Building a clientele base on Instagram is a common strategy. Today, 71 percent of US businesses use Instagram marketing to find their ideal buyers, and that means competition is harder than ever. So if you’ve spent a lot of time making your grid a work of art, but haven’t seen a spike in sales, we’ve got just the thing: A finely tuned Instagram sales funnel. The philosophy is simple – make content that encourages people to follow, and then to investigate you, and then to try or buy your products or services. Here’s what that looks like: How to build clientele on Instagram First, the funnel. Here’s a quick glimpse from Ann Smarty on how the funnel works: When used effectively, Instagram can give you a boost in each segment of the funnel all the way down to your end goal – sales. Check out our five-step plan on how to build clientele on Instagram and turn your Instagram into a revenue-generating machine: Rave about your products or services Build genuine connections with your potential clients and customers Make it easy for people to purchase your product or service Use a compelling call-to-action Close the deal with social proof Rave about your products or services (but not too much!) This may seem obvious, but the first step in making your customers aware of you is to clearly showcase what product or service you’re selling. If you have a following on Instagram of any size, it’s likely that they’re following you because they a) like your brand, b) like your products, or c) a combination of both. Having an audience puts you in a good position. It gives you the power to have your content land on peoples’ feed. Use this opportunity to show off your products and explain why they should take their interaction from Instagram to actually purchasing your products or services. Don’t be shy! Highlight your products on Instagram through posts on your feed, stories, Reels, and IGTV. Variety is the spice of life and people want to see variety in your IG content. Nobody wants to see the same product picture recycled over and over. Pro-tip: Highlight the details and unique properties of the product in the description accompanied by an eye-catching photo or video. Here are some examples: Teva (@teva) is a shoe company that creates up-cycled athletic footwear. In this post, they use a high-quality photo that clearly showcases their products and a compelling description that highlights the features of this shoe style. Away Luggage (@away), a company that creates modern and stylish travel luggage, does a great job of showcasing their Mini suitcase here. They use clean, bright imagery and a caption that lists what products you could fit inside to compel people to buy. One rule of caution: be careful not to over-advertise. This can come across as too “salesy” and turn off potential customers. A good rule of thumb is one sales or product post for every three pieces of lifestyle content. Keep this in mind when you’re planning your content. Speaking of planning content: we recommend using a scheduling tool that allows you to visualize your feed in advance. This will ensure that you’re striking the right balance of sales and lifestyle content. Sked Social’s social media calendar tool lets you drag and drop posts and configure them until you get it right! Try it out with our free 7-day trial. Lastly, when it comes to bringing customers into the top of your funnel, or your awareness stage, you need a plan to reach people who may not have heard of you. One way to do this is to make your content compelling enough for people to share. If a customer shares your content to their own story, you’re getting seen by their entire audience. One of the most effective ways to do this is through giveaways where one of the criteria to win is for customers to tag others or share it to their story. Another great way to extend your reach is to use hashtags strategically. Check out our guide to the best hashtags to use for ecommerce to help you create an effective hashtag strategy. Build genuine connections with your potential clients and customers Imagine running down a busy public street shouting at onlookers to purchase your product. You might succeed in making them aware of you, but you’ll probably come off a bit crazy. Now, picture you’re talking to a group of friends in your living room about an upcoming product you plan to launch. You’ll probably have an easier time selling to the latter. The same goes for social media. It’s a lot easier to sell to people who you’ve already built a relationship with. This is where your middle-of-the-funnel content comes in. It’s the bridge between your initial engagement with a follower and the point where the customer decides to purchase your product. One of the best ways to build relationships with your customers is to strive for genuine and consistent engagement. This is a vital step in converting them into paying customers. The followers who engage with you the most on social media are often your most committed audience and are more likely to purchase from you down the line. Engagement is cyclical. The more you engage with your followers, the more your followers will engage with you. This pleases the Instagram algorithm and makes it more likely that your content will place on peoples’ feeds or on Insta’s Explore Page. Following your ideal customers and clients also gives you the added benefit of seeing what kinds of brands they follow and what types of content they like. This gives you valuable insight on how you can curate your own content to reach your target audience. To boost engagement, spend an hour or two each day commenting on your audience’s posts. People overlook this step because it’s time consuming, but when used properly, it’s one of the most useful tactics to acquire clients or customers. Make sure to mix it up. Don’t comment “great!” or “cute!” on every person’s post. Find something authentic to say that shows you took the time to look at their photo or caption. For example, if your ideal customer posts a picture of a trail they walked the previous weekend, recommend some similar trails in the area. If they’re posting a picture of a new outfit, ask where it’s from or comment on how great that color looks on them. Here’s another little trick – when you reply to someone’s Instagram story with either an emoji or a comment, it goes directly into their IG inbox. This puts you top of mind and shows that you went out of your way to interact with them. It also starts a conversation – and a conversation is one of the first steps to building a long-lasting relationship. Make it easy for people to purchase your product or service People can’t buy your product or try out your services if they don’t know where to look. Make it obvious. Create as many opportunities as possible for them to check out what you have to offer. You can do this through your content and through Instagram’s built-in features. Instagram is no longer exclusively a photo-sharing app. Lately, they’ve developed some great shopping features to help you sell your products online. These include their shop feature which allows you to create your own Instagram storefront or the option to add links to your posts via product tags. Utilize these features to make it easy for potential customers to purchase your products. You can sign up for Instagram Shopping and set up your catalog through Facebook’s Business Manager. For more info on how to set this up, check out our guide on how to create an Instagram strategy that sells. Part of making your buyer’s journey easier is optimizing your link in bio. Your link in bio could lead to your website, a landing page, or blog. If you don’t include your website, customers won’t know how to find your products and you risk losing out on a possible sale. Instagram allows you to include one clickable link in your bio. Make sure you are using this opportunity to drive people to your website. If you’re a service-based business, you can also use a tool like Calendly. This lets customers access your calendar to book a consult with you directly. Need more than one link? Consider setting up a custom landing page, or a similar service that allows you to hyperlink multiple pages in one place. We recommend Sked Social’s link in bio tool, Sked Link. Sked Link lets you make better use of your Instagram profile link by adding buttons to anywhere on the web. You can create a gallery of your Instagram posts that easily directs users to the right page. Plus, it can be designed so that it’s all on-brand! Use a compelling call-to-action in your Instagram captions You’ve made your pitch, or in this case, your content and caption. Now it’s time to go for the sale. Your call-to-action (or CTA) is your digital closer. A strong CTA not only compels people to buy but tells them what to do and how to do it. Your CTA can be used to move your customer to your website or online store, spur them to book a consult call, or direct them to your Instagram shop. It can also be a great way to capture more information if they aren’t quite ready to make a purchase yet. There are a few different types of CTAs you can use to move your customers along your sales funnel. Here are a few ideas: Click the link in your bio to visit your website or a landing page Download a free resource or eBook Book a meet and greet call Slide into your DMs to contact you Invite them to use a discount code or promotion Share a direct link to a product or promotion (if you have the swipe-up feature) Invite them to sales-focused events Instagram stories are a great way to build relevant clicks since Instagram allows clickable links to be used directly within the story format. To access this feature, you must either: Have at least 10,000 followers Be a verified account Don’t have 10,000 followers yet? Don’t worry – there’s a workaround. IGTV also allows you to include clickable links in your caption, so consider dropping your link directly into your CTA like B2B sales platform Salesforce (@salesforce) does here: Check out how other companies have used CTAs: Invision (@invisionapp) is a digital product design platform. Here, they’re promoting one of their new services with a clear CTA that lets customers know they can try it out free for a limited time using the link in their bio. Zendesk (@zendesk) is a great example of a B2B brand who kills it with their Instagram marketing. Check out their CTA for a new Instagram messenger API they’ve developed. Close the deal with social proof If a customer is on the fence about purchasing your product, social proof can be that push they need to get over the edge. Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful sales tools in your arsenal. Many brands curate their Instagram page in a way that showcases their product or service in a real-world context. You can share things like product reviews or show photos of influential or notable figures using your product or service. Sometimes, the best strategy to show the product being used in everyday life in a way that’s relatable to your audience. Here are some examples of brands that are killing it using this method: The Honest Company (@honest) is a clean beauty and baby product brand that does a great job of showcasing their products through intimate moments between families. Quickbooks (@quickbooks) is an online accounting software. They ran this awesome campaign called #PayFace that shows happy customers getting paid easily via their software. If a customer tags you or uses a branded hashtag in one of their posts, repost it to your feed or story to show your followers how satisfied your customers are. This type of content also engages the customer who shared it, making it more likely they’ll return for another purchase. Don’t forget to send them a quick message to ask for their permission before reposting! You can also consider running an influencer campaign. 89% of brands say ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels, with Instagram being reported as the most important channel for influencer marketing. Partnering with an influencer allows you to tap into an established audience that the influencer has built trust with. It can also be a great way to get your product or service in front of an audience that isn’t aware of you yet. Summary Instagram is a crowded place, and it can be hard to break through the noise. But by following the steps above, you can create authentic relationships with your followers and convert them into happy, satisfied customers. Keep the sales funnel in mind and always be on the lookout for opportunities to optimize your Instagram for sales. This is the best way to ensure a steady stream of clients and create sustainable income for your business.