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A Beginner’s Guide to Turning Instagram Followers into Subscribers

  • Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Uncategorized

It’s no secret that email marketing is here to stay.

With a 3800% ROI, it’s easily the best way to communicate with potential buyers and retain your existing customers for life.

But email marketing is nothing without a booming list packed with high-quality leads.

There are countless ways to grow your email list (I’ve covered the most effective in this article) and it can be difficult to determine which channels to focus on when planning your lead generation strategy.

The truth is, the best approach includes a combination of different strategies. While your website is the ultimate winner when it comes to lead generation potential, social media comes a close second.

Navigating social media can be a jungle of confusion, and the efforts you spend cutting through endless brushwood and vines might not always generate the results you were hoping for.

Thus, in this post, you’ll get a helping hand and learn all the best way to generate tons of new leads through one of the most popular social media platforms—Instagram.

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  • The 41 Best E-Commerce Emails We've Ever Seen (2018 Update)
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  • Our Content Relaunch Framework (The Same Framework We Used to Increase Our Organic Traffic by 290.67% in 3 Weeks)
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Plus 17+ other resources (and counting).

Why use Instagram?

Instagram is a social media platform where users can upload images and short videos to their profile.

It’s primarily used on mobile devices via its smartphone app. They do have a desktop site as well, but fewer people use it because it doesn’t provide the same seamless user experience the app is known for.

This is what the app looks like on mobile:

Instagram has more than 600 million active users and it’s the most preferred social media platform among U.S. teenagers after Snapchat.

That said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this social media has the potential to skyrocket your email list.

Many businesses have already started using Instagram, and are collecting followers left and right.

But what are followers worth if they don’t convert into leads or customers?


(Granted, they might generate brand awareness, but that just doesn’t cut it if you want to be the leading business in your field.)

If you already have an Instagram profile for your business, it’s time you start looking at how you can convert your followers.

Don’t have an account yet? No worries, I’ll guide you through everything so your Instagram account is your new favorite lead generation media.

How to set up a high-converting Instagram account

The technical aspect of setting up an Instagram account is easy.

If you already have a personal Instagram and want to connect a business profile to that account, you can follow this video guide made by Instagram.

If you don’t have a personal account or don’t want to have your personal account and business account connected, follow these steps.

1. Download the app from Google Play or App Store.

Download the Instagram app instead of working from your desktop (Instagram is highly app-based and provides the best user experience.)

2. Sign in with your business email address.

Don’t sign in with Facebook as this will automatically create an Instagram profile based on your personal Facebook account.

3. Write your username and desired password.

Your username should be recognizable, as this makes it easier for people to find and follow you. For instance, for our Sleeknote Instagram account, we use the username “sleeknotecom,” which makes it easy for people searching for Sleeknote to find us.

4. Upload a profile picture.

Choose a photo that either is or includes your business logo. This will make your brand more recognizable.

5. Fill in your business name and phone number.

Once you’ve filled in your business name and profile, you’ll be asked to find people to follow. Skip this step. You can do this later, and it doesn’t make sense to start following people until you’ve finished setting up your profile and maybe have a post or two to share.

Next, you’ll be redirected to the home page where you can begin to explore the app and complete your profile.

Here are what the buttons in the bottom menu are for:

Now that you’ve set up your profile, it’s time to optimize it for conversions.

First, let’s have a look at your profile description. What should it contain?

Naturally, it has to be a description of your business and the work you do. Let people know who you are and the type of people you serve.

Unfortunately, you have a limit of 150 characters, which is a pain for a writer like myself, who hates being limited by characters. However, those are the rules of Instagram and we must follow.

One of the most important things to include in your description is the value you provide. I can’t stress this enough. People want value.

If you sell shoes, tell people why your shoes will give them more value than your competitors’. They might be of higher quality, more durable, more stylish, less expensive, and so on.

Second, and equally important, you need to include a link in your description. Instagram only allows you one single link on your entire profile, posts included, so make this it count. Lot’s of businesses, e.g. ASOS, have included a link to their homepage which, although not ideal, is better than nothing.

But we don’t want to settle for okay—we want high conversions. Thus, I recommend linking to a lead magnet that will make your Instagram followers convert into high-quality leads.

Offer your Instagram followers a piece of value in return for their email address. Here are some examples of what you could offer them.

  • A discount code to use on your website
  • A chance to win something
  • An email course on something they’ll benefit from
  • A link to a weekly webinar packed with tips and tricks
  • A free eBook you’ve written
  • A free sample of your product

Before you start spending money on creating an awesome lead magnet, you need to know your audience.

Do user research to find out who your Instagram target group is and define what their needs, problems, and wishes are (they might be different than your audience on other social platforms.) Then,  create a lead magnet based on your findings, and give people exactly what they’re looking for.

Here’s an example from Melyssa Griffin’s Instagram profile:

Melyssa offers her entrepreneurial courses to her audience because she knows that her audience is interested in entrepreneurial tips.

She’s even added a little extra value by telling people that she donates 100% of the revenue to charity.

This is a perfect example of how you provide value to your audience by giving them what they want.

The possibilities are endless.

(If you want more inspiration on what you can offer in exchange for an email address, check out this ultimate guide to content upgrades including a bunch of different examples and how to use them.)

The link you include should direct people to a landing page where they can sign up and get access to your lead magnet instantly, either through their email address or download.

The link itself is also important here. Many businesses use link shorteners when writing a link for social media (and many other channels) because it looks better as the link is short and you can hide your UTM parameter in there.

However, using link shorteners is not always the best idea. Here are the pros and cons of using a link shortener.


  • The link doesn’t take up as much space
  • It looks “prettier” than a long URL


  • Link shorteners usually include random numbers and letters and don’t include any information about your site.
  • Link shorteners can reduce a link’s credibility and prevent people from clicking it.

There are, however, some link shortening services that enable you to almost customize your shortened URL. Tools such as PrettyLink and TinyURL enable you to change the last part of the URL to increase credibility a bit by entering your site name and perhaps a word or two about the content of the page they are redirected to.

Here’s an example where I used TinyURL.

This was my initial link including the UTM sequence: https://sleeknote.com/blog/content-upgrades/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=instagram&utm_campaign=list_building_content_upgrades

And this is the link I got without customization: http://tinyurl.com/j5cwxns

As you can see, this link does not give the slightest idea that you will enter the Sleeknote content upgrade page when you click it. It’s much easier to think that you’ll be redirected to TinyURL’s site, which is in no way related to my offer.

What I then did was customize the last part of the URL so it looked like this: http://tinyurl.com/sleeknote-content-upgrades

It still includes the name of TinyURL, but now it also includes the name of our website and the content of the page(which in this case was a blog post on content upgrades.)

People respond to link shorteners in different ways, and the only way of knowing which option works best for your Instagram account is to test it and see which link gets the most clicks.

Another important point:

Change the link from time to time, to keep your lead magnet relevant and updated. People who follow you are assumably interested in your brand and your product, but might not be interested in this particular lead magnet.

Thus, by changing it from time to time, you appeal to a larger audience and increase the chances of more people signing up.

Another great incentive is to have a time-limited offer. Urgency has a great effect on conversions and it decreases chances of people seeing your lead magnet and thinking they will sign up later (which they never do.

Urgency makes people sign up now.

Lastly, your lead magnet should have its own landing page. You should create custom landing pages for all your lead magnets where the only option is to sign up.

Here’s what a landing page should and should not include:

  • Include the exact headline of your lead magnet as you’ve written it in your call-to-action (CTA) to avoid any confusion.
  • Include an image of your lead magnet. Instagram is a visual media, so including visuals on your landing page will increase conversions.
  • Remove any kind of top, side, or bottom menu, so people won’t click on to other sites and forget the reason they clicked through, to begin with.
  • Instagram users are primarily mobile, so make sure your landing page is optimized for mobile as well.
  • Include a strong CTA that people can’t help but click.
  • Tell them you’ll send the lead magnet to their email, to decrease the number of fake emails you’ll get.

For more tips on how to create high-converting landing pages, check out our post on list building through Pinterest.

Getting high-quality email leads doesn’t need to be an uphill battle… Discover how one retailer increased their email list with 17% with one simple change. Learn more

How to skyrocket conversions with Instagram Marketing

Your Instagram posts are the heart and soul of your Instagram account. Without awesome posts, you won’t have any followers to convert.

As Instagram is primarily based on images and videos, it’s safe to say that no matter what type of audience you have, visuals go down well.

Instagram is all about sharing amazing, fun, strange, beautiful, and interesting visuals.

Your posts should be no exception.

Creating an Instagram post doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task, but it does, however, require some consideration (at least, if you want to gain value from it).

How to create stunning visuals

Your images need to look spectacular. Instagram has more than 40 different image filters all designed to ensure your image has just the right color and lighting.

A brand that excels in capturing beautiful images is National Geographic.

They have more than 69 million followers and they post thousands of visually stunning photographs and videos from all around the world.

If you’re not completely sold on Instagram filters or your image just needs a little retouching before being Instagram-worthy, here are some of my favorite image editing tools:

  • VSCO Cam. One of the most popular free smartphone apps in which you can shoot and edit your images with superior mobile presets and advanced camera controls.
  • PicMonkey. A free online photo editor. They also have a ton of different templates and backgrounds for you to use.
  • Snapseed. A free smartphone app developed by Google where you have all the necessary features and more, to make your images look out of this world. Perfect for image editing on the go.
  • Pixlr. A free online photo editor for mobile and desktop. Perfect for marketers who need to create or edit something quickly.

With these tools, you’ll be able to create stunning images for your posts without needing any photography skills or the likes.

But visuals aren’t everything…

The content of your image is just as important (if not more).

What makes good Instagram content?

Your content needs to be relevant to your business.

Don’t post countless images of puppies if you sell shaving products.

Yes, they’re cute, but they won’t do your business any good.

On the other hand, don’t keep posting images of your products asking users to “Buy now!”.

It’s all about balance. Instagram is more informal than other platforms, and people hate being sold to— don’t be that annoying advertiser.

Give your audience value. What do they like to see? If you run an interior design e-commerce store, perhaps they would like to get DIY inspiration.

Post images of how people can spice up their home decor using regular household products.


The above example is from Panduro, a Danish hobby store. They show their followers plenty of ways to use their products along with the stuff you already have in your house. They also do short videos to show you how easy some of the DIY projects are.

Another great example is Simple Green Smoothies. They offer tips, recipes, and how-to videos on their Instagram account:


They give everything away in their posts and provides instant value for their followers. When you give your best content away, you’re more likely to be successful with your lead magnets because people already know the value of your expertise.

Moreover, you should focus on getting your followers to make a decision and engage with you. This could be asking them to tag a friend, leave a comment, like your post, and so on.

Give people an invitation to do something, otherwise, they won’t know what to do.

Here’s another way of looking at it: Your birthday is coming up, and you’re super excited about hosting a massive birthday party. The day arrives and the only ones to show up are your parents.

What happened?

You forgot to send the invitations so no one knew you were having a party.

See my point?

Once people engage with you, it’s much easier to convert them into subscribers or customers through your lead magnets.

But that’s not all…

You’re still allowed to do some promotion as long as it’s not overwhelming. I would recommend 1 in 10 posts to be promotional.

Promoting your lead magnet or your products through Instagram requires a compelling call-to-action (CTA).

Only the first two or three lines of your description will be read, so don’t bother writing half a  page on why your lead magnet is awesome.

Make your CTA short and convincing.

But there’s something else…

You are not allowed to add any links to your post descriptions so whatever you promote must be linked in your bio link.

Here’s an example from Jessica Alba’s Instagram profile. She’s the founder of Honest, a beauty brand, and she regularly uses her personal Instagram account to promote Honest products.


As you can see in the description below the image, it says “Link in bio!” which refers to the one link you’re allowed in your bio. The link then redirects people to the Honest website where they can buy products, or in this case, get tips and tricks for great skin.

You should always include hashtags in your descriptions. Hashtags make the post searchable and the more hashtags you add, the higher your chances are of people seeing it.

You can also experiment with creating your own hashtags related to your business, and encourage people to use those hashtags.

Sostrene Grene, a home decor, and DIY expert knows exactly how to do this:


They encourage people to create their own DIY products and share them with the hashtags #grenediy and #grenehome.This gets people engaged and increases brand awareness

Last but not least…

Encourage people to engage through direct messaging (DM). Ask people to share their opinions and experiences with your products; ask them what their favorite product is, or ask them to come up with an idea for a new product.

However, that’s not all there is to Instagram…

Instagram stories

Much like the “my story” feature on Snapchat, Instagram has created Instagram stories where you can share short videos for people to see for a limited time.

The difference between Snapchat stories and Instagram stories for business is the tagging and linking capabilities.

In Instagram stories, you can tag various people in your stories, such as influencers featured in your videos, and you can put a link in your story.

This means that you get extra links and not just the one link in your bio.

Don’t just link to your website. This is the place where you can link directly to your latest product and the exact page where people can buy it, or you link to your newest lead magnet landing page where the only option is to opt in.

Here’s an example from Way of Gray, which is a community/e-commerce store, for people looking to get healthier:

This is a story from Way of Gray promoting a Lovestyle Brunch. They’ve included a CTA in the top image telling people exactly what to do, along with an arrow showing them where to opt in.

When you swipe up you’re redirected to the exact landing page where you can buy tickets.

Instagram stories are also great for “behind the scenes” footage. People love getting a look behind the scenes to see everything that goes on at your business from a more personal angle.

An example of how to do this could be to ask a co-worker to show potential customers “how it’s done” or “behind the scenes” or “a day in the life of XX employee”.

Jamie Oliver uses Instagram stories on a daily basis taking you on all his food adventures around the world:

I’m a big fan of Jamie Oliver, and one of the reasons is because you develop a personal relationship with him (at least, I imagine we’re the best of friends) due to his very personal take on social media.

You can also get influencers to work with you to do the takeover. Let’s say you just worked with a celebrity (or another well-known person) on designing a new pair of shoes.

A prime opportunity here would be to get that person to do a take over on your Instagram story, where they tell people about the new design and shows how it’s made.

It’s all about being creative.

Influencers can do a lot of good for your business, but it’s not always easy to know where to start and how to approach them.  Check out our interview with influencer expert Kristi Hines to learn more about how to connect with influencers, or take a look at this comprehensive list of top bloggers to follow on Instagram.

Another idea for Instagram stories is to show off your products in a more creative way. For instance, if you run an e-commerce with durable outdoor equipment, you can show people just how durable your products are by putting them through different tests.

This way, you’ll increase credibility as you’ll show people that your products are indeed as durable as you say they are.

Free Downloadable Bonus

Get Access to Our Private Vault of Marketing Resources

Like many fast-growing startups, we’ve made our share of marketing mistakes in recent years...

But we’ve also learned which strategies work ... and which you should avoid at ALL costs.

To make life easier, we’ve put together a curated resource stack of tried-and-trusted marketing tactics we’re using to grow Sleeknote.

Here's a preview of what’s inside:

  • The 41 Best E-Commerce Emails We've Ever Seen (2018 Update)
  • 100+ Growth Marketing Ideas You Need to Steal (Ranked for Your Convenience)
  • Casper's $750+ Million Marketing Toolkit (Our Favorite)
  • Our Content Relaunch Framework (The Same Framework We Used to Increase Our Organic Traffic by 290.67% in 3 Weeks)
  • Our Marketing Department-in-a-Drive (Our Most Important Checklists and Processes)

Plus 17+ other resources (and counting).

Wrap up

That was all from me on Instagram.

I hope you’re ready to jump on the Instagram band wagon as it truly does hold great potential for growth. And if you’ve already taken the plunge, try to implement some of the tips from this post and see what kind of result you might generate from it.

Instagram is all about stunning visuals and entertainment, so don’t be too serious. Show your followers a great time, and I promise you, they’ll stick around for a long time to come..

Now that you’ve gotten an insight into my thoughts, let us get an insight to yours. Share your experiences below and let’s learn even more.

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