How Can Instagram Stories Help You Sell More?

Have you ever made a purchase because you’ve seen a product on Instagram?

If your answer to that question is no, then you’re officially in the minority. In fact, research conducted by Instagram in 2015 revealed that 60% of users discover new products on the platform, and subsequently use Instagram as an influencing factor in whether or not they will make a purchase.

Instagram stories have been revolutionary for the platform, and are on track to replace the feed as the primary sharing surface on the app. When story ads were introduced in January 2017, brands were presented with an opportunity to open their products and services up to a previously unattainable audience. Ignoring the fact users are still free to skip stories they deem uninteresting or irrelevant – whether organic posts or ads, the average under-25-year-old is now spending more than half-an-hour a day just flicking through stories. Could your brand be missing out on a sponsored success?

With most brands racing to embrace vertical content revolution, we thought we’d share our top reasons as to why your brand should consider using Instagram stories to drive engagement and ultimately secure more sales.

What are Instagram stories?

Before we get started, it’s probably worth explaining what Instagram stories are (before we get into why you should be using them, and how they can help drive engagement and sales). 

Instagram stories were introduced to the platform in August 2016. Even though Instagram initially faced criticism for copying Snapchat, their stories are now very different. Stories expire after twenty-four hours, and can be customised with text, stickers and GIFs. Users can also use external links – if they have more than 10,000 followers (or use sponsored stories) to direct their followers outside of the app.

Why should you use Instagram stories?

For starters, Instagram stories have more than 500million daily active users – which provides brands with a fantastic opportunity to increase their reach exponentially and drive engagement. If you’ve thought about using Instagram stories for your brand or business in the past, but later decided against it – let us change your mind:

#1. Stories are more engaging

Stories provide users with an immersive customer experience – they fill the screen and capture their undivided attention (because they can’t be distracted by anything else on-screen). Plus, the main ‘stories’ bar appear at the top of your feed, meaning that new and unwatched stories are the first thing presented to you when you open the app. 

Now that Instagram is continuously changing its algorithm, many brands are seeing their engagement on the feed suffering – but stories can rectify this. Having your business appear at the top of the feed can not only improve your brand awareness but also help give your business a face, making it look more personable. Plus, if your brand chooses to utilise ads/paid stories, its content will play alongside the stories of the brands and individuals a user follows – they’re shown the content (instead of choosing to see it), thus making the ads inescapable, even if it can be skipped. 

#2. Stories have unique features that can’t be replicated in the feed

The built-in features on Instagram stories may feel like a novelty, but they can actually be incredibly important for driving sales, boosting engagement and increasing site visits. 

Stories can be personalised with a host of GIFs, stickers and text. From letting your followers know what you’re listening to in the office (with the ‘music’ sticker) to adding a cute gif to your morning coffee, these features can help your brand appear human. 

Content and copy can also be tailored in sponsored stories to encourage users to follow a set journey. Creating ads that encourage users to ‘swipe up’ (directing them to an external link) can all have a positive impact on an ad’s click through rate and subsequently increase engagement. 

The most noteworthy function for a lot of brands is the ‘Product’ sticker. This allows brands to tag its products in stories – both organic and sponsored. Once a user clicks the sticker, they are moved onto a screen for the product, and can make a purchase within the app it if they want to. This feature significantly reduces the sales journey for your user.

#3. Stories can help your brand understand its audience

Stories can also be customised with polls, questions and sliders, which can be incredibly useful in determining what your audience actually wants to see. Simply, you want to be creating stories that generate a positive response, and create similar content accordingly. 

You can use the emoji slider to find out how they feel about new products (and subsequently use the function to tease new stock), while using the polls and questions to find out how they feel about your brand and its products. Plus, you can use the countdown function to generate excitement around a new item or service launch.

In sponsored ads, it is possible to include polls, countdowns or other stickers on the creative. Making the ads more interactive is likely to increase the amount of time a user spends on the ad when it appears on-screen. Plus, what makes story ads stand out (when compared to Facebook or Instagram feed ads) is that advertisers aren’t limited to the amount of text that is used – meaning brands can literally say what they want to encourage their customers to take action. 

Don’t just take our word for it: the brands nailing their story strategies

If you still need some persuading as to why your brand needs to embrace Instagram stories, check out these brands who are rolling in their story success. 

#1. Waterdrop

Waterdrop is an Austrian brand dedicated to encouraging people to drink more water, and they utilised Instagram stories to raise awareness of their new product – a water bottle set – while staying true to its ‘purpose before profit’ ethos. 

By placing the new product front and centre in the ads, the brand was able to remain an advocate for the healthy lifestyle it promoted, while encouraging users to swipe through to their website. Albeit a simple campaign, Waterdrop saw huge successes – reaching more than 1.8 million people in ten days, and increasing their sales conversion by more than 24% (when compared to the previous month). 

Image credit: Instagram Business

#2. Freshly Cosmetics

Freshly Cosmetics is a Spanish natural beauty brand that used Instagram stories to grow the business through Facebook and Instagram. They created ads that combined innovative product shots and copy to pique interest and drive website traffic. 

To further entice users to visit the site, Freshly Cosmetics utilised product giveaways, and encouraged users to share their photos and opinions of its products. Instead of solely pushing people to its website to make a purchase, the brand also pushed users to featured articles (that advocated the benefits of natural products) and used Instagram’s insights to determine what worked best, and optimise the future creative. 

In the first three months of the campaign alone, Freshly Cosmetics witnessed a 12x increase in site visits, a 9x increase in direct sales and an astonishing 85% lower cost per acquisition. 

Image Credit: Instagram Business

#3. Nuxe

Nuxe is a French beauty brand, they developed a series of 15-second video ads that utilised stop motion animation and split screen to drive sales of its winter cosmetics boxes on its website. These ads captured the attention of their intended audience (with the visually appealing creative), and featured the brand’s logo at the end of the video to reinforce its identity. The campaign was a massive success for Nuxe; the ads generated a staggering 6.2x return on ad spend, and helped the brand achieve a 46% lower cost-per-acquisition.

Image credit: Instagram Business

And, if you need some more convincing, check out more of Instagram’s success stories

To summarise…

Creating and uploading content that you know that your audience wants to see can help build brand credibility, and using stories can help your brand appear more authentic. If you entertain your audience with the content that you create, they’ll be more inclined to come back for more.

If your brand hasn’t got a huge following or an existing consumer base, then sponsored stories are definitely a worthwhile investment. Not only can sponsored ads increase engagement and click-through-rates, but they also allow brands to unlock external linking, while increasing brand awareness, content reach, credibility and authenticity. 

As we’ve already said – Instagram stories have more than 500million daily active users – is that a potential audience that your brand can afford to miss out on? 

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