Not so long ago, people went from storefront to storefront to decide where to shop from. Today, however, Instagram is quickly and effectively revolutionizing the traditional window-shopping experience.
In fact, 51% of social media users say Instagram is the most influential platform when it comes to shopping. To top that, 72% of Instagram users make purchase decisions based on what they see on the platform.
For businesses, this doesn’t just mean that their Instagram feed should leave a lasting impression. Instead, to keep buyers engaged you also need to tap into the potential of the Instagram Direct Message feature.
How so, you ask? Briefly, by using Instagram DMs to nurture relationships with customers, offer customer support, and answer any questions that they may have.
This makes it clear: ignoring the potential of Instagram DMs can not only cost you customers, but also leave you lagging behind competitors.
So, in this soup to nuts guide let’s walk you through how to leverage Instagram direct messaging for growing your sales. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover including:
- What is an Instagram Direct Message?
- Benefits of using Instagram DMs for attracting customers
- Best Practices for how to DM on Instagram
- And how to DM on Instagram for growing sales
Let’s get started:
What is Instagram DM?
An Instagram DM or an Instagram direct message is a messaging feature native to the visual-first platform that allows you to have private chats potential customers.
You can use it for promoting your product or for helping customers learn more about your brand, your products, your store location, etc.
You can also use Instagram direct messaging for engaging customers, connecting with influencers, and sourcing more business opportunities.
Typically, businesses engage with their customers through comments on posts. However, Instagram is more than just about having two-way conversations with your audience in the comments’ section.
With Instagram DM you can interact with both followers and non-followers on the social media site – outside the comments’ section.
You can recognize the Instagram DM icon at the top right corner of your screen – it’s a neat paper airplane icon.
For those who haven’t yet experienced the latest Instagram update, you’ll be seeing the Facebook Messenger icon at the top right corner instead.
You’ll also find the airplane icon beneath posts. It lets you can share posts directly to someone’s inbox or to your story.
Benefits of using Instagram DM for attracting potential customers
Interestingly, more than 150 million Instagrammers use direct messaging for directly communicating with a business each month. This is reason enough for you to tap into its potential for growing sales.
A heads-up though: with Instagram DMs, you need to take a value-first approach with customers. This means you need to engage them before encouraging them to buy from you.
Put another way, cold-selling never works. If anything, it repels even potential customers.
So how does the value-first approach to using Instagram DMs benefit you? Here’s how:
1. Build relationships
Customers send messages to brands for more than just inquiring about a product. They may want your recommendation on which product to choose or they may message to share feedback.
Either way, when you ignore customer messages, you miss a chance to connect with them.
In contrast, if you’re active on IG Direct, you can not only respond to queries but also to the reactions you receive on your stories – making the most of the private space you get for building relationships. This way, you tell your customers that you’re more than just about making sales.
That said, Instagram DMs give you the opportunity to connect with influencers in your niche as well.
Basically, the odds of an influencer collaborating with you are poor if you reach out cold. Your message is likely going to sit within their crowded inbox.
A better solution – one that leads to success? Engaging with an influencers Instagram content to build rapport. Then, DM-ing them with a work inquiry. This will likely get you a response because the influencer recognizes your name and is, therefore, more receptive to your message.
2. Provide quick customer service
The time you take to respond to a query can help you win or lose customers.
The take home message? If you delay responding, another brand can win the customer in the meantime. As an example, let’s take an ice cream parlor. Say a potential customer reaches out to ask if there’s seating available.
Now if there’s a delay in response, that same customer might end up messaging another parlor and upon getting a reply, visit their business instead.
That said, you can also provide better customer support via DMs as messages on Instagram are link-friendly. Keeping in mind comments on the network don’t support links, this is an important feature.
Consequently, you can use it to answer customers’ questions better, directing them to detailed information using links (where required). You can also share links to product pages and store location when customers ask.
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3. Better handle customer reviews
Using Instagram Direct you can privately handle a complaint that a customer may have shared publicly. How so?
Simply ask the customer who has commented negatively to check their DM. There, you can apologize, solve the misunderstanding, offer a compensation or whatever depending on the situation.
Interestingly, this very exceptional customer service encourages 78% of customers to buy from/work with a business even after they make a mistake. Meaning: you can turn sour deals around simply by being vigilant and helpful.
Similarly, you can grow brand loyalty. For example, if you receive positive feedback, you can DM your customer asking them if you can share their words – see how Planoly has done so.
In this manner direct messages on Instagram can also help you source user-generated content.
4. Retain customers and grow loyalty
Tardy responses don’t only make you lose customers, but also negatively impact your brand image. On the flip side, quickly replying to customer queries via DM is a great way to strengthen your brand identity and maintain customer loyalty as discussed above.
One another way to grow customer loyalty? Use Instagram DM to send special promotions and exclusive offers to loyal customers. This way, you can get them to buy from you time and again.
5. Engage customers
As a rule of thumb, you need to engage with those who interact with you on Instagram to turn them into followers and customers. But in addition to engaging with customers by replying to their comments, you can also interact with them in the direct messages folder.
One reminder though: building relations in DM doesn’t mean that you cold message your customers. This comes across as intrusive with several people considering it spammy.
The solution? Find opportunities to message customers meaningfully. For example: start conversations in your inbox by sending a thank you message when someone tags your brand in a post.
You can also strategically use stories to bring customers to your direct inbox, such as by running polls or AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions.
How to Use DM on Instagram: 5 Best Practices
Wondering how to reply on Instagram DM? Let’s walk you proven tips to follow when getting back to an Instagram DM notification.
1. Define goals and internal team roles
This step is for those of you who have a team to run Instagram marketing – one-person teams can skip to the next tactic right away.
Even if your team is a small one, it’s essential you pre-decide who’s responsible for answering which queries. This help you in two ways.
One, the customer gets an accurate and complete response to their query instead of a half-baked reply from someone on the team who doesn’t know the full answer.
And, two, knowing who is responsible for answering which queries helps you stay on top of your Instagram inbox all while being responsive.
Unsure how to get your team to work from one inbox? Use ContentStudio’s Social Inbox to manage all your inboxes – be it Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram inboxes.
The Social Inbox is a one-stop for managing all your inboxes across social. Not only that but an admin can easily assign messages to team members. This way, you can have one dedicated team member go through all messages and assign queries to respective people/departments.
The best part? You can also add internal notes to messages to keep other teammates in loop about specific customers – say someone experiencing a delay in their order shipment or someone who has received the wrong order.
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2. Unsend messages if you have to
Made a typo or sent an incorrect link? No worries, you can unsend messages on Instagram without leaving a trace if you’re quick about it.
However, if you act slow, your recipient may have already noticed.
So, it’s best if you refrain from using this feature if you’re having a one-on-one conversation with a customer who’s online in that moment. After all, being obvious about unsending messages comes off as unprofessional.
Wondering how to unsend an Instagram DM? Simple. Just tap and hold a message until the option to delete it appears bottom-center.
3. Don’t keep customers waiting
Get back to customers at your earliest. The reason? Potential customers have way too many options these days so you have to be responsive.
Keeping customers waiting can lead them to a competitor or make them forget about you altogether. Quick responses are particularly important if you’re a service-based professional, restaurant owner, or an ecommerce business.
Say for example, you’re a restaurant owner and get a message inquiry about the availability of a specific dish. If you respond late, your customer would’ve likely visited another restaurant before receiving a response from your end.
To add to all this, quick and effective customer support can you help you stand out against your competitors.
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4. Engage with more than words
When it comes to Instagram messages, you don’t need to rely on text alone to respond. You also have the options to send emojis, GIFs as well as voice notes and videos.
Of these, emojis help you show off your unique brand personality to your customers, which, in turn, can help you leave a lasting impact on them.
Moreover, service-based businesspeople can find sharing voice notes and videos helpful as they allow you to explain lengthy processes easily.
5. Keep it conversational
When talking to customers via DM, don’t forget to use your brand voice. You can also personalize conversations by mentioning your name to show your brand’s human side.
Don’t forget to use simple language and cut out jargon but maintain professionalism at the same time.
Keep in mind that while it’s helpful to use your brand voice in chat, you need to be mindful of the conversation’s nature. For instance, if your brand tone is chirpy, it doesn’t make sense to handle serious situations in a quirky manner.
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How to DM on Instagram for More Leads and Conversions?
Now for some more meaty information on how to use the DM feature without having to resort to cold outreach:
1. Engage via Stories
Did you know that one-third of Instagram’s audience uses the Stories feature? That’s true as 500 million users share Stories every day.
You can make the most of Stories yourself for engaging with your customers via Instagram Direct.
Look at how Poets did the same in this Story – all the responses to this ephemeral piece of content landed in their DMs. This makes a good opportunity for brands to engage their audience further.
Want more ideas for using Instagram Stories to bring people to your inbox? Host AMA sessions, conduct polls, and announce new services, encouraging people to message you for the details.
2. Keep in touch
With Instagram direct, you can also nurture your relationship with customers post their purchase.
For instance, you can message them for their feedback. Or you can send a message informing loyal customers about a new store branch opening.
In addition, you can continue the conversation with customers who reported any issues in their experience with your brand. You can DM them asking whether their concerns have been resolved after your help.
And finally, you can also send a message to a group of customers, informing them about events or deals. Note that an Instagram group chat can accommodate up to 32 people only.
3. Reach out yourself
Apart from continuing on old conversations, you can also reach out to customers yourself.
For example, if you have been noticing some followers have been interacting with your posts and stories, you can Direct Message them to share available coupons and offers.
But always be mindful: sending salesy messages to followers out of nowhere comes off as spammy.
The question then is: how can you make sure your message doesn’t sound salesy? To figure out, read your message aloud and keep editing it until it sounds helpful rather than an attempt to shove your product in the customer’s face.
Want to play safe? Stick to messaging people who seem to be interested in your brand.
And to avoid getting your message stuck in the message requests’ section, make sure you first interact with followers on posts before sending them a message.
To send a message to a follower you haven’t DMed before, head to their profile and click on the ‘message’ button.
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4. Network with influencers and other businesses
Instagram is an ideal place for influencer marketing with 67% of brands using it for this very purpose.
Essentially, tapping into influencer marketing increases brand awareness, encourages purchase decisions in your favor, and increases sales.
Using Instagram DM, you can connect with influencers in your niche after interacting with them on their posts or stories.
You can also network with other businesses that share the same audience for collaborations.
5. Use DM templates to save time
A good way to be responsive is to use message templates to speed up your response rate and keep your DMs less crowded.
Prepare customizable templates to answer frequently asked questions. For instance, you can have templates ready to answer questions related to shipping or vouchers.
It’s also a good idea to work from a central workstation where you can access links to product pages and keep members updated about the latest promotions and their terms. This way, customer representatives can quickly source links and share with customers when needed.
6. Set up quick replies
Since responding immediately is key, you can save time and effort by setting up quick replies to frequently asked questions. For example, you may want to add a quick reply for questions related to the deals you offer.
Note that only business profiles can set up quick replies. To do so, go to ‘Business’ in the Settings menu.
There, click on the ‘+’ sign to add a new quick reply.
Along with adding the message, assign it a shortcut too. Typing the shortcut in the chat will automatically type out the quick response message.
Also read: How to beat Instagram Algorithm in 2022
Use Instagram DM for Your Business Today
From providing opportunities to network and engage to being an effective channel for ensuring quick customer support, Instagram Direct Messages hold great potential to attract customers and increase your sales.
In fact, using Instagram DMs smartly can even help you win lost customers as you can guide them and clear issues in your inbox.
So to recap, here’s how to make the most of Instagram Direct:
- Have message templates ready and set up quick replies.
- Use Stories as a way to get more people to message you.
- Occasionally reach out yourself in a non-salesy manner (be sure you aren’t reaching out cold though)
- Stick to your brand voice to network with customers, influencers, and potential business partners.
Remember, aim to provide value and never push your products and services in people’s faces. Do that and you’ll grow sales organically via Instagram DMs in no time.
Masooma Memon is a pizza-loving freelance writer by day and a novel nerd by night. She crafts research-backed blog posts and articles for small businesses and app companies who aim to employ quality content to educate and engage with their audience.