Want more prospects and customers from Instagram? Looking for a strategy to follow?
In this article, you’ll discover how to use Instagram DM automation for more leads and sales.
What’s So Great About Instagram DMs for Marketing?
Back in the 1990s, Seth Godin pioneered the idea of “permission marketing.” It’s a simple concept. People respond better to marketing that’s “anticipated, personal, and relevant.” That means they’ve opted into receiving messages that are meaningful to them.
Social media DMs are the best technology we have for permission marketing right now. They fulfill all of the criteria. Consumers opt into your messages by contacting you, they get personal attention and customer service, and they can receive product recommendations based on their specific responses.
Those are the benefits for consumers. There are plenty of benefits for marketers, too.
Social media automation gives you the power to have personalized conversations at scale, without having to put in hours of effort to contact each person manually. You can qualify leads, target potential customers with specific recommendations, and even use automated responses to take some of the pressure off of your other customer service channels.
What’s more, automated direct messages are an organic, free feature on Facebook and Instagram (at least for now!). This means that you can monetize your social media followers at a much higher rate than was possible before.
Some social marketers are skeptical of DM automation. They think that consumers want to talk to a “real person.”
But in fact, experience shows that customers are more interested in convenience. They don’t mind whether they speak to a bot or a human as long as they can find the products they need or solve their customer service issue. Bots don’t forget to answer messages, make typos, or have bad days. They always instantly send the response they’re programmed to send.
Still not convinced? DM chatbots on Instagram and Facebook can help you make sales from at least eight different lead sources instead of the simple link-in-bio strategy that you’re probably used to. In the next few sections, we’ll look at the Instagram strategy behind automated DMs for marketing and how you can get set up.
#1: Set Up Your Lead Sources on Instagram and Facebook
You can currently set up DM automation across multiple Meta social channels. Personalized business messaging is a paid feature on WhatsApp for Business but it’s still free on Facebook and Instagram.
Here, we’re going to focus on Instagram, just because it offers the most options to start conversations with potential customers. Bear in mind that you can also translate most of these tactics to Messenger with just a couple of exceptions such as story mentions.
Pretty much any interaction on Instagram can trigger an automated DM conversation. The key word there is conversation. Remember, you’re not just sending a canned response to customer inquiries. The tech is smart enough to start real, meaningful chats that actually nurture leads toward a sale.
Here are nine ways you can trigger DM automation on Instagram:
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Comments on Live Instagram Videos. During the live, you can invite viewers to comment with a specific keyword or key phrase. The DM bot will contact them automatically if they do.
Comments on a feed post. This works just like commenting on a live. As well as the DM automation, you can also set up automatic replies to those comments—creating more activity on the post and instantly rewarding users for their interaction.
The Instagram post below encourages people to comment specific emoji, giving the brand more information that could support personalized product recommendations.
You can even create a list of possible automatic responses to comments and then randomize them. To anyone scrolling through the comments on your Instagram posts, it will look completely natural and authentic.
Comments on reels. These work just the same as comments on livestreams and feed posts. These types of posts are best for reaching people who haven’t interacted with your brand before.
Direct messages. If someone slides into your DMs spontaneously, you can offer them automatic message templates to get the conversation started. The user just has to tap to choose which message they want to send. For example, you could have messages pre-drafted for your most common customer queries or popular offers. This saves time for users and starts the conversation.
Feed, Stories, and Reel ads. Yes, DM automations are mostly an organic tactic but you can use them with ads, too! Instead of linking the ad to a landing page, you can link it to your DMs and even pre-fill the conversation. Viewers just tap the ad to start chatting with you.
Story mentions. Whenever Instagram users tags you in one of their Instagram stories, you get a notification. It can be hard to know what to do with those mentions or to keep up with them! You can set up DM automation so that whenever someone messages you, they get a personal DM from you. This is a powerful way to turn user engagement and user-generated content into touchpoints on the path to a sale.
Story replies. While Reels, Live, and feed posts are good for discovering new customers, Stories replies are perfect for strengthening your relationship with existing customers. If you have comments switched on for your stories, you can send an automated DM every time someone comments on your latest video. According to Instagram itself, 50% of conversations between users and businesses start with a story reply!
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Keyword or phrase in bio. You can’t trigger chats directly from your bio. However, you can tell people to message you with a specific word or phrase to get that conversation started.
Comments on ads. Instagram has just added this option to its DM automation tools. You can now send automated comments and DMs whenever someone comments on an ad. This looks to be a really useful feature since users often comment on ads with questions about product details.
However you start the conversation, you’ll need a plan for the next step: nurturing those leads toward a sale.
#2: Make a Plan for Lead Nurturing
If you’re just getting started with DM automation, make it easy for yourself by using a lead nurturing process that already works. For example, you could take an email marketing sequence that has a high success rate and convert the email content into a series of conversational messages.
Think about what you want to get from the conversation, bearing in mind that this is social media marketing. Most of the time, your goal will be to collect contact details so you can eventually reach customers outside the platform.
Email addresses. Collecting email addresses through DM conversations is common and convenient. In Messenger, Facebook will auto-fill forms with users’ email addresses; in Instagram, users have to type them out manually. However, most people are used to sharing their email addresses with brands so this tactic has a high opt-in rate.
Phone numbers. Phone numbers have a lower opt-in rate because people are less used to sharing them. However, this tactic can be effective with younger demographics (especially Gen Z) or for high-ticket purchases where you want to set up a sales call with the prospect.
Event registration. If you offer a service or run courses, your goal might be to get users to sign up for a specific event. Then you can follow up in person or through the contact details they’ve provided.
Whatever you hope to get from your leads, always remember the golden rule: don’t demand too much without offering value in return. The more data you ask for, the more benefits users should see.
Here are some suggestions for lead magnets and rewards:
- For any kind of information or digital product, offer a free webinar, download, challenge, or newsletter. This helps you stay in touch with prospective customers and demonstrates your expertise.
- For eCommerce, offer a discount code that will tempt people into making a first purchase.
- For high-ticket sales, video sales letters can be extremely effective. Use the sales letter to encourage people to share their contact information and book a follow-up call.
You should send all of these rewards via DM, even if you’re collecting other contact info.
Why? Once again, it’s all about convenience. As a marketer, you want to own your list of leads so it makes sense to connect with users outside Instagram. But from the consumer’s point of view, they started the conversation via DMs and they want to stay on that communication channel.
#3: Convert Instagram DM Leads Into Sales
You’ve connected with new leads, started conversations in DMs, and carefully nurtured them toward a sale. Now, how do you close?
This is where personalization becomes really important. Even if your automated conversations are fantastically well-written, most people can spot when they’re being sent a general sales offer.
You can stand out by offering personal product recommendations and targeted offers. You can script your DM conversations to ask users relevant questions and then use that information to send genuinely personalized offers. The agency School of Bots has found that brands can get up to 10 times more conversions just by including questions in an automated conversation.
#4: Follow Up With DM Broadcasts
Every good marketer knows that marketing doesn’t end with the sale.
You want to stay in touch with customers, encourage customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing, cross-sell, upsell… and you can do it all with DM automation.
Instagram is a killer app for marketers with its new DM lists. These work a bit like email lists within the platform. Once users opt in, you can broadcast regular messages to everyone on the list. You can have multiple lists for different campaigns or audience segments, and you can send rich media content including video, audio, and images. (You can even send files in Messenger but this feature hasn’t arrived for Instagram yet.)
There are three different types of DM lists for Instagram, based on message frequency:
Daily: For up to 6 months, you can send daily messages to list members. This is a good option if you want to run a short-term challenge or share inspirational messages each day.
Weekly: You can send weekly messages for up to 9 months. This works for most marketing campaigns. Remember that the frequency is a limit, not a minimum; for example, you could use a “weekly” list to send messages every 2 weeks.
Monthly: You can send monthly messages for up to 12 months. This is a good option if you want to send an occasional newsletter or offer.
If people are used to talking to you on Instagram, they probably want to keep their communications on the platform. DM lists mean that you can stay in touch with those customers long beyond their first purchase if they keep opting in.
DM automation is becoming increasingly important for businesses on social media. You can expect Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp to add more features in the months and years to come.
Have you tried using DM automation yet? What were your experiences like?
Other Notes From This Episode
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