With more than 500 million active monthly users and counting, every blogger and business owner wants to get traffic from Instagram to their website. But despite posting regularly and growing our like counts, actually getting people to click away from Instagram is hard.
But it is possible to drive website traffic from Instagram. Although volumes of traffic are generally lower than from Facebook and Pinterest (where one click takes you directly to the site), the intentionality behind Instagram clicks can be high. Meaning if you can convince someone to jump through the hoops it takes to get them from Instagram to your website they may be more motivated to signup for your email list, or buy your product.
So how do you turn the casual Instagram browser into a click that you can bank? How do you get traffic from Instagram?
Why Getting Traffic from Instagram is so Hard
Any blogger or business owner dabbling in Instagram marketing knows the inherent challenge of driving traffic. Individual grams remain resolute in their feed, providing no clickable links to direct traffic back to your website.
If you do include a link in the description or even the comments, users have to remember the link, open a new tab and type it in themselves. For even the most devout fan, completing that many steps is a stretch. Desktop users do better with this link, but desktop makes up less than 1% of total Instagram traffic.
How to Link to your Website in Instagram
Today’s social media marketing is all about quick and memorable. If you find your website URL a bit bulky, shorten it. Bitly not only cuts down drastically on your character count, it allows you to create an easy to remember URL. If that doesn’t have you convinced, Bitly even builds in measurement tools for you so you can see how many people clicked through your link. Now you have metrics and a cool URL.
Next, address the link destination. Wherever you send your followers, your landing page needs to be responsive – it needs to be mobile-friendly because close to 100% of the traffic will be on a mobile device. Nobody enjoys landing on a slow outdated website on their phone.
If you’re unsure if your website is responsive, drop the URL into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
How to Link from your Instagram Bio
Instagram provides each user with one place where they can create a clickable hyperlink – their bio. Anytime someone scopes out your feed they will see that link right below your description. You can work with this to get the traffic rolling. For starters, many new followers will check out your feed and consider clicking the link.
You can edit this link by visiting your own Instagram profile and selecting the “Edit Profile” button next to your username. This will open the following dialog box that contains the bio link field (highlighted).
How to Best Use Your Instagram Bio Link
The most obvious use of your bio link is to use it to get traffic to the homepage of your website. However, there are other options…
Tailwind member Stitch Fix have done an excellent job of leaving us in no doubt of what their bio link is for in the example below. Folks who click the bit.ly/ScheduleAFix link are well on the way to signing up for their service.
Other times, you will need to invite users to check out your profile by including a call to action (CTA) in your post description.
Just as you want to ensure your profile link leads to a responsive website, you want to be intentional about where you send users. For many businesses, the website home page will be the most beneficial. Other businesses may want to direct traffic to either their blog page, product area or a high-quality sales page.
Again Stitch Fix does a great job of swapping out their links for custom landing pages, as in this example where they use the link bit.ly/StitchFixHolidaySweeps. Notice how simple and memorable they have made their link.
Stitch Fix promoted this seasonal sweepstakes with the following gram. Take a look at the description to see how it’s done.
Don’t forget that you can change your bio link as many times as you need to, as often as you need to. Each time you run a new campaign, switch it up to make it easy for your followers to act on that specific promotion. Many bloggers update it each time they promote a new blog post.
How to Build Creative Calls to Action (CTA)
With only one link in your profile, you need to be resourceful in directing traffic to it.
Let’s start with your individual grams. Since nobody can see your bio link from one of your individual posts, you need to invite followers to go to the profile link in the post’s description. Short CTA’s such as “To see more click our profile link,” or “For more insights, check out the link in our bio,” do the trick. The better you are able to tie in your CTA to the visuals and description in the post itself, the better you will be able to entice viewers to click through.
Examples of well constructed Instagram post description CTAs:
Next explore ways to use the real estate in the photo itself to tease the CTA, as in this clever example from online arts supply store Tombow.
If you’re promoting a product, it can be as easy as curating the perfect photo of… your product!
An easy, but somewhat less elegant option is to dedicate an entire photo to your campaign with a text overlay. You can do all this directly from your phone with apps. Mashable recommends six different apps for this exact purpose. You might even consider upgrading to a monthly service like Stencil.
We’ve observed anecdotally that promotional photos with a large text overlay tend to not get as much engagement as the more visually pleasing alternatives above.
While promotional posts can be effective, you’ll need to strike a balance between them and regular posts. Strive to follow the 80/20 rule. Overloading on promotional grams will drive hard earned followers away.
For a consistent way to include your link (and brand), consider adding it as a watermark at the bottom of your grams, as in this example from The Social Media Hat, but be aware that it’s possible that may drive down engagement with individual posts.
Keep your CTAs Simple
When building a call to action it needs to be both easy to understand and easy to implement. Let’s all agree to refrain from a four-step call to action (comment on our post, @mention a friend, click the link in our bio, and fill out the form to enter our competition). That gets confusing. While we are at it, let’s solemnly swear to only use one call to action per post or video. Having too many choices is just as bad as too many steps.
How to Get Traffic from Instagram Video Posts
Whether you are jumping in front of the camera yourself or creating a mini masterpiece to share, weave in your URL in here too. Chose from telling your audience to head to your bio, include the website link in the bottom of the video or end the video with the link written out. You can even get crafty and combine a few of these options in your video.
This Starbucks Instagram video promoting the Upstanders original series of content included a text of the URL in the video as well as in the post description.
How to Create Cliffhangers
One of the core tactics used in sales copy is to create what’s called an “open loop”. This loop is essentially a mini cliffhanger. You start a story, giving the viewer just enough information to peak their interest, and then leave them hanging off a cliff! Ok, a cliff is a pretty tall order. You do need to leave them hanging though.
As humans we’re hard-wired for stories and once you leave us hanging we’ll try to close the loop. Lucky for you, that loop leads to your website.
This tactic can be woven into a variety of different places on your feed. From sharing a single photo with a stimulating description about the entire photo series or enticing your audience with part one of a video, all you need to do is spark their curiosity enough to want to follow you to your website. The cliffhanger is so powerful it can even be used to get people to engage with you on a totally different device and medium, like television.
Cliffhangers are used consistently and to great effect by the Instagram feed of The Ellen Show.
Vice skillfully set up the plot to leave you hanging on almost every Instagram post. Despite knowing their feed is jam packed with cliffhangers, time and time again we engage with their feed knowing full well we will end up at their website. It’s just that effective.
Cliffhanger content will pull Instagram followers to your website to close the story loop
For a starter course on creating open loops in your copy, check out Copyblogger’s post on seducing your audience.
How to Get Traffic from Instagram Stories
The newest addition to the Instagram arsenal only lasts 24 hours. The fleeting Instagram Stories video and photo combinations have jumpstarted Instagram’s debut into the disappearing marketing arena. Not only do the stories only last 24 hours, you can only share content that you shot or created within the last 24 hours.
Welcome to real-time marketing! It’s a whole new arena. This time-sensitive feature fits perfectly for flash sales and other timely campaigns. Within the story, either tell your audience via a video or piece together photos with text overlays highlighting the necessary details.
But you can also use it to tell a story, for instance as H&M do here by introducing a character frame by frame. First we meet the model and learn that she’s more than just a model, then we learn about the product line she’s wearing, its features, and we get a quote by her, and finally a frame directing traffic to the H&M magazine for more information with a link spelt out in the overlay.
One more unique aspect about Stories is the invitation to direct message the poster (see the bottom left of each frame in the Instagram story pictured below). While direct messages have been tucked away in a corner for regular Instagram features, with Stories they are in the forefront. Encourage users to connect with you directly or ask them questions. Once in a direct message, you can share a link or a personally tailored call to action. While the link won’t be clickable, it will be much harder to ignore.
Clarity coffee, a local coffee shop I’m fond of, uses Instagram Stories to great effect. Owner, Steve Willingham, told me that of their 4,000 followers, 500 people viewed this post with hardly any drop off between the first and last frame. At first it was all people that he knew – regular customers – but as time went on there were more and more faces he didn’t recognize. Notice the “Send Message” CTA in the bottom left corner.
Of course you can just as easily use these kinds of text overlays in Instagram Stories to direct people to a link in your bio.
If you haven’t taken the plunge into Instagram’s stories, check out our post on how many bloggers and creatives are using Instagram Stories to share their creative process and deepen intimacy with their audience.
Get Quality Traffic with Artfully Selected Hashtags
You aren’t working to send just anyone to your website. You want each unique visitor to be a potential customer, or represent your ideal follower. This means carefully selecting the hashtags that make your posts discoverable on Instagram.
You want to choose hashtags that aren’t just popular, but are popular with the kind of people who will not only love your gram, but also be motivated enough to take the steps to visit your blog or website.
Quick Hashtag Research
Hashtag research takes a lot of time and so many marketers don’t devote enough attention to it. That’s a real shame as it’s one of the most effective levers of organic growth on Instagram.
We’ve made hashtag research into a joy with Tailwind for Instagram’s Hashtag Finder and Hashtag Lists tools which suggests the best hashtags for your post based on the hashtags you’re already using. The intuitive color-coding makes choosing between different hashtags easier than ever before. Once you’ve created a list of hashtags you like you can save it as a hashtag list for future use.
Check it out in this short video.
How to Choose
Choose the hashtags where your ideal customer hangs out. If you have a vintage inspired store, then tags like #vintagelove, #vintagewedding or #oldhollywood may hit home with your crowd. Just because Target is using #ManCrushMonday doesn’t mean that it makes sense for your particular niche audience. That’s all part of a successful Instagram hashtag strategy.Choose the Instagram hashtags where your ideal customer hangs out.
Hashtags need to be relevant to your story and directed toward your audience.
Choose tags that aren’t too busy that you will get lost in the sea of other grams. A good range to shoot for is for hashtags with 200,000-800,000 posts. Once you stray too far about 1 million, your post quickly vanishes. Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder will steer you towards choosing “Best” and “Good” hashtags with our intuitive color-coding, whilst alerting you to “Niche” and “Competitive” tags.
Tailwind Tip: Make sure your call to action doesn’t get lost in the sea of hashtags. If you add in your hashtags in the comment section, you can remove the clutter from your post without sacrificing your targeting efforts. However we’ve heard from more than one user that they believe they get more reach by putting their hashtags in their post descriptions.
Pay for Traffic with Advertising
Perhaps the ultimate traffic generating technique is Instagram advertising. It represents the only gram with clickable links. More importantly, ads drive highly targeted and engaged users directly to your website.
It’s one of the best forms of traffic you can get! But it costs. We’ve noticed it seems to be especially effective for advertising app installs.
Not sold yet? With Instagram advertising, you can control the user experience, use a tailored landing page and dramatically increase your reach. Add in the fact that you can measure your results, and this could be a game changer. It works best for businesses with a mobile funnel in place.
Shoppable (and clickable) Instagram is Coming!
Instagram has announced Shoppable Instagram, which, for the first time ever includes clickable links in organic posts for select brands.
Whilst this isn’t currently available to all businesses, and may never be extended to bloggers, it is clearly a huge leap forward in the ability of marketers to get traffic from Instagram to their websites.
Instagram is becoming more marketer-friendly, likely this is to ease the longer-term introduction of advertising options on the platform, much as Facebook has done.
How to Track Your Results
You know that we are analytics junkies at Tailwind. Anything we can measure, we do. That includes your Instagram traffic.
If you decide to invest the energy into increasing your website traffic with Instagram, you need to measure what works best for your audience. Ultimately, every audience base is different. Perhaps yours will love it when you share a certain type of product or post and quickly follow your call to actions there. Other groups will flock to your bio link. The only way to know is to track it.
Here’s a snapshot of the growth we’re seeing on our Instagram profile via the Tailwind dashboard. I annotated the screenshot with some changes we’ve made over the past two and a half months that have really ramped up our follower growth.
Measure results to see which strategy works best for you, then double down on best practices. Check out our Instagram analytics guide here.
As you can see from our numbers, getting intentional about posting regularly can really help increase your follower count, and the more followers you have, the more audience you can potentially send towards links to your website. For us, setting a regular Instagram positing schedule in Tailwind and sticking to it has really helped us up our game.
Leverage Instagram as Part of a Whole Social Media Strategy
Viola! The complete guide to driving website traffic with Instagram. Once you’ve deployed a few of these tactics you should start to see an uptick in website traffic from Instagram.
Just remember that Instagram fits into an overall marketing strategy. Each social media platform should play a different role in your marketing. Instagram falls into the brand building and engagement category. Yes, you can drive some traffic to your website, and you should. That being said, it shouldn’t be your only goal. If you focus too heavily on promotion or driving traffic, you run the risk of losing hard earned followers. Never encourage users to go to your site and you lose out on high-quality website traffic.
It’s all about balance.
The good news is that Tailwind have launched an entire suite to help you maximize your Instagram account growth, including Instagram Scheduling and Analytics.
Start a Free Trial of Tailwind for Instagram!
- Schedule photos and videos directly to your Instagram feed with Auto Post.
- Optimize every post for more engagement with SmartSchedule and Hashtag Finder.
- Automatically hide your post’s hashtags in the first comment to keep your caption clean & clutter-free.
- Make your posts more discoverable with user tagging & location tagging.
- Analyze what's working across every post and profile with smart analytics.
David is Tailwind’s Director of Marketing and Growth. He is a former journalist who wrote for The Times and The Financial Times, a marketing agency co-founder, founder of Confluence digital marketing conference, father of two, and early morning writer. He grew up on The Isle of Wight in England and lives in Oklahoma City.