02 April 2021
How to Use Instagram Content in Your Email Marketing
When it comes to digital marketing methods, Instagram and email are kind of “same yet different.” On one hand, Instagram is a relatively new platform, where marketing strategies still change year to year. On the other hand, email is an old medium, with many tried and true tactics. And both of them are highly effective.
The question, therefore, isn’t so much “which should I pick?”, since the answer in most cases would be: both. Rather, the challenge is how to make them work together so you get the best results — on both platforms — without having to spend twice the effort.
This article will focus on half the battle: using your Instagram content to boost your email marketing.
There are three main approaches to this:
- using Instagram posts as assets in your email;
- sourcing social proof from the platform;
- integrating Instagram into your email marketing funnel.
Using Instagram Images in Emails
Instagram images make for great email assets since anything optimized for the platform is more or less optimized for mobile viewing in general. This is important, given that most emails are opened on mobile devices — and this will likely be true for the foreseeable future, based on trends noted by Campaign Monitor.
When it comes to in-email images, there are two main things to consider on the technical side. (The aesthetic side varies too much case-to-case for this article to get into.) First is the overall image size. Smaller file sizes are better, since these load faster. That’s important for all devices, but especially for mobile users. The second is the overall image width. According to V12 Data, most mobile email apps will give you from 320 to 1150 pixels to work with. Keep this in mind when planning your choices.
What’s great about Instagram image sizes is that their proportions are, ideally, already optimized for mobile viewing. Dash Hudson found that portrait images got the best engagement on the platform (1.43%), followed closely by the signature square crop (1.39%), with landscape images trailing behind (1.26%). While there are other things to consider for email, this data does provide useful context.
For instance, this means that once you’ve formatted an image for Instagram — and there are several Instagram-focused photo editing apps that make this a breeze — it’s simply a matter of copying the image into your email. You can also use third-party platforms to embed your photos, videos, memes and gifs into your email. These tools can also let you embed an RSS of your Instagram account for more dynamic content.
All tools to create and send mass and transactional emails
Using Instagram for Social Proof
Social proof is an essential part of digital marketing. Recent data shows that the majority of consumers consider reviews as an important part of their decision-making process. Using Instagram provides new options for presenting compelling social proof in your emails.
Social proof truly shines on Instagram thanks to the abundance of user-generated content. Stories that showcase a brand’s unboxing experience often create the desire to own a product, and therefore the shareability of the video. Hashtags are another good example of curated user-generated content. When other users, especially personal accounts, post about your brand using an appropriate hashtag, it suggests a degree of personal endorsement. Users will, of course, be aware that some of these endorsements are paid — but they can always find other examples by browsing the tag. To optimize visibility, also find the best time to post on Instagram and align your content accordingly.
Athletic apparel brand Gym Shark, for example, is known for its remarkable growth through online channels. Skimming the #gymsharktrain tag, users can find different types of posts (e.g. tutorials, updates, outfits) but all with something to say, at least implicitly, about the brand’s clothes. Since anyone can use a hashtag, users know that brands can’t simply dictate what goes into it — a sign of both transparency and brand confidence.
When using Instagram content to provide social proof in your emails, you have a number of options at your disposal. Screenshots of the explore page for the hashtag in question are one option, but embedding or linking to specific images or hashtags provides more transparency and dynamism. You can combine them, as well: take any glowing reviews and highlight them, while providing a link that leads can use to browse further posts in the tag. (Be sure to secure the creator’s permission for any user-generated images you want to feature in your emails.)
Affiliate and referral programs are another great way to encourage user-generated content. You could easily use a newsletter to promote such opportunities for Instagram content creators.
Expanding Your Email Funnel with Instagram
Even if a lead is already on your mailing list, there are perks to having them follow you on Instagram, too. The various content types that have been added to the platform over the years, such as video and IGTV, have opened up new ways to capture followers’ interest. Stories, in particular, are an unintrusive, versatile and effective way to keep people engaged.
The simplest way to get people from inbox to Instagram is to include a social button. You can include a simple link to your Instagram profile, or use a set of social sharing buttons, which have been shown to increase clickthrough rates by well over 50% (according to data from Get Response).
Of course, you could also link to specific Instagram posts to get more targeted results. Stories are popular for their wide range of CTA options, and you could use your emails to encourage more responses. This works especially well with polls, surveys and other interactions that take place entirely within the app. With Instagram automation, it’s easy to make these entertaining, while still collecting valuable insights from your market.
Social media contests are also a great way to bring leads further into your funnel. There are a lot of third-party apps that streamline the process of setting up and running a contest. Different participation mechanics can drive different results. For example:
- Use a hashtag contest to promote one of your brand’s tags and encourage user-generated content
- Use a tagging contest to get more Instagram followers, especially those who might not otherwise find you organically
- Use a subscribe/follow contest to get fans on one platform to engage with your brand on other platforms, too
Any results you get from these contests will, naturally, support your efforts in other marketing campaigns, too. A well-established hashtag, for instance, can make it easier to encourage user-generated content even after the contest has expired. And any content on that tag, whether from the contest or not, can provide valuable social proof later on.
Play to Your Strengths
Remember that ultimately, your goal should be to maximize results across email and Instagram without doubling the time you spend on it. Play to your strengths, start with a strong brand pitch and plan your marketing tactics around what works for you.