:Marketing / Social media marketing

How to build your Instagram sales funnel

instagram sales funnel instagram sales funnel

Instagram has over 700 million active users with interests that span across all industries from beauty and fashion to cars and accounting. No matter what your brand represents, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll find your target audience on the social network. The only issue is that once your brand account is all setup, there’s no clear way to drive traffic back to your site. Understanding the importance of your Instagram sales funnel is key for driving traffic and increasing sales. It may even be more important than the elusive algorithm.

Features upon features

Instagram previous introduced a feature called Instagram Shopping to many users in the U.S. It allows brands to tag products in their Instagram images with a product name and price.

When an Instagram user taps on the photo and then clicks on the product name they are taken to a product description page where they can then decide to click-through to the brand’s website.

Many brands have been waiting for Instagram to introduce something like this for years. However, in order to use this feature your company must also have a Facebook Page as well as a Facebook Shop Section setup. If your company doesn’t yet have access to Instagram Shopping, or you don’t have a Facebook Shop Section setup, don’t worry, you can still drive sales from Instagram through your Instagram sales funnel.

But, we’ll show you exactly how to create your Instagram sales funnel and measure success along the way.

First, are you wondering what a sales or marketing funnel is? That’s just a fancy way of talking about the different phases in the buying process that a company leads its prospects through. It will all make sense as we move through this post so let’s dive right in.

Top of the funnel 

At the very top of your Instagram sales funnel are your followers. You want to fill your funnel with as many people within your target audience as possible. The more people you put into your funnel, the more people you can get to convert (take a desired action) on your website. The average conversion rate across all industries and online traffic sources is about 3%.

A conversion rate is the percent of people who visit your site and then go on to take some additional action such as making a purchase or filling out a lead generation form. For the purpose of today’s post, let’s think of a conversion as an online sale.

If you can get 100 people to click over to your site from Instagram from a post that has a strong call-to-action to make a purchase, then on average you can expect three people to go on to complete the sale at an average conversion rate of three percent. However, if you can get 100,000 people to click over to your site from Instagram then you will get 3,000 sales at an average conversion rate of 3%.

Follow along

The more people that you have following you on Instagram, the more people you can entice to click-over to your site. That’s precisely why it’s important to grow your Instagram followers.

That’s also why it’s important to grow your Instagram following with people in your target audience. You can use a site to buy fake followers but those bots will never click over to your site and make a purchase so they are useless. It’s better to invest time (and money) into growing your Instagram following with real people. You can do this by: keeping up with a consistent posting strategy, making sure to use popular hashtags for your industry and partnering with other complementary brands to cross-promote each other.

For example

Local Wanderer, a travel blog, partnered with The Burrard, a retro hotel, to cross-promote a free two-night stay at the hotel. Participants could enter to win the 2-night stay by: following both accounts and tagging three friends in the comments.

By the end of the contest The Burrard gained 500 new followers all from people who like to travel and have shown an interest in their hotel. The bottom line is to find a way to fill the top of your Instagram funnel with as many targeted followers as possible. Online sales is a percentage game and you want 3% (or more) of the biggest number possible.

Middle of the funnel 

As you’re growing your Instagram follower count you’ll also want to have your eye on your engagement rate. This is the percentage of people who actively like and comment on your posts out of your total following. While having a large following is great, it’s only the first step in your Instagram sales funnel process. You have to engage with those followers to demonstrate why they should buy from you.

You can make this clear by posting high quality photos of your products, replying to comments (especially questions), asking questions in your posts and including a strong call-to-action in each post caption.

Keeping your audience engaged is easier, in theory, than growing your follower count. You don’t need to find new people to add to your funnel, but you do have to develop content that really resonates with them. You only know that content resonates when the post has a good engagement rate. Engagement rates vary across industries, but should be above 4% in most cases.

Consistently posting high quality content is the top way to increase your engagement rate but you can also dive into more specific tips like posting on Mondays and Thursdays between 8am-9am to further increase your engagement as these are the days and times Instagram users are most active. Keeping up with Instagram follower growth and engagement can feel overwhelming at times, but there are tools available to help. For example, you can use low-cost software like Buffer or Sprout Social to schedule your Instagram posts in advance.

This allows you to schedule your updates when you have free time so that you don’t have to worry about remembering to post at the optimal time each day.

Bottom of the funnel 

At the bottom of your Instagram sales funnel are the people most likely to purchase. They follow your account and frequently engage with your posts, which shows a strong interest in your brand and offerings. These are the people you really want to get onto your website where they can make a purchase.

You always want to make sure that the page you’re linking to is always relevant to your Instagram’s content and optimized for that particular audience. This means your landing page should be mobile-optimized and directly related to what you’re posting on Instagram.

Landing leads

While you can link to something like your latest blog post or a product page, we’ve found that the best way to utilize your Instagram sales funnel is to link to a landing page to collect leads and help build your email list. This can be achieved by promoting an Instagram-only offer and offering a lead magnet tailored to your Instagram audience.

Unfortunately unlike Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest, Instagram doesn’t allow you to add a link to each post. Instead you are limited to the one link in your Instagram bio.

In order to get the most amount of engaged followers to click the link in your bio, you need to add a strong call-to-action to do so in your posts. You can see Harry’s link in their bio above, and here is the caption on one of their latest posts:

To better track the sales results from your Instagram followers you’ll want to use a trackable URL. You can do that several ways.

First, you can buy a new domain name that you use exclusively for a specific campaign on Instagram. For example, Harry’s could have bought the domain HarrysFathersDay.com and then had that URL forward to their main site. Then they could look into Google Analytics for all traffic being referred from HarrysFathersDay.com and know that’s their Instagram traffic.

It could get expensive to buy new domain names for each campaign you want to run though, so an easier option would be to attach UTM parameters to your main URL. UTM parameters are just bits of code you can add on to the end of any URL to make that URL trackable in an analytics platform like Google Analytics.

For example

If Harry’s wanted to create a trackable URL they could use the following:


You can see everything after the main URL ends is part of a UTM structure. Typical UTM parameters include Source, Medium and Campaign (name). These are all trackable in Google Analytics under Acquisition.

In the case of tracking an Instagram post, we’d recommend using:

  • utm_source=Instagram
  • utm_medium=Post
  • utm_campaign=Unique identifier for your campaign

If you were running Instagram ads you might change the utm_medium to Ad or something similar. Truthfully it doesn’t matter what you name your UTMs as long as you can remember what they refer to. In this specific example, Harry’s is actually using something different. Here’s a free UTM link builder that will add on UTM parameters for you.

Short and simple

Now, of course a URL with UTM parameters added to it is quite long and would look messy in your Instagram bio. Therefore, once you create your trackable URL you can shorten it using bit.ly or any other shortening tool.

In this case Harry’s owns it’s own shortening URL which is what you can see in the bio:

When you click their link it takes you to their site where you can see the actual UTM parameters they’re using for this campaign.

You can see they are using:

  • utm_source=ig_own
  • utm_medium=social_own
  • utm_campaign=20170509_xfc_fathers_day_17

Remember, it doesn’t matter what you use as your own UTMs as long as they mean something to you, and you can remember what they stand for.

We don’t recommend spending too much time coming up with your UTMs. The point is just to have them. The more important concept here is to include a call-to-action in your Instagram posts to “click the link in bio” to move people in the bottom of your Instagram funnel over to your website where they can actually make a purchase.

Getting started

Now that you have a better idea of how an Instagram sales funnel works it’s time to make an action plan.

Whether you already have a sizable Instagram following or you’re starting from scratch doesn’t matter. You still want to fill the top of your funnel with as many new, targeted followers as you can each day and then move them down the funnel using engagement and a strong call-to-action.

As you can see, each stage of the funnel naturally leads itself to the next stage until you finally reach the conversation or sale. To ensure that your funnel is working properly, be sure to keep an eye on your metrics every day. That means checking for:

  • Top of the funnel – Checking your follower count
  • Middle of the funnel – The amount of comments and like you receive per post, or how many people are clicking on your bio link.
  • Bottom of the funnel – How many conversions you’re receiving through your Instagram-specific landing page

From there, you can run your Instagram confidently and expertly.

Author: Jonathan Chan, Jonathan Chan is the Content Crafter at Foundr Magazine, a magazine for young entrepreneurs. He can often be found writing and reading anything and everything to do with entrepreneurship and the startup world. That or spending too much time pretending to be the next MMA star. Check out more of his writing over at the Foundr Blog.