Instagram DM automation: Tips, tools, and best practices to engage (and convert) your followers

Katie Morley

Jul 4, 2024

Katie Morley

Jul 4, 2024

With more than two billion monthly active users, Instagram is the third most popular social network worldwide—ranking only behind Facebook and YouTube.

So it’s safe to assume that a large portion of your customer base regularly spends time on Instagram. And here’s the thing that’s likely even more surprising: They want to hear from you there. An impressive 75% of consumers now prefer to engage with a brand using private messaging channels (like social media direct messages) instead of traditional channels.

That means if you aren’t using Instagram DM automation to slide into your customers’ DMs with personalized offers and assistance, you’re missing a major opportunity.

Table of Contents
  1. Features of an Instagram DM automation platform

  2. How do I choose and set up Instagram DM automation?

  3. Personalization in Instagram DM automations

  4. Getting started with the best Instagram DM automation platform: Insider

Features of an Instagram DM automation platform

The magic happens in the DMs, but needing to stay on top of sending thousands of messages (not to mention managing responses) is a big undertaking—especially if your brand has a large following.

That’s where automated Instagram messages come in. You can use designated tools and software to automate and streamline Instagram direct messaging by sending messages automatically. When you get a more advanced solution, you can think of an Instagram DM automation platform as your Instagram chatbot, which goes beyond sending messages to actually receiving them, processing them, and responding to them.

With an Instagram DM automation platform, you can set up campaigns to proactively message customers with offers and information. You can also set up preset replies for common questions or keywords, so customers can receive an automatic response when they reach out to you. For example, if a customer sends a DM with the keyword “order update” included, your AI chatbot will respond to that message with information about a customer’s order status. 

That’s the basic premise, which means that most solutions for automating Instagram DMs will offer the following features: 

  • Automated messaging: Sending pre-written messages to followers or new contacts
    • Example: Sending a personalized discount code to new followers
  • Response management: Organizing or categorizing incoming messages so they can be handled efficiently
    • Example: Programming keywords to send automatic responses to customers or to route messages to the correct team members
  • Scheduling: Setting up automated messages to be sent at specific times
    • Example: Scheduling a Black Friday campaign that delivers a promotional DM every day in the three days before Thanksgiving
  • Analytics: Tracking important metrics like open rates, response times, and engagement levels
  • Integrations: Connections with other popular marketing automation platforms, CRMs, and other tools

The features alone are likely enough to clue you in on the power an Instagram direct messaging platform can have for your business. But if you need a little more convincing, Instagram DM marketing and messaging offers several compelling benefits, including: 

  • Getting in front of your customers: Data shows that many of your customers are likely spending time on the platform. Instagram DM automation allows you to engage them with conversational messaging where they already are. It’s a smoother and more accessible experience for your customers.
  • Improve your response time: While expectations for response times are constantly changing along with technology, the reality is that most customers expect a speedy response. In fact, 90% of customers say they think an instant response is either crucial or very important when they need customer service. Automated Instagram DMs happen…well, automatically. You can’t get faster than that.
  • Increase customer engagement: Instagram DM automation isn’t just about blanketing all of social media in the same, generic message. Personalization is key (and we’ll dig into that more a little later). When you land in your customers’ Instagram inboxes with targeted, relevant messages, you increase their engagement with and loyalty to your brand.
  • Save time: Automation can take routine messaging tasks off the plate of your marketing or customer support teams. Additionally, these platforms can streamline your workflows by integrating directly with your other tools and solutions.

How do I choose and set up Instagram DM automation?

The benefits are intriguing. But how can you choose the right Instagram DM automation platform for your business? Here are a few features to consider as you evaluate your options:

  • untickedFeatures and functionality: Think through your specific requirements in terms of functionality. For example, do you need a lot of flexibility for user segmentation? Or compliance with strict industry regulations?
  • untickedBudget: How much can you spend per month or year on this sort of solution? Additionally, how many users will need access to the platform? That can impact the price of some solutions.
  • untickedUser-friendliness: Figuring out your Instagram DM automation platform shouldn’t be a full-time job. Read customer reviews, sign up for a demo, or peruse other resources to get a feel for how intuitive the platform is. Keep in mind that this platform might be used cross-functionally—across marketing, customer support, and perhaps even sales—so it’s worth soliciting opinions from those team members as well.
  • untickedIntegrations and compatibility: All Instagram DM platforms will rely heavily on the Instagram messaging API. But if you have other beloved tools and solutions that your teams frequently rely on, jot those down so you can confirm what solutions integrate with them.
  • untickedChannel breadth: Today’s customers demand a smooth, omnichannel experience where they have consistent interactions with a brand regardless of channel. For that reason, look for an Instagram DM automation platform that can engage your users and potential customers on other channels too (and not just Instagram).
  • untickedChatbots: Some Instagram DM solutions focus exclusively on scheduling and sending messages. If you want to use conversational AI for CX and engage your customers in human-like, two-way conversations, you need to look for a platform that offers chatbot functionality as well. 

Personalization in Instagram DM automation

We’ve covered the basics of Instagram DM automation, but there’s a big and critical aspect we’ve only lightly touched on so far: personalization.

According to McKinsey research, a whopping 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. Even worse, 76% of them get frustrated when companies fail to do so.

That’s why Instagram DM automation isn’t just about efficiently blanketing the world in a copy-and-paste message—it’s most effective when you use it as a way to engage your customers and deliver personalization at scale.

What are the benefits of personalization?

So what makes personalization so powerful? When it’s done right, personalized messages and interactions can lead to: 

  • Higher engagement: When they receive personalized outreach, customers feel seen, understood, and valued—and not like they’re being inundated with the same, generic marketing messages as everybody else. That makes them more likely to not only read the message but also reply and further engage with the brand.
  • Improved conversions: Personalization can also push customers to make a purchase. An impressive 80% of consumers say they’re more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.
  • Better customer satisfaction: Those attentive interactions boost customer happiness, which makes them more willing to repurchase in the future and recommend your business. 78% of consumers are more likely to refer friends and family to companies that use personalization.

How do you implement personalization in Instagram DM automation?

When you’re using Instagram for business, personalization can pack a punch. But now for the next question: How do you go about implementing personalization in your Instagram DMs? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Commit to data collection: To effectively target messages to your customers, you first need to understand them. Gather relevant data about your audience through Instagram insights, CRM systems, custom forms, and more. That’s valuable information you can use to personalize your Instagram DMs.
  • Use message templates: Think personalization isn’t scalable? That’s where message templates come in. Create message templates that allow for dynamic content insertion. That enables you to efficiently and consistently personalize messages. 
  • Set automation rules: Personalization doesn’t have to be entirely manual. Set up automation rules based on user behavior or profile attributes to trigger personalized messages. For example, send a welcome message to new followers. 

Getting personalization right is a learning process. So, use A/B testing to experiment with different strategies and figure out what resonates best with your audience. Analyze your results and you’ll make strategic adjustments over time. 

What are the best practices for using Instagram DM automation?

If you hear “personalization” and only think of something as simple as automatically inserting a customer’s first name in a message, there’s a whole world of personalization for you to explore. 

Here are a few other creative ways to leverage effective personalization in your Instagram messages:

  • Segment your audience: Divide your audience into segments based on their demographics, interests, purchasing behavior, or engagement levels. Then you can tailor your messages to each segment’s preferences and characteristics.
  • Use dynamic content: Use merge tags to insert personalized information—such as their name, location, or even previous interactions—into your messages. It creates a sense of individualized communication, even if it’s not a completely personalized message.
  • Rely on context: Context is crucial for effective personalization. You wouldn’t want to send a welcome or introductory message to someone who’s already engaged with your brand several times, as just one example. Set up systems to review recent interactions with your brand, specific actions, and other relevant details that allow you to gain a complete understanding of the customer before sending a message.
  • Deliver customized offers: Deliver personalized offers, discounts, or recommendations based on the recipient’s past purchases, browsing history, or stated preferences. This drives conversions and fosters brand loyalty.

What are some examples of personalization in Instagram DM automation?

Need a little more inspiration to get the wheels turning? Here are a few creative ways brands use personalization in Instagram DM automation to engage followers and customers.

  • Welcome messages: Greet new followers with a personalized welcome message. Thank them for connecting, invite them to engage further with your content, or even send them an introductory discount code.
  • Abandoned cart reminders: Send personalized messages to users who have abandoned their shopping carts. Remind them of the items they left behind and offer incentives to complete their purchase.
  • Recommendation engines: Use algorithms to analyze user preferences and behavior and recommend relevant products, services, or content based on their interests.

Getting started with the best Instagram DM automation platform: Insider

At first glance, it might seem like automation and personalization are in direct competition. Automation triggers visions of generic, copy-and-paste, irrelevant outreach while personalization feels like it should be high-touch and hard to scale.

But with the right Instagram DM automation platform, you can reap the time-saving benefits of automation while still prioritizing highly targeted and personalized interactions with your customers.

Insider’s conversational CX platform helps you craft personalized outreach and increase engagement through Instagram DMs and ads. With Insider, you can:

  • Build an Instagram virtual assistant: Don’t have any coding skills or technical knowledge? With Insider, you can easily create an Instagram virtual assistant that’s custom-designed for your brand—without any complex algorithms or coding. Our visual drag-and-drop interface keeps things easy.
  • Boost customer engagement and brand visibility: Your intelligent virtual assistant is your brand ambassador. Automatically respond to brand mentions to promote awareness and send instant replies to product queries and other questions to amplify your online presence.
  • Attract leads and close sales: With your highly intelligent Instagram virtual assistant, you can track and optimize your lead sources to increase sales efficiency with just a few clicks.

Insider’s conversational CX solution enables you to interact with customers on Instagram with human-like bots 

Remember, chances are good that your customers are spending time on Instagram—so don’t let Instagram DMs be a missed opportunity for your business. Get started with Insider and engage your customers with timely, relevant, and personalized messages.

Katie is an award-winning content marketer with over eight years of experience in content strategy, development, and copywriting. As Global Content Director at Insider, she currently oversees content strategy across 26 regions. Fun fact: Katie read 64 books last year (for which she owes a long commute and two week-long holidays where she spent approximately six hours a day with her nose in a book).