If you operate a small business or sell stuff online, you know that digital marketing and social network advertising can play a critical role in your growth and success. It’s a great way to boost brand awareness, acquire new customers, announce new products, and, most importantly, generate revenue. But with so many options available, it can be tough for small businesses to decide where to advertise and how to connect with an audience that will be interested in your product.
That’s where Mailchimp can help. Our powerful marketing tools make it easy and affordable to connect with your customers—and people like them—across platforms like Instagram, whether with images or videos, to effectively budget and schedule, so you can be confident that you’re spending your ad budget wisely and reaching the right people in the right place at the right time.
Let's go through the different advertising campaign features and opportunities that Instagram gives to businesses and that you can access and manage with Mailchimp, with this guide to Instagram ads.
The advantages of advertising on Instagram
Instagram is a mobile photo-sharing app that offers a unique opportunity to reach an audience, showcase products, and build relationships in a creative, visual way. It’s ideal for brand awareness campaigns, and the perfect complement to direct-response, conversion-based campaigns on channels like Facebook or email.
Boasting 700 million users worldwide (50% of which follow a business), higher per-post engagement rates than other social platforms, and a higher average order value than Facebook, Instagram is often the go-to platform for marketers looking for a new way to enhance their brand or product image.
Instagram offers the same powerful targeting tools that are available in Facebook, which means you can take advantage of Facebook’s demographic and behavioral data and targeting options to expand your reach and connect with a custom audience, targeting people based on interests, keywords, or their similarity to your existing core audience. And unlike organic Instagram posts, ads allow for clickable URLs so people can easily click through to visit your mailing list signup form, website, or online store.
Why create Instagram ads through Mailchimp?
Instagram ad campaigns in Mailchimp—just like their Facebook counterparts—are an easy way to promote your business, grow your audience, and sell your products. We’ll automatically pull product images from your store into your account, so you can create beautiful Instagram ads that target current customers, help you reconnect with former subscribers or lapsed customers, and introduce new people to your brand.
After running your ad, Mailchimp closes the loop by providing easy-to-read reports that help you analyze your Instagram insights and ads performance, view engagement, and monitor spending over time. And, if you’ve connected your store, our clear ROI reports will track your ad’s revenue, products sold, and customers acquired, too. Since you never have to leave Mailchimp to create an ad or track its performance, you can develop integrated, multi-channel marketing campaigns and learn how each channel is contributing to your success.
Instagram ad campaigns are available to all Mailchimp users without any additional markup or fees. So, no matter what type of Mailchimp plan you have, you can start advertising your products or services across Instagram with as little as $5 a day.
Define your goals
Before you get started, it’s important to give careful consideration to the goals of your Instagram marketing and ad campaign efforts. Maybe you’d like to grow your audience or raise brand awareness. Perhaps you want to drive traffic to your site or online store. Or, maybe you’d like to promote specific products, increase sales, or encourage mobile app downloads. Determining the purpose of your ad—no matter the preferred outcome—will help you decide on your message, audience, and call to action.
Instagram is primarily a mobile medium, so be sure to keep that in mind as you’re developing your campaign, too. The goals of your Instagram ad should reflect the best possible experience for your audience and customers. For example, if your website or online store isn’t optimized for mobile users, your Instagram ad should focus on brand awareness or list growth rather than encouraging web traffic or increasing conversions.
Determine your audience
Choosing the right audience—and keeping your content relevant to that audience—is the key to running a successful Instagram ad. If you’re a retailer that specializes in men’s winter clothing, for example, don’t target an audience that consists of both men and women between the ages of 18-65 and live in the United States. Selecting such a broad audience often leads to lower Instagram engagement and clickthrough rates, which can even result in your ad being cancelled.
Instead, use your contact list to build an audience of Instagram users who are similar to your existing customers and subscribers. Mailchimp gives you the power to find value in all sections of your contact list, even people who have unsubscribed. Now, you can leverage your subscriber activity and e-commerce data to create powerful segments that help you show relevant ads to the right people.
People on your list
Targeting your existing Mailchimp subscribers on Instagram is a great way to reconnect with customers who are already engaged with your business. Our segmentation tools allow you to leverage what you already know about your contacts to create relevant ads that focus on conversions and retention.
- Potential customers. Create a segment of subscribers who haven’t made a purchase just yet. Drive traffic to your store by showcasing your newest items, highlighting your best sellers, or advertising a special offer for new customers.
- Recent customers. Create a segment of customers who have recently purchased an item from your store, then target them with ads promoting similar products they might also enjoy.
- Repeat customers. Create a segment of customers who have placed multiple orders from your store, then show your appreciation by giving them early access to new products or exclusive sales.
- Lapsed customers. Create a segment of customers who haven’t made a purchase from your store or opened/clicked your email lately, and create an ad to re-engage them.
- Former customers and non-subscribers. Create a segment of people who have unsubscribed from your list or haven’t subscribed yet. Target them with an ad that builds awareness around your business, delivers your message, or offers incentives.
People with similar interests
Since Instagram accounts are tied to Facebook profiles, Instagram has a lot of data about its users that can help marketers find the right audience. And, when you create an ad targeting people on Instagram who are similar to the contacts on your Mailchimp list - with lookalike audiences-, you can put that data to work for you. Instagram analyzes the Facebook profiles of your Mailchimp contacts, then creates an audience of similar people based on shared interests, behaviors, and demographics. You can even narrow down the audience by location, gender, age range, or interest keywords. This can be an effective option for introducing your brand or products to new people and growing your list.
- People similar to your best customers. Once you’ve connected your store, you can create a segment based on the purchase history of your customers. For example, you might choose to use a segment of customers whose total amount spent is more than $100, or a segment of customers whose total number of orders is greater than 2.
- People similar to your most engaged subscribers. Create a segment based on subscribers who have a high contact rating. In this instance, you’d use a segment of subscribers with a contact rating greater than 4 stars.
People with interests you define
There are other cases, however, where you might want to harness the power of Instagram and Facebook’s data by creating an ad that targets people based on unique criteria you define. You can narrow down your audience by location, gender, age range, or interest keywords.
This option provides businesses of all sizes with the tools they need to build brand awareness and grow their audiences. If you’re a new marketer or a business with a small contact list, this tool can help you find potential customers.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Where else does your ideal customer shop? You can use those other brands as interest keywords to help define your target audience.
- Do you typically sell more stuff to women? Or, do you find that men are more likely to purchase your products? Target based on gender to increase the relevance of your ad.
- How old is your target audience? Are most of your customers twentysomethings, or are they more likely to be grandparents? Plug in an age range to make sure you’re reaching the right people.
Choose the right image
When you create an Instagram ad campaign in MailChimp, you’ll have the option to create a carousel or single-image ad, just as you would with Facebook. Carousel ads work well when you want to tell a story or showcase a collection of products, but if you’d rather call attention to or drive sales of a specific product, a single-image ad is a better option.
Instagram is a visual platform, so there are several things to keep in mind as you’re selecting your images, besides the image size.
- Focus on your products. If your Instagram ad is intended to showcase or sell your products, don’t be afraid to use eye-catching images that put the focus on those products. This differs from Facebook ads, which instead thrive on slice-of-life imagery that shows the benefits of your business or products, even if that means putting less emphasis on the products themselves.
- Keep text to a minimum. Remember that Instagram users are there to see images. As you’re planning your ad, try to think of new and interesting ways to tell the story of your brand and products without using words.
- Use high-resolution images. A beautiful, high-quality image will help grab the attention of your audience as they scroll through their Instagram feeds. And since most smartphones are equipped with powerful cameras, you won’t need any special equipment to get started—just set up the shot, make sure the lighting and composition are compelling, and snap a quick picture.
The ads pictured below have a lot in common. They each promote the same products—autumn clothing—but there are several key differences in the composition and presentation of the content. Let’s take a closer look.