content that does nothing other than provide value in some way shape or form to your followers.
Remember, people scroll through Instagram very fast. They will make a split second decision about whether your content on your posts or Instagram stories is valuable, so your content has to pop out the page in terms of being something that is interesting.
And here’s a helpful tip:
Create a strong, branded theme. Because followers are unlikely to glance over the tiny Instagram business profile picture and name to tell them who is posting, they are far more likely to look straight at the image. If your posts are distinctive (i.e., they obviously belong to you) and your followers really enjoy your content, they are more likely to stop and engage with it.
Engaging with content means Instagram lets a bigger, wider audience see it. That’s going to help you grow.
How do you make your content valuable? One of the best ways is to know who your target customer is, getting inside their head (metaphorically speaking) and thinking about what content – above anything else – they are going on Instagram to consume. What makes them addictively log onto Instagram throughout the day? What gives your target audience that buzz? How can you offer them that? Here are some prompts to get you thinking about potential customers and their behavior:
- Is it facts, statistics, information?
- How about something educational?
- Do they want to be inspired?
- Perhaps they want to be motivated?
- Do they want to get to know you better?
- Maybe they want to see the personality behind what you sell.
- Do they want to see something visually beautiful? Interesting? Thought-provoking. A talking point?
Another important tip:
Gear your value messages to your prospective followers and your current followers, and gear your promotional messages to your loyal, existing followers.
The reason I suggest that is because you concentrate on making your content serve a slightly different purpose – in order to attract new followers, your value content should stand out from the crowd, it needs relevant hashtags, and it needs to be extremely clear what it’s about. Your promotional messages are warmer in vibe, speak more intimately to your audience, and must be strongly branded so it’s clear in a split second that the post is from you.
Bonus tip: If you want to automate your content scheduling on Instagram, I’d recommend you try this tool.
Lead followers to your profile link
Always lead followers back to your Instagram bio and your link – it’s a great way to boost engagement. Yes, you’ll sound like a broken record. But when it comes to social media, don’t rely on people going out of their way to find out who you are and what you do. They probably won’t. If you want anyone on social media (or online, for that matter) to do anything, you need to give very specific clear instructions about what you want them to do.
Double tap to let me know that you enjoyed this post. If you want more helpful tips like this, click on my profile link to check out a freebie I think you’re going to love.
Be very specific. Make it easy.
Another good tip here is to make sure your Instagram is a business account. It means you are ready to go if you run Instagram ads in the future. Plus, once you are on an Instagram business account, you’ll see quick stats every time you log in. It will tell you how many people have visited your profile page. Learn this number. Memorize it. And check it daily.
If it’s going down, you need to switch gears. You need to start encouraging followers to click on your profile page. If that number goes on, then pat yourself on the back – you are doing a great job. It’s a simple but effective metric that will help you make sure Instagram is working right for your business.
Create an optin page to capture email addresses
If you want to use Instagram for your business, you have to have a method for turning your followers into customers. Firstly, you must convert followers so they are doing something other than simply following you on Instagram.
There are broadly three ways you can achieve that:
- You can send them to your website so they can browse through your content, blog posts, and about page
- Alternatively, you could send them to an optin page so they can sign up to find out more
- Or, you could send them send them to a sales page so they can buy from you
Which one do you think is most likely to bring you a new customer?
Answer: It’s an optin page.
The reason is fairly straightforward. Instagram users don’t want to leave Instagram to go and browse around a website (a general rule for all social media, in fact). So, chances are, if you direct people to your website address, very few people will click on it, and those that do won’t spend a huge amount of time browsing it.
On the other hand, sending people to a sales page is a bit, well, presumptuous. Yes, they are following you on Instagram. But do they really love you that much? Are they honestly ready to buy from you? Chances are they are following hundreds of Instagram accounts, so they probably haven’t developed a “trusted” relationship with you yet and are unlikely to be in a position where they are ready to buy.
That leaves us with the optin page. An optin page is perfect. It’s one page – so no browsing is required, just an email form field and a call-to-action button. It’s got a freebie in exchange for an email address, so they have an incentive to click on your link. And once converted, they are on your email list, leaving you endless future opportunities to build up a relationship with them and turn them into a customer.
To create your first optin page, check out this useful beginner’s funnel training from Clickfunnels or grab this 20% off offer with Unbounce.
Use an email autoresponder to promote your products and services and turn that subscriber into a customer
Let’s recap. We started off talking about using your Instagram account to start some social media marketing by publishing content that your ideal customer will love. Then, we talked a bit about encouraging them to click on the link in the profile. Lastly, we talked about how an optin page is the perfect way to get your followers to take that “next step” on their way to becoming a customer – by signing up to your email list.
When new leads sign up to your list, you can send out “broadcast” emails to your list. This is what most businesses do (think: hey, I have a sale on this week, 20% off, etc). Alternatively, you can craft an autoresponder. An autoresponder is a set of sequenced, automated messages that go out to your new subscriber.
I use this autoresponder, and here’s why.
It gives me a chance to communicate with my new subscriber so they can get to know a bit about me, what I do, my values, how I can help them, and of course, it gives me the opportunity to carry on that relationship I’ve been building with them up until this point – by giving them plenty of value that’s going to help them and their business.
I highly recommend an autoresponder. It’s a powerful tool for digital marketing – a must-have for getting potential clients. With your emails, start off with something simple like a 5-day email series. Use that series to introduce yourself, sell your concept, and give valuable content. Essentially, turn that follower who might know a little bit about you into a raving fan. Those are the people that are likely to buy from you.
To create your first email autoresponder, use this page to assess what type of autoresponder your business needs.
Signing up those new customer leads
How you sign up a new customer with this marketing strategy depends on your business. If you’re an e-commerce business, you might think about promoting a new product launch or a holiday sale. If you’re a service business, perhaps you want to get people to give you their phone number so you can close a deal with a sales call – it also follows best practices for services and B2Bs.
However you are selling to your audience, once you have that person on your email list, selling to them simply becomes the next natural step. If you have done this process right, you should have people on your email list who love you, know exactly how you can help them, and are ready to buy. If they don’t fit all of those three categories, they will have probably unsubscribed from your email list by now (and that’s OK – you’ve got to qualify a customer, whatever business you are in, and there’s no point having people on your list who don’t enjoy the emails you send to them).
By this point in the process, on your email list, you should have warm leads – people who have followed you all the way from Instagram to become a subscriber and read the autoresponder emails you’ve lovingly drafted.
Don’t be afraid to send out a sales email to get that person to buy from you. That’s something you can do within 1-2 weeks of them signing up to your list (it doesn’t sound like a large amount of time, but research shows this is actually a peak point for people to still be in that buying frame of mind).
Action Plan And Next steps
- Step 1: Plan out promotional and value content
- Step 2: Create engaging captions with a strong call to action to your profile page
- Step 3: Repeat your strong call to action in your profile
- Step 4: Sign up to Clickfunnels or Unbounce and create your optin page
- Step 5: Link to your optin page on your Instagram profile
- Step 6: Sign up to ConvertKit and set up your autoresponder
- Step 7: Start publishing your posts on Instagram
My top tip? Just get started today! The Instagram marketing process is laid out in front of you. All you need to do now is set it up for your business. And effort-wise, it isn’t much more than a few high-quality Instagram posts, an optin page, and an autoresponder series. If you start seeing results, you can also scale this via Instagram lead generation ads. Of course, I’m always here if you need some help to get all that in place, and if you want that help, make sure you sign up to my email list (there’s a link at the bottom of this article) so you can be notified when I next have free spaces for our copywriting services.
Whichever way you choose to get this set up, good luck with it. And remember – it’s worth investing the time and effort into putting this stuff in place. Once you’ve done the work to get it set up, it pretty much runs itself. But that funnel will give you months and months of new customer leads for your business (for however long that funnel stays in place). Whilst Instagram is around as a social platform, you’ll be generating new customer leads.
Bonus Tip – Step-by-Step Guide to Build Your First Sales Funnel
You can access our free Smart Funnel guide by entering your email address below. Discover how to create your first sales funnel for your small business.