In this article, you'll discover how to create and run a self-sustaining Instagram ad sequence that converts followers into customers for as little as $5 per day.
#1: Identify Your Most Engaging Instagram Posts
Let's dive into how to prepare for the Instagram ad sequence that'll nurture your audience and generate sales.
We walk you through each step below, but you can also watch this video to see the process in action.
The first step is to identify five pieces of content with high engagement rates to use in your ads. By amplifying existing content that has already performed well, you'll eliminate the guesswork around what kind of content your audience wants to see.
First, go back through all of your Instagram posts, and for each post, click View Insights.
I have about 30 posts on my Instagram profile so it's doable for me to go back through every one. However, if you have hundreds or thousands of posts, focus on a certain time period (say the last 6 months) or the posts that stand out with the highest engagement.
Record the number of these engagements from Insights:
- Profile visits
- Website clicks
Then add all of these numbers together to get your total number of engagements per post.
This post received 562 hearts, 94 comments, 0 sends, 9 saves, and 35 interactions (profile visits, website clicks, and emails), so the total number of engagements is 700.
Next, record the total impressions from Insights (2,113 in this case).
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Now you have the data you need to calculate your engagement rate. Take the total number of post engagements and divide it by the total number of impressions.
700 / 2,113 = 0.331
Then multiply this number by 100 to turn it into a percentage.
0.331 x 100 = 33.1%
The Instagram posts with the highest engagement rates will typically do well to amplify as ads.
#2: Choose the Content for Your Strategic Instagram Ads Sequence
You don't want to turn just any old Instagram post into an ad. Your most engaging post of all time might be a pic of your new puppy, and while everybody loves puppies, it may not be a great representation of your brand.
To create a strong Instagram ad sequence, choose content that mirrors an organic customer journey. You'll need to take a three-pronged approach to running Instagram ads that will build your audience, create leads on autopilot, and turn hungry prospects into eager buyers:
This $5 per day Instagram ad sequence is focused on the Connect and Commit phases. I'm going to assume you already have a proven offer you can make in the Close phase, and if you don't, this isn't for you yet. Go get your sales ducks in a row first by learning how to sell on Instagram (or any platform, for that matter). Ads will only amplify what's broken in your customer journey, not fix it.
After testing hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad spend, I've boiled down the most successful ad sequence in the Connect and Commit phases to include four types of content.
Connect Content: Grow Your Audience With New Digital Attention
At the highest level, the Connect phase is all about branding and building an audience that knows, likes, and trusts you. This is content that brings attention to your brand to get a fresh new audience interested in what you have to say. It's also typically the most engaging content you post organically.
From an ads perspective, Connect is all about growing your warm retargetable custom audiences. To achieve this objective, select two pieces of content: an engagement ad and an authority-building ad.
Content That Evokes Engagement
Amplifying posts that grab people's attention drives more engagement and grows your custom audiences faster. In addition, it allows your audience to become familiar with your profile icon so they start paying attention and get excited for your posts. Engagement posts are often polarizing or they put the user at the forefront, asking them to weigh in with their opinion or respond.
This first ad will begin to familiarize them with your Instagram profile image and get them excited for your future posts… ahem, ad sequences.
Content That Demonstrates Authority
When new followers first find you, they don't know you. This is typically a disadvantage when you're using Instagram organically because they might only ever interact with your profile once and then bounce.
With an ad sequence, though, you can ensure people who visit your profile will immediately see your good side and have a chance to develop a stronger relationship. Authority posts educate your followers about your accomplishments and achievements and give them a reason to trust and follow you.
For this ad, you can highlight a success, an award you've won, a major piece of press, a big-name interview, or specialty credentials.
Commit Content: Enter the Sales Process Via an Opt-In
The Commit phase nudges your audience further along the customer journey through a simple opt-in. Typically, people are happy to exchange their email address or contact information for a lead magnet: a free piece of valuable content intended to save time, energy, resources, stress, or even a small amount of money.
This part of the equation is referred to as lead generation and kicks off the purchase consideration period of a sales process. From an ads perspective, this is the final destination you'd like Instagram engagers to see with the ads you'll set up in this sequence. Remember: For this sequence to work effectively, you must already be selling your products and services successfully.
To achieve this objective, you'll select three pieces of content: a blog post and two opt-ins.
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Content That Goes Deeper
Instagram posts are limited to 2,200 characters. That means when people interact with you organically on Instagram, the link in your bio is the only way to get them off of the platform and onto your website.
When you run Instagram ads, the character limit still appears, but instead of sending people to your bio link in hopes they make it to your blog, you can add URLs directly in the Instagram ad.
For an ad for your sequence, you might choose an Instagram post that has complementary in-depth information on your blog post, which leads to an opt-in to start your sales process. You'll constantly be guiding your audience through the customer journey toward the sale.
Content That Generates Leads and Starts the Sales Process
All right, all you Market-y McMarketsons can sigh in relief that lead generation ads were finally mentioned. Ninety-five percent of digital marketers try to start lead generation by targeting a cold audience and getting them to opt in.
According to an ad spend study of more than $45,000 with 349 ad set variations for The Ad Strategist, we've determined that running engagement ads first to grow a strong custom audience results in 50%–100% cheaper lead costs. Every time we target this Instagram engagement custom audience, the corresponding revenue results are significantly higher and the costs are significantly lower than attempting to target a cold audience.
Now that you've warmed up your audiences, it's time to take advantage of those low lead costs and allow someone to directly opt in. You can try different opt-in offers (one for a lead magnet and one for a webinar, for instance), but I tend to just look for different angles on the same one (like seven reasons they need my lead magnet).
The nice thing about having the engagement rate data from your spreadsheet is that you don't have to guess which post will be the most convincing as an ad—you already know. Obviously, choose a post that's relevant to the offer you want to make at each stage of the sequence, and then make sure whatever content you're linking to includes a compelling opt-in offer.
Pro Tip: If you don't have a piece of content that fits into one of the groups described above, create it and test it organically before turning it into an ad.
#3: Set Up Your $5 per Day Instagram Ad Campaign
Setting up your Instagram ad campaign consists of two parts:
- Creating the target audience that will see your ads
- Launching the ad campaign to deliver your ads
Create the Target Audience for Your Campaign
Once you've selected the Instagram posts to turn into ads, you want to create a custom audience of people who've interacted with you on Instagram. This is where the magic happens for this particular Instagram ads sequence.
Custom audiences are composed of people who already have a relationship with your business. In this case, you'll create a custom audience of people who have interacted with your Instagram account in the last 5 days.
To get started, open Facebook Ads Manager and navigate to Audiences.
Then click Create Audience and select Custom Audience from the drop-down menu.
In the first window that appears, select Engagement as the type of custom audience. Then select Instagram Business Profile in the next window you see.
In the custom audience creation window, select the correct Instagram account.
Remember: You need to use an Instagram business profile, not a personal profile, to use the Facebook ads platform. To convert your personal profile into a business profile, open the Instagram app, navigate to settings, and then click Switch to Business Profile in the Account section.
Next, enter 5 in the In the Past Days box. Then enter a descriptive name for your audience and click Create Audience.
Now Facebook will track in a custom audience anyone who double-taps, comments, saves your content, DMs you, or clicks the link in your bio. This is pretty amazing because it allows you to turn all of your organic actions on Instagram (making posts, sharing stories, responding to comments, etc.) into actions that will help drive new leads for your business.
Create Your Instagram Ad Campaign
You've selected your Instagram ads content based on engagement rate. Check.
You've created a custom audience of people who have had some kind of engagement with your Instagram profile in the last five days. Check.
Now it's finally time to build your Instagram ads sequence. You'll create one campaign with five ad sets for $1 per day each, with their own individual corresponding ads from the five pieces of content you identified earlier.
In Ads Manager, create a new campaign and set the campaign objective to Post Engagement.
Now create five ad sets within that campaign and name them according to the five pieces of content you selected above.
Set the budget of each ad set to $1 per day. Simple.
Then select the custom audience you just created to target your Instagram engagement in the last 5 days.
Choose Instagram as a placement and exclude all others.
Finally, add in your ad copy and creative based on your selections from above.
This campaign can now run on autopilot in the background to engage and nurture your new followers, guiding them toward becoming customers.
It's easy to spend an immense amount of time building a following on Instagram. But do you really have a business if you aren't monetizing all of that effort? Or is it just a really expensive hobby? I'm a big believer in setting up systems to reward us for our social media marketing actions.
By putting this Instagram ads sequence in place, you're setting yourself up to reap the rewards of your human-to-human, organic interaction on Instagram. Creating a custom audience of people who interact with your brand (double-tap, comment, share, save, DM, etc.) allows you to tag them as potential new leads for your business.
And then your thoughtfully created Instagram ad sequence helps newcomers further develop a relationship with your brand so by the time you invite them to make a purchase, they're already invested in you and what you have to offer.
It's a classic marketing strategy brought up to date with a cutting-edge digital advertising strategy. Having a low-cost Instagram ad sequence that's always running in the background is a simple way to turn followers into fanatical (read: paying!) customers.
What do you think? Have you tried this type of Instagram ad campaign? What were your results? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.
More articles on Instagram marketing:
- Find out how to generate more organic engagement from your Instagram marketing.
- Learn how to combine calls to action with Instagram features to capture more leads for your business.
- Discover a step-by-step plan to drive traffic to your opt-in form using Instagram Stories.
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