Instagram Ad Tips for Small Business Owners Who Want to See Results!

October 10, 2016

If you’ve been wondering how to get more followers on Instagram you are not alone.


Instagram has more than 500 million monthly active users which means almost every single demographic is represented in large numbers on the social network. That’s exciting for digital savvy brands!


There are a lot of articles out there that will tell you how to grow your follower count organically. Just google “how to get more followers on Instagram” and thousands of articles will pop up. Instead of adding to that mix, today I want to talk about Instagram ads.


I know, I know. Paying for ads can be frustrating especially if you’re never paid for social media ads before. The thing is, Instagram ads can be really effective!


Bloom & Wild, a flower delivery service, was able to increase their orders by 62% using Instagram ads, and Burt’s Bees saw a 5pt lift in product awareness when they ran an Instagram ad campaign.


burt's bees instagram post example


Whether you run a sales campaign or a brand awareness campaign you’re going to naturally grow your follower base as each ad includes an easy option for interested users to follow you.


As long as you are targeting the right audience with your ads, you’ll see your follower count grow in addition to seeing an even more important lift in sales and/or brand awareness.


Instagram itself has put together an easy to follow guide on how to Get Started with Instagram Ads so I’m not going to dive into the technical steps today.


Instead I would love for us to talk about ways to make your Instagram ad campaigns super effective once you are ready to launch them.


Let’s dive right in!


Tips for Making Your Instagram Ads (More) Effective


1. Use a Picture With Eye-Catching, Psychologically Persuasive Colors


Because an Instagram ad is placed within the Instagram feed it’s easy for users to scroll past an ad without giving it a second glance.


woman browsing instagram


To be honest, all it takes is a simple swipe of the finger and your ad is out of sight, out of mind.


To get a user to pause, look at your ad and really take in your message you need to capture the user’s attention as soon as your ad appears on their mobile screen. The easiest and best way to do that is by using an image that has eye-catching colors.


At this point you may be wondering, “do you mean I need to use bright pinks, lime greens and neon oranges?” No way!


An eye-catching color is one that stands out but also resonates psychologically with the user who is seeing it. For instance, Pier1 ran an Instagram ad campaign during the fall using rusty oranges and bright reds.


pier 1 instagram ad example


These aren’t eye-catching colors because they’re super bright, they are eye-catching because they are the typical colors of fall, and Pier1’s use of them tells a nice story.


The story reads something like this, “dear customer, it’s fall which means it’s time to decorate your home in a way that expresses the season and makes you feel cosy!” You don’t need to read the caption to know that’s what Pier1 wants you to think!


Another way to select eye-catching colors is by understanding the psychology of color and how it affects your target audience.


psychology of marketing color explainations


For example, did you know that black is thought to represent powerful and sleek products and is effective in marketing luxury items? That’s why you’ll often see expensive car ads using black or dark themes.


Additionally, purple is thought to soothe and calm a person. It’s often found in beauty ads such as this one:


luxury instagram ad example


Dark purple isn’t necessarily the first color that would come to mind if I asked you to give me a list of eye-catching colors, but nonetheless it will capture the eye of someone who is in the market for luxury beauty products.


Researching which colors resonate with your target audience is a great way to pick a color scheme for your Instagram ads!


2. Include a Strong Call-to-Action (Even if You’re a Brick and Mortar Store)


When running a paid campaign on Instagram remember that you’re not just publishing an image – you’re creating an ad. That means your post needs a strong call-to-action that leads a viewer to take the next step in engaging with your brand.


home depot instagram ad example


Here are just a few different calls-to-action that are quite popular:



  • Use Our Store Locator
  • Shop Now / Buy Now
  • Find More Info on Our Blog
  • Follow Us for More
  • Contact Us Today
  • Click the Link in Our Profile/Bio
  • Leave a Comment Below

Instagram ad campaigns that lead to digital conversions (e.g. a follow, a sale, a lead, etc.) are quite easy to track. It’s much harder to run an online-to-offline campaign, so let’s dig into the ways retail shops can use Instagram ads effectively.


The first step is to include a strong call-to-action in the ad.


“Use Our Store Locator” is a great call-to-action for retail shops that want to generate foot traffic since it creates a bridge between the ad and your physical address.


halo top ice cream instagram ad example


To track the overall effectiveness of this type of online-to-offline Instagram ad campaign I would suggest creating a conversion funnel that looks something like this:



  1. User clicks on your Instagram ad with a call-to-action to “use our store locator.”
  2. User lands on a web page that includes information about your store/product(s), has a store locator and also includes a coupon or promo code the user can redeem in store that is unique to the Instagram ad campaign.
  3. Users redeem coupon in store and you track how much revenue is brought in just from your Instagram ad campaign. You compare this against the amount you spent on Instagram ads and see if you feel the ROI is worth continuing your campaign well into the future.

Before you get totally caught up in revenue numbers, It’s important to note that an Instagram ad does provide more value than just revenue generation.


When calculating the ROI of your campaigns consider that if a large percentage of the people who saw your ad followed your Instagram account that is extremely valuable on its own. Your followers are people who have raised their hand to say they’re interested in what you have to offer, and now you can easily market to them in the future.


Revenue is nice (and highly important) but a follow should also be considered an important conversion on the brand awareness spectrum.


3. Keep Your Caption Short and Sweet


When writing Instagram ad copy it’s easy to get verbose. I see a lot of Instagram captions that get hidden behind a “more” link because they’re too wordy.


halo instagram ad example


This really hurts your conversion rate because not a lot of Instagram users will pause and click the “more” button on an ad. Even though it’s not a lot of work, someone who isn’t a super fan of your brand isn’t likely to do that when they’re really just trying to scroll through interesting pics from their friends.


Be sure to check your caption in the Instagram ad creator Preview area to ensure it’s short enough that the whole message is seen – especially the call-to-action!


Here’s a great example from Aerie:


aerie instagram ad example


The caption is short, descriptive and includes a strong call-to-action. Great job! (Cute dog too!)


Getting Started:


Now that you know the key points for putting together effective Instagram ads it’s time to get started! Don’t be afraid to begin with a small budget just to get a feel for what it’s like to run a campaign. You can always scale up later once you feel more comfortable.


If you have any questions, leave me a comment below and I will try my best to respond!

Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community

Author: Jonathan Chan


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