The advertising side of Instagram’s business is definitely blooming: by 2019, it might reach over $10 billion.

This means one key thing: Instagram advertising works.

With an insane pace of releasing new features over the last few years, Instagram has easily become a place for brands to build their presence, tell stories in new and creative formats, and connect with their audience.

Ecommerce businesses can gain many benefits from using Instagram the right way:

  • Over a third of Instagram users have used their mobile to purchase a product online– making them 70% more likely to do so than non-users
  • Outside China, almost 50% of Instagram users conduct product research on social media
  • 60% of users say that they have learned about a product or service on the platform

It gets even better: Instagram beats any other social platform when it comes to user engagement. While Facebook’s and Twitter’s average engagement rate per post are below 0.2%, it comfortably sits around 1.7% for Instagram:

Instagram average engagement

Instagram advertising is where companies can win because it makes it easy to fit into the visual context and flow of the platform itself.

This kind of advertising doesn’t feel intrusive—it just feels beautiful and, thanks to Facebook’s detailed targeting capabilities, it’s hyper relevant and even desired.

In this guide, we’re covering all you need to know to run successful Instagram ads for your online store.

Is Instagram the Right Choice for Your Online Store?

First and foremost, it’s important to note that Instagram may not be the ideal choice for every ecommerce business.

Just like any other advertising platform, Instagram is special for its demographic breakdown.

According to recent data from Statista, over 70% of Instagram’s worldwide users are 34 years of age or younger:

Instagram audience breakdown

This isn’t to say that other age groups aren’t on the platform— but they’re far less present, making them more difficult to reach.

The gender breakdown of Instagram’s audience is as tied as can be: 50.3% of Instagram users are women and 49.7% are men.

Here are some other Instagram audience specifics that might be relevant for your decision on whether to advertise on the platform or not. These percentages represent the portion of a group that uses Instagram:

  • Location: 39% urban, 31% rural, 28% suburban
  • Education: 37% some college experience, 33% graduated college, 27% with a high school diploma
  • Income: 38% make less than $30,000, 37% make more than $75,000, 32% make $30,000-$49,999, 32% make $49,999-$74,999

By knowing how many of your ideal audience members and potential customers are using the platform, you can make an educated decision on whether Instagram is the right place for you to invest your time and budget.

The Setup You Need to Run Instagram Ads

Like Facebook ads, Instagram advertising is run through Facebook’s platform. Even though you can boost your Instagram posts directly through the Instagram app, Facebook ads manager is the most in-depth way to run Instagram ads.

You can set up, run and track campaigns the same way you do with Facebook ads. Here are all the steps you will need to go through to run an Instagram advertising campaign.

Since most of the setup correlates with processes for Facebook ads, we’ll link our existing resources below.

Step 1: Create a business page & profile

A Facebook Page is a must-have to run Instagram ads, as well as a Business Profile on Instagram.

Step 2. Instagram ad settings

Next, you’ll have to select your:

Step 3: Determine your budget

Define how long your ads will run and the budget you’re comfortable spending.

Step 4: Publish

When you’re happy with all the settings, ad visuals, and copy, hit Publish. You’ll get a notification when your ads are approved and ready to run.

5 Types of Instagram Ads

Instagram ads are so powerful because of Instagram’s ability to serve the best content to each user based on where they are in the purchase journey.

Objectives for Instagram ads

Instagram can display your ads in these five ways:

  1. Photo ads
  2. Video ads
  3. Carousel ads
  4. Stories ads
  5. Canvas ads

Let’s go into what makes each of them special and some brilliant examples.

Photo ads

Photo ads on Instagram are a powerful tool because they look and feel just like posts from accounts you’re already following.

In fact, they look so contextual and organic that I sometimes find myself wondering how long I’ve been following an account because of how well their ads fit into my feed.

Instagram photo ads enable you to tell the story of your online shop and present products in their best environment—when they’re being used.

For example, Dagne Dover, a stylish handbags brand, launched a highly targeted photo ad campaign designed to drive customers to the brand’s ecommerce site and increase sales with attractive, product-focused imagery.

Instagram image ad example

As you can see, they didn’t just use any basic photo of a handbag—they placed the handbag in a real-life situation, and they took up the majority of the smartphone screen to do so, which stands a better chance of capturing attention.

Finally, with a Shop Now call-to-action, they made the process of buying the handbag obvious and quick.

Photo ads support these call-to-action buttons:

  • Shop Now
  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Call Now
  • Contact Us
  • Get Directions
  • Learn More
  • Get Showtimes
  • Download

Video ads

Video ads on Instagram take advantage of the most precious win an advertiser can achieve: a longer span of attention from the viewer.

When you grab their attention because they’ve yet to see the outcome—unlike with photos that are immediate—you gain their willingness to take the action you want them to. Whether it’s signing up for an offer or even a direct sale, video ads can drive valuable actions with huge success.

For example, Travel.jp, a travel search website, wanted to use Instagram advertising as the platform is growing rapidly in Japan. They used video ads featuring slideshows of scenic suggested travel destinations, which already seems like an attractive way to drive click-throughs.

Instagram video ad example

However, the company wanted to improve performance by crafting video creative that has the power to attract more attention on Instagram, where content is consumed at a fast pace. To achieve this, they added captions at the opening of its new video ad to communicate the value of its app in a straightforward way.

They also used A/B testing to measure the effectiveness of the new video creative. As a result, they saw 2.2 times more mobile app installs, 11X more installs from Instagram, and significantly lower costs per install and per conversion.

Video ads support these call-to-action buttons:

  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Call Now
  • Contact Us
  • Download

Carousel ads

Carousel ads on Instagram look just like any other carousel post on the platform. The ability to swipe left and right for additional visuals give brands a space to tell a longer story with multiple parts, products, angles, and more.

From showcasing a product process from start to finish, displaying it from different angles and even in different use cases, carousel ads definitely provide a lot of creative freedom without a learning curve that might come with producing a video.

For example, Bottega Veneta used carousel ads to boost brand awareness, attract entirely new potential customers and, ultimately, increase customer sales conversions.

They’ve used perfectly matched visuals in their carousels, as well as a full-funnel approach and retargeting users that have interacted with their ads before.

Instagram carousel ad example

The results they’ve seen are a 68% incremental lift in sales (online and in-store), 2.1X lift in incremental return on ad spend (online and in-store), and a significant lift in online product views and online products added to the cart.

Carousel ads perfectly fit brands that want to show the versatility of their products and the range of categories they offer to each of their audience segments.

Carousel ads support these call-to-action buttons:

  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Contact Us
  • Call Now
  • Download

Stories ads

Instagram stories ads are full-screen, immersive ads that appear between stories from accounts that users are already following. With 400 million Instagram users view stories every day, you can reach a huge audience with your ad in the story format.

The largest advantage stories ads have is the fact that as users are watching them, there’s nothing else on the screen that can take their attention away—their entire screen is just your ad. However, it’s still easy to swipe away or to the next story, so short and to-the-point story ads work the best.

J&Co Jewellery wanted to raise awareness for its three-day sale among both existing and new customers, aiming to increase online purchases and grow its customer base.

Their series of eye-catching ads featured discount codes alongside attractive images of the brand’s jewelry. The ads were targeted to women in the US, aged 18 and above with a special interest in jewelry, apparel and accessories.

Instragram story ad example

J&Co Jewellery used conversion optimization to deliver ads to women who were more likely to purchase.

The results were outstanding: 58% of total sales driven by ads in Instagram Stories, 13% lower cost per purchase compared to average cost per purchase, and a 17% lower cost per purchase compared to previous week.

Stories ads support these call-to-action buttons:

  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Contact Us
  • Call Now (video only)
  • Download

Canvas story ads

Another full-screen experience are canvas ads. They take the immersiveness of Instagram stories even further and expand the limited space of stories into a longer page with their organic content.

This is brilliant for telling compelling brand and product stories. This seamless extension of the full-screen experience allows advertisers to capture the attention of customers with just a single ad and take them deeper into their brand ecosystem.

Mattress company Casper used canvas ads to educate its audience about its unique product benefits and warranty, as well as share client testimonials for the feel-good brand. This definitely isn’t something they had space for in any of the ad formats except for canvas.

Instagram canvas ad example

Canvas ads are optimized for mobile and load quickly for a smooth viewing experience. Facebook has an array of canvas templates that make it fast and easy to build a canvas ad for Instagram.

Canvas ads support these call-to-action buttons:

  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Contact Us

Technical Specifications of Instagram Ads

To make the most out of such a visual platform like Instagram, it’s important to keep in mind these technical requirements and recommendations for your creative assets.

Ads in the Instagram feed: technical specs

Image size depends on which format you use.

  • Square: Minimum Resolution (600 x 600 pixels), Maximum Resolution (1936 x 1936 pixels)
  • Landscape: Minimum Resolution (600 x 315 pixels), Maximum Resolution (1936 x 1936 pixels)
  • Vertical: Minimum Resolution (600 x 750 pixels), Maximum Resolution (1936 x 1936 pixels)

Video size: up to 4GB maximum

Caption length: The caption you use for your Instagram ad will appear below the image and may include up to 2,200 characters.

Aspect ratio depends on the format:

  • Square – 1:1
  • Landscape – 1.91:1
  • Vertical – 4:5

Website URLs in Captions: As a best practice, Facebook recommends to avoid using URLs in your Instagram ad’s text. URLs will not be clickable from your ad’s text field.

Ads in Instagram stories: technical specs

Format: All feed photo and video dimensions are now supported (from 1:91 to 4:5).

File type:

  • .mp4 or .mov (Video)
  • .jpg or .png (Photo)

Maximum file size:

  • 4GB (Video)
  • 30MB (Photo)

Video length:

  • Maximum: 15 seconds
  • Images show for 5 seconds by default

Dimensions:

  • Recommended Resolution: 1080 x 1920
  • Minimum: 600 x 1067

Supported codecs:

  • Video: H.264, VP8
  • Audio: AAC, Vorbis

Final Tips to Make the Most Out of Instagram Ads

Know your advertising goals. At the end of the day, your business needs more product sales. However, it’s not as easy as advertising products and hoping your audience will buy them as soon as they see them.

Instead, it’s important to nurture your relationship with your audience and drive engagement, not just sales. This will help you increase brand awareness, drive traffic, build Facebook custom audiences, and ultimately sell your products.

And remember: with a tool like jumper, you can turn quality Instagram engagement into sales without making your audience ever leave the Instagram app.

I’ll add a quick video of it in action here.

Visuals are everything. If your images and videos are cluttered and aim to convey too many messages, your audience will be confused by the end of it.

Instead, keep your images and videos straightforward, focusing on a single element, and tell only one story. If you’re featuring products, make it possible for your audience to imagine themselves owning the product and reaping the benefits of it.

Tell your audience what to next. Imagine this: you’ve heard the best sales pitch in the world. You want to own the product. But then, the salesperson just steps down and walks away—without telling you to buy. Will you go out of your way to buy it? Probably not.

Call-to-actions are the most easily forgotten element of an ad because it’s what drives the activity you want to achieve. Make the most out of Instagram’s CTA options, as well as your captions to entice your audience to take action.

Over to you

Head over to your Facebook Ads Manager and create one of the five types of Instagram ads we covered in this guide.

Remember that people go to Instagram for beautiful experiences and easy-on-the-eyes visuals. With the right images and videos, you can fit right into their expectations and create engagement around your niche and your products.

And once you do, you’ll want to make sure you have a jumper account so that you can turn your comments and direct messages into sales.

Remember: relevant Instagram ads = meaningful audience interactions = loyalty and sales. Don’t wait any longer to get started!