“Instagram is Becoming the New Mall: 3 Ways to Start Conversational Commerce Marketing” by Beerud Sheth via Total Retail

“Instagram is Becoming the New Mall: 3 Ways to Start Conversational Commerce Marketing” by Beerud Sheth via Total Retail


Everyone knows Instagram as a social medium, but only a few realize it’s now becoming a conversational medium as well. Recently launched features now enable brands to conduct business with customers through private conversations. Businesses can now directly carry out commerce through Instagram. This is a powerful capability poised to transform e-commerce as we know it.

There are over 1 billion Instagram users worldwide who actively follow businesses, and 90 percent of Instagram accounts follow at least one business. With a majority of users in the coveted 18-34 age group, Instagram is becoming one of the most important social engagement channels for businesses, along with WhatsApp. Today, businesses use Instagram to reach existing and future customers and partners as well as the general public with rich media content, including videos and sponsored ads. While Instagram has already become a huge asset to digital marketers, it now has additional capabilities that can drive overall business growth by fostering what’s core to achieving that growth — conversational commerce.

Conversational commerce goes beyond collecting likes, shares and comments on product marketing posts and advertisements. It requires businesses to use Instagram to deliver personalized two-way conversations with followers across the consumer pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase journey. According to research from Meta, half of buyers said they engage in conversational commerce primarily through social media and messaging platforms, with 90 percent reporting they do so on Meta platforms (Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram).

Implementing Conversational Commerce Via Instagram to Fast-Track Business Growth

Here are three ways to start your conversational commerce journey on Instagram and grow your business faster:

Related story: There Can Be No Denying: Chatbots Are Now Marketers

1. Effective Product Discovery

Instagram is, at its core, a discovery platform where users go to find products and services. With Instagram DM Automation, many brands are already using artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled chatbots to make that product discovery journey easier, simpler and quicker. Instead of manually tracking likes, shares, comments and DMs on Instagram, businesses can now create a Call-to-Chat action powered by AI and jump-start a two-way conversation with followers via DM Automation. This tool accelerates the discovery-to-purchase cycle and helps boost sales, making upsell and cross-sell efforts even more productive.

According to Meta, 40 percent of conversational commerce buyers around the globe started their first shopping journey via chat.

2. Instant Query Response

Instagram can be used effectively to respond to pre-purchase queries and manage post-purchase support. Chatbots deployed via DM on Instagram can handle basic consumer queries — e.g., when a user types “price please,” has a specific query about the status of their purchase, or wants to request a return. This includes questions on price, order status, cancellations and more. Chatbots can deliver information to customers in real time, providing instant engagement. When there are more complex queries, chatbots can seamlessly deflect them to a human agent. Overall, this will lead to faster response times, shorter wait times and greater consumer satisfaction across the board.

In addition, by using Instagram features such as Quick Reply, Product Templates, and Ice Breakers (which help businesses plug in conversation starter topics via direct messages), businesses can share additional information with consumers to guide them towards action-driven conversations, boosting brand loyalty and reducing abandonment rates.

According to Meta, 45 percent of conversational commerce buyers have messaged a brand for product information. Thirty-five percent say they do so to receive an instant response, anytime.

3. Improved Return on Investment on Ad Spend

Typical Instagram ad call-to-actions include “Shop Now” or “Fill a Form.” Businesses can now add new and smarter call-to-actions that enable “Click to Chat” behaviors directly to ads. This enables businesses to generate “Conversation Qualified Leads,” gathering more contextual information from ad respondents than ever before. This is a far cry from previous models of redirecting shoppers to website landing pages.

Instagram is quickly becoming a strong conversational commerce channel. Brands that leverage the channel’s digital marketing and conversational commerce tools are the ones that will be able to better engage shoppers, respond to customer queries faster, and spur growth.

Beerud Sheth is the co-founder and CEO of Gupshup, a conversational AI unicorn with offices in the U.S. and India

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