Marketers love Instagram for a variety of reasons. The Facebook-owned social media network has more than a billion users across the globe. It’s quite popular with the younger demographic and has engagement numbers that can put some of its rivals to shame.
So it’s no surprise to hear predictions about Instagram’s ad revenue crossing $20 billion in 2022. They’ve already crossed the $18 billion mark in 2021. Tens of millions of businesses across the globe now rely on Instagram ads to reach their target demographic.
Instagram is all about visual experiences. People use it to see photos and videos from their favorite creators and brands. Since visual content tends to do well online, this puts advertisers on Instagram at an advantage. Their audience is receptive to great visual content, they just have to seize the opportunity and deliver on it.
Getting started with an Instagram ad campaign is simple enough but optimizing it for maximum return on ad spend is a different matter altogether. Marketers have to stay on top of the campaigns that they launch to ensure that they’re not burning through their budget without extracting the maximum value out of it.
This tends to be easier said than done. There are many metrics that need to be tracked meticulously and important decisions that need to be taken thereafter for effective scaling of Instagram ad campaigns. In our view, there are the 5 important steps that marketers need to take in order to maximize their return on ad spend from Instagram campaigns.
How to effectively scale Instagram ads
1. Increase your ad spend
This may sound like a no-brainer. If you want an ad campaign to reach a lot more people, just increase the ad spend. That’s true but in reality, achieving the intended objective isn’t as simple. If the ad spend is increased without further optimization, chances are you’ll end up burning through the entire budget without much to show for it.
The ad spend for your Instagram campaigns needs to be increased strategically. It may appear tempting to double or triple the budget on a campaign that’s showing promising results initially. It’s generally recommended to not make drastic changes to the spend.
Consider how Instagram’s algorithm works. It utilizes the budget you’ve set to optimize ad delivery to the intended audience. Therefore, it’s important to let the ad run for a few days after it’s approved to let the algorithm do what it does best. Frequent changes at this stage when the algorithm hasn’t been able to properly optimize the campaign will do more harm than good.
Once the initial data clearly shows that the campaign is working, only then you should think about scaling the ad spend. A good rule of thumb is to increase the ad spend by 25% every week or at a slightly lower interval.
2. Use Lookalike Audiences
Ad fatigue is a real problem that online marketers face. If they are constantly displaying ads to the same audience, there’s a greater chance that they’ll stop interacting or engaging with the content. This issue can be addressed through Lookalike audiences.
It’s a much smarter way of reaching out to new people who may be interested in your product instead of launching a campaign with wide targeting. The Lookalike audiences feature relies on the power of the algorithm to find new audiences that are quite similar to your existing customer base.
These are the people that the algorithm deems most likely to convert based on all of the data that it has collected so far. The source audience that you use to build Lookalike audiences can be people who have visited your website or added an item to cart, for example. If you track value-based data sources, you could also build high-value lookalike audiences based on purchase events.
It’s recommended that when creating the first Lookalike audience from a source audience, opt for a 1% size since this will target people who are most similar to the original. You can then utilize the same source to create large and less similar Lookalikes when scaling up the campaign.
3. Rely on Campaign Budget Optimization for increased ROAS
Return on ad spend (ROAS) is all about maximizing the potential of your campaigns while reducing cost as much as possible. If you have multiple ad sets running in a campaign, you might find yourself being confused about the ad sets that you should scale up with an increased budget.
This is where the Campaign Budget Optimization feature comes in handy. When this feature is enabled, Instagram will optimize ad spend across the entire campaign, regardless of the number of ad sets in it.
This provides the algorithm with a lot of flexibility to deliver good results. It can limit ad spend on ads that aren’t performing well and automatically focus the budget on the ad sets that seem to be performing the best.
The feature brings automation to vertically scaling ad campaigns. It can be enabled before or after publication but marketers should keep in mind that tweaking this setting when campaigns are running will likely revert them back to the learning phase. So it’s important to keep an eye on the results after the fact just to ensure that there are no significant changes in performance.
4. A/B test your audiences
If you have ad sets that you’d like to test against a few similar audiences, you should rely on A/B testing. This is a great way to find audiences that are the best-performing ones and to weed out others that may not be as receptive to your content.
When creating an Instagram campaign, you can select the A/B Test feature and choose the ad sets that you want to compare. It frees you up from having to manually track the results of the test. You just select the metric that you’d like to measure. This can be cost per purchase or cost per click, for example.
Once the test has been published and the ads are live, the Ads Manager will automatically track the results and declare a winner. The feature makes it very easy to identify audiences that are best for your campaign and budget. Use this information to scale the relevant ad sets accordingly.
5. Opt for multiple ad placements
If you don’t feel the need to expand your audience, how do you counter the ad fatigue that they will inevitably face? This will also lead to higher costs. This requires horizontal scaling of your campaigns and that’s best done through adding multiple ad placements on Instagram.
For example, when you first started your Instagram campaign, you may have only shown ads in the Explore tab. Once signs start to appear that ad fatigue is setting in for the audience, you can switch up the placement.
Without changing the audience or the ad set, you can simply choose to have it shown in the news feed, Reels or Stories. What this will do is enable your campaigns to reach an even wider portion of your target demographic while optimizing ad costs.
Then it’s just a matter of keeping an eye on which placements are performing the best and scaling them up to further optimize the campaign.
Instagram is the place to be for brands in 2022
If you’re a brand that doesn’t have a serious Instagram marketing strategy in 2022, you’re missing out. There are few networks that can provide the sort of engaged and vibrant target demographic that Instagram can.
Winning at Instagram advertising doesn’t have to be difficult but it does require diligence. Create great visual experiences and back them up with highly optimized campaigns. That’s your secret to success.
Blamah is the founder of Web Collaborative, a full-service creative agency. He is an established marketing strategist and consultant. He is also a graduate of Bucknell University and native of Chester County, PA with extensive experience in business development and brand management.
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