Instagram has steadily been making changes to keep up its game alongside Facebook. Some of the more recent changes have been:
- Instagram Stories are now available on desktop.
- You can share Instagram Stories on Facebook.
- Polls are now available for Instagram Stories.
- Instagram introduced Stories Highlights and Archive.
A lot with Stories—we get it.
But what marketers want to know is how Instagram’s changes are impacting their advertising success on the platform.
What are Instagram shopping ads?
In Facebook Ads Manager, you can place an ad with a “Shop Now” button that takes users to a product page. However, this requires users to leave Instagram in order to get further details about your product. And there may not be enough in your initial ad to drive users to click. An example of this type of ad can be seen below.
Instagram then added shopping tags in 2016, such as can be seen here:
Now, instead of just viewing an image with no links in captions, users can click to get more details like pricing without leaving the platform and then click-through to go through the checkout process on the website.
Furthermore, through a partnership with Shopify, these efforts have been taken to a new level: If you have nine shoppable posts (or more), you can actually have your own “Shop” tab on Instagram that allows users to view all products available at once. When your Instagram channel is installed and store approved, you can enable the shopping feature under “Business Settings” in the Instagram application.
One issue is that you have to create shoppable ads through the company’s Instagram account on a mobile device, as opposed to setting up in Business Manager like other ad types. And as great as this is, the reach was limited for Instagram shopping ads—that is, until now.
Instagram shoppable ads regional expansion
They’re being made available outside of the U.S., to eight more countries: France, Italy, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Germany, the U.K. and Spain.
Are you jumping for joy yet?
From the January 2018 graph below, with the number of Instagram users in Brazil and the U.K., it probably seems like a good idea to consider expanding into these two areas.
Keep in mind that there are rules and regulations to advertising in different countries that may make it easier for Instagram to get approval on shoppable ads in the regions mentioned above, as opposed to some of the other ones you might see noted below. Lots of factors weigh on such choices.
But it’s not just about whether general Instagram users are in these regions so much as if specific target audiences of those businesses that advertise are both in one (or more) of these regions and engaging on Instagram.
How to decide whether to run ads in these new regions
For e-commerce brands such as Estelle’s Secret, an online hair extension e-commerce store, this could be a huge deal. It’s global and definitely serves different countries.
But first, some initial assessment must take place. I’ll walk you through and initial few steps, using Estelle’s Secret as an example, so that you might have an idea of how to review for your business/brand.
In the past year, Estelle’s Secret has seen the U.K. come in second (with Canada in third as another expansion option) with regard to Google Analytics website referral traffic.
Not only that, but it sees a good amount of revenue from this traffic versus other regions as noted by its marketing consultant, Holly Winn.
We also looked at its social referral traffic from Instagram (coming in third place) because if it has a large U.K. audience but doesn’t get much traffic from Instagram, we could be wasting our time potentially engaging the wrong channel.
Then, we want to segment further by making sure both criteria are met: They’re from the U.K., and they’re coming from Instagram. Because even if it’s worth running ads on Instagram, it may not be worth targeting this particular location-based audience on that platform.
For instance, maybe its U.K. traffic comes mostly from Facebook or YouTube. In this circumstance, we found that not many sessions or sales came from this combined segment.
But before we jump to Instagram shoppable ads in the U.K. not being valuable for Estelle’s Secret, these numbers could be due to the fact that shoppable ads haven’t been available for the U.K. and testing them may yield some new results.
Finally, I want to take a look at its audience actually on Instagram itself. Who are its most engaged followers? If we gave them an easier route to buy, would it change the game for Estelle’s Secret? Perhaps.
Out of 26,369 followers, 4 percent were from the U.K.—so, roughly 1,055 followers. But wait, there’s also a larger audience from Brazil, which is another ad expansion region. Additionally, even though lower than the U.K., we also have France weighing in here as a country for which these ads can now be utilized. So, we’re actually looking at 11 percent, giving us roughly 2,901 followers.
That’s still a good chunk. And who’s to say that this particular grouping of followers won’t end up being repeat customers, or those that drive more lifetime value (https://www.shopify.com/enterprise/increase-customer-lifetime-value-clv) than some of the others we currently have in the U.S.? Until we test running ads to them, we really don’t know.
So, how have their Instagram ads been performing previously for Estelle’s Secret? Although success in one region isn’t a direct indication of success in another region, it at least gives us some idea if the channel has been successful from a paid advertising standpoint.
Without giving away direct numbers, 78.4 percent of all link clicks and 97.4 percent of all website purchases over the same period we looked at in analytics isn’t too shabby. Of course, this is all subjective and highly dependent on your business, but those seem like decent percentages to me for this industry. At least, it’s enough for me to give shoppable ads for these new areas a go.
Wrap-up on Instagram shoppable ads
As you might already know, there are several factors beyond just location or the mere running of ads on the platform period that impact success such as imagery, calls to action, offers, copy or further audience criteria you might have chosen to segment by.
Collection ads let you showcase your product from different angles. If one image doesn’t resonate, another might. Just like with shopping tags, the more we can give upfront to the viewer without asking them to invest in a click or navigate away from the current platform they’re engaging with, the better.
It’s basically conversion rate optimization for social media, and after all, that perfect blend of pay per click and CRO is really what I’m all about.