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The High-ROI Instagram Advertising Guide

With a billion active users worldwide, there's no wonder Instagram is the place to be. The only catch? Captivating this audience is a tough call when the competition is this fierce. That's why we've crafted this must-read guide on making the most of every hour and dollar you spend on Instagram. Discover how to set up Instagram ads for the first time and explore key ways to optimise the ROI of your paid campaigns.

With one billion active users worldwide, there’s every reason for your brand to take advantage of Instagram advertising to improve awareness and skyrocket sales. 

Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users, but here’s the important part: these users are super engaged with the platform and the ads. 

Engagement with brands on Instagram is 10X higher than Facebook and 84X higher than Twitter.

And that's not all... 

The best part? 

Because Instagram is integrated with Facebook Ad Manager, you can leverage Facebook’s wealth of user information to pinpoint your niche audience and advertise directly to them. 

It’s no wonder more than two million advertisers globally use Instagram to drive business results! (Source: Instagram)

But here’s the thing. 

You can’t just create an Instagram ad and expect the sales to come rolling in. There’s more to a winning Instagram marketing strategy than meets the eye. 

There are lots of examples of businesses that pour endless hours and dollars into creating Instagram ads only to get ZERO sales. 

So, how do you guarantee the high ROI you want?

We’ll let you into a secret – 

Often the most profitable Instagram advertising strategies don’t rely on paid ads alone – you need to combine it with your ORGANIC social tactics. That is, your unpaid Instagram posts. 

In this Instagram advertising guide, we’ll focus on how to get the best results from your paid ads. 

Whether you’re new to Instagram ads or already an Instagram pro, this guide covers everything to know. 

From how to set up your first Instagram ads campaign all the way to advanced strategies on how to increase return on ad spend. 

Let's dive in!

 

The Complete Instagram Advertising Guide

 

Types of Instagram ads

Instagram has five ad formats:

  • Stories ads

  • Photo ads

  • Video ads

  • Carousel ads

  • Collection ads

That’s take a closer look at the types of ads on Instagram:

 

1. Stories ads

realtor solutions

Stories Ads appear between other users’ Stories as full-screen, vertical ads. So when you watch them, all you see on your screen is the content.

This is a fast-growing ad format for one simple reason:

500 million Instagram users view Stories every day, meaning you have the potential to reach a massive audience. 

When one Instagram Story ends, the next one begins. So, it’s an easy way to get in front of people while they are actively engaged with Stories.  

Not only can you target your audience, you can also choose how often they see your ad. 

All the usual Instagram Stories features are available too, like adding text, filters and video effects to create creative promotions that look and feel like your normal posts. 

That’s the brilliant thing about Stories ads - it’s difficult to tell them apart from organic content. Especially if they’re targeted properly, as that means they will blend in as part of the user’s interests. 

mazda mx5

The call to action is a swipe-up feature that takes the user directly to visit your website or landing page. Like this example:

food follow

The best way to use Stories ads is for limited-time offers and promotions, because Stories expire after 24 hours. 

hobart instagram stories

 

2. Photo ads

Photo ads are what you use when you want to showcase products and services through stunning images. 

bass and flinders image

This type of advertising on Instagram is especially effective if you’re already using eye-catching visual content that’s getting noticed on your organic feed. Use Instagram photo ads to reach even more people who don’t yet follow your Instagram account.

Think brand awareness.  

The example below is a stunning photo ad by an Australian tourism site, which purely aims to drive more followers to their profile. 

see high country instagram

 

3. Video ads

Video is exploding in social media and Instagram is no exception. 

When Instagram introduced videos, more than 5 million were shared in 24 hours.

In fact, user-time spent watching videos was up more than 80% year-over-year on the platform in 2017.

That’s why Instagram makes it easy for advertisers to use video for advertising gain.   

Get creative to really stand out on the feed, like this one by Oreo.

In this example, Bankwest uses video for a competition - which is more impactful than a simple picture. 

bankwest the best

 

4. Carousel ads

Carousel ads are the ones where users can swipe through a series of images or videos. These are highly popular for ecommerce brands. 

Online retailers use them with call to action buttons to drive users directly to the ecommerce site to buy the product. 

The brilliant thing about Carousel ads is that you can use them to dive deeper into a single service by breaking it up into 10 images/videos. 

Take a look at this one by Inside Vancouver. It tells a story with beautiful images, which leads you to the call to action button - enter the competition. 

you think you know

canada ad

vancouver ad

inside vancouver 5 days

 

5. Collection ads

Instagram Collection ads are a pretty new addition to the platform, introduced in 2018. 

Here’s how Instagram describes them:

“You can use collection to visually inspire and help your audience discover, browse and purchase products. Tell an integrated story with a product or lifestyle focus, through video, images or both.”

But this skims over the true advantage of this ad type: users can purchase products directly from the ad.

Check out this example from Instagram:

more mac products via instagram

When you scroll and click on a product, you can buy it there and then:

mac product ad for a lipstick

 

How to choose the best Instagram ad type for your goals

With five different ad types to choose from, which will be the most successful Instagram ads for your brand?

It comes down to your GOALS. 

Know what you want to achieve from your Instagram campaign. 

Let’s say you’re trying to increase sales rapidly, Collection ads or Stories ads may be the best option for your brands. 

Collection ads let you directly sell products, while Stories ads are great for one-time promotions that get in front of users instantly. 

What if you want to increase brand awareness? 

Photo or video ads are a great option as you can use captivating content to engage like-minded users. 

The bottom line? 

Be clear on your goal and choose the right ad type to match it. 

 

How to create your Instagram advertising campaign 

There’s no actual “Instagram Ads Manager”, but there are two ways to create an Instagram ad campaign:

  1. Using Facebook Ads Manager

  2. Promote posts within Instagram

 

First, let’s look at Facebook Ads Manager.

Facebook Ads Manager is the one you use when you want to run ads on both Facebook AND Instagram.  

This is an incredible powerful platform for advertisers as it lets you pinpoint and customise audiences. Once your ads are live, you can deep-dive into how your ads are performing.

For the purposes of this guide, we’ll assume you already have a Facebook page and access to Facebook Business Manager. If you don’t, Hootsuite has a great step-by-step guide.

Now, follow these steps to crate your Instagram ad.

 

1. Link your Facebook Business profile to your Instagram account

Go to your Facebook page to Facebook Business Manager and click on the top left-hand menu.  

Click Business Settings> Instagram Accounts.

homepage for business manager

managing users and people for instagram

Click Add.

business settings instagram

In the pop-up box, add the details of the Instagram account.

adding an instagram account

Save the changes. 

Now the fun begins – it’s time to create your Instagram Ad. 

 

2. Choose your objective

Go to Facebook Ads Manager and click Create.

managing instagram campaigns

Choose how you want to create your ad campaign – Guided Creation or Quick Creation.

choosing between quick and guided instagram ad creation

Choose Guided Creation if…  you want detailed instructions on how to create the campaign. 

Choose Quick Creation if…  this isn’t your first rodeo and you want greater control over your ad.

Now, choose your ad campaign objective from the list provided:

purpose of an instagram campaign on ads

Here’s a quick guide to ad objectives:

Awareness objectives:
  • Brand awareness: Show your brand to users who haven’t heard of you.

  • Reach: Show your ad to as many users as possible for your spend.

Consideration objectives:
  • Traffic: Drive clicks to your website

  • Engagement: Increase comments, likes, shares, event responses and offer claims.

  • App installs: Encourage users to download your app.

  • Video views: Increase the amount of views for a video.

  • Lead generation: Gather lead data from those who click on your ad.

  • Messages: Encourage users to send a message to your business.

Conversion objectives:

  • Conversions: Increase sales and sign-up conversions.

  • Catalog sales: Show ads for products on your Facebook catalogue.

  • Store visits: Direct users to your physical store locations. 

Let’s say you choose Conversions.

defining conversions on instagram

Next, name your campaign.

 

3. Identify your audience

Now for the really important part. Who do you want to target?

refining instagram targeting demograhpics

Be specific. You can tap into Facebook’s targeting tools to pinpoint your audience by a wide range of options. 

To see what’s available, go into the Detailed Targeting dropdown and click Browse.  

more finetuned targeting on instagram

 

Step 4: Select your ad placements

Next, decide where your ads will appear. 

selecting automatic placements for instragram

Automatic Placements means your ad will be shown to your audience where they will perform best, in Facebook’s view.  

Or, click on Edit Placements for the full range of options. 

choosing placements for instagram

 

Step 5: Set your budget and schedule

How much you want to spend on your ad campaign and how long will it run for? 

Again, you have a few options here. 

defining instagram ad budget spend and duration timeframe

To set a maximum daily spend, choose a Daily Budget

If your ad has a set lifespan (for example, the sale runs for four weeks), choose Lifetime Budgeting. 

Instagram Ads work in the same way as Facebook Ads. Costs depend on your budget and whether you select Manual or Automatic bidding. 

So, your Instagram Ad will never cost you more than you have to spend. 

Pro Tip:

Instagram ad costs are typically slightly higher than Facebook ads – even when you’re hitting the same target audience. The reason is simple: Instagram ads typically see 10 times the engagement of a Facebook ad, which means a much higher chance at converting the user. 

 

6. Create your ad

This is the part where you choose your ad format. 

deciding type of instagram ad

Then, follow the steps to complete your ad:

  • Add media (pictures or videos)

  • Create your ad copy

  • Add the website URL

  • Choose your call to action

Finally, add your tracking.

The Facebook Pixel is super important if you want to see how your ad performs and how your audience interacts with your business after clicking on your ad. 

Click Confirm– you’re done!

 

How to advertise using Instagram 

You can also set up ads directly from your Instagram profile. 

If you have an existing post that’s performing well, you can promote it to other target audiences. 

Simple as that.  

instagram image ad

This lets you reach even more users really easily without going through Facebook Ads Manager. 

There’s another benefit too.

A study by Hootsuite found that content that receives paid promotion has a big effect on search rankings

How big?

It almost DOUBLES the performance of content that’s just posted and left alone.

Here’s how you do it. 

Choose your post and click on Promote.

If prompted, log in to your Facebook account. 

Then, select your goal.

instagram create new promotion page

Choose where to send people. 

instagram deciding where to send people from your ad

Do you want to drive more users to your profile, website or direct messages?

If you choose your website, it will automatically draw the URL form your profile. 

Edit this to send users to a specific landing page. 

Now, select your target audience.

Instagram can target your ad to people who are like your followers. Or you can enter your own targeting options to create a custom audience. 

Finally, select your budget and duration. 

instagram setting ad budget and duration

Click Create Promotion and you’re done!

 

How to optimise your Instagram ads for a super high ROI 

Now you know how to create an Instagram ads, you need to make sure your campaigns perform to their maximum potential. 

That’s where our advanced Instagram advertising tips come in. 

 

1. Switch up your ads

People quickly get tired of the same pictures and videos on Instagram. 

The solution is to switch up your ads regularly to prevent ad fatigue. 

This also helps you learn which ads perform best, which leads us to…

 

2. Test EVERYTHING

Want to create the perfect Insta ad? It doesn’t happen overnight! 

You need to test out every element of your campaign to find the perfect combination of elements: caption, format, audiences, images, call to action…the list goes on. 

Then, measure the performance of the ads in Facebook Ads Manager. 

You might find that one audience drives a 15x cheaper CPC. And within that audience, one specific Instagram ad achieves a 5x higher click through rate (CTR).

Now, you can shift your budget to your winning combination. 

 

3. Focus on the first few seconds

With Instagram ads, the trick is to grab the user’s attention immediately and make your message super clear. 

This is even more critical for Stories ads. 

Why? 

Because photo ads only last 5 seconds, video ads for up to 15 seconds and users can’t return to them later.

So you need to ensure users instantly understand what your ad is about and why it matters to their life.  

Take a look at this ad from Mountain Bikes Direct:

instagram mountain bikes direct

It has all the right elements: strong visuals, clear messaging and a compelling call to action. 

 

4. Make it feel exclusive

People want things that are reserved for a few or that are in limited supply and high demand. 

It’s human nature. 

Or, as it’s now known, FOMO. 

Use the law of exclusivity in your Instagram ads. 

Make your users feel like they are missing out on something incredible. 

Like this one from Calm:

instagram stories example from calm meditation

  

5. Measure everything and use the data to make better ad decisions

The only way you can know if certain ads work better for your audience is to measure it. 

You might be surprised at what you find. 

For example, did you know that static image ads can outperform videos at a much lower cost?

By measuring your ad performance, you might find out that promoting image posts directly from Instagram performs better for your goal.

Also, sometimes videos are not the best performers. But you only know if you track your cost per click and cost per acquisition metrics. 

PRO TIP: Remember to measure Dark Social – that is, when people share content through private channels like email and instant measuring. 

 

Over to you 

Getting started with Instagram ads is easy. But to get the best return for your ad spend, you need to pay attention to what works for your brand. Test and measure everything and you’ll be able to continually optimise your ads for astounding results. 

Instagram ads are just one element of a high-ROI digital marketing campaign.

See how they fit into your whole strategy in this free guide to help you create your own Digital Marketing Game Plan.

Filled with best practice tips, case studies and templates, it’s got everything you need to get on the road to success. Download your FREE ebook by clicking below!  

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