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How to Boost Ecommerce Sales with Instagram Advertising

Nov 7, 2019 | Ecommerce marketing, Tips & Guides

Liz Kasian, Digital Marketer at Squareshot

How does Instagram work for your ecommerce business?

With 1 billion active users monthly world over, Instagram is sure a marketing platform not to be overlooked by ecommerce. For the record, 1 billion is one thousand million and this many zeros: 1 000 000 000😉

It pretty much equals the entire population of US, Canada, Japan and EU /512 mln, 37 mln, 126 mln, 327 mln respectively/ – just to put this anyway huge number in perspective.

Hundreds of thousands of ecommerce businesses grew from zero to hero due to Instagram marketing. The secret of this social platform’s success in the field of ecommerce marketing is based on the vast data set, Facebook Inc. has accumulated within its user base. 

? Are you using Instagram to promote your online store products? 

? Have you been utilizing Instagram’s powerful toolset to its fullest? 

? Have you got round to mastering their most recent ecommerce marketing features yet?

Read on to see how Instagram can help your ecommerce marketing thrive.

About Instagram advertising

Instagram advertising – is a highly effective form of online promotion that allows ecommerce businesses to expose their products and services to a targeted audience in an Instagram business profile by utilizing visual content, commercial texts and hashtags via complex marketing tools provided by Facebook, Inc.

We know we had you at 2 million advertisers, but we thought to arm you with more stats on the grand scale of this marketing platform.

Made by awesome Daniel Sasson

What do you need to advertise on Instagram?

Ecommerce businesses looking to launch a brand, increase ecommerce sales or boost conversions of their online stores have every chance to accomplish all those missions with flying colors on Instagram.

To advertise your ecommerce store items on Instagram a business needs:

As a very basic minimum:

  1. access to products and quality images of those items
  2. logistics of delivery and payment
  3. Instagram account

Oh, yes. No website. No Shopify. No WordPress set up. There are many small businesses, that use Instagram as the only ecommerce platform – both showcasing their products and marketing them right there on Instagram.

The “show” part is an important one: Instagram is obviously one of the most visually content-saturated platforms. You need to work hard to stand out to catch your future customer attention while they’re scrolling the feed. 

First rule of doing an ad campaign: make sure your visuals are bold, color-rich, the ones that your product deserves to be showcased with. Are you 100% sure yours are like that? If yes – proceed! If you have a slight concern here, then maybe you should try our free trial and see if we can empower your brand? 

If you are new here, you can order, test how this new imagery works for you, and come back for more😌

To advertise on a level of established ecommerce online store you’ll need:

  1. An ecommerce store
  2. An Instagram business account 
  3. A Facebook account /they are connected to give more opportunities to advertisers and Instagram alike – this cross-platform connectivity may seem slightly confusing for beginners, but it serves its purpose/.
  4. A credit card to pay for the promotion
  5. A creative soul or a photo company to produce smashingly good-looking images of products
  6. A tech-savvy soul to set up and manage marketing campaigns in an Instagram Business account.

While elaborating your Instagram ecommerce strategy make sure to choose the right weapon and tools to win in this highly competitive game.

Types of Instagram ads

The Instagram business account offers 6 main types of ads on its platform:

  • Stories ads

  • Photo ads

  • Video ads

  • Carousel ads

  • Instant Experiences

  • Collection ads

  • Ads in explore

Let’s look into specifics of each of them and how to set up Instagram ads:

Stories ads

Instagram stories are Instagram posts in the form of photos or video content, which are featured at the top of the feed in a vertical scroll section of the feed and disappear in 24 hours. Instagram stories can be organic or in the form of a stories ad.

Little cheat sheet for requirements to your stories:

Image:

Aspect ratios: 9:16 and 4:5 to 1.91:1

Story duration: 5 secs

Maximum file size: 30 MB

Supported image types: .jpg, .png

Recommended resolution: 1,080 x 1,920 pixels

Minimum resolution: 600 x 1067 pixels

Video:

Ratios: 9:16 and 16:9 to 4:5

File Size: 4GB

Max Video Length: 1 to 60 seconds

! Also, please note:  that if your video thumbnail image text takes more than 20% of the image, your ad may experience reduced delivery.

How to post an organic Instagram story:

  1. In the top left corner of your screen tap a camera icon. Alternatively, swipe right from anywhere in the feed.
  2. If you intend to do a live story, tap for photo or tap and hold for video.
  3. If you need to post an image or a video from your library, swipe up anywhere on the screen and use a pinch motion to resize an image.
  4. Draw, add a sticker or text to your stories using respective buttons.
  5. Post your organic Instagram story.
E-commerce shots of product in use
E-commerce photographs of product in use
How to post a stories ad:

  1. Choose Guided creation or Quick creation option in Ads Manager.
  2. Choose the most appropriate marketing objective for your campaign from the 3 stages: Awareness, Consideration or Conversion.
Temperature balance for e-commerce photographs
3. Create an audience or use the existing one.
Temperature balance for e-commerce photographs
4. Select automatic placements or click choose placements to select the most appropriate ones for your campaign.

5. Allocate a specific budget and schedule.

6. Create add by adding text, an image of a video.

7. Choose language.

8. Assign tracking

How to keep attention with Instagram stories ads?

  • Integrate sound into your stories.
  • Feature your brand first
  • Alternate several scenes in your stories
  • Create your stories per objectives: feature product for conversions
  • Use Speedy change of bright images helps mesmerize the viewer

Photo ads

Photo ads are similar to the stories ads – only they are placed in the regular vertical feed of Instagram, not in the top horizontal part of the screen.

Photo ads would be a good choice if your target audience falls under the age category of 30+. Millennials and younger generations have more affinity with stories.

Still, examples below work efficient for bottom-of-the-funnel conversions and stimulating purchase decisions. Tagging products allow users to go straight to the shop, and this is widely used by online brands. Don’t forget about creative visually appealing content and an authentic and engaging caption + proper hashtags. 

In-feed video ads

the Agorapulse experiment demonstrates, that Feed-placed ads are not as popular with Instagram users as story ads. The read is much recommended for those who are deciding between which type of Instagram ads to use for their campaign.

In-feed video ads are a great tool to use to increase brand awareness. While users quickly scroll the feed, make sure your content is such, that captures the attention by being either aesthetically pleasing, unexpected /maybe even shocking/ or such, that makes a user linger for a while to see the end of it – like bright changing colors or a quick succession of images, that is a like a feed in itself/.

Use in-feed video ads on Instagram if you need:

  • work on your brand awareness
  • show a product in detail
  • put a product in context with a model 
  • to inform about sales.

Carousel ads

Carousel ads on Instagram are a series of up to 10 images or up to 3 videos within one ad, that are placed in a specific succession by brands for enhanced storytelling. 

This is a type of ad, that gives users a sense of control and allows the advertiser to keep a user longer and expose a view to more products all within one ad. Check this beautiful ad below:

Ads in explore

The example above also fall into this category: adverts in Explore feed allow an ecommerce business to enter the sacred Mecca of all Instagram users – explore feed. This is the most native environment, as the explore ads were introduced in summer 2019 and had been previously ad-free environment.

Users come here to explore, to see what trending, to find new influencers to follow, so utilizing the explore ads is akin to catching a user off guard – so it is an ideal ad placement for brand awareness purposes.

Facebook (Instagram as well) Instant Experiences

This is the most advanced ad type on Instagram thus far.

Facebook Instant Experiences are a type of ads on Instagram and Facebook, that is essentially a mini-website, built into the Instagram feed. The functionality of the features allows an advertiser to combine images, videos, carousels, tilt features all within one ad for most complete exposure to a product line or a brand. Multiple ready-made designs are available to implement in a few clicks.

Instant Experiences ads AKA Canvas ads are designed as a way to keep a user inside the platform as opposed to the need to leave it to check out the website of an advertiser. Now with Instagram Instant Experiences feature a user no longer needs to leave the platform, but be exposed to all that info inside a favorite app.

Check this example of such a placement (yes, we took one from the Facebook as we just like how nicely the ad is done. You’ll get the concept):

Collection Instagram ads

Instagram Collection ad is a type of advertising available only for those business accounts with Instagram Instant Storefront functionality. It consists of a hero photo or video and 3 featured product pages, available to purchase right away.

Collection ads are a great way to take your customers right into the action. They are perfect for cosmetics, garment ecommerce, shoes, accessory stores – as drive the clients right into the purchasing process in the comfort of Instagram. This is an ad for the decision stage of a marketing funnel.

Check the details here (from 00:50): 

How to set up successful advertise on Instagram

If you are only a budding ecommerce business, you might do initially with just an Instagram advertising account. But if you are past the rookie stage and need to reach more targeted users at a lower CPC, it is time to get around setting a proper Facebook Business Manager.

Hundreds of step-by-step tutorials are available on the topic of how to set up a Facebook ads manager and how to advertise on Instagram. So we will recommend a couple of favorite pieces on the topic for when you decide to deep dive into subjects:

With Facebook Ads Manager

Hootsuite Instagram ad guide

Megalytic manual on Instagram ads

With Instagram

SocialMediaExaminer 3 easy ways to set up an Instagram ad

Step-by-step guide by Later

Best Instagram Ads strategies for ecommerce

When advising on best strategies for ecommerce on Instagram, the tips below might come handy:

  • choose your target audience wisely only after thoroughly understanding your target audience, after creating few customer personas for your products
  • make sure to utilize different types of format and pay attention to the best types for specific stages of a marketing funnel a client is at
  • utilize your email marketing list and remarketing strategies to upsell and increase customer retention
  • make sure to create AB tests for the best results for longer campaigns.

Tips for creating efficient highly-converting Instagram ads

Audience targeting

The only approach to creating a digital campaign after thoroughly understanding your target audience. Do a customer journey, a thorough competition check in the digital dimension, have 3-5 customer personas thoroughly elaborated before you dive into choosing the best audience parameters for your campaign.

Use text wisely

Even though Instagram is primarily a visual app, the caption is still of importance. Use emoticons whenever appropriate, don’t forget about the Call to action, tell your story in a consistent tone of voice. 

Use hashtags

Hashtags help your post to be featured in the search results organically. So use your hashtags wisely – make sure to get some bigger ones, mid-sized as well as more specific ones in your caption. Use one most pertinent hashtag to be used in the bio of your business account. 

For example, if you are a photography company offering product images services in New York, it is good to have:

– the hashtags with a huge following – broadest terms:

#photography, #NewYork, #ecommerce, #startup

– more specific terms that have a steady stream of interest but are not on top of the explore feed:

#photographyNewYork, #photostudioNY, #productimages, #shoeecommerce

– low-competition hashtags: 

#SquareshotNY, #flatlayphotography, #jewelrysupplier

And extra-hint: Instagram algorithms are changing constantly, still for the best result now, the most effective way to use hashtags is to post them under your publication as a first comment.

Temperature balance for e-commerce photographs

Engage

Social media is a two-way street with lots of competition on the way. So make sure you don’t lose sight of your customers, keep responding to their comments, nurture your relationship, organize contests, create engaging content.

Personalization

Personalize your communication in an Instagram account: sometimes it takes as much time as a couple of minutes to check out the user’s profile to provide a reply that will resonate with them, as opposed to a templated polite aloof matter-of-factly dry reply.

Post at Optimal Hours

The timing of your Instagram posts is very important. Find out the statistically most popular days of weeks, months and hours for best post engagement. Then allow this information to be filtered through the prism of your business and specifics of your audience. Then allow this info to be further narrowed by the understanding of your local rhythms, which can be understood through the analysis of the local competitors.

Here’s a great cheat sheet by Coschedule:

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Create Instagram ecommerce strategy

You cannot improve what you cannot measure. You don’t know if you are progressing on your way if you don’t know where you are going. Make sure to allocate time to set out your objections and to plan a road map for your business. Get your ecommerce strategy ready before embarking on a mission for best results. Align your helicopter view financial goals with your digital marketing strategy.

How much do Instagram ads cost?

On average Instagram was calculated to have twice as high a CPC as Facebook with $0.70 per click. But this is too broad and too general a piece of data to decide whether to invest in Instagram marketing for an ecommerce business.

The good news is, that Instagram will cost you as much or as little as you are willing to spend – an advertiser has an option to cap a daily budget or a campaign total spend – as well as an option to stop an ad any time. So the best way to understand a cost per click or cost per lead for your specific niche, location, targeting is to try investing some small amount of money, like $10-50 and see what kind of return you get.

Hiring a professional digital marketing company is the best option to see what the real CPC or CPA is awaiting your business on the platform with your chosen parameters – as when you DIY a campaign, the chances are, that lack of experience in managing the advertising campaign may influence the efficiency of the ad a lot.

Temperature balance for e-commerce photographs

Where to get good photos for ecommerce?

Instagram is a feast to billions of eyes. Literally. Instagram is a battlefield for millions of savvy digital marketers who use years of experience and thousands of budgets to get though eyes on their products. Quality product photography is your most powerful weapon on this battlefield.

Getting it right with the product image for ecommerce is a fundamental requirement, specifically when it comes to a channel as visually-geared as Instagram. Based in the US? Check out the Squareshot portfolio to see if we could be useful for your ecommerce business. We know what images Instagram users cannot but double-tap. Let us help you win this fight.

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Squareshot is a New York-based professional product photography studio that offers sharp, high-resolution, color-accurate product photo of Flat Lay and Ghost Mannequin Apparel, Jewelry, Cosmetics, Watches, Bags, Shoes and all types of Accessories for Online Stores to increase their sales and decrease order returns.

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