27 Nov Instagram Lead Generation – how to generate 18,539 website visitors (case studies)

I don’t want nice photos….I want leads and sales!!

At least that what I was thinking when someone told me about Instagram.

I knew people spent hours and hours talking about how to ‘engage’ with people on Instagram, but wasn’t sure if anyone was actually making any sales from the network…..but there must be some people generating leads and revenue from the platform (like they are from PinterestTwitter and Facebook).

But can they do it on the fastest growing social media network on the planet (at least it was yesterday)?


As usual, most people aren’t generating revenue and opportunities from the site, but there are a few companies who are crushing it….find out below, with some proven strategies with real results.

This post contains lots of data and useful tips – to maximise your chance of using these strategies successfully
download my ‘cheat’ sheet’ by CLICKING HERE


So let’s explore:

First, we’ll work out if Instagram is right for you (and you might be surprised about this bit)

Then we’ll explore ways that people have used to drive leads and sales through the network, using real case studies to show what’s possible.

Is lead generation on Instagram right for you?

First, let’s look at who uses Instagram:

The bad news is if you’re selling retirement homes….you might be disappointed, Instagram is used by 80% of upper-income teen girls – more than any other social network.

And as you can see above – 43% of cell phone users aged 18-29 use Instagram.

Additionally, 24% use Instagram several times a day – whilst 12% of users login daily.

So it’s generally, younger females that make up the majority of Instagram users  – and they are very heavy users when they do.

However, that doesn’t’ mean you still can’t generate leads for another demographic….as you’ll learn from the case studies below.   

The 2 drivers to sales from any social media network

As usual in social media marketing, there are 2 drivers to your sales :

1. The number of social media followers you have

2. The percentage of these you can convert into buyers

Lots of people have plenty of followers, but little actual sales or leads from Instagram,

OR they have no followers and no sales!

So let’s run through the steps to take to increase both:

1. Use 7 hashtags for maximum engagement

You can’t get away from hashtags in social media.

And if you’re marketing a product….THEY WORK!

Piqora analysed 150,00 posts to find out what hashtags generated the most likes on Instagram:

They found that 3 hashtags per image led to 110% increase in likes, and 5 hashtags led to 180% increase in likes – whilst the optimal was 7 hashtags (any more and you’re likely to be seen as a spamming).

Using Hashtags correctly allows you to punch above your weight with regards to your competitors: 

Crate and Barrel had a level of engagement on their posts comparative to their followers (15k), than Neiman Marcus (299k).  They attracted engagement that was 27% higher comparatively by using 7 hashtags – Neiman Markas used none.

(It’s my turn to question here whether the image was just a bit nicer than the one by Neiman Marcus in the eye of the beholder?)

To work out which tags to use, opt for some of the most popular tags (search on a site like websta)

2. Quick activity to increase followers:

On Quicksprout, Neil Patel ran through the strategies that work to increase followers:

– Comment actively – For every one hundred likes on random photos, Neil Patel generate 21.7 more likes on his profile, and 6.1 more followers.
– Actively like people – Given that social networks are all about interaction, you’ll be pleased to know if you comment on other people’s profiles, they are 410% more likely to follow you than if you simply like their photo.
– Time it right – If you are posting – make sure you do it at the most optimal time. – after analysing 1,000 photos from 46 users, Monday, 5PM PST is the optimal time to post.
– Use a collage – Using a collage picture, such as the one below, can generate 19.41% more likes and 22.4% more comments than images that aren’t collage-like images.

use collages on instagram to generate leads

-Keep it simple

          I’m afraid this is really disappointing!

The most popular filter on Instagram?  Well, everyone like’s it simple, it’s ‘Normal

Here’s the top 10 used online, should you want to stand out from the crowd:

Normal 2,737,554 Photos

Valencia 333,085 Photos

X-ProII 292,695 Photos

Earlybird 283361 Photos

Amaro 201,036 Photos

Rise 185,475 Photos

Hudson 142,867 Photos

Lo-fi 127,019 Photos

Hefe 117,750 Photos

Sierra 104,656 Photos

Nashville 92,925 Photos

(Quick note on this summary – this doesn’t necessarily prove that ‘normal’ photos’ are better – but that people use more of them).

3.Explode your growth by creating a contest

Beardbrand used gleam to create a contest during Movember.


By cleverly asking Instagram users to tag themselves – and offering users ‘more entries for the more ways a user can enter’ – the results were an average weekly increase in followers of 674 per week, compared to 76 in prior weeks.

That’s a 786% increase in followers.

The competition also caught a lot of traction by heavy promotion on all social media networks. Total advertising spend was only $50.

There was a clear spike on the website the day the contest started.

Naturally, some of this can be attributed to other activities, but as with any contest – you’d be wise to maximise your marketing activity across all social networks you use.


4. Use science to determine what to post:

Making changes to how you post based on research will ultimately impact your interaction, and how many customers you can drive to your site. Curalate posted research after analysing 8,000,000 images on Instagram.

The short version of the findings:

  • Light colours
  • Lots of background space
  • Make blue the dominant colour
  • Have ONE dominant colour
  • Use low level saturation
  • Post images with lots of texture

And the detail:

Interestingly, these specifications are different than those if you want to increase Pinterest usage

5. Follow those who interact with your target hashtags

Jeremy Page revealed his systematic strategy for increasing sales for his clothes shop:

1. First he works out what his ideal customer likes

2. He then finds hashtags related to those likes.

3. He then finds people who have engaged in some way with photos or videos posted related to those hashtags. NOT necessarily people who are related to the hashtag, but ONLY those who have actively commented on it.

In his words: ‘If I am going to take time to follow and engage with people, I only want to concentrate on users who liked or commented on something related to J Cole [his target hashtag]. I have found that those are the most probable buyers. There will be a lot of casual (or worse, inactive) people that followed his main account. Those aren’t buyers. For you – this means not worrying about following the biggest authorities in your niche, or the most popular products, but rather the people who engaged with them’ 

4. He follows these people, and then everyone who has commented or liked the hash-tagged photos

5. He capped the following at 1,000 users, then commented on the photos from step 3 (to maximise efficiency, he recommends you comment whilst on your phone when you have time to kill – in a queue, whilst shopping, on a bus/train…etc)

6. Repurpose other people’s content. This is a very smart hack and takes only 5 minutes per day. Jeremy finds a popular picture (which is funny/sexy/clever/interesting) and asks the person who took the photo if he could share to his users. He then takes a picture, links back to the person who took the photo and then adds hashtags (see guidance above on hashtags)

7. As with all social media – posting just pictures of your product is very dull, so post photos that relate to items your targets are interested in – i.e. don’t just post pictures of your mountain biking gloves your are selling – but post pictures of mountain bikes, rocky hills, other equipment, ways to clean your bike….etc.

The results of this process: A 46% increase in sales And an average of 250-275 likes per photo, which is extraordinarily high considering he only had 1,740 followers when he was posting  this.

6. Piggyback off Influencers to drive 18,539 visitors

Bachelr is a male clothing provider that used Instagram to launch their online store.

They discovered that some influential users of Instagram were wiling to promote other products for around $50 per post.

The strategy Bachelr used was to find users with 100,000 + followers who’s activities and profiles were targeted towards men and asked them to post banners online. They were given either $50, or some store credit (a smart move).

As you’ll see, for a few hundred dollars, they generated 18,539 unique visits to their site in a few weeks.

Key advice:’

  • ‘Don’t just post on any account with a lot of followers… find the ones that your target customers are following. I tried a sponsored post on a meme account and got mostly negative comments from their pre-teen followers.’
  • ‘Make sure your pics are visually appealing and don’t look too much like an ad. One of our most successful posts was a model holding one of our products in a natural setting, no logo anywhere. This got 10k likes and 100+ comments.’
  • ‘Add your company’s username in the caption so users can follow your account. So far we have over 5,000 followers on @bachelr and great user engagement.’


7. Hack your own online sales using Instagram

Fox and Fawn are a used fashion boutique who credit Instagram for generating enough sales to enable them to open a second store.

They ‘sell online’ without even having an online store. And as usual, with any small firm who has generated success in social media, they developed a pretty innovative strategy to be able to do this:

Lots of fashion brands will find that when they post an item online, they’ll get many comments saying ‘were do I get this, what size do you do’ etc.   And the Foxes realised they were no different.

When they posted new items on Instagram, they would get messages asking ‘how can I get this’ – so they developed a shrewd system to put the brunt of the hard work for the sale on Fox and Fawn, rather than on the consumer:

If someone wants to be able to buy something from Instagram, they ask the user to call in and leave their credit card details with the store. Then, all a user needs to do, when they see an items they want to buy online – is be the first to comment ‘Ring me up!’ on the item.

If they do, then F&F will call up the consumer and processes the order. The result on average: 25% of store sales come from Instagram (this creeps up to 40% on a bad weather day).



This sort of thinking delights customers and allows a small local firm to compete on a wider level.

For a used fashion boutique, it’s a lot easier for the store to take a quick snap of a product and post to Instagram with a short description, rather than having to upload products to an online store every time a new product arrives.



8. Use an official app to make sales through comments


Similar to the Fox and Fawn example, Prep Obsessed launched on Instragram, using a solution by Soldsie to generate sales (Soldsie is effectively a platform that provides the solution that Fox & Fawn hacked together)

By enabling this form of purchasing, Prep Obsessed managed to make 72 sales in the first week (4% of their following).

Using a platform like the above can make purchasing easier for your customers – which should always be a key driver of any online transaction.


9. Controversial pictures and $57,000 works only in certain circumstances

Neil Patel adopted a pretty controversial strategy that gave him some interesting results, but led him to have to put this at the top of his post:

What did he do?

Well, first he bought an Instagram account with 131,000 followers, and changed the name of the account to ‘@whoisneilpatel’

What happened?

First he started to lose LOTS of followers – 21,000 people immediately stopped following the account (but over time, its slowed) Then he launched a giveaway contest, using his own account:

And asking a few models he paid to promote for him to help out:

Neil worked out that paying a model to put in a suggestive picture of themselves with a link to Neil’s account, 0.2% of their followers would follow Neil’s account.

The result: Neil increased google searches for his name, by 70% in that period.

However, the process didn’t generate any direct leads for Neil, apart from text messages he received from some multi millionaire contacts he already have, who came across the posts and were intrigued to find out more.

So perhaps spending that level of money on giveaways and sponsorship won’t necessarily work, unless you have another way to capitalise from the process.


Instagram can lead to sales if you adopt the right strategy

CHEAT SHEET DOWNLOAD I hope you remember all of this, but if you don’t think you will…. to maximise your chance of using these strategies successfully download my ‘cheat’ sheet’ by CLICKING HERE

As with all social media – knowing what to post, when and having ways to increase your followers – are a great starting point for Instagram.

But to really generate sales you need to adopt a way to turn photo views, into leads – which the companies above have all done well.