Instagram Ad Tips To Take Your Campaigns To The Next Level

Lauren Breen
Lauren Breen
Head of Content

Instagram’s tremendous growth over the last two decades is super impressive. It's like it strapped on a super-powerful jetpack and went from 0 to $102 billion

That’s billion with a “b,” guys.

Businesses know they cannot ignore Instagram if they want to drive brand awareness and conversions. That's why everyone wants to dive headfirst into the world of Instagram ads. However, simply being on the platform won’t guarantee a successful outcome for your Instagram ad campaigns. 

You need a solid social media strategy—one that effectively showcases your products and targets people to create genuine interest. 

To put you on the fast track to success, we’ve compiled a list of the best Instagram ad tips that will help you make the most out of Instagram‘s ad targeting and interactive features.

How much does an Instagram ad campaign cost?

The average Instagram ads cost depends on the bidding model. For instance, under the cost-per-click or CPC model, Instagram advertising costs range between $0.5 to $3 for competitive industries (fashion, home). But under the cost per thousand or CPM model, costs rise to $6.70 per 1,000 impressions.

At the same time, businesses usually run more than one ad, which makes it tricky to calculate total ad spend based on CPM alone. 

Instagram is designed to appeal to both big and small brands. It allows companies to set a maximum budget for their ads to ensure they stay within their budget.

But the main question is how much should a business spend on average to get the desired results?

Databox surveyed 45 respondents and found most companies (52.63%) typically spend under $5,000 on Instagram every month, regardless of their industry. Respondents that claimed to spend more than $50,000 on Instagram (10.53%) were all tech companies and agencies who probably have combined budgets from different clients.

Graph showing how much is spent on Instagram Ads each month
52.63% of businesses spend under $5K on Instagram advertising – source

Benefits of using Instagram ads 

There are more than 200 million business accounts on Instagram. The fact that its ad revenues can potentially reach $18.16 billion by this year confirms that marketers know Instagram’s worth the money.

The main reason behind this is visual media is a far more useful platform for engaging target audiences than other traditional online social media marketing channels. Let’s take a closer look at why Instagram advertising makes sense for businesses.

1. People LOVE Instagram

This may sound like we’re overselling the platform, but believe us, we aren’t.

People spend about 145 minutes on social media every day. This gives you plenty of opportunities to talk with your customer base, and the more opportunities you have, the more likely they are to purchase from you.

People are quick to go down the rabbit hole in Instagram (I’ve already spent two hours on it, and it’s only 2 PM 😅), so you have a better shot at receiving more attention and trust from your audience here.

2. Instagram’s massive growth

Besides business accounts, Instagram has also seen massive growth in the number of user accounts. This means advertisers can reach out to potential customers and scale sales through Instagram ads.

Moreover, as more people join Instagram and Facebook, developers are encouraged to introduce new features that help businesses connect with their audience. 

3. Tons of targeting options

“Connect with your target audience.“ 

We’ve heard this statement for ages, which is why identifying the specifics of your audience is so important.

Instagram ads let you specify your audience location, demographics, interests, behaviors, and more. You can make your first contact with people who might be interested in your products and target people who have already purchased from you.

What’s more, as Facebook owns Instagram, you enjoy the same advertising abilities. Thanks to Facebook Ads Manager, you can collect critical data about your target audience to make your ads more effective.

4. Proven results

People remember ads on Instagram more than they remember ads from an online article or blog. In fact, ad recall from Instagram was 2.8 times higher than Neilsons' norms for online advertising. 

This proves Instagram ads can leave a long-lasting imprint on the minds of your ad viewers, making them more likely to remember your business in the future.

What factors should I consider when running Instagram ads?

To help you successfully run ads on Instagram, we‘ve put together a list of factors every business owner or marketer should know before the kickoff:

1. Prerequisites

Yes, there are a few prerequisites you must meet before running Instagram ads.

First and foremost, you’ll need your own Facebook page. Not only will this give you an exclusive platform to run your content, but you can also enjoy the features of Ads Manager. 

Next, your Facebook page must be linked to your Instagram account. Although Facebook now lets marketers create ads without a Facebook page, it still limits your ad placements, ad formats, and objectives. If you want the whole package, it’s better to link your Instagram and Facebook accounts.

2. Campaign objectives

Similar to Facebook ads, you can choose from several objectives when running your Instagram campaign. Think about what you want from your ads campaign and select an objective accordingly.

Every campaign objective can be categorized into three broad categories. Here's a brief explanation of each category: 

Choose a Facebook campaign objective
Each campaign objective helps you in a specific way 

Awareness

  • Brand awareness: Allows your ad to reach out to people that will most likely pay attention to your campaign or have previously shown interest in your brand
  • Reach: Expands your range by displaying your ad to as many people as possible from your target audience

Consideration

  • Traffic: Increases the number of visits to your link, as well as the amount of engagement for in your application
  • App installs: Directs more people to your app’s App Store or Play Store link to increase the number of downloads 
  • Engagement: Gets more people to engage with your post ready Instagram page, which also helps boost your posts and profile promotion
  • Video views: Promotes your videos to people by showing clips or behind-the-scenes footage of your product launch. You can also feature customer stories through videos to raise brand awareness 
  • Lead generation: Helps collect more social data or lead information about your audience or people with a genuine interest in your business

Conversion

  • Conversions: Encourages more people to use your business website or application while tracking and measuring convergence
  • Product catalog sales: Shows products from your catalog based on your target audience while simultaneously encouraging people to continue their abandoned shopping carts online
  • Store visits: Promotes your multiple business locations to people who are near your listed office location

3. Defined target audience 

Every Instagram ad campaign should have a target audience. 

Use a social media analytics tool to identify the right audience for your campaign. This will give you access to valuable data—audience interests, behavior, and demographics—for smarter decision-making. For instance, you can decide whether you want to make your target broad or specific through Ads Manager. 

But this is dependent on what you’re trying to accomplish with your campaign and resources. When you target your audience on a granular level, you can filter the group of people that see your Instagram ads. On the other hand, when you target broadly, you rely on Facebook’s delivery system to show your ads to the best people.

Both marketing strategies work. In the end, it all boils down to your personal preference.

4. Ad formats

Whether you want to display image ads or video ads—or a combination of both—Instagram offers an ad format for every campaign. We’ll discuss the different ad formats in more detail in a bit, but you must know ad format is a critical factor to consider before you create an Instagram ad.

5. Budget

No surprises here! You should know how much you’re willing to spend on an ad. 

We can’t tell you how much your budget should be for each ad set, but you can consider the goals you want to accomplish from your campaigns and use them to determine your budget. 

For instance, if you’re optimizing for purchase conversions from an audience with high intent and know your estimated revenue from the sale, you can set a maximum budget for your paid ad campaign. But if you already have a fixed budget, you should let Ads Manager help. Select the Automatic Bidding option and set the bid to get the best possible results at that price.

6. Timing

Decide when you want your ad to run on Instagram and for how long once it’s approved.

If you schedule the ad to run upon review approval, users will start seeing it as soon as it gets the approval. You can choose a start and end date or you can have it run until you choose to turn it off.

Be aware that if you’re planning to run your ads during a holiday that costs will rise—Black Friday especially. Sometimes brands with lower budgets can’t compete during these times, so it helps to shift your timing and budget focus to launch right before the big holiday. 

7. Engagement

Instagram has better engagement numbers when compared to other social media platforms. Case in point: Forrester conducted independent research on Instagram ads that suggested users are likely to engage with branded content 58 times more on Instagram than on Facebook and 120 times more for Twitter.

This is also why running ads on Instagram costs more than on other platforms. But when you consider the amount of engagement and conversion it generates, Instagram ads are certainly worth the investment.

With that, there’s so many ways to engage with users. From polls, to shares, to comments.

What are the best targeting options for Instagram ads?

If there’s anything key to achieving success with your ad campaign, it’s Instagram ad targeting.

Instagram ads targeting work the same way as Facebook ads. To create and manage your Instagram target audiences, you'll have to use the Facebook Business Manager. Open Business Manager and then select Audiences from the top-right menu. 

Instagram audiences
Instagram audiences are managed in Facebook’s Business Manager

Instagram ads have three main audience types:

  1. Saved audiences
  2. Custom audiences
  3. Lookalike audiences

Let’s discuss each audience type in more detail below.

1. Saved audiences

If it’s your first time dappling with advertising on Instagram, you should start by creating a saved audience.

Here, you can define your target audience by choosing specific factors, such as:

  • Location
  • Language
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Demographics
  • Behavior
  • Connections to pages

You can create Saved Audiences both in the Instagram campaign set up face or in the Business Manager’s Audiences section.

2. Custom audiences

Out of all the ad targeting options, custom audiences are the most high-value Instagram target audience. This audience type lets you retarget past website visitors and people who have previously engaged with your Instagram posts.

Plus, there are several ways to set up an Instagram retargeting audience. You can create custom audiences:

  1. From customer files—the list of email accounts, app IDs, and phone numbers
  2. Based on website traffic, but you’ll have to install Facebook pixel for this to work
  3. Based on app activity, where you can reach out to people who have engaged with your Instagram app
  4. Based on engagement

3. Lookalike audiences

Creating lookalike audiences allows you to contact people who are similar to your existing customer database, making them more likely to convert. 

To create a lookalike audience and target it with your Instagram ads, you have to first create a custom audience to tell Facebook what kind of users you want to reach. That’s Step 1.

Custom audiences followed by lookalike audiences
Create custom audiences followed by lookalike audiences

After that, click on Lookalike Audience from the audience creation menu. Select a target country and a percentage of the targeted country’s Facebook users. This percentage signifies people most similar to your selected custom audience. 

Lookalike audiences also help extend your ad campaign's reach by focusing on only targeted people who are likely to be interested in your offer. 

In this section, we’ll give you a brief description, complete with the right ad specs and ad suggestions, of the five most popular Instagram ad formats. Let’s take a quick look.

1. Single image ads

Single image ads are the most widely used ad type for both Instagram and Facebook advertising. It comprises an image, ad copy, and a call-to-action button. 

When to use:

We recommend using single-image ads if you already have quality visual content and want to get up and running quickly. Or when you want to retarget customers.

Supported objectives: Reach, conversions, traffic, lead generation, app installs, post engagement, brand awareness, product catalog sales, store visits

Single image ad specs:

  • Caption: up to 125 characters
  • Media type: image
  • Recommended image size: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Image format: .jpg or .png
  • Maximum file size: 30 MB

2. Video ads

Video ads allow you to introduce your offer with a video or GIF. Their moving nature is more effective in catching up a user’s attention when they scroll through their Instagram feeds.

When to use:

If you have the time to create video content, you should 100% be testing video ads on Instagram. These are excellent to explain how your product works or share a fun and engaging message about your brand.

Supported objectives: Reach, traffic, conversions, brand awareness, lead generation, store visits, post engagement

Video ad specs:

  • Caption: up to 125 characters
  • Aspect Ratio: 1:1 (square) or 1.9:1 (landscape)
  • Minimum resolution: 600 x 600 pixels
  • Maximum resolution: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Length: Minimum 3 seconds, Maximum 60 seconds
  • Maximum size: 4GB

Carousel ads let you showcase up to 10 images or videos in a single ad. You can recognize a carousel ad when you see a series of small dots under the image, indicating there's more than one image to be seen.

Carousel ad dots
Carousel ads have small dots under them

When to use:

Opt for carousel ads to create a step-by-step illustration of how to use your product or service, tell your brand’s story, provide a good sense of the essence of a promoted offer, and lower Instagram ads cost.

Supported objectives: Reach, conversions, traffic, brand awareness, product catalog sales, lead generation

  • Caption: up to 125 characters
  • Media type: image or video
  • Image format: .jpg or .png
  • Number of cards: Minimum 2, Maximum 10
  • Aspect ratio: Image and Video 1:1
  • Video length: Minimum 3 seconds, Maximum 60 seconds

4. Slideshow ads

First up, Instagram slideshow ads are NOT the same as carousel ads. 

Slideshow ads let you add up to ten images and music to create a looping video ad. You can select the images, music, video captions, and a thumbnail for your Instagram ads. Or you can choose the images you want to transition or fade while changing.

When to use:

Slideshow ads make sense when you want to create a more visually engaging video instead of a carousel ad or a single image ad.

Supported objectives: Reach, conversions, traffic, lead generation, brand awareness, product catalog sales

Slideshow ad specs:

  • Caption: up to 125 characters
  • Media type: images + soundtrack
  • Image duration: up to 50sec per image
  • Image size: min. 600 x 600 pixels, max. 1080 x 1080 pixels. If you use images of different sizes, your slideshow will be cropped to be square.
  • Music file format: WAV, MP3, M4A, FLAC, and OGG. Make sure you have all the legal rights necessary to use the song!

5. Instagram stories ads

Instagram launched its Stories feature in early 2017. Since then, its popularity and relevance have only skyrocketed. 

Instagram users are highly engaged when watching stories from their friends and families. So letting brands try Instagram stories feed ads was a no-brainer. 

You have two options here: you can create a Stories image ad or a Stories video ad. While you can upload stories that have up to six images to tell your brand story in a fun and engaging way, videos can be up to 15 seconds in length.

When to use:

Use Instagram Stories to tell your brand story or create awareness for a special promotion.

Supported objectives: Reach, travel, conversions, lead generation, app installs

Instagram Stories ad specs

  • Supports all feed photo and video dimensions (from 1:91 to 4:5)
  • File type: .mp4 or .mov (Video), .jpg or .png (Photo)
  • Maximum file size: 4GB (Video), 30MB (Photo)
  • Video Length: Maximum: 15 seconds, 
  • Images: 5 seconds by default
  • Dimensions: Recommended resolution: 1080 x 1920, Minimum: 600 x 1067

8 best Instagram ad tips to master Instagram marketing

Finally to the main part!

Instagram advertising can be easy—provided you get off on the right foot. You need to post the right content to stay relevant to your followers while also bringing in fresh, attractive posts.

Here are eight Instagram ad tips that will help you maximize results from your advertising efforts:

Note: We’re going to assume you already have a business profile on Instagram. If you don’t, you can learn how to make one here.

1. Check off the five W’s

Your Instagram ads should answer the 5W’s: who, what, where, when, and why. This will make your ads as clear as possible and help boost post engagement.

Let’s decode each W in more detail below.

  • Who: Tell viewers about your brand or your product or service
  • What: Give a clear description of your offer. If you sell swimwear, be direct and tell viewers your sell swimwear clearly
  • Where: Tell people where can they buy your products from
  • When: Present an opportunity to viewers to place their orders. For instance, ‘Buy now‘ serves as both a CTA as well as an answer to ‘when.‘ You can also mention a time frame if you’re running a limited period offer: “Buy before 25th December”
  • Why: Give your audience a reason to purchase your product and not your competitors. Talk about your distinctive features, perhaps even a discount offer, or anything that your competitor lacks

Besides the above 5Ws, you also want to end your ad with a solid CTA. Aim to push your customers' desires right up.

2. Swap commercialized imagery for motion-based visuals

Visuals are everything on Instagram. You need images and videos that can stand out and instantly attract your audience’s attention. Anything poorly designed, overly commercialized, or over used isn’t gonna cut it.

But we strongly recommend using motion for your Instagram ads as movement helps prime audiences emotionally. Your audience is more likely to engage with a creative that moves rather than static imagery. 

Also, your ads don’t have to be full-fledged and elaborate videos. You can turn a GIF into an Instagram send the video. Simple stuff works.

You can also experiment with carousel ads, which is essentially motion that happens on the user's side when they scroll through the carousel. Be sure to use a series of high-quality and relevant images to keep them swiping.

3. Tell a story through your video ads

Audiences love good storytelling. 

But when it comes to Instagram advertising, having a clear and compelling story isn’t enough—you want a story that addresses their specific pain point. Only then will you strike a chord and get them interested in what you have to sell.

People buy solutions based on their problems, so if the problem gets them annoyed or agitated, your product should give them a sense of peace. Here is the formula that you can use:

Problem + Solution = Transformation

According to our experience, video ads with an infectious energy work best in keeping the viewers hooked to the last second. You want to communicate the value of your product in a way that makes them go: "Oh yes, I can see myself using this."

Get it?

You can make the most out of Instagram ads by following one simple piece of advice: use trending audio and visuals to bank on what people are already loving. In other words, piggyback on Instagram trends, be it a popular audio or dance move, and give it your own spin.

Giving it your own, unique touch is important here. There's a fine line between being seen as "hip and trendy" vs being seen as "too try-hard." That's why, while many brands use trending audio and memes, they make the ads in a way that still matches their brand's style. 

The idea is to make your ads your own, even if they use trending audio or memes. 

5. Focus on your audiences’ preferences and requirements 

Your audience’s behavior and actions can tell a lot about what they want to see. You can use insights from your social media analytics to learn the kind of content your target audience wants to interact with.

Sprout Social conducted research that uncovered customers' top priority is customer service (47%) and engaging content (46%). At the same time, some people valued transparency (44%). You must ensure you’re getting outside your own biases and using data to make advertising decisions. 

Don’t simply guess the type of voice or content your customers may find interesting—back it with cold, hard facts. 

We highly recommend using at least 10% of your budget to test different creatives and ad types in the beginning of your Instagram ad campaign. That's the only way you'll have genuine insights into your targeted customers' preferences, which you can then apply to maximize your efforts.

6. Partner with influencers for a better-targeted reach

Instagram and influencing have become (almost) synonymous. 

Many people have already taken up Instagram influencing as a full-time career. This is because many brands are partnering with influencers to expand their reach. You can also work with influencers who have already built an audience with a large following to boost conversions.

People are open to buying products or services based on what they see in their feeds from the influencers they follow. Why? That’s because they trust these influencers. 

You can use this influence and make it work for you by getting your brand out in front of your chosen industry influencer’s followers.

Try to identify influencers with an audience similar to whom you want to target. If top influencers are out of your budget, you can also reach out to the more affordable micro-influencers to post about your product or service and influence more people to buy your stuff.

And that's not it.

After paying an influencer to post about your product or company, you can run ads using the content they create AND/OR run the ads from their profile. Doing the latter will make it seem the ad is from the influencer and not from your brand, which will help with optics. 

Here’s an example of cosmetics giant Smashbox partnering with Lilly Singh, a former talk-show host and popular comedian, to promote their eyeliner to her 10.4 million followers on Instagram.

Brands partnering with influencers
Brands are partnering with influencers to grow their online presence

7. Use UGC as your ad creative

Sometimes your fans can be your best resource.

Collect and post user generated content (UGC) that highlights whatever you’re selling to use as your ad creative. Most likely, the UGC will look more authentic to Instagram, helping your brand to blend in like a friend, while also helping your product to get noticed.

Superhuman cleverly uses a tweet from a customer talking about how it helped streamline his workflow. Not only does this give you content for an excellent ad, but it also helps establish social proof. Viewers have more incentive to give your product or service a shot.

sponsored content
Superhuman does a great job of collecting and posting user-generated content 

You can try something similar as well. Trust us; you might just be surprised. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind if you decide to post user-generated content in your Instagram feed:

  • Always, always, always ask for consent to use a person’s content in your ads
  • How big of a following does the person whose image or video you want to share have? If it’s a big influencer, they’ll most likely require financial compensation. Content creation might be their full-time job afterall. But no biggie if they aren't in the Million Followers Club. It would still be nice to offer that person a promo code or free product if you can. 
  • Is the image or video relevant to your brand image? Does it match what you’ve already created or are trying to create? Don't post if the image or video goes against it.
  • Is the photo appropriate for your current audience and following? Look for signs of anything that can be potentially offensive.

8. Make an ad that doesn’t look like an ad

This sounds super confusing, but hear us out.

If you ask experts about the best Instagram ads, chances are they will tell you about ads that don’t look like an ad—all they are are beautiful videos or photos with a fun backstory.

Take this ad from the TD Bank, for example.

Pretty imagery vs logos on ads
TD Bank ads use beautiful images instead of slapping their logo all over

While TD Bank wants to promote their travel forecast credit card, they use a beautifully shot image of New Brunswick for their ad, complete with a simple line: Exploring the sea caves of New Brunswick. No logo, tagline, or commercialized image.

Thanks to its authentic feel, 2,822 people love the photo. This shows how well the ad works to boost engagement and brand awareness and maybe even get the company a few new followers.

Improve and grow your brand through Instagram

You can make Instagram work for your brand. 

Just focus on familiarizing yourself with the platform and apply the above best practices to build (or grow) your audience and take your Instagram page to the next level.

To see practical examples of how things are done, check out our carefully compiled list of the best Instagram ads for some inspiration. Observe, get inspired, and watch your brand grow!

If you need any help with your Instagram ad campaigns, reach out to us for help. 

At KlientBoost, we offer broad-level as well as granular services to help you maximize ROI from your paid ads on Instagram. From one-time audit to ad set-up to total management or consulting, we do it all

Chapter 3:
Instagram Ads

What You’ll Learn: Instagram is a huge piece of the Facebook puzzle. Here you can learn about the specifics—from how to ace Instagram Ads to ad examples to tips specifically for IG.

Chapter 4:
Facebook Audiences

What You’ll Learn: The right audiences with the right offer will make or break your Facebook success, make sure you prioritize correctly.

Chapter 5:
Facebook Campaign & Ad Types

What You’ll Learn: Discover the different ad types you can use through Facebook to drive the results you want.

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