Ecommerce Instagram Ads

Running better Instagram Ads can be huge effect on your ecommerce revenue. If you want to learn best practices of Instagram Ads in 2019 you’re in right spot. Whatever you never run a campaign on Instagram or currently running multiple campaigns does not matter.

We will be going to step by step every stage of successful Instagram ads in this post. Let’s start.

How to use Instagram Ads: Customer Buying Journey

Instagram, Facebook, Google, Reddit, … There are lots of different platform. Did you wonder how these ads leads sales? Is this a magic that happen when you spend your dollars?

No. It is very simple human behavior. Also it is very similar how you shop in offline world. Surprising, right? Let’s look at “customer buying journey”.

Ecommerce Instagram Ads Customer Buying Journey

There are lots of different approach about customer buying journey. I’ll chose the simplest one because everyone says the same thing.

See stage is the where awareness happens. This is the stage you appearn in front of with your brand, product or services first time in front of your audience. This campaigns has very low return on advertisement spent.

After seeing stage completed thinking stage begins. This is the stage where audience consider purchase decision. In this stage generally customers looking for more detailed information about brand, product or services.

When consideration stage completed there are lastest stage: DO. This is the stage we take action like purchasing a product.

I’ll write a detailed post about this customer buying journey issues but let’s go back our topic.

You want to get more traffic and sales from Instagram Ads. You have awesome product photos and start advertising. You spent your first $100 and when you look at there is no sales at all!

Like a horror movie but it is real life!

Here is the good news. This is NORMAL! There is probably no problem about your product or campaign. The problem lies in your digital strategy and in this post we are going to step by step process to fix this.

Creating Successful Instagram Ads Campaigns

There are four important steps to succeed at Instagram Ads. We’ll going them one by one.

a. Audience and Targeting

Deciding audience of your campaign and setting up right audience for your campaign is crucial for success in Instagram ads.

You saw the customer buying journey below. Do you think that one campaign will be enough to generate sales from Instagram?

I’m sorry but no, Instagram ads for e-commerce does not work like that.

Well, what do you need to do?

First, you need to decide what you want to accomplish with your Instagram Ads? Do you want to increase awareness of a new audience or do you want to remind yourself with your awesome features to consideration stage of your customers? Let’s look at difference between this two different campaigns.

Awareness Campaigns

Awareness campaigns get new customer segment to your store so this type of campaigns are the real source of growth.

It takes longer to complete purchase and become a customer for this segment. These types of campaigns cost higher than consideration campaigns.

You need to run different campaigns to this audience so they can complete their purchase. Also you need to be very careful when you calculate ROI of this type of campaigns. (Don’t worry, you will sample Google Analytics report in the end of post.)

Consideration Campaigns

These are mainly retargeting campaigns.

These kind of campaigns gets sales faster and cost less. They looks very profitable. BUT this kind of campaigns do not gets new segments. Their potential limited to your other marketing channels performance.

What do you need to do?

Based on your budget and current digital marketing performance decide how to split your Instagram Ads budget and effort between these campaigns.

Let’s look at how to target your audience. First of all you need to open Audiences pages in Business Manager.

Ecommerce Instagram Ads Audience Manager - 1

Facebook give you 3 main ways to create your audience. Custom Audience, Lookalike Audience and Saved Audience.

Ecommerce Instagram Ads Audience Manager - 2

For awareness campaigns Saved Audience and Lookalike Audience are best choose.

Let’s start with Saved Audience that you’ll use a lot.

Ecommerce Instagram Ads Audience Manager - 3

This is the oldest Facebook targeting option. Name your audience and based on your business scenario start targeting. Location, age, gender, interest area, demographic information (job, education, travel etc. etc.) and digital behaviours can be used.

When you finish targeting if you have a million or more target audience this is not a good targeting for awareness campaign.

Also if you have a few thousand target this is also not a good targeting for awareness campaign.

This can be changed from business to business but generally your target audiences reach should between 25,000 and 100,000. If your target in this section, it sounds good 😉

When you create your audience, you can use it whenever you need. You do not need to create audience for every single campaign in Facebook network.

Let’s look at other option. Lookalike Audience.

Facebook create a custom audience based on your original audience source. Facebook algoritms choose people based on interest, behaviour and demographic information that very similar to your remarketing list or saved audience.

When you use this option?

If you have a large website visitor (min:100K visitor per month) segment and their e-commerce conversion rate is good,

If you have a saved audience on Facebook (min: 100K potential reach) and their e-commerce conversion rate is good.

If you start Instagram ads new or your e-commerce conversion rates is not good as you expected, do not use this option. It will not works for you.

Now consideration campaigns on the line.

Consideration campaigns audience should be segment that complete their awareness stage in buying journey.

Who are they?

– Website visitors

– Users that signed up but don’t buy yet.

– Users than like your page or engage with your social media post.

In order to create audience that target these groups you need to use custom audiences.

Ecommerce Instagram Ads Audience Manager - 4

I don’t explain each one because Facebook UX team did a great work and flow is here very simple.

If you want to target website visitors you need to choose website visitor option. You can target your website visitor based on domain they visit, pages they visit or don’t visit or behavior on your websites.

Customer file option is when you want to target users that have signed up your website. You can use your email list or phone number list. Users should give you permission to use their data for advertising. Be careful about this 😉

Engagement option is for targeting people who engage your page or posts. You can target people based on their behavior on your page or posts.

So what we have talked?

When you start your campaign on Instagram you need to decide your audience. Based on your audience your campaign objectives and targeting options will be changed.

If you want to reach new customer, this takes longer and cost more dollars but it brings you new segment.

If you want to get more sales and revenue from your existing potential, you need to setup your campaign for consideration stage like retargeting or ads for people who engage your post already.

b. Campaign Objectives

First step is completed. Now let’s go to setting up campaign objectives.

As you know in order to create Instagram Ads you need to use Facebook Ads Manager.

When you create a campaign in Facebook Ads Manager, first thing it will ask you campaign objectives.

In the first step, you decide what do you want with your campaign. You can increase awareness of your audience or help them for consideration stage.

Ecommerce Instagram Ads Campaign Objectives

There are two different option for awareness as you saw: Brand awareness and Reach. Let’s look at difference.

When you start a campaign in Facebook, you’ll saw a metric called Frequency. This metric calculated simply how many times people saw your ads. If you have 100 people in your audience and people saw your ads 500 times then your frequency metric will be 5.

If you choose brand awareness Facebook optimize your campaign to show as many times as possible people, increase frequency so people can remember your brand, product or services.

Other option is reach. In this option Facebook try to reach maximum people within your budget. Frequency will be very low. It aims to show many people.

Which objective you should choose? This is completely based on your brand, product and marketing strategy. Simply if you are an small-mid ecommerce store, generally (there are always an exception) it is better to choose brand awareness.

If you target people in consideration stage, then mainly you have two options: Traffic or Conversions. What is the difference and which one you should choose?

Traffic objective focus on driving people to your website. If you have a solid audience (like website visitors) and your website do not have UX problems to lead low e-commerce conversion rate, you can choose this objective. It will be best option to use your budget and get maximum return.

Other option is usable when you define conversions using Facebook Pixel. If you define conversions like add to cart or complete checkout, your audience is not a solid audience (like similar audience, engagement audience etc.) or your website’s UX has problems to cause low conversion rate this option is best for you.

c. Ad Creatives

Now let’s talk about Instagram ads specs and sizes.

There are a few options when you advertise on Instagram. Let’s say you want to use images for creative.

Ecommerce Instagram Ads Creatives Best Practices

Single image specs;

1080×1080 pixels or 1200×628 pixels images are recommended from Facebook.

.jpg or .png format accepted.

Maximum file size: 30MB.

When you use image, you can also carousel ads.

Ecommerce Instagram Carousel Ads

Specs for carousel ads;

Minimum 600×600 pixels, maximum 1080×1080 pixels.

.jpg or .png format accepted.

Minimum number of carousel image is 2.

You can use video for carousel image field. Minimum video duration is 3 seconds and maximum video duration is 60 seconds and your video ratio rate should be 1:1.

You can also use video for Instagram Ads. Recommended video specs are;

600×600 pixels or 600×315 pixels

Maximum size is 4GB

Frame rate is 30fps max.

If you use video inside a story, maximum duration is 15 seconds.

Another option for Instagram is story ads.

Recommended resolution for Instagram story ad is 1080×1920 pixels.

Minimum resolution is 600×1067 pixels.

Max. file size: 30MB.

d. Measuring Performance

Final and most important step of Instagram Ads: Measuring performance of Instagram Ads Correctly.

Most of digital marketer and e-commerce website owner miss the huge opportunity because they can not measure performance of campaigns correctly.

It can be tricky but don’t worry. I’ll explain it very simple.

First thing first. If you want to measure your campaign’s performance correctly you need to use UTMs correctly. When you give link of your ad, do not use your naked domain.

Click here and use Google’s own UTM link builder tool. Copy your URL to advertise and paste it in website URL section.

Campaign source should be Instagram if you use this campaign only for Instagram (and yes, you should do this way).

Medium should be CPC. It is a term stand for “cost per click”. Google Analytics will understand this traffic comes from ads so you do!

Campaign should be name of your campaign in Facebook and lastly you need to use your ad name in content section. That’s all you need now.

After spending some money on Instagram ads, you’ll wonder how it returns you. When you open Google Analytics report and look at source/medium report you’ll see how much this campaigns generate revenue for you.

Ecommerce Instagram Ads Measuring Performance Report

It is very simple, right?

NO! It is wrong!

Google Analytics use last click attribution in source/medium report to show you channel’s performance. Users do not purchase in your website whenever they come! Remember customer buying journey above 😉

You need to dig deeper to see true performance of your campaigns. How can you do that?

Ecommerce Instagram Ads Measuring Performance

Go to Conversion menu, choose Attribution and click on Model Compression Tool.

Choose only transaction as your conversion and click on Source / Medium tab.

Now as you saw first model is last interaction. This means that if a user’s last source is direct and buy it, Google count this sales as comes from direct channel.

Let’s add here another model to see what will change.

Ecommerce Instagram Ads Performance Report Template

When look at first interaction for purchase numbers changed at all!


Thanks to Google / CPC there are 121 transaction. Not 74!

What changed? People who are firstly comes from Google / CPC campaigns made 121 transaction. BUT only 74 transaction happened with last Google CPC clicks.

This makes a huge change for Google / CPC. It makes more change for Instagram Ads!

You need to consider this first click and last click interactions when you evaluate your Instagram Ads performance. If you do not look this report in detail, it leads to miss evaluation and result won’t make you happy!


What we have learned?

Running successful campaigns on Instagram for ecommerce website is not about technical setup of campaigns. You need to consider customer buying journey and how to use Instagram Ads in this journey.

Based on your strategy choose audience targeting wisely. After choosing your audience you need to pick correct campaign objective in Facebook campaign setup.

Use Facebook’s recommended creative sizes to create ads. Every ad should have a different UTMs so you can measure performance correctly.

When you measure your campaigns performance looking directly source/medium reports lead huge mistake. Look at whole picture thanks to Google Analytics attribution model compression tool.

And of course do not forget to ask your questions below!

Also don’t forget to check Ecommerce SEO Guide and Ecommerce A/B Testing and Conversion Rate Optimization Guide.

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