How to write Instagram captions to generate sales, according to a marketer who built a 7-figure business less than 2 years after quitting her corporate job

  • Instagram is one of the most powerful platforms to market your business, build a loyal customer base, and generate sales. 
  • Online marketing strategist, entrepreneur, and content marketing expert Vanessa Lau founded The Bossgram Academy to teach business coaches and consultants her marketing tips and strategies. 
  • In one webinar, she gives her four essential elements of writing a winning caption that will generate sales.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Instagram is one of the most powerful platforms to market your business, build a loyal customer base, and generate sales. 

To make the most impact, your posts need compelling visuals that embody your brand and clever captions to match. But writing good captions isn't everyone's forte, so it helps to start with some basics.

Vanessa Lau is an online marketing strategist, entrepreneur, and content marketing expert. She founded The Bossgram Academy and built a seven-figure business less than two years after quitting her corporate job. She hosts free and membership courses to teach business coaches and consultants all of her marketing tips and strategies. 

In one webinar, she gives her tips on how to write Instagram captions that will engage customers and lead to sales.

Here are her four essential elements of writing a winning caption.

1. The hook captures your audience to stop scrolling

Lau recommends starting your caption with a "hook," or a punchy line of up to 125 characters that captivates your audience. This can be an attention-grabbing title which signals what the rest of the caption will be about, or it could be a question that intrigues someone to learn more information. She also suggests using a polarizing statement like a factoid that most people don't know or a common myth that relates to your product or service. 

2. Write body content that's persuasive and builds curiosity

Next, the main content of your caption should be persuasive and touch on your audience's pain points. Lau has three persuasive copywriting strategies she uses: future pacing, scarcity, and risk aversion. 

In the webinar, Lau defines future pacing as a way to "create space to allow your audience to imagine themselves in their desired situation." Lau suggests starting with a "point A" that acknowledges a problem or pain point your audience can identify with. Then, give a "point B" that suggests that your audience can overcome this problem and reach their desired outcome. 

Writing for scarcity capitalizes on the consumer's "fear of missing out." This means you have to identify who your audience is, what they aspire to be, and what they don't want to be. Lau suggests building curiosity by explaining a best practice that your audience doesn't know and how that can help them achieve their goals. 

Lau suggests that people are more likely to want to avoid pain than they are to seek pleasure. In her final persuasive strategy, she recommends tapping into risk aversion by painting a picture in your caption of how your audience will miss out if they don't act. Call out a result your audience desires, give a common misconception they may have about achieving that result, then explain the cost of that misconception. 

If you're using a carousel format post in which each slide gives most of the information, Lau says you can keep your caption short. Include one to two hooks, keep the body content brief, and end with a primary and secondary call to action.

3. A call to action encourages engagement

Every caption should end with a call to action (CTA), which encourages your followers to engage with your post, rather than just scroll by it. Lau suggests using a primary CTA for short-term engagement, such as posing a question for your audience to answer in the comments or encouraging them to double-tap if they liked the post. This is meant to boost your post in Instagram's algorithms so you get more traction. 

Then, she suggests using a secondary CTA to encourage long-term engagement, such as clicking the link in your bio, signing up for a waitlist, or purchasing a new product. Lau uses a method she coined the "PS strategy," which mimics adding a "PS" at the end of a letter or an email. In an Instagram caption, it feels like a friendly nudge to encourage your followers to take further action.

4. Keep your structure easy to read

Finally, how you structure your caption can make all the difference in getting people to read it. Lau says your caption should be visually appealing, clean, and easy to digest. Big blocks of text are difficult to read and look messy. She recommends using Insta-Space or Spacie apps to insert line breaks, bullets, and emojis to break up the text.

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