Instagram is steadily gaining as one of the world’s most popular social networks. It now has over 1 billion active monthly users. While it’s true that Instagram hasn’t overtaken Facebook yet, Instagram does have some things that Facebook doesn’t have. Instagram ads convert like crazy and you can bet that most of your ideal mortgage clients that use Facebook also hang out on Instagram. That, coupled with lower impression rates (CPM), make Instagram that is something that should be very hard to ignore when it comes to building your mortgage brokerage’s brand. In order to capitalize on this, you have to go beyond organic posts and focus on paid ad strategies.
How to Run a Successful Instagram Advertising Campaign
When it comes to planning your Instagram ad campaign, there are two basic steps. First, you want to prepare your campaign and then you want to dive in and actually create your first ad. As they say when you are building something, measure twice, cut once. So it’s very important not to skip the first step and dive right into the ad creation step or you risk not getting the results you want and wasting a lot of ad dollars in the process.
The Preparation Stage
1. Do Your Research
Competitive research is one of the best steps you can take when planning an Instagram campaign. Many mortgage brokers throughout the country have already harnessed the power of the platform and have some “time in the saddle”, so it’s a great learning experience to take a look around at other mortgage brokers and take note of the types of ads, imagery, language, and calls to action they are using, what they are promoting and especially the engagement they are getting. Engagement is a great indicator of whether or not what you are looking at is actually working.
The best place to do this is to look at the Facebook Ad Library. The Facebook Ad Library is a tool that was released by Facebook to give transparency to the public as to what types of ads brands are running. For brands though, it offers a treasure trove of information. While it might seem like that ad library would only show ads that are being run actually on Facebook, that isn’t the case. The ad library displays ads that are being run across all Facebook-owned properties. Instagram is one of those properties.
2. Set A Campaign Objective
Obviously, any good campaign needs a goal in mind. What do you want out of this ad campaign? While you may already have a set goal in mind, at this point, it’s time to lock that metric in.
For instance, are you looking to get a certain number of people requesting a home refinance on your mortgage company’s website (Conversions)? Are you looking to get a certain number of new visitors to simply view your website (Traffic)? Did you create a great new piece of content that you want people to download (Downloads)? Whatever your objective, you’ll need to have it clear in mind as you continue your preparations.
3. Narrow Your Focus
Next, you need to figure out who you want to see your ads. The easiest way to do this is to refer to your client personas. Just like Facebook ads, Instagram gives you the ability to target many different demographic factors, including location, age, gender, language, and common behaviors. The more targeted your campaign, the less you’ll have to spend (and the better your results will be). Keep this in mind if you want the most bang for your buck, and especially if you don’t have a very large budget, to begin with.
For instance, if your target is people seeking VA loans, you want to specifically target people that you can reasonably assume were at one point, or currently are in the armed forces. Otherwise, you risk spending your ad spend to show ads to people that could never qualify for the loan programs you are advertising. To do this, you just need to go into the Facebook Ad manager and set your preferences to target those that show the armed forces as their employment. Save them as a “saved audience” and you can use it for your ad campaign.
4. Prepare the Elements of Your Ad
Next you’ll want to prepare the elements you’ll be using. This includes your photos, videos, captions, and calls-to-action.
You have to remember, Instagram is a very visual platform. If you are using a still image for your ad, it has to be compelling enough to get someone to stop scrolling through their feed. If it’s a video, get to the meat of the “pay off” for watching the entire video. For instance, if you are using video for a proof of production client testimonial ad, your video should start with, “Thanks to Your Name, mortgage broker, we have the home of our dreams”. After that, the video can cover the rest of the messaging you want to convey.
If you were using a still image for your proof of production ad, rather than just using a photo of your clients standing together in front of their new home, give your photo some interesting element that will make people stop. You could have them holding a sign featuring your brokerage logo with the caption “We Did It!”.
With your ad copy, the best thing is to utilize a storytelling framework. Address a pain point or fear that your ideal customers are facing, empathize with that issue and then give them the solution that you are offering to solve their issue or fear. You also want to be sure to add related hashtags to your post that will help people organically find your content on Instagram.
Creating and Managing Your Instagram Ad
Congratulations! You are halfway there. Now, all that’s left is to create your ad and monitor, optimize and scale it once it’s running. Let’s look at how to do this.
1. Link Instagram to Your Facebook Page
The first thing you need to do is go to your Facebook settings, navigate to the Instagram section and follow the steps to link the two accounts.
To do this, you’ll have to have your Instagram username and password, so be sure you have that information handy.
2. Create Your Campaign
Next, you want to create your actual campaign. Much like the Facebook Ad Library, step is done in your Facebook Ads Manager. Simply click “+Create” to create a campaign. Depending on the campaign objective you set (for instance if you want to track landing page conversions), you may be directed to what’s called a Pixel. If necessary, simply follow the prompts and pick up with the next step.
3. Create Your Ad Set
Now you want to input your audience targeting into the Ads Manager. Again, this is the information you gathered from your client persona information. Additionally, you’ll also be able to specify your budget for the campaign.
Pro Tip: When you start your budget, you always want to start the budget out low. After 48-72 hours, analyze the campaign results. If you are starting to see the results come in that you want, you can increase the ad budget. If you aren’t, kill your ad and go back to the preparation stage and start over.
Besides your target audience and your budget, you are also going to want to set your ad placements in this window. Remember, this is an Instagram campaign, so you are going to want to select the option that lets you choose your own ad placements and what you want to do is only select Instagram placements.
4. Create Your Ad
In this step of the ad creation process, you are actually going to work on the ad creative. Add your photos, videos, captions, and a call to action if applicable. Then, preview it. Make any adjustments necessary before running your ad.
One specific thing to remember is the format of your images of video. Unlike Facebook ads, Instagram ads are best viewed in a square format. Format your videos and images in the sizes that are considered the best for the Instagram platform. For a cheat sheet on the correct ad sizes, you can click here.
5. Track Your Results, Optimize And Scale
Once your campaign is live, one of the most important things is tracking your campaign so you know whether or not you need to optimize it more before you start scaling your ad spend. Based on the metrics most closely related to your core ad objective, you’ll be able to tell if your campaign is doing well. For instance, if the goal of your ad was to get lots of sign-ups for an upcoming online first time home buyers webinar (conversions), and you aren’t getting sign-ups, you have a problem and need to make changes to your ad.
If you find you’re getting lots of registrations, your ad is working well and it’s time to start increasing the ad spend to get even more registrations. It’s important to monitor and review your ads every day or two to ensure the results are continuing to come in and your ad spend increases are continuing to work in your favor.
PRO TIP: You can easily hire someone to track and optimize your ad performance for you. You can learn how to hire a freelancer to manage your ads here
Crush Your Next Mortgage Instagram Ad Campaign
So as you can see, the preparation stage of your mortgage brokerage’s Instagram digital ad campaign is critical. It sets the stage for all the steps that are to follow. As long as you do your research, make sure you have a clearly defined goal and have your ad copy and your creative assets in place though, you are getting started off with a fantastic foundation under you.