You Can Use Instagram Advertising for Direct Response Lead Generation

by | Aug 4, 2016 | Social Media Marketing Tips

by Grant Perry, AIM.

“Instagram is for kids, celebrities or brands. There’s no way for a serious direct response marketer to use it, is there?”

Instagram-Advertising-Performance-MarketingYou’d be forgiven for having this opinion. I encountered the exact same attitude when I started using Facebook advertising when it was launched a few years ago.

Even when we started seeing large numbers of leads with very strong ROI the consensus was that success was purely due to the vertical I was in. True, the business was a lifestyle and travel publisher but I was confident the direct response principles used on the social network could be applied to other businesses, like finance and health publications.

As Facebook’s user base grew and their targeting became even more sophisticated it became apparent all businesses could reach their relevant target audience and get a desired call to action, like email signup or even direct sale.

I was hardly in a position to gloat and tell everyone I told them so though.

Let me back up my story a little and confess… I failed at first. My rookie mistake was to treat FB quite differently to our other acquisition channels.

At first we focused on building a fan base and mostly posting editorial content. Sure, we were able to build a huge number of page likes pretty quickly and drive plenty of website traffic (and even conversions) from those posts. (Remember, this was in the good old days when most fans actually saw your content).

The trouble was it was difficult to determine how valuable our fans were in the same way we could with email readers. We also worried about the lack of control we had with our fans. What if FB deleted our page as we’d seen with some unfortunate businesses? What if they started charging us to reach those fans? Recent algorithm updates that have all but killed organic reach and created a pay to play environment, proved that was a valid concern.

One Step Removed for Success

Thankfully we “failed” pretty quickly, learned from those lessons and realised the smarter approach was to take only “one step removed” and treat FB like any other channel. We focused on what we knew worked… acquiring leads and using our email marketing to convert them to customers.

Once we started applying the lessons we’d learned from AdWords and other ad platforms – using similar ad copy and landing pages targeted to a relevant audience – we found FB was a viable channel for seriously scalable high-quality leads.

Facebook continues to be one of the the largest sources of new readers and customers for most Agora publishers and direct response marketers in general.

Even still, when they first launched Instagram advertising I was as sceptical as most people. Copy still rules the publishing world so the predominant focus on images made it feel like it wasn’t a channel to take too seriously.

But, since Instagram is owned by FB, it has the exact same targeting that FB does. So arguments about reaching too young a demographic don’t hold (simply select your desired age demographic) and concerns about finding people with the right interests aren’t valid (again, simply select relevant interests or lookalikes of your customers).

But how can you use an image to get someone to convert to a lead or customer? It felt a step too far and Instagram seemed resigned to end up in the “brand advertisers only” bin.

Recent Instagram Changes Have Made it Viable for Direct Response

But latestly two things changed all that.

Firstly, Instagram started offering an objective that has been so powerful for FB campaigns – optimisation for a conversion.

Next, they started relaxing the maximum 20% text on images rule.

Suddenly Instagram felt much more appealing and we started taking a closer look. It’s still early days but we’re already seeing a good volume of leads coming in at great CPAs. The quality of those names is still to be determined but we’d encourage you to test the waters to see for yourself if this is a viable channel for you.

BONUS: You Don’t Even Need an Instagram Account

Importantly, you don’t even need an Instagram presence to run ads. You can simply promote posts from your FB page to Instagram. That means one less organic social media account you have to manage and moderate.

At the ad level you simply choose if you want your post to come from a FB page or from an Instagram account, like so:

select Instagram account on Facebook

AIM TIP: Remember… start off one step removed.

Begin with a campaign focused on acquiring email leads using the same landing pages and targeting that have already proven to work for your FB ads.

Just be sure to create a separate AdSet and only select Instagram for the placement, like so:

instagram for the placement

Will this be a game changer for your business? Probably not. But smart marketers are always looking to diversify their channels.

With over 500 million active Instagram users you have the ability to reach a highly targeted new audience and convert them immediately to readers and customers.

If you need help getting started, reach out and we can get things rolling.



Grant Perry

Social Media Specialist, AIM.

P.S. Keep up-to-date with new opportunities for Instagram, Facebook and other advertising platforms on our FB page.