The following is a guest post by Andre Oentoro. Andre is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order). You can follow Andre on Twitter: @breadnbeyond or connect to him on LinkedIn.
Instagram DM (Direct Message) is arguably one of the most underrated marketing channels that you are probably not using correctly right now.
Content like social media videos, infographics, and slides are a great way to expand your business’ organic reach. However, engaging your customers directly through their inbox offers excellent potential for conversion and growth.
As many as eight out of ten people use Instagram to look up products and services, it’s only fitting that you meet your potential customers halfway by sliding to their DMs.
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But before we talk deeper about leveraging Instagram Direct Messages for your business and marketing purposes, let’s refresh our memories on how DMs work.
Understanding Instagram Direct Messaging (DM)
Instagram Direct Messages allow users to chat directly with other users, which works similarly with Facebook Messengers. Facebook has released a unified inbox feature that enables you to manage Facebook messages and Instagram DMs from one place.
Using Instagram DMs is an excellent and personal way to increase your brand’s awareness, build relationships with potential customers, promote your products, and eventually close sales – all within one platform.
Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or a small business, DMs can be a powerful tool to grow your business without building an online store or a website. Even if you run the marketing side of a massive corporation, you can still use DMs to personify your brand and add a personal touch to your marketing campaigns.
What’s more intriguing is that unlike content marketing, which is often subject to Instagram algorithm changes, DMs are not affected by external factors except you (sender) and your customers (receiver).
On top of that, the average engagement rate for a business account’s posts is a teeny 0.96% – which is not an ideal way to grow. Instagram DMs is a straightforward form of marketing that, if used correctly, can generate both conversion and customer loyalty at the same time.
Why You Should Use Instagram Direct Messages for Your Business
Instagram has a massive number of monthly active users, but that’s not the most appealing aspect of the Facebook-owned platform. It’s how addicted people are to using Instagram in their daily lives.
Ask yourself this: How many times have you sent a message to your friend on Instagram, even though you have their number?
The answer is probably between sometimes and every single time – but not never. Its users’ attachment is another factor that makes Instagram a great marketing platform.
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On that note, there are also marketing-oriented reasons why you should use Instagram Direct Messages for your business.
1. Helps you connect with your customers
While the DMs are great features to connect with customers, what makes them so irresistible is their connection to the platform. You can share posts, stories, reels, GIFs, videos, and voice notes with your customers or leads, strengthening the relationship.
The various ways to communicate with others provide a whole new playing field that you could leverage to paint your business with the right image.
Even if you’re still using business-level formality to chat with your followers, the fact remains that you’re both talking on social media instead of the company’s email or call center.
2. Provides personal and engaged customer support
Not only does Instagram DM work well to boost your conversion, but it also offers up-close and personal space for customer support.
According to a survey by Sprout Social, 31% of consumers prefer to leave feedback about a product on a business social media.
Instagram has also launched a quick reply feature which allows business accounts to create several frequently used messages that you can send with just one tap. You can create new quick reply messages or set up an existing message as a quick reply option.
While the quick reply feature is an effective way to increase your account’s response time, it’s not entirely personal. After the initial reply, you can continue talking to your customers using various reactions, GIFs, images, or even videos to liven up the chat room.
If you’re using stories to share your content, Instagram DMs will provide you with double the benefit. Every reply to your stories goes straight into your DMs.
That means by setting up stories that your followers can reply to or react to, and you will open up a new way to start a conversation with them.
4. Exposes new and high-quality leads
Instagram DMs also allow you to reach out to other users who aren’t following your account. You can use various search filters such as locations, hashtags, and stickers to create a set of criteria to find high-quality leads.
By sifting through the results, you can score high-quality potential leads, which you can approach through Instagram DMs. If you can find them through the search feature, you can send them a DM.
It would be best if you kept in mind that DMs you send to private Instagram accounts will end up in the “message request” tab, which can be reported and marked as spam. In other words, the account reaches out with caution.
5. Your customers are spending their time on Instagram
In 2020, the average user spent at least 30 minutes a day on Instagram. This number increases from 26 minutes per day in 2019 – which tells us about the increasing retention time among Instagram users.
The more they spend their time on Instagram, the more likely they are to look up your business or product within the app. Whether they want to inquire about your service, buy a product, or complain about their previous purchase, a fast response time and digital presence are never a bad image for a business.
How to Use Instagram Direct Messages to Grow Your Business
Now that you’re convinced about using Instagram Direct Messages to grow your business let’s talk about how you can start doing it.
1. Start by setting up an objective
Any good marketing campaign always starts with a clearly defined objective. There are four types of marketing campaign objectives that you can execute through Instagram DMs.
- Promote new products: This campaign objective is pretty straightforward. You need to craft an enticing message about your new products and send it out to your followers. While this is certainly an achievable objective, the ideal recipient of promotion DMs should be your existing followers whom you have engaged in the past.
- Grow digital presence: Growing digital presence through Instagram DMs is simple. You can start by sharing your latest posts and updates about your business with your followers. But you should be mindful of the frequency since sending too many DMs might result in annoying your followers instead.
- Build brand authority: Sharing insightful content through your Instagram posts and stories is a great way to build authority. You can increase the impact by reaching out to those who comment or react to your posts and stories with a follow-up question through their DMs. Personal reach out will boost your authority and build a solid relationship that could increase your conversion altogether.
- Generate leads: Generating potential leads through Instagram DMs is a tricky task, but it’s achievable. You can start by compiling a list of followers who have interacted with your account, whether it’s through comments or DMs. Once you have a list of potential leads, you can start sending out product-related messages to see if they’re at all interested in a free trial.
- Reach new customers: You can also reach new customers by looking up posts related to your product or within the industry you’re in. If the accounts that uploaded those posts match your customer persona, you can start reaching out and invite them to follow you – don’t cold-DM them to buy your product.
- Build brand awareness: Instagram DMs also make a great tool to establish solid brand awareness. You can achieve this goal by regularly sending out updates or relevant posts related to your products or the industry.
Once you’ve set an objective for your campaign, you can start narrowing down which type of content to share and what kind of messages to send.
2. Set up Frequently Asked Questions with Instagram Direct Messages
Before you start sending out Instagram DMs and setting quick replies, you can create a set of FAQs to answer the inquiries about your business’ basic information like open hours, contact info, address, websites, etc.
You can follow these steps to set up FAQs for your Instagram DM:
- Head over to the Settings from your Instagram app, then tap Business/Creator, depending on your account type.
- Tap Frequently Asked Questions. If you haven’t set it up, it should have Off status next to it.
- Start by adding basic questions which will appear as suggestions at the beginning of the conversation. This is how FAQs will look like to your followers.
- If they tap the message, the response that you’ve set will be sent automatically.
3. Create a set of quick replies
Quick response time is one of the crucial factors that your existing or potential customers consider to measure the quality of your business.
As many as 47% of consumers prefer a brand that can answer customer service inquiries quickly over the ones that provide non-responsive customer services.
You can set a new quick reply message for Instagram DMs by following these steps:
- Open the Settings menu from your Instagram app.
- Head over to the Business option, and tap Quick Replies.
- Tap the plus sign on the top-right corner to create a quick-reply new message.
- Write your message, and assign a shortcut to use it. In the example below, we used the shortcut ‘services’ to answer inquiries about our services.
If you’ve written an extensive reply to an inquiry before, you can also set a previously sent message in your DMs as a quick reply message.
- Head over to the conversation, which has the message you’d like to use as a quick reply.
- Tap and hold the message, and you should see the option to save it as a Quick Reply.
- Instagram will automatically add that message to the quick reply column, and you’ll be able to edit and assign a shortcut to it.
Now the question is, how do you use one of the messages?
The Quick Reply feature is only available in Instagram DMs, and you can’t use it to reply to comments on your posts or reels.
You can use a quick reply message to respond to a DM. Start by opening a conversation that you’d like to reply to. If the question is related to one of your quick reply messages, you can type the shortcut that you’ve previously assigned to it.
Tap the triple-dot icon next to the Send button, and it will automatically change to the quick reply message.
4. Start a conversation from post and stories engagement
While you can certainly reach out to potential customers and offer them your products with zero context, that does not create the best image for your business. Instead, you can start a conversation by creating interactive stories.
Using polls and questions in your Instagram stories is a great way to start an interaction with your followers. Everyone who participated in the polls will show up under the story’s insight, which you can follow up by sending them DMs related to the content.
It’s an engaging and organic way to start a meaningful conversation instead of a business-oriented interaction. These polls can also serve as a market research tool and a beginning of customer-oriented content.
Once the conversation begins, it’s only natural to provide some valuable insights about the topic that sparked the interaction. Keep the conversation going naturally for as long as you can.
Organic conversation between a business and a potential customer is challenging to start through other channels. But since the initial engagement on Instagram starts from relevant stories, the topic’s already been set, and your job is to find a spot where your product can be the ‘hero’ to solve their problem.
6. Make your pitch with a special discount
Once the DMs chain has reached a point where you can throw your product into the conversation, don’t be shy about it.
Since the conversation starts organically, your product plug will not be as tacky as blatant and no-context promotion. The worst that they can say is no, right?
To make your offer even more enticing, throw in a special discount for people who signed up or purchased your product through Instagram DMs.
7. Rinse and repeat
Conversion is a numbers game, and you should be prepared to get 100 rejections for each closed sale made through your DMs.
There’s a high chance that most people won’t even reply to your DMs, but don’t let that discourage you.
If you’re trying to approach the CEO of your local shopping mall, they might not even read your DMs. But a tenant in that mall might be interested in your offer.
If you keep doing that for months or even years, you’ll pile up a bunch of experience that attracts bigger clients into taking a look at your portfolio. Before you know it, you’ll have multiple large-scale businesses as your recurring clients.
Ready to Start Using Instagram Direct Messages for Your Business?
While Instagram DMs are not as automated in lead generation, it offers a more direct and hands-on approach to growing your business.
Plus, not many people label Instagram DMs as a ‘marketing platform’ – so it can become a special place where you can impress your customers in a place where they didn’t expect.
Closing your first DM sale might be difficult, but it will teach you a lot in the process. Start making lists of what method works and what doesn’t – and double down on the effective ones.