When you’ve mastered lead generation on Facebook, it feels like you’re firing on all cylinders. You have eBooks, free tools, surveys, all types of lead magnets going out. You have traffic and conversions coming in. Everything is going great — your lead generation is better than ever before.
Then you turn to Instagram, and everything works a little differently.
Suddenly, you can’t push your great new eBook anymore. Instagram is a visual platform, and your text-heavy copy looks clumsy and out of place. Although you want to use Instagram as another lead generation tool, you can’t immediately transfer your Facebook success onto this new platform — until now.
We’ll go through the basics of lead generation on Instagram—all the formal and informal ways you can nudge potential customers from Instagram to your product—and offer some tips to get you started.
What Is Lead Generation and Why Should I Bother?
Lead generation is the generation of customer interest in your product or service. More substantial than just generating brand awareness, you’re trying to entice potential customers into becoming full-fledged customers.
On Facebook or on your website, you probably offer up a lead magnet. A lead magnet is something of value you offer a customer in exchange for their information. Whether you’re offering an eBook, a free tool that will leave the user wanting more, an article, or a discount code, a lead magnet is an incentive. It entices the customer, so they give you an email address, a phone number — any piece of information that can help you to follow up later.
On Instagram, lead generation works differently. You aren’t going to entice users to download your eBook because they’re not on Instagram to read. They just want to keep scrolling through their feed.
Instead, Instagram lead generation is all about creating intrigue and encouraging customers to make the leap from your Instagram ad to a sign-up form, an app download, or your website. Although it might seem daunting, every business can do it.
Let’s Get Started: Setting Up a Campaign
Instagram ads aren’t hard to make, and it takes as little time to set up an Instagram campaign as it does to make a Facebook one.
If you don’t need a refresher on best practices for Instagram ads, then let’s jump right in and focus on how to create ad targets specifically optimized for lead generation.
You start by setting it up as a Facebook campaign.
Step 1: Select Lead Generation as your goal.
Step 2: Proceed as you normally would with Facebook, selecting the Facebook page you want to promote and creating your Target Audience.
Step 3: Next you’ll set your placement to Instagram. You’ll see the options for Facebook as well, but make sure you check Instagram.
Step 4: Set up your budget and be sure to select leads in the “Optimization for Ad Delivery feed.”
Step 5: Select ad format. Depending on your campaign, that could be a video, slideshow, single image or carousel ad.
Note: Carousel ads, which let you showcase multiple images and links in a single ad, are still very new to Instagram. However, they’ve produced some impressive results on Facebook. Advertisers have seen carousel link ads drive 30-50% lower cost-per-conversion and 20-30% lower cost-per-click than single-image ads, so don’t be afraid to try something new.
Step 6: Create your ad text. Tell people what they can expect in exchange for their contact information. Say you were creating an ad for your college radio station. You might generate leads by offering curated weekly playlists, and you’d want to make those playlists the focal point of the copy.
Step 7: Now you make the lead-generating form that works in Instagram. When you create this form, keep the questions short and discrete. You don’t want to leave them open-ended. With our radio station example, we just went for names and email, but notice there’s a custom question, so you can get the exact piece of customer information you need from your ads.
Step 8: Now we’re done! When people finish signing up, they’ll see a “Thank You” page. Don’t underestimate this step—put your website link in here. If someone’s interested in the playlist or discount you’re offering, chances are they want to know more. Use this opportunity to drive people to your website.
Don’t Forget to Test!
Now you’ve seen how easy it is to make a lead generation ad on Instagram, don’t forget to make more than one.
A/B testing your lead generation ads is the best way to ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck. With AdEspresso, in a few minutes you can create thousands of variants of your Instagram Ads with only three clicks.
The basics of split testing for Instagram are the same as the basics of A/B testing for Facebook, but just to refresh here are the most important things to keep in mind:
- Be patient. Ads that appear to be doing well in the first days or week of testing might take a sharp drop, and vice versa. Don’t stop running one version of your add as soon as you see a glimmer of a better click through rate on it.
- Only change one thing per ad. If you switch up targeting, picture, and CTA on one version of an ad, you’re changing too many things at once. Take it one difference at a time so you can figure out exactly what works.
- Choose a metric that defines success before you begin. Do you want the most leads generated? The cheapest? Determine what is going to define the success of your campaign before you set up your ads so you can be decisive about which ones to keep running.
All Kinds of Calls-to-Action
Our example showed a lead generating form with “Sign Up” as the call-to-action. But Instagram lets you get creative with the action button. You can prompt users to “Learn More,” “Contact Us, “Get Directions,” and a variety of other options, depending on what you’re advertising.
For downloadable apps, the “Install Now” action can lead users straight from Instagram to your landing page to the App Store. The roommate and apartment hunting app, Roomiapp, has the “Install Now” action enabled, and also suggests that you tag a friend.
This makes it easy for people to get straight into your product if they like your ad — no need to find a download link in your bio or on your website. If you’re looking to increase downloads, this is definitely the CTA for you.
Make the Most of Embedded Links
Instagram is also home to lots of companies thinking outside the box, beyond email collection and “Sign Up” forms.
Minimalist cosmetic brand Glossier is known for its Insta-friendly aesthetic, and they make great use of the embedded e-commerce options in Instagram posts. Although not direct lead generation, you can definitely capture new customers by having links directly in your content, not just in paid posts.
Glossier lets you know more information about their product, without ever leaving the post. And then they hit you with a CTA: Shop Now.
In the e-commerce ecosystem, embedded links can really set your whole account apart. You’re doing the work of lead generation in all your posts, not just your ads.
#LinkInBio: Sometimes Less Is More
Aside from embedded, e-commerce links, the only other place on Instagram where a link is allowed is in a bio. You can make use of that space by putting a lead-capturing link to your website there.
Here’s a good example: Uniqlo USA has a short and compact bio. They feature the handles of their other social platforms and a link to their website, without being too overwhelming.
On the other hand, Forever 21 has a lot going on. While Instagram is the place for fun emojis and hashtags, it’s hard to tell where all these handles go, or how you could use them. With their direct link all the way down at the bottom, followed by a physical address, this bio isn’t going to be a particularly strong lead generator.
Even if you do it right, referring people to your bio can be limiting because takes your audience out of the context of their feed. Because of this, you might be less likely to get clicks on that link to your website in your bio than if you linked people in a CTA.
However, if people do click out of the ad and into your bio, not only will they find the link to your product or website, but they’ll likely spend some time exploring your Instagram (and hopefully will give you a follow).
Getting Creative With In-Image CTAs
Instagram is a visual platform. Nobody is there for your eye-catching caption text, as good as it is. You want to grab people with your images and stop them mid-scroll with a call-to-action that’s part of the image itself.
This ad from The New Yorker puts the offer right in the ad image. They’re probably targeting at student-age Instagram users, and they’re letting them know: 12 weeks for $6. Pair that with a signature funky cartoon, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
This ad from startup insurance company Lemonade doesn’t put an offer or a dollar amount right in the image, but this geo-targeted video still grabs attention. Live in New York? Got stuff? You’re going to want that covered — click the link.
Grab Leads With Promotional Contests
Promotional contests are a great way to generate a lot of buzz and a lot of leads. Whether you hype them over Instagram Stories, regular posts or ads, a contest that has a clear call-to-action and any easy way for users to register to win can be great for generating brand awareness and leads.
You don’t want to overcomplicate things. This contest for a free magazine subscription has too many hoops to jump through, and it’s asking for too many things. And savvy users might be turned off, seeing it as a blatant attempt at getting engagement on a million platforms:
Keep your contests simple and focused on the prize. They can be as low barrier as like-to-win or comment-to-win. But if you’re trying to capture emails through your contest, referring people to the bio is a great way to keep the confusion to a minimum and find some great leads.
The hype here is in the visuals — what kind of Insta-Girl are you? When Sally Hansen has grabbed that attention, they immediately transfer it to their contest and encourage submissions, instead of trying to cram that all into one overcrowded image.
Thinking About Lead Generation In Everything You Do
If you’re thinking that lead generation on Instagram is a lost cause, that everyone’s on mobile and no one will ever fill out your form, and that you’ll never get the hang of Instagram lead generation, think again.
Instagram still sees higher engagement and higher conversion than Facebook or Twitter and, as we’ve just shown, it’s as easy to make an Instagram campaign as a Facebook one — maybe even easier.
But you shouldn’t just be thinking about Instagram lead generation with your ads, your strategy can’t be reduced to just “Sign Up” forms.
Think about it with your posts, with your stories, with your bio, and with your promotional contests — anything that could lead people further along the path to becoming a strong and loyal customer. Focus on that, and people will be clicking on your Instagram ads in no time.