Even though everyone recognizes the need for their creative business to be present on Instagram, it seems that for a lot of business owners this platform is more of an afterthought that an actual effective marketing channels that drives exposure and sales.
However, I am not trying to put all of the blame on business owners. You are a busy creative entrepreneur who wants to maximize the results you get for your efforts; you want a clear purpose and ROI. So, while marketing gurus scream from the rooftops about the importance of being on Instagram, creatives and business owners are left wondering, What’s in it for me. How do I track traffic? How do I track sales? How can a collection of pretty images translate into a real revenue for a company?
And then there’s the biggest question of all: How do I interpret the analytics I get to ensure Instagram is an effective part of my marketing funnel?
If you’re using Instagram seriously, you need to track and evaluate your results on this platform.
Analyzing Instagram profile performance
If you’ve claimed your profile as business account, you will get great insights on Instagram itself. Click into Analytics, and you will be able to see statistics on your post engagement, audience, Stories and any paid promotion you have running.
Start with a Posts section, as there are a few important metrics you need to know. First of all, because algorithm changes and performance of your recent posts affect your reach, average out the reach of your posts. See whether it decreases, increases, or stays consistent, on a weekly or monthly basis. Then, do the same thing for an average number of engagements and see what trend it has. Finally, what’s most important, find out your average engagement rate by dividing the average number of engagement by the average reach.
Also pay attention to your top posts. They will give you a great insight into content preferences of your audience. If you see some trends and specific content that perform well every time, definitely leverage that knowledge and post more of similar content.
Now, go into followers and see what trends you can discover there. First of all, you want your following to grow. So, negative number means that you’ve actually lost more followers than you’ve gained.
This is usually a bad sign unless you were off the platform for some time, or you dramatically changed your branding. This is not to say that you can’t take the time off or change your branding, just be prepared to lose some followers. Simply see it as an opportunity to get crystal clear on your new path and gain new followers that will love your new positioning.
Also, while we’re on the topic of audience, check their gender, age, and location. This basic demographic data will help you understand whether your Instagram audience roughly aligns with the target audience you’ve set for your business.
While huge following on Instagram might seem awesome on the surface, we want these people to go to your website and convert into paying customers. And if they’re a wrong audience with completely different needs and life stages, than it will be hard — if not impossible — to convince them to purchase something from you.
Finally, get your insight into the performance of your Stories. While Stories might not be so vital to your business performance, they’re great for seeing what your followers like and what types of content they prefer.
Use Stories, and its performance, as sort of a test lab for new content, new angles, more casual content, and see what your audience responds to best. If you’re able to uncover some bigger trends, like preference for a more casual content, or more promotional content than you can slowly introduce more of such content into your traditional feed.
So, this is all great, but what do you do if you didn’t claim your account as Business and don’t intend to do it? You can get most of the information from a variety of other tools and apps available in the market.
There are free tools, such as Hootsuite, Websta, UnionMetics, SimplyMeasured free report and SquareLovin. Yet, one thing to keep in mind with free reports and tools is that they’ll give you a rather big overview snapshot of your Instagram presence.
If you want to track your Instagram efforts better, you will have to invest into paid offerings as they provide much more information in real time. IconoSquare provides a lot of dynamic data on engagement and focuses heavy on your community-building efforts.
Analyzing the performance of your Instagram account is the first step in making it an effective marketing tool. Smart marketers not only know exactly how their account performs and how many followers it attracts, and how engaging on average a given post should be, but they also look for bigger trends like the right audience and content preferences.
Finally, if your engagement rate or your following is not where you want it to be, knowing your statistics will help you fix the course with better, more targeted content.
Tracking Instagram traffic on your website – what do people do on your website?
Once you’ve got a good grip on Instagram metrics and performance of your account, you should take a look at the traffic coming from Instagram to your website and examine people’s behavior once they land there.
The first thing to take care of is to set up the right tracking. A majority of analytical tools often report Instagram traffic as “Direct,” because all referrer information gets stripped away when switching between apps.
To truly get all the data you’re after, employ URL shorteners, or, as I prefer, Google URL Builder if you’re employing Google Analytics. Now, every time someone clicks on the link in your Instagram bio, you will have all the information you need about them. You can compare that number to the number of clicks reported in your Instagram analytics, if you do have access to them.
Another strategy I highly recommend is to build a special landing page just for Instagram traffic. Most likely, your homepage paints a very broad picture of your brand. While it may be a good starting point for people who randomly stumbled across your site, it is not ideal for people who are already on your site and had some sort of previous interaction with your company (even if it’s on Instagram).
Now that they’re on your website already, you want them to take the next step, whatever it may be for your business: whether it’s scheduling a call, signing up for a webinar, or placing an order. Homepages tend to have a lot of information and links crammed onto them. This results in informational overload and choice fatigue to a point where they feel lost. Take them through a clear path of the obvious next steps. You can do this through a brief email sign-up form, to continue the conversation with them and build a longer-lasting relationship, which in turn may open up opportunities for direct sales. If you’ve got something to sell and your operation is relatively low-ticket, offer visitors a discount code right away. You can then divide the number of instances where a coupon is used by the total number of people coming from Instagram, to gain a simple and straightforward conversion rate. Clearly, if you offer a higher-ticket services or products, you will have to build some rapport with them first.
So, now that you have a dedicated page and a special link that is trackable, you are all set to dive deep into analytics. The referrer information will travel with them everywhere they go on your website, so you can slice it and dice it however you want.
So, what do you want to pay attention to? How long have they’ve spent on this page, what percentage of them bounced? These numbers will indicate how engaged they are on your website.
How many pages on average they’ve visited per session and where exactly have they clicked? This will give you a good indication of what they’re interested in and looking for.
Finally, you can see how many people with Instagram as a referrer purchased something on your site and even know how much they’ve spent. This is the best metric to justify Instagram as as an effective business tool. If you have a lot of people who come from Insta and convert into customers, you will instantly know that you’re doing Instagram right.
You can also reverse-engineer your sales funnel to see where the disconnect happens and which parts need the most work. If not a lot of people from Instagram visit your website in the first place, you need to craft a more engaging bio and a more enticing offer for them to click in to. If they land on your landing page, but don’t spend enough time or don’t go anywhere — rework and optimize your landing page.
Finally, if they spend time on the page and wonder around your website without converting, then you need to polish your sales message to them or simplify the sales funnel and make it shorter, with fewer steps.
If you want to ensure that it’s an effective tool in bringing highly qualified and engaged audience to your website, you need to track and analyze all of the data available to you.
Interestingly, website behavior can also hint at what your followers on Instagram want to see more of when it comes to the content you produce.
Once you’ve completed all these steps and put a simple process into place for the behavior analysis I just outlined, you’ll see the traffic you get from Instagram, the quality of this traffic (how engaged these people are) and, finally, the means for calculating the conversion rate at which this traffic converts into paying customers.
Do this calculation at least monthly to gain a clear picture of your Instagram performance. With this process in place, you’ll gain an understanding of the areas that need optimization to improve your metrics — whether that means higher traffic volumes, more engagement on your website or an increase in sales.
Instagram is only as effective in bringing in more brand awareness and conversions as you make it to be. As an entrepreneur, you are always looking for ways to improve your bottom line, decrease costs and increase profit margins. Take that same approach to Instagram presence. If your efforts are sporadic and don’t have any real strategy behind them, then do not be surprised it doesn’t work. However, if you are serious about leveraging Instagram, keeping trying to crack the code. Define your audience better, craft a stronger creative, experiment with placements and schedules. Keep testing different variations of content and ways to target your audiences.
Even if your posts are performing decently it doesn’t mean you’ve reached the full potential this powerful marketing channel offers. If your posts perform OK, carry out mini A/B tests. Change little details one at a time to see what moves the needle. Seemingly unimportant details can make all the difference.
It might be a similar-but-slightly more approachable image of you or your product which looks more appealing. It may be as little as switching out two words in your caption that will blow your results through the roof. Seriously, it can happen if you wordsmith your messages to a point where it is so specific, your audience understands right away that this is the product for them and they want it now.
It may be the timing of your posts. It is possible that your audience is not very active during morning hours, but is very active during evening hours. Or, you are wasting your time on being online during workdays when your audience is really receptive to your offer on the weekends.
Test, test, test and then test your content until you are happy with the results. All the data is available to you to track what makes the difference in your Instagram presence. This is also a learning curve and a great insight into what your audience truly wants.
Once you know these metrics and how much money your business made directly from visitors who came from Instagram, you can easily justify using this platform as as an effective business tool.
Then, once you begin to track results, you’ll find that marketing on this platform will become almost effortless. With the rich insights you’ll gain from your Instagram analytics, you’ll begin to see Instagram marketing as a constant feedback loop, where you gain more understanding of your audience members and their content needs, which in turn will bring more traffic to your website and (hopefully) a bunch of new conversions of your visitors into actual paying customers.
How do you track your efforts? What difference did analytics make in your strategy and execution? I’d like to know your tips! Share in the comment section below or head over to Instagram @lesyaliu to continue the conversation!