Complete Guide to Direct Response Marketing on Instagram

Instagram. It’s where all the cool kids are.

Yes, if it seems like everyone you know is using Facebook’s photo-savvy social app, it’s because they probably are. Instagram boasts over 110 million users in the U.S. alone, and over 500 million users around the world.

And unlike some other social apps that don’t offer a robust direct response advertising platform (We’re looking at you, Twitter.), shopping and selling are practically built into your daily Insta scroll.

For many businesses, that provides a huge opportunity to engage with their followers, find new ones, and convert Instagram users from far and wide into newsletter recipients, website visitors, and hopefully, customers.

If you’re considering Instagram Advertising, you need to start on the right foot. Consider this article that foot.

Should Your Company Be Running Ads on Instagram?

The short answer: Maybe.

Not every business is suited for Instagram advertising, especially its direct response offerings. At its core, Instagram is a visual platform with users who skew slightly younger, which means a highly technical brand, like a B2B property tax software company, probably won’t get much ROI.

On the other hand, retail brands, beauty brands, bloggers, apps and tech companies, travel, and media brands can often make the most out of their Instagram spend.

A Caveat: There are a number of types of ads you can run on Instagram, but not all of them fall under the direct response marketing umbrella—so we’ll leave those to another article. A lawyer, bike accessories company, or even a blogger might find Instagram’s advertising options to be well-suited to marketing goals like brand awareness or reach.

Instead, let’s focus on the ads that make users want to act right now.

Instagram Ad Types

Stories Ads

Instagram isn’t all about scrolling. Users are increasingly drawn toward the Stories bar at the top of their Instagram feed, which allows them to view short, vertical videos and images posted by their friends. That’s where you come in.

Instagram Stories ads give you the opportunity to get your ad in front of users directly after they view one friend’s story and before they jump to the next one. All ads involve a swipe-up feature to drive audiences to your desired site or page:

  • Download. Perfect for brands with apps or other similar downloadable content. For example, an ad for a company like Uber would direct users directly to the App Store where they can learn more about their app and service.
  • Contact Us. If you’re looking to drive sign-ups or generate leads, this Stories option will do the trick.
  • Apply Now. Companies who use applications as a part of their business model, like credit card companies or even real estate companies, have an option just for them.
  • Book Now. Appointments, consultations, vacations. You get the idea.
  • Call Now. This CTA button is only available for video ads but can get the phones ringing.

Photo Ads

Photo ads are the O.G.s of Instagram advertising, and they remain simple and powerfully effective tools for getting your brand—or a specific product—in front of people. For the same reason, they also offer a ton of CTA buttons to advertisers:

  • Download, Contact Us, Apply Now, Book Now, Call Now. We’ve been over this.
  • Get Directions. Think restaurants, think gyms, think “any physical place you might want users to visit.”
  • Learn More. A picture doesn’t need to say all 1000 words; you can drive users to a landing page or your website’s homepage so they can read 1000 more.
  • Get Showtimes. Giant studios like Disney and independent films you’ve never heard of all can drive folks to movie ticketing sites or their own website to help them find a theater near them.

Video Ads

If you’ve made a video that’s optimized for the Instagram platform, you might want to use it to help your direct response marketing. Capitalize on the platform’s strengths and go all-in with a video, deploying a somewhat reduced group of CTA options:

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

Of course, we won’t rehash all these buttons since we’ve explained them, but your video may be the perfect way to accomplish all kinds of direct response goals. You can drive users to your Instagram page, get them to your lists or contact info, or even put them a click away from your app download.

Carousel Ads

Think picture or video ad a few times over. These engaging ads give users the option to swipe through a set of videos or images with specific captions and CTAs as the users progress. These are your direct response options:

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

Since we’ve covered these, we want to mention a couple things that make carousels so great. Not only do they give brands the opportunity to highlight several things in one ad—like various clothing items, handwoven bags, or even travel destinations—you can also use them as one larger brand story. Connect the images and videos to tell one complete brand narrative or explore one of your company’s services or announcements in depth. 

Collection Ads

One of the newer Instagram ad types, collection ads remove a step out of the purchasing process. Rather than just seeing a product from your brand and having to click that ad to visit your site where they would place the item in their cart and begin the checkout process, they have the option to purchase that product directly from the ad.

Understandably, there’s a streamlined set of CTAs:

  • Learn More, Purchase.

Of course, users can still click on the ad to learn more. However, the option to purchase really puts the “direct” in “direct response.” Instagram continues to add more robust, immediate features for advertisers, and they’re worth a second look.

Making Instagram Work for Your Business

All the features in the world aren’t a substitute for smart copy and solid creative. Poor photos, uninventive and generic captions, and unreliable data capturing methods are all good ways of guaranteeing your direct response marketing budget is wasted on Instagram.

Remember the basics, and then you’ll be ready to crack open Instagram’s robust advertising capabilities. If your business is a good fit for Instagram, it’ll be more than worth the investment. And that’s something worth scrolling for.

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