How Retailers Can Drive In-Store Traffic with Instagram

Domenic Smith
Domenic Smith
DTC brands independent consultant

As a community of more than 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram carries considerable marketing weight for just about any business trying to reach customers and increase brand awareness. Staying active on the platform and aligning with influencers are great ways to educate others about your business’s value proposition.

If you’re a retailer with brick-and-mortar locations, there’s a need for social media strategies to get people into stores in addition to boosting online sales. When customers are inside your store, they’re more immersed in your brand. They don’t just see a photo and description on a screen. They’re exposed to other products you carry, which can spur impulse buys, and with a  positive in-store experience, those online influencers and other customers who met you and initially only engaged with you virtually can become even greater brand ambassadors.

Here are four tips to help you unlock the power of Instagram for increased foot traffic into your store.

1 Take a location-based approach.

One key to getting people into stores is making sure they know how close they are to you. Once you’ve created that eye-catching ad, take it a step further and merge it with a location-based strategy.  Take a page from Starbucks or the Gap: 

Starbucks might construct an ad around a seasonal drink, for example. But once the image does the work and entices the user to want to learn more, that click-through via hashtags, image or another CTA option can redirect to a map showing the nearest location.

The Gap’s 2020 #Summerloves campaign was another example of effectively tying location-based strategy to a seasonal promotion with influencers involved. Yes, those flip-flops, swimsuits or glamorous in-store retail displays look great, but the audience also knew how close they were to a Gap story right now so they could stop in to buy and browse, read more here.

2 Get the most out of geotagging.

Instagram is arguably one of the best platforms for targeted messages with the help of geotagging. This can really help for building foot traffic, too.

With Instagram, you first have to set your location through your Facebook account. Once that’s done, conduct some simple research as to the amount of tagging activity around you. You can research when and where your brand is being mentioned, and what stories it’s appearing in. Leverage this information to bring people into the store. You can host an event and incentivize people you know are nearby to come in with an offer. Take it a step further and find a nearby influencer, give them an incentive to appear in your store and mention it in your story, and they can do the same in theirs.

World Map on a flat animated surface showing different geo locations

3 Pick the right visual approach for your ad.

We all know our ads and promotions need to look great in order to drive traffic, so it’s important to choose the right type of imagery for your message. 
With Instagram, you can choose between photos, videos or carousels. While there’s no hard and fast rule to which one you should use, think about the message you’re really trying to convey before choosing one. Here are  few basics to keep in mind:

  • Carousels are great for highlighting individual products, especially if you want your customers to see multiple angles of them. But you can also show several products inside an area of your store. You can even tag each item with a price and let people click on it to see where it’s available. Carousels also work well for displaying and educating people about multiple versions of a product.
  • Videos work well for tutorials, online workshops and other informational content. They might work well for promoting an event, too, especially if you’ve had the event in the past and have some video footage or testimonials that highlight its success.
  • Photos are the reason Instagram exists, and even though experts love to talk about how video is king today, never underestimate the power of a photo. If you have good visuals of your store, products on display or products in action, photos are still a great messaging tool. Tag it with the right promotion, and foot traffic will follow.
facebook carousel post

4 Concise copy and A/B testing.

When creating your Instagram ad, you have a maximum character count of 300, but there’s a sweet spot of around 130 characters for getting your message across.

Keep copy simple and clear. If you can’t think of a clever line, be direct instead. You never want to confuse your audience by trying to be funny. The nice thing about Instagram is that you can get away with capitalizing a word for emphasis without offending, and you can bold sections of text to further emphasize them. So, words like “Giveaway,” “Free,” “Sale,” “For a Limited Time” work well. And don’t overlook the power of a call to action, like “Learn More.” Less is definitely more when it comes to copy. And finally, don’t forget to A/B test ads. Create two, each with different visuals, copy or offers to see which performs better based on your chosen metrics. And always make sure ads are slight variations of each other. One may have a different image, but the same copy, or vice versa. If the ads are completely different it’s hard to tell which parts of the ad are working or not because there are too many differences to track.

A/B testing in advertising example

While targeting specific promotions to increase foot traffic is important, never underestimate the overall value of branding and getting eyeballs on your brand in general through Instagram.

Setting yourself apart as a leader in your field with thoughtful and creative content for your audience builds credibility and is the foundation for someone trusting your business. It’s easy to offer a great deal, but the ultimate goal is to keep audiences engaged with you for the long haul – which will only help with your efforts to get people shopping inside your store as well.

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Domenic Smith

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