If you’ve been advertising on Instagram for a while, or if you’re completely new and about to start, you want to avoid these Instagram ad mistakes.
As a social media marketing agency, we have managed millions in advertising dollars for our clients…
…figuring out how to spend their money optimally to get the best return from their Instagram ads.
For instance, how we generated over $10,000 in eCommerce sales for this client.
Or, over $200K back for this client who sells supplements for women.
In the last decade, we have figured out the best practices to follow as well as the most common Instagram ad mistakes we see business owners make.
So keep reading for the top 11 Instagram ad mistakes we’ve seen as a digital marketing agency, and what to do instead.
Let’s go ahead and get started!
11 Instagram Ad Mistakes To Avoid
1. Not having your Facebook pixel installed
The first thing you need to do before you spend any money on your ad campaign is to install your Facebook pixel.
Facebook owns Instagram, so that’s why even though we’re talking about Instagram ads, it’s still called the Facebook pixel.
And the Facebook pixel is:
“an analytics tool that allows you to measure the effectiveness of your advertising by understanding the actions people take on your website.”
It’s basically a piece of code from Facebook that you install on your website.
You need to install it so that Facebook Ads Manager is able to track and tell you exactly how many sales came from your ads and more.
If you don’t install your Facebook pixel, you’ll be running your ads blindly.
You won’t know if your ads are paying off or not because Facebook won’t know these things either.
Installing it on your website is what bridges the gap so your Facebook Ads Manager can see how many sales on your website are a result of your IG ads.
So get yourself set up for success and get that installed before you do anything else.
You’ve probably done, or are thinking about doing the next one on our list of Instagram ad mistakes.
It’s so tempting and convenient to just tap the blue button on a post you want to boost.
But don’t do it!
If you tap the promote button, these are the 3 options it gives you to choose from:
- more profile visits
- more website visits
- more messages
Now, do you see the option to get more sales?
More leads? More post engagement? Us either.
That’s why you want to do all of your Instagram advertising through the Facebook Ads Manager.
Facebook gives you way more options and allows you to optimize your campaign for more conversions, among other things.
And when we say it “optimizes your campaign”, we mean that Facebook literally designs these campaign objectives by goal.
So if you select the conversion campaign, it’s going to show your ad to people within the target audience you select.
Those are the people who are the most likely to convert, based on what Facebook knows about them and their behavior patterns to date.
So now that you’ve seen all the Facebook ad objectives, let’s talk about the next on our list of Instagram ad mistakes.
3. Being unclear about your objective & picking the wrong one
If you don’t know what your end goal is or what you’re expecting out of your ad campaign…
…then how can you measure it at the end to know if it performed well or not?
You need to have clear expectations, both for yourself, and for Instagram and Facebook.
Because like we just talked about, Facebook’s campaign objectives are designed on the backend to be centered around that goal.
So if you choose the engagement campaign but what you really want is direct sales, then you’re going to be left frustrated wondering where the results are at.
So make sure that you clearly define what your goals are and what you want from this campaign before you start advertising.
And then choose the objective that best fits that goal.
4. Poor targeting
Facebook offers a world of targeting options, so why are we still seeing broad, vague ad sets targeting men ages 30-50 in the U.S. with no other qualifiers?
In Facebook Ads Manager, you can target by demographic, interest, and behaviors extensively.
We actually go over all of these options and how you can use them together in our Facebook ads targeting post, which you can read next.
But when we talk about using them together, we mean using the exclude and narrow features.
You can combine targeting options.
So for example, if you want to target engaged shoppers, which are people who have hit the Shop button in the last 7 days…
…but exclude people with a lower household income, you can do that using the exclude feature.
On the other hand, you can use the narrow feature to utilize “must also match” targeting.
So let’s say you sell yoga pants, and you want to target women ages 20-50 who have:
- an interest in Athleta,
- an interest in yoga journal, and
- have tapped the shop button on Facebook in the last 7 days
…you need to use the “and must also match” features if you want somebody to meet all of those requirements.
If you just enter those targeting options in the first detailed targeting box, FB is going to read it as somebody could meet any one of those requirements.
This means your ad about yoga pants could be delivered to an engaged shopper who has no interest in yoga at all.
And this is another reason to use the Facebook Ads Manager for your Instagram ads over Instagram’s blue promote button.
It’s because that promote button doesn’t give you any of these options, and the targeting is a lot more limited.
5. Not using custom audiences and retargeting
Again, we cover both of these Instagram ad mistakes and how to set them up in our Facebook ads targeting post.
So, we’re not going to get too deep covering them again.
But the key takeaway here is that if you’re not utilizing them, that’s a no-no, and that’s why it made it on this list of Instagram ads mistakes.
Custom audiences and retargeting allow you to target more effectively than the cold targeting options that we just went over.
You can deliver ads to people who have been to your website but left without purchasing, to remind them to add to cart and buy.
You can deliver ads to any email list you have, you can create lookalike audiences out of your existing customers, and the list goes on.
So if you’re not using those audiences, you need to be.
6. Making bad ads
Now, we know a “bad” ad is subjective, but specifically, what we’re referring to is the failure to use video or effective copy.
Videos are the way of the future!
The head of Instagram said Instagram is “no longer a photo-sharing app”, and said they were focused on video.
And if you need more convincing, one study found that:
“Video ads generated over triple the leads when compared to static images and generated 25% more impressions.
People respond to and engage with video better than static images.”
So if you haven’t tried using video in your Instagram ads yet, today’s the day to start.
And it can be as simple as a video recorded off your smartphone. It doesn’t have to be anything super fancy in that aspect to be effective.
It just needs to communicate value to the viewer. And this is where the second half of these common Instagram ad mistakes come into play: bad copy.
Copy could be the caption on the ad or the text appearing on the screen on your creative.
But either way, you need to utilize your ad text to address your viewers’ goals and pain points.
Instead of spending precious ad space talking about your awards and how great you are as a company…
…talk about something that will actually stop a person mid scroll and make them say:
“Hey, that applies to me – I’ve been looking for a solution for that problem” or “I’ve been wanting to accomplish that goal.”
Address their needs, and then provide your product or service as the solution that bridges the gap.
We have raked in so much money for our clients from Instagram advertising.
And we’re telling you guys, video and better copy can turn a campaign around so fast.
7. Using the same ad across all placements
Different ad placements have different criteria on how they should look.
For example, Instagram Story ads are vertical and have completely different dimensions than Instagram feed ads.
If you’re using Instagram Stories for small businesses, made a video ad for it, and just use it across all the placements…
…it could come out with your head being cut off or text running off the screen.
This can result in these two things:
- It makes it hard for the viewer to receive the value and message from your ad.
- It makes your brand look bad and less credible, which isn’t good for any business.
When you’re in Facebook Ads Manager, if you hover your mouse over all of the different placement options there are on FB, on IG, and elsewhere…
…it will usually show you a preview there on the right of “How the ad will look.”
You’ve put all this effort into making a great ad, so just make sure you adjust it and resize it as needed to make it effective across all placements.
8. Using ineffective landing pages
Here, we’re talking about the landing page or specific page on your website you’re sending traffic from your ad to.
Your landing page needs to align with your ad in these 2 ways:
a. It needs to be branded the same.
When people click from your ad to your landing page, it should be obvious that the ad and landing page are from the same company.
b. Your landing page needs to deliver on what your ad promised.
If your ad talks about a discount code, that needs to be one of the first things your audience sees on your landing page.
Your audience should already kind of know what to expect when clicking on your landing page because of how congruent your ad is with your landing page.
This is beneficial both in lowering your bounce rate, and also, in getting better favor with Facebook.
Because remember, Facebook’s ad policies apply to Instagram too.
And in their policies, they specifically say your ad needs to be related to your landing page, saying:
“The products and services promoted in an ad’s text must match those promoted on the landing page, and the destination site must not offer or link to any prohibited product or service.”
We also feel like this goes without saying, but your landing page must be functional as well.
If it’s not, that falls under Facebook’s prohibited content.
So put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and ask yourself from their perspective, having seen and clicked on your ad…
…does what they’re seeing on the landing page make sense?
If not, fix that.
Now if you want to learn more about landing page optimization, we’ve got the right post for you to read next.
9. Not monitoring your ads
Instagram advertising is not a “set it and forget it” type of ad strategy. And this is one of the most common Instagram ad mistakes that we see.
If you set everything up and then go weeks without checking on it, you’re likely going to waste a ton of money without seeing much ROI.
The reason is because things change! People change!
What worked a few months ago is not guaranteed to work now. People’s needs and values change, and your ads need to reflect the market.
In addition to that, Facebook Ads Manager is essentially a computer, right?
Sometimes errors occur, ads stop running, or it doesn’t spend your full allotted budget.
These things happen sometimes and they require human attention.
So make sure you’re monitoring your ads to get the most success out of them and not just leaving everything up to Facebook.
But if you’ve corrected all of the Instagram ad mistakes on this list so far and you’re still not seeing great results, then you could be making the next mistake.
10. Not testing enough
At LYFE, we practice what’s called A/B split testing.
This is where you test multiple ads or ad sets out at the same time, with 1 variable changed among them, to see what performs best.
Here’s a few examples of what that could look like.
If you’re A/B split testing ads, this could mean using the same copy across 4 different ads, but using a different image or video in each of them.
This will tell you which ad creative performs best.
If you’re A/B split testing audiences, you would run the exact same ads to different audiences.
For example, if you sell women’s clothing, you could segment out different audiences like:
- Audience A of older women with a certain level of household income.
- Audience B of teens and young women interested in fashion magazines.
If you deliver the same ads to both of those audiences, you can see which audience performs best.
In sales, they say “always be closing.” But in marketing, we say “always be testing.”
So if you’re only running 1 or 2 ads, or delivering them to no more than 1 audience…
…try testing a little bit more and see if that starts bringing in your desired results.
11. Giving up too soon
Instagram ads are not immediate.
Even if you make all of these changes today, that doesn’t mean you’re about to start raking in the sales tomorrow.
We usually recommend 3 months minimum for initial Instagram ad testing before you start expecting to see results.
And usually, even longer to see profitable, sustainable results.
Now this timeline can vary depending on how much existing data you have to work with, but that’s just the average we usually suggest.
So be realistic in what you expect from Instagram ads, and give your ads enough time to truly be tested.
And if you’re eager to maximize the results you’re getting from Instagram ads, then work with our Instagram marketing services today.
Schedule a meeting now to talk to one of our experts.