How to run an ad campaign on Instagram

Blog Highlights

  • If you do not think of Instagram as a way to amplify your brand’s marketing efforts, you may be missing out on a unique way to tell your story.
  • Although there are many similarities to creating and managing an advertising campaign on Instagram, you also need to consider the specific reasons users are drawn to the platform. This includes utilizing high-quality images and videos, taking advantage of Instagram Stories and carousel ads, and considering more indirect forms of broadening your reach.
  • Instagram has plenty of built-in analytical and campaign management options that pair nicely with your in-house tools, especially if you are already leveraging CallRail to track and manage your leads.

Are you taking advantage of Instagram’s reach when developing your marketing campaigns? Although you may not think the platform is the right fit for your audience, you may be surprised by just how powerful it can be. It may be able to connect your business with potential customers in a new way. Just think: Instagram reached more than 140 million U.S. users in the fourth quarter of 2020. How many other marketing channels can offer that?

Although Instagram turned 10 years old in 2020 and is an established, reliable platform that ranks as the sixth-most visited website in the world, brands can still be hesitant to consider the traditional social media platform as an addition to their marketing efforts.

However, with the right processes, tools, and preparation, plus an understanding of the platform’s built-in analytics, Instagram can be a new boost to your marketing efforts.

This article will explain why you should reconsider the platform and how you can kick-start your marketing campaigns with your own effective Instagram ads.

Why is Instagram an ideal platform for ad campaigns?

Instagram is synonymous with eye-catching content from influencers who drive clicks, but the same can also be true for the brands that can create creative, viral content. This is primarily because Instagram has a wide reach across age groups, industries, and geographies. And with proper tuning, there is almost always an audience out there that is either actively looking for your product or is at least open to it.

More specifically, more than 200 million Instagram users visit at least one Instagram business profile daily. About 51% of those users are females and 49% males according to Hootsuite. This adds up to more than 1 billion people using Instagram, making it the second-ranked traditional social network in terms of active users, behind only Facebook.

Add in the power of the platform’s built-in analytics and ad management capabilities, and you can further arm your marketing team with a new way to reach potential customers.

What are the benefits of running an ad campaign on Instagram?

Social Instagram Ads 1

Users come to Instagram for exposure to new people, places, and ideas through the use of pictures or videos. These pictures and videos can also be accompanied by a caption or message that can be as simple as a hashtag or as engaging as a short story.

Use these features to your advantage and allow customers to see a new side of your brand, watch and experience visual stories, and see more context around your messages and resources. No matter how you use it, Instagram is a great way to support many types of marketing goals, such as:

  • Building brand awareness
  • Driving conversions
  • Generating leads
  • Increasing web traffic
  • Amplifying customer analytics

How can you run effective Instagram ads?

Social Instagram Ads2

Although every brand can approach this process differently, here are some of the key steps to kick-starting your new Instagram campaign.

Identify your goals

When you’re setting up your Instagram ad campaign, begin by choosing a goal. Similar to other marketing efforts, the end goal can include one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Brand awareness
  • Reach
  • Web or app traffic
  • App installs
  • Engagement
  • Views
  • Conversions

Although some of these goals can be achieved using similar content and tactics, it may be important to break your marketing campaign into subprojects to add more precision to your planning and maximize your effectiveness. For example, if you want to expand your brand awareness and increase conversions, the former effort will seek to create shareable content that spreads across a general audience. In contrast, the latter will focus on moving a lead who’s already aware of your products further down the funnel toward that final sale.

Narrow your audience

Once you have identified your goals, it’s time to select your target audience. Using either pre-existing customer personas or the account information available within your CallRail platform, open up your Instagram analytics to find out when, where, and how you want to reach your audience.

The built-in Instagram analytics tools offer a gold mine of information, which you can use to further refine your audience and the strategies that will reach it more effectively. The analytics will include various user qualities, such as:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Common behaviors

These user qualities can then be used to draft messages, schedule stories, and target content based on users’ preferences and habits.

Select your budget

Like many other online advertising programs, Instagram advertising runs on a predetermined budget, structured around specific dates, a daily basis, or the span of a lifetime.

Understandably, budgets will differ for every business and even for every campaign you launch on Instagram. But if this is your first time running an Instagram advertising campaign, we recommend being conservative with your budget. This is because your first few Instagram campaigns will be about learning lessons that you can build on and apply to your next campaign launch.

Because the cost is low to set up a campaign on this platform, you can incrementally build as you learn more and begin to better target your intended audience. Similarly, you do not want to spend more than you have budgeted in your marketing plan. With a simple Instagram campaign you can maintain control of your expenses throughout the process.

As a quick reference point, AdEspresso determined that the average cost per click for most Instagram ad placements was about $1.20 in 2017.

Identify your approach and launch

Now the rubber meets the road when it comes to creating and launching your Instagram advertising campaign.

Like with other marketing efforts, this is when you’re making important decisions about the media, content, and length of your ads to ensure that they align with your brand’s voice and will resonate with your target audience. While Instagram is a visual platform, you need to ensure that you can capture all of the imagery and video content that will be used in a high-quality format. Similarly, given Instagram’s ability to launch Stories and carousel ads, you’ll want to consider how you can maximize the uniqueness of the Instagram platform to reach your target audience.

Finally, based on the scope of your marketing campaign, you can also consider collaborating with other brands or Instagram users to further amplify your ads’ reach.

Select metrics to estimate the reach of your Instagram ads

Now that your campaign is live and connecting with your audience, it’s time to select and track key metrics that will help you understand how your content is resonating with your intended audience.

To start, consider tracking some of the following metrics:

  • Reach: the number of unique accounts that have viewed your post
  • Engagement rate: the total number of likes, comments, and saves divided by the total reach, multiplied by 100 for a percentage
  • Stories views: the number of views, taps forward, and engagements within your Instagram Stories, counted per slide
  • Best time to post: the time of the day when you are most likely to reach your target audience, based on trends in user activity
  • Growth: the rate at which your number of followers has increased or decreased over time — it can be useful to see how this aligns with specific content being published
  • Traffic: the number of clicks to your target site that your Instagram profile or Stories generate

There are two complementary ways to track this data: using Instagram analytics and, if you’re a CallRail user, within your own account dashboard. Within Instagram, users with business or creator profiles have access to the advanced analytics dashboard, displaying many of the above metrics right out of the box. You can add to this real-time data with your own CallRail account by tracking, for example, which customers initiated their first contact with your brand because of Instagram. This information can then be automatically added to your collective understanding of the lead.

Continuously refine

As you learn more about structuring your Instagram ad campaigns, you should continuously refine your strategy. Whether it’s through different keywords, time placements, types of content, or even collaborations, you should begin to drive more Instagram engagement to reach your campaign goals.


Bring it all together

Instagram may not be your first thought when you’re designing a new way to advertise your brand or reach new customers, but you shouldn’t underestimate the platform's reach and its ability to tell an engaging visual story. Instagram is also packed with many campaign management tools and features that can help you tailor your ads to the right audience in the right time windows, making the best use out of your marketing dollars.

You can enhance the precision and power of your Instagram campaign with CallRail's Instagram integration:

  • Supplement native Instagram analytics
  • Aid in consolidating and managing leads
  • Improve internal collaboration
  • Help refine your ads so you can build on those generating the most leads

Ready to learn more? Click here to contact one of our experts and get started with your own free trial.