Written by Elise Dopson

January 7, 2022

Turn Instagram conversations into conversions!

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Ask any business why they use social media and you’ll hear similar answers: “We want to generate leads through the social networks our target audience is using.” 

Instagram comes top of mind for many brands with that goal — especially since Instagram’s 1 billion-strong user base spends on average around 30 minutes per day on the platform. Some 70% of them are shopping enthusiasts who turn to the platform when searching for new products.

One thing’s for certain: Instagram has the power to generate new leads for your business, regardless of whether you’re an eCommerce brand or service-based business owner. You just need to make sure you have the foundations laid to capture the right audience, and lead qualifications in process to make sure you’re converting people with a high likelihood of buying. 

How to capture and qualify Instagram leads

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using Instagram not only for lead gen, but to make sure any potential customers fit your target persona. 

  1. Respond to comments
  2. Initiate conversations via DM
  3. Use the website link in Instagram Stories
  4. Host a giveaway
  5. Share lead magnets
  6. Partner with influencers
  7. Build a lead qualification funnel

1. Respond to comments

Responding to comments that followers have left on your business’s Instagram post might seem like a tedious task, especially if those commenting haven’t sparked a conversation (like dropping an emoji beneath the photo). But taking the time to respond makes a world of difference.

Let’s put it into practice and imagine yourself to be the customer. You follow a clothing brand on Instagram that you’ve been thinking about buying from, so you drop a 😍 beneath a reposted photo of an influencer wearing a dress. The odds of you purchasing said dress catapults if the brand responded with a message like:

“We’re glad to see you love this dress, too! It’s currently on sale. Grab it for 20% off and copy [influencer’s] style.”

Now, as the business, you don’t have to manually respond to every Instagram comment. Using Instagram Automation by ManyChat, configure flows that send followers a direct message (DM) based on the type of comment they leave. If someone comments with a heart-eye emoji, for example, you can send the above automated message with a direct link to the shop. 

instagram comments automation

2. Initiate conversations via Instagram DM

Speaking of hosting conversations with your Instagram followers, have processes in place to capture high-quality leads who make the first move. Chances are, these conversations will happen off the back of Instagram Stories. 

Research shows that 50% of user-to-business messaging comes from Stories. Another 40% are initiated from the profile.

Again, take this off your plate entirely with these two Instagram automation features:

  • Conversation starters. How many times have you avoided a conversation because you didn’t know what to say? Leads are likely experiencing the same thing when they open up a blank DM. Prompt them to get in touch with conversation starters. They’ll get the answers they need without thinking about how to word their message. 
  • Automated replies. Welcome people who’ve already started a conversation with your business’s Instagram account. You could thank them for chatting with you and present them with the following options: interested in sales, free shipping details, browse products, or speak to customer support.
instagram chatbot

If you’re on the fence about using automation to handle leads, consider this: Two-thirds of customers say being on hold is the most frustrating aspect of customer service. Automation gives people the answers they need right now rather than waiting for a human agent to address their concerns, at which point the hot lead has turned cold. 

It’s no wonder 80% of marketing automation users saw an increase in the number of leads their business got after using marketing automation software. Another 77% saw a lift in conversion rates. 

3. Use Instagram Stories

If you’ve been managing an Instagram account for years, there’s one thing that likely tops your list of frustrations: only being allowed one external link from your Instagram bio. 

Workaround this problem by using the link sticker in Instagram Stories, which replaced the now-defunct “swipe up” link previously reserved for accounts with more than 10,000 followers. Digital marketer Abu Fofanah, for example, directs Instagram followers directly to his website, instead of forcing potential customers to take a detour through his Instagram bio link:

instagram lead qualification

Another great way to drive leads through Instagram Stories is to configure Instagram Keyword Automation. Use a call-to-action (CTA) button that entices Instagram users to send a DM from your Story. Then, send users an automated response that provides more information about the product, service, or event they’re interested in. 

This process prevents you from blasting information to people who aren’t interested in whatever you’re promoting, and mitigating the risk of unfollows should your communications become too spammy.

Digital marketing influencer Frazer Brooks took this approach when using Instagram to generate leads for his online conference, Success Summit. He posted Instagram content that encouraged interested followers to send a DM containing the word “summit.” From there, a Keyword Automation trigger sent more information to leads — a tactic that improved Story engagement by 40% and helped Frazer capture 440 more organic leads.

instagram lead automation

4. Host a giveaway

Giveaways are mentioned on any Instagram marketing idea list — and for good reason. Not only do accounts that host Instagram giveaways grow 70% faster than those that don’t, but giveaways also help brands capture leads. People who haven’t yet bought from you enter a giveaway for a chance to try your products for free. But to take part in the giveaway, they need to share their email address, which you can use for future retargeting.

The process of hosting an Instagram giveaway can be time-consuming. Let Instagram automation bear  the load so you can capture and optimize leads on autopilot.

Inside ManyChat, create a keyword trigger such as “GIVEAWAY.” Build a flow so that when anyone DMs your business’s account using that word or phrase will receive an automated message, like:

“Thanks for entering our giveaway! For five extra bonus entries, type your email address or phone number.”

ManyChat integrates with popular email marketing tools like ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp, and ConvertKit, as well as popular CRMs like HubSpot. So when an Instagram lead takes the bonus entries, they also become an email or SMS subscriber and a record in your CRM. 

instagram competition automation example

5. Share lead magnets

A lead magnet is something you give your Instagram followers in exchange for their email address. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. The lead gets free content and your business collects their information for future retargeting.

Unsure what you can create that’ll cause your Instagram followers to convert into leads? Here are some lead magnet ideas to get you started:

  • Quizzes. 
  • Webinars.
  • Tutorials.
  • Printables.
  • Templates.
  • Free demos. 
  • Newsletters.

Instead of diverting interested leads towards an external landing page, have the lead magnet waiting in their inbox before the Instagram DM conversation comes to an end. You build your email list, and the lead gets immediate access to content that makes them believe you’re trustworthy. Remember, people buy from brands they know, like, and trust

Mindvalley took this approach with its lead generation strategy across both Instagram and Facebook. The brand promoted a free masterclass on Instagram Stories using comments automation. Whoever sent a DM containing the word “energy” received more information about the event and a CTA to sign up. As a result, Mindvalley saw a 522% increase in sign-ups and a 99% decrease in Instagram response times.

mindvalley instagram lead automation example

Got an advertising budget to spend? Don’t have many Instagram followers to convert into leads? Invest in an Instagram ad campaign to extend the reach of your freebie. Sync your Facebook Page with an Instagram business account to run Instagram lead ads. The algorithm will show the promoted post to your target demographic — even if they don’t follow your account already. 

6. Partner with influencers

On social media, there’s one type of user that wields power over your target audience: the influencer. People with thousands (if not millions) of followers have the power to influence what your target customers engage with, and whether or not they ultimately make a purchase.

Turn followers into leads for your business by using tools like SparkToro to discover influencers in your niche. Form a partnership with these influencers and collaborate on sponsored grid posts or a series of Stories.

You could even have influencers promote your lead magnet. Something free — be that a video tutorial or quiz — will entice more people to take action than a standard, non-interactive piece of content. 

Regardless of what your influencer collaboration looks like, rely on Instagram automation to take the load off both you and the influencer. For example, use comment automations to run a co-hosted giveaway. Post the announcement as a joint post — a new format called a “Collab” — and set up a comments automation flow asking for followers’ email addresses. Each collected email will count as one entry.

Or, have the influencer do an Instagram takeover. The influencer posts their content to your brand’s profile, inviting their own followers to follow your business’s account to see what they’re up to. Use the Default Reply feature in ManyChat to warm up any leads that respond to the takeover Stories before diverting them to your Instagram Shop, a personalized landing page, or testimonials from happy customers.

instagram automation example

7. Build a lead qualification funnel

We briefly touched on the idea that not every lead you generate through Instagram will be a high-quality one (or the type of person who visits your eCommerce website and subsequently makes a purchase). 

However, you can improve your chances of making a sale with a lead qualification funnel — a process that helps determine how close an Instagram lead is to purchasing. If they’re already midway through the sales funnel, for example, you can personalize their experience with your Instagram account. Remember, a key part of generating leads is delivering the right content at the right time.

Build a lead qualification funnel with Instagram automation. Break your audience into three categories and have automations set up and ready to pass them through to the next stage:

  1. Top of the funnel (TOFU): Followers in this stage are unlikely to buy. They’re just getting to know your brand, the type of content you post, and the products you sell. Going for a hard pitch here won’t work. Instead, use influencer marketing and comments automation to grab their attention.
  2. Middle of the funnel (MOFU): Generate qualified leads — those likely to buy from you — by piquing their interest and attempting to pry them away from the Instagram app. Here’s where lead magnets really work their magic. 
  3. Bottom of the funnel (BOFU): Followers who reach the bottom of your sales funnel just need one final nudge before converting. Use Instagram Automation to meet them when they’re initiating conversations in your DMs, or host a live chat conversation through the Instagram app if they have questions that need answering before converting.

Start capturing Instagram leads today

There’s more to Instagram than brand awareness and novelty marketing campaigns. Instagram lead generation is a channel your business should take seriously, especially if Instagram is a platform frequently visited by your target customer. 

Use the tactics mentioned in this guide to make your social media marketing strategy drive leads. And with ManyChat, many of the techniques we’ve shared can be done on autopilot, turning Instagram into a social media channel that drives high return on investment for any business. 

Put your lead generation strategy on autopilot with Instagram automation by ManyChat.

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The contents of this blog were independently prepared and are for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ManyChat or any other party. Individual results may vary.