Instagram is a great place to capture leads. Now that the platform has finally surpassed one billion users, every business on the planet wants a bit of the action.

Don’t believe us? Check this out: Instagram’s ad revenue is projected to reach almost $11,000,000,000 by 2019.


The good news for you is that your audience is on Instagram, ready and waiting to see what you’ve got. The bad news is that your rivals are producing ads to make sure their content is seen instead of yours. Rats.

But it’s okay because we’ve got some awesome news for you: This article will give you the lowdown on how to create and measure an effective Instagram ads campaign so that you outdo your competitors.

Determine Your Goal

Before you run an ad, you need to define why you’re running an ad. If you don’t, your message won’t align with your overall strategy and you’ll probably find that no one takes any sort of the desired action. Moreover, you’ll struggle for consistency, which is a major turnoff to your audience.

Instagram actually lets you choose from a few different objectives:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Conversions

Awareness simply means that you want to create ads that raise awareness of your brand. At this point you’re not necessarily looking to clinch more sales; instead, you just want to put your name out there.

Consideration also means you’re not looking to clinch sales just yet. Instead, you want users to take a specific action, whether it be clicking on your website or engaging with your posts.

Conversions, meanwhile, is self-explanatory: You want to boost conversions (sales). The way Instagram tracks conversions from your ads is much more sophisticated than it used to be, and you can also track in-store conversions, too.

Once you’ve decided on a goal, you then need to…


Choose an Ad Format

There are different types of ads you can create, and you need to decide which format works best for relaying your story to your audience.

Your ad format needs to align with your goals. For example, if you just want to build brand awareness, it’s a good idea to stick to simple photo ads. On the other hand, if you want to educate people on how to use your product so that they’re ready to make a purchase, you might want to create a short tutorial in the form of a video.

Videos also work well whenever you want to tell stories. Any video you make should be brief, with research showing that the best-performing Instagram videos in terms of engagement last just 26 seconds the most. It’s also important that you hook your viewers and demonstrate the benefits of watching a video as soon as possible — ideally within the first 5 seconds.

Carousel ads, meanwhile, are ideal if you’ve got a new product to show off and want people to see it from different angles, as they allow you to upload as many as 10 images at a time.


Target The Right People 

Okay, there are a billion people on Instagram. That’s a lot of people, and it can make it difficult for your ad to cut through the noise and reach the right audience.

To make sure you don’t throw your money away, you need to know who your target persona is. Once you’ve defined your target persona, you can then get into the nitty gritty of Instagram’s targeting options. There are 3:


Core Audiences

This is a default ad targeting option that lets you narrow your audience according to interests, location, gender, and age. It also lets you refine your behavioral targeting, as well as connection targeting, which is when you tweak your audience based on their past engagements with your other Facebook pages.

Custom Audiences

If you’ve got audiences who’ve interacted with your brand before, you can retarget them via custom audiences.

The great thing about custom audiences is that it lets you include people who have interacted with you before, and it also lets you exclude them. Excluding them means you can use your budget on people who have never heard of your brand before, as opposed to people who already know all about you.

Lookalike Audiences

Lastly, this targeting option lets you target users who are similar to your current customer base. You can use your custom audience file as a seed and find users who have the same tastes, behaviors and so on.


Set a Budget

You’re almost ready to launch your ad, but first, you need to set a budget.

Like Facebook, you can go with a daily or a lifetime budget. Lifetime budget is generally better in terms of getting more bang for your buck because it means the Instagram ad algorithm will tweak your strategy as it goes along. The longer your ad runs, the more it learns about how to optimize it so that it runs at the best times and days. This way, your ad becomes more efficient and your ROI improves.

With the daily budget, on the other hand, you set an amount each day that you’re willing to spend, and Instagram runs your ad without making any changes. It works just the same way as Facebook ads, but won’t always be as cost effective as a lifetime budget.


Measure Your Results

Once your ad is up and running, you’ll need to keep track of your results. If you don’t, you won’t know how effective your ads are, and what’s working and what isn’t.

To access your results, simply tap the Insights bar graph icon that you’ll find at the top of your Instagram profile page.

Then, scroll to the Promotions section, before clicking the “See More” link (you won’t need to click this if your ad is still running).

Assess the information you’ve got and make a note of it to compare with other data later.

You can also tap “View Results” to see your comments, likes, reach impressions. This section compares your ad’s total post per engagement with a typical unpaid post so that you can see how effective it is.

Once you’ve analyzed your results, you then need to make any necessary adjustments going forward so that you keep winning and reach your objectives.



While many things can go wrong with an Instagram ads campaign, many things can go right. As long as you keep your goals in mind, keep producing great content, and target the right people with the right ad format, you should be able to get closer to your goal and grow your business on Instagram.


About the author:

Kas Szatylowicz is a social media manager and outreach coordinator at Nightwatch — a search visibility tool of the next generation. Check out Nightwatch blog and connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter: @KasSzatylowicz