When you want to use your Instagram to effectively increase sales, there are several techniques to help you achieve this. Most of them pertain to the importance of an aspect that is often overlooked on a medium with a strong focus on images such as Instagram. We are of course talking about the caption and how to use it as a tool to drive traffic to a certain website or product.
Even though the content of the images and videos is really important, the initial interest of your (potential) followers is captured at the moment they read your caption.
The importance of an eye-catching caption has only increased since in an increasing number of countries the number of likes is hidden from users. It also allows for smaller influencers to gain traction by being creative. The gist is summed up nicely in this BBC article:
Captions aren’t tacked-on afterthoughts; they’re what add context and shape your voice, all of which drive up follower count.
While a good caption probably can’t make up for low-quality pictures or videos, it can definitely create an edge. And this edge will lead to an increase in your Instagram click-through rate. But how can we achieve this?
If you want to use effective techniques to write captivating captions it’ll pay off to use a data-driven approach to increase the Instagram engagement rate. This is important for two different aspects of your caption.
On the one hand, a data-driven approach pertains to the usage of data in your captions. This will improve your credibility on the condition that you can prove your claims. If you already have an extensive follower base you can use surveys to gather data and opinions.
A caption starting with: “Only 17 percent of women under the age of 25 use this product…” is a good way to capture the attention of your Instagram followers. But keep in mind that using incorrect data can backfire and will actually damage your credibility. It could even cost you followers, so make sure to put in the work to use accurate data.
Recommended read: 14 Advanced Techniques for Getting More Instagram Followers
On the other hand, you need to determine which headlines work for your posts and attract high click-through traffic. There are several ways for you to find out which headlines generate the most traffic. You can conduct your own experiments to gain unique insights. This includes conducting surveys for your followers, but also trying out a set of different test cases.
(Source image: Instagram survey using the caption by @christinagalbato)
Writing a capturing Instagram caption is important for several reasons. The first one because capturing the attention of your followers helps you rank in the Instagram algorithm. This algorithm is partly determined by the amount of time people spend looking at your post. This means that not only the click-through rate of your followers is improved, but it also determines how many other Instagrammers will be able to see your post in their feed.
Another reason for spending time writing a capturing caption is the internal Instagram Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithm. Using honest, story-telling drives great results because it shows who you are and reinforces the reasons why your followers like you in the first place. But it doesn’t hurt to spend some time thinking about good keywords and catchy hashtags to improve on your SEO. Want to quickly find catchy hashtags? Try out an Instagram hashtag generator.
(Source image: Instagram @farawaybymyside)
The wording of your caption also influences whether your suggested call-to-action (CTA) is heeded by your followers or not. For your CTA to be effective, it needs to be short and fun. But your choice of words also has a significant impact. Furthermore, you can use an Instagram engagement calculator for calculating the engagement rate across a user's post, likes, and comments. This helps you with detecting which content works well so you can copy this type of post to apply it to your own account.
Next, let’s take a look at which words to avoid when writing an Instagram caption.
Often, you want to redirect users to a certain website, product page, or even YouTube account. However, Instagram only allows you to add one link to your biography, which is quite limiting. Furthermore, you cannot post a clickable image.
Therefore, you can use a mini-web page that aggregates all the links you want to display to your followers. This way, you are in full control of which links you want to show and when you want to show them.
For example, you are running a campaign for two different products you want to feature and link to. However, the Instagram bio does only allow for one link which makes it practically impossible to run two simultaneous campaigns.
A service offered by url.bio helps you with creating a single web page that aggregates different hyperlinks to campaigns or other platforms/websites. The goal is to have a single link where users can find all information about you to increase traffic. This kind of service is often referred to as a "Link in Bio" tool. Below is an example of how such a page can look like.
This infographic lists 9 keywords that should be avoided if you want to have an effective call-to-action and improve your click-through rate. They have shown to negatively impact the click-through rate and reduce the engagement of the visitors. Below we listed the 9 ‘worst’ keywords to include accompanied by the percentage with which they have shown to reduce the click-through rate.
This could show that people aren’t looking for an ‘easy’ or ‘simple’ solution, but are rather interested in products and solutions that are more thorough and durable. The keyword ‘magic’ can be called in the same breath. Potential buyers are not interested in a quick magic solution but could be more interested in a data-driven, demonstrable solution.
People look for more thorough and durable solutions.
Also, a brand that has nothing more to offer than something ‘free’, will have a difficult time drawing in paying customers.
For more keywords that could either have a positive or negative impact on your Instagram click-through rate check out this article containing multiple infographics about the topic.
It is often said that users have a short attention span. That’s why it’s important to have a strong first line to capture the attention. If this first line fails to capture the attention, your consequent call-to-action will completely miss its target.
(Source image: Instagram @JennaKutcher)
This shows an example of a strong first line. It is effective at capturing attention because it is relatable for a large number of people. This means that when they can relate to the quote, they are more inclined to read the full caption. Once you reach this point, your CTA is more likely to lead to a result.
(Source image: Instagram @starbucks)
Using a punchy, attention-grabbing, or contradicting byline requires a lot of effort. The most important thing is to try and find something creative, illustrated by the pun posted by Starbucks. A funny caption is more likely to be shared than a bland straightforward plug.
When you have successfully gauged the interest of your followers, you need to seal the deal with an outstanding call-to-action. Asking your followers to double-tap may engage them to sign up for a newsletter or generally improve the odds of your readers clicking through to your intended website or product. A helpful side effect of this includes a higher ranking post by the Instagram algorithm, further improving your reach.
The choice of words for your call-to-action is also important for it to have an effect. It’s always a good idea to use a strong commanding verb. You don’t want any ambiguity to arise about what you expect from your followers. So, moving straight to the point will work to your advantage.
(Source image: Instagram post by @paradise.travels_)
Using an exclamation mark is often perceived as being a bit garish or flashy. However in the case of a call-to-action that is exactly what you want to achieve. Your enthusiasm needs to seep through in both your choice of words and your punctuation.
A time limit on a deal may prove to be a good incentive for people to click through to your website. If you have succeeded in grabbing your followers’ attention you can persuade them by mentioning a sale or an interesting promotion. Admit it, how many times have you been compelled to click an advertisement because it triggered your FOMO because it presented you with a time-sensitive situation.
(Image source: Instagram by @desenio)
In this article, we have laid out several techniques to improve your Instagram click-through rate. Using a killer first line to grasp the attention of your followers is the first step you have to take to ensure there is an initial chance to sell your product.
When you have their attention, you need to gauge their interest with an engaging call-to-action. That should keep them on board and engage them to click through to your website. If you want to instill further motivation, you could even choose to use FOMO to your advantage with an interesting deal.
Unfortunately, Instagram limits the number of links you can add to your profile. Url.bio offers a clever workaround using a "link in bio" tool which is a feature-rich, highly customizable Linktree alternative.
Want to learn more about Instagram growth hacking? Check out the following Hackernoon post.