“We are a visual brand with a visual product so the image sharing platform [Instagram] makes for the perfect ad channel,” Grace McLaughlin explained to me over email.
“We have a loyal community of content creators and brand ambassadors out there that help the brand to come alive, and Instagram is their personal social media platform of choice,” she continued. “That means that all of our original and user-generated content has already been made specifically for Instagram and makes it easy to leverage for ads.”
Grace, marketing manager at Blenders Eyewear — an eyewear brand out of San Diego, CA — has helped the company reach more than 42 million people with its Instagram ads and had shown a profitable return on that ad spend.
Here’s how Blenders successfully creates Instagram ads campaigns.
The art of crafting great Instagram ads
“Mirror what’s working for you on organic,” Grace told me. “Keep the same brand tone and vibe but with a sales twist, you’ll need a hard pitch and call to action.”
You can’t rely on ads alone to be successful on Instagram, you have to have great content in your feed and stories if you’re ads are going to help you achieve your goals.
“If you let the organic side slip, then you’re just wasting advertising dollars,” Grace shared. “A lot of users are going to click through on your ad to browse your ‘grid’ as a secondary step before clicking off the app to your website.”
Grace also recommends that you front-load your caption with the most important copy: “Lead with key information and an offer so that it appears before the ‘more’ tag. Highlight the exclusivity, scarcity, and urgency of your offer.”
There’s plenty of room for captions on Instagram — 2,200 characters, to be exact — but after three lines of text they become truncated with an ellipsis, so you need to get your most important copy in those first three lines.
A simple way to measure the success of Instagram ad campaigns
Measuring the success of advertising campaigns can be difficult — especially with the amount of data available to marketers these days. Blenders, however, keeps it simple.
“We’re focused on ROAS (return on ad spend), Grace told me. “We see value in softer metrics like reach, traffic or engagement but ultimately we are driven by sales.”
If you’re tracking your conversions with Ads Manager, it’s often not too tasking to calculate your ROAS. The formula is as follows:
(Campaign Revenue / Campaign Costs) x 100 = ROAS
Therefore, if you generated $1,250 in sales, and spend $450 on the ads, your ROAS is 277.78 percent.
On the other hand, if you generated $800 in sales, and spend $1,000 on the ads, your ROAS is -20 percent.
This type of valuable information can help you determine which Instagram ad sets and campaigns to double down on and which ones to discontinue immediately.
When we asked Grace about ROAS and what results they’ve seen from their Instagram ads, she said:
“Instagram accounts for almost 25 percent of our ad spend and ROAS trends around 15 percent higher than Facebook. CPCs are 60 percent lower, CPMs are 50 percent lower and CTR is 33 percent higher versus Facebook. To date we’ve reached over 42 million people with our Instagram ads!”
The important thing to note here is that Blenders Eyewear is able to continue to spend (and increase their spend) on Instagram ads because they can prove that they positively impact the bottom line.
While brand awareness and engagement metrics are still completely valid goals for Instagram ads, if you can’t demonstrate their value in tangible ways, it’ll be tough to leverage them for more budget in the future.
The importance of the Instagram Stories ad format
It’s no surprise that with the emergence of organic Instagram Stories content as an effective way for brands to reach their customers that Stories ads would soon follow.
“Right now almost half of our Instagram ad spend is being put towards the Stories placement,” Grace explained to me. “ROAS trends lower there for us.”
But the Blenders team doesn’t create any old Stories content and turn it into an ad. They are thoughtful about when and how to use Stories ads for maximum effectiveness.
“The Stories placement is best for when you have a special announcement – like a much anticipated restock, flash sale, giveaway or any limited time promos. You need to convince the user they need to take action right then and there,” said Grace. “Unlike Facebook or Instagram ads they can’t tag friends, like the post, or save to come back to later.”
These factors make Stories ads unique in that sense. The content needs to be highly-actionable and compelling enough for your audience to immediately want to swipe up. There are lots of different content types and strategies that can help to promote action, but Square has a specific approach.
“We like to use the text tools and video formats available to every user in the Instagram app so that it looks native and organic to the user and they don’t just immediately swipe through at the first sign of an ad,” explains Grace.” Things like stickers, GIFs, hashtags, locations, and other native features help to make our content fit right in.”
Successful Instagram ads begin with your content
Focusing on beautiful, creative content that looks and feels native to the platform is one of the most important things brands can do to increase the effectiveness of your Instagram ads.
More often than not, what works with organic Instagram content is a fantastic barometer for the specific types of content that will work with Instagram advertising.
In other words, your brand doesn’t need two different content strategies to sell your products (organic vs. paid). What your brand does need, however, is content that resonates with audiences on a deep, authentic level.