If you’re an ecommerce business owner or executive who feels like it’s impossible to keep up with the “best” way to drive sales using Instagram, you’re not alone. Instagram ad platforms are constantly changing, and it’s easy to feel out of the loop.

The digital marketing landscape is evolving faster than ever. Even if it’s your full-time job (which, if you’re an owner or exec, it’s not), it’s extremely hard to adapt and continue to get consistent results.

We’ve dedicated resources devoted to staying up-to-date on the latest trends and tactics. Our team runs paid marketing for several ecommerce brands, which accounts for a few million in ad spend per month, plus a direct line to Facebook and Instagram.

We’re also constantly testing new techniques within our own stores. But even then, it’s not easy. If these factors, along with diminishing returns, have you feeling bogged down, all hope isn’t lost. Let us help you understand and implement a successful Instagram ecommerce strategy.

The Good News About Instagram Advertising

The landscape has changed. It’s continuing to change quickly and always will. However, there’s still a ton of opportunity on Instagram for your brand. You just have to know how to find it.

If you’re an established or growing brand, hopefully you have a trustworthy team (internal or external) managing this channel. Whether or not you’re the one running the ads, you still need to know the truth about the available opportunity.

If you do have an internal team, it’s important to support them with outside input on what they’re doing day-to-day (our ad coaching services may be able to help).

So, where do you begin when you don’t have a clue how to use the platform? It can certainly be daunting — you may not even use this social network yourself. But don’t let your lack of social media know-how deter you from leveraging it for advertising.

Our 2-Part Strategy for Success (No Matter the Ad Platform)

Part 1: Your Brand Message

No matter what platform you use, your job is to create effective ad messaging that moves people to buy your product or interact with your brand. To do this, you must understand your brand well and know what audience you’re speaking to.

If you’re looking for a few key resources to get you on the right path for your ad messaging, check out these guides:

Part 2: Mastery of the Platform

Having a great message is key, but in order to win, you need technical innovation and a strong understanding of the platform itself. This requires staying up-to-date on the latest trends and changes and knowing how to use them to your advantage.

Most people learn but never take action, so implementing learned strategies on Instagram is key to this step.

It’ll take time for you to master Instagram, but we’re here today to help you get started. Read on to start learning the key elements you need to understand before advertising on Instagram!



8 Elements of a Successful Instagram Ecommerce Strategy

1. The Basics

You can look at Instagram from an organic or paid perspective.

Organic refers to the posts on your Instagram profile, which requires a different type of strategy than paid ads. Organic growth is a long-term play with a slower reward. You’ll need a content strategy for your followers to engage with and to help acquire more followers.

Paid ads are more controlled, with a clearer, faster return. Both are important, but for new brands, we start with paid ads and then gradually invest in organic.

Let’s look at the difference between boosted posts and paid ads. You have the option to post on Instagram organically and then boost it, which means paying to send it out to an audience. This is quite different from paid advertising in the business ad account.

Boosted posts are not as effective because they aren’t scalable or predictable. With true paid ads, you have a variety of tools to work with.

2. The Set Up

Instagram is owned by Meta (formerly Facebook). This means that ads are managed and deployed through Meta Business Manager — the same place as Facebook ads. You get to advertise on two networks from the same place!

To get started with ads, be sure you have the following:

A key component of a successful Instagram strategy is having your Meta Pixel set up correctly. This is what Meta uses to track events and behaviors on your site in order to report on the results of your ads.

Once this is set up and you’re looking at Ads Manager, you can create campaigns that run on Facebook and Instagram simultaneously, or just on Instagram. You can control which channels your ads appear in on the ad set level, under Placements. For Instagram only, select Edit Placements and then choose Instagram Feed and/or Instagram Stories.

3. The ROAS

ROAS stands for return on ad spend and is a ratio of how much you paid to how much you earned. For example, if you spent $500 on a campaign that generated $1500 in revenue, your ROAS is a 3x return on ad spend.

This is different from ROI, which is the return you see after expenses. In this example, your ROI would be $1000 (although for true ROI, you’ll want to subtract your internal costs of making the ads in addition to the ad spend).

A ROAS of 1x is breaking even. For your business, think about the cost of making the ads in addition to what you’re paying Facebook to determine what ROAS you need to target to see a return.

Your return will be different at various places in your sales funnel. Cold traffic is less likely to convert, so it’s okay if it only shows a 1x return or less. However, an audience that’s added items to their cart in the last three days is more likely to purchase, so you could see a 5x return there.

Looking at an account holistically, we typically shoot for an average ROAS of 24x.

Hint: If you’re looking to boost your ROAS, you may need to dive into Conversion Rate Optimization essentially, maximizing the percentage of site traffic that makes a purchase on your site.

4. The Budget

It’s always best to start with a small budget and scale, but start with something significant. If your ad spend is too small to get results, you won’t have any data to use to optimize.

We recommend shooting for a 30% ad spend-to-revenue ratio. For example, if you spend $3,000 on campaigns, that should bring in no less than $9,000 in revenue.

Where to begin depends on the size of your business, but a good minimum ad spend would be $5,000/month, with the goal of scaling to $15,000/month as the next milestone. As long as ROAS is in the right place, you should then continue to scale.

5. The Funnels

Similar to any other marketing strategy, using ad funnels is the most efficient way to see results. This involves segmenting your audience based on their place in the customer journey.

Creating a funnel allows you to speak to your cold (brand-new) audience differently than those who are about to make a purchase. This makes ads more relevant and effective.

In this example of a basic funnel, you would set up separate Facebook or Instagram campaigns with different targeting for each step:

  1. Cold Traffic | Campaign 1: Use interest- or demographic-based targeting, or a look-alike audience, to acquire new traffic who’ve never visited your site.
  2. Warm Traffic | Campaign 2: Reach the new traffic you just acquired by retargeting site visitors, those who have engaged with your brand on Facebook and Instagram, or even users who’ve watched a video ad from Campaign 1.
  3. Hot Traffic | Campaign 3: Retarget people who’ve viewed a product or added a product to their cart but haven’t completed checkout.

Hint: Be sure to exclude recent purchasers in each of these steps. If someone purchases in Campaign 2, you don’t want to waste money by continuing to advertise to them in Campaign 3.

Wondering what types of ads to use for each step? Check out our guide, How to Make the Most of Your Facebook Ads Strategy With Funnels.

6. The Audience

Instagram advertising is quite effective at reaching new audiences. At the ad set level, you can create audiences based on a wide variety of interests, demographics, and more. This typically requires research on your part, and you’ll need to test several different ad sets.

When creating different audiences, avoid being so specific that the audience is too small, or you’ll show the same ads to the same people repeatedly, thus hurting your performance. We recommend keeping each ad set at 2 million people or more.

Tip: When looking for interests to target, step into the world of your ideal customer. For example, if you’re selling athletic apparel, don’t just select “athletic wear” from Instagram’s list of interests and call it a day.

You’ll see much better results if you target your competitors’ brand names (Lululemon, Nike, Adidas), the names of gyms (Anytime Fitness, YMCA), and health programs (Atkins Diet, Dr. Axe, Keto).

7. The Conversation

Engagement is the key to success on Instagram! Don’t think of your ads as a one-time blast, but rather as an ongoing conversation.

With changes to the platforms this year, Facebook and Instagram prioritize ads that have likes and comments. Therefore, you’ll likely see a direct correlation between ads with a lot of engagement and ads with high conversions.

Even if the comments are people asking questions about your product, that’s great. Just be sure to respond to them to help establish a relationship with your customers.

8. The Review

Once you have history in your ad account, it’s good practice to look back and identify the ads with the best engagement and highest conversions. You can take these top performers and recycle them into new campaigns with different targeting.

This means going into your business manager account or having someone on your team export all the ads you’ve run and sort them by certain metrics. This could be purchases or other engagement metrics.

Tip: To reuse an ad and maintain its existing engagement, note the ad’s post ID. In the ad creation page, instead of creating a new ad, select “Use Existing Post” and click “Enter Post ID.” Your existing ad should populate and be ready to publish in the new ad set.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

You may not be an expert on the Instagram ad platform, and that’s probably a good thing. But as the owner or executive of your ecommerce business, you must understand what constitutes a healthy paid channel and how to implement a successful Instagram ecommerce strategy.

The algorithms for Facebook and Instagram are always changing. Remember that you’re only responsible for being the master of your brand’s message and audience.

There are those who specialize in this and are masters of these channels, and they can ensure you’re getting the best result for your ad spend.

If you need help finding these “masters,” be sure to reach out!

For more on social media and advertising, check out these great resources:



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