Instagram Marketing Winners of 2015: Tips for Global Brands to Succeed with Instagram’s Ad Platform

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Instagram beta advertisers reveal how they boosted ad recall, increased consumer engagement and achieved higher conversion rates.

Instagram may have only just released its self-serve ad platform to global advertisers in September (read further: Three Things about Instagram Ads You Need to Know Right Now), but case studies from the platform’s beta phase over the last year offer hints on how to achieve the best results.

Intriguingly, despite evidence that Instagram users are two-and-a-half times more likely to click on ads versus other social media platforms according to marketing software company Kenshoo, the most successful Instagram ad campaigns combined the platform’s power to engage with a comprehensive content strategy, including direct Facebook ads.

Here’s what you can learn from four of the most successful Instagram marketing campaigns of 2015:

Capital One: #WalletStories

Best Instagram Marketing - Capital One
Says Chicago photographer Paulo Octavius, “I keep an old photo in my wallet from the only time I played a sport. My family cheered me on then and they still do today.”

Building on its popular “What’s in Your Wallet?” campaign, credit giant Capital One combined an influencer marketing campaign with ads on the platform that encouraged cardholders to post personal momentos and other storytelling items they held in their wallets.

Photographers Paulo Octavius, Zach Rose and Kimberly Genevieve led the influencer campaign, and Capital One turned nine of their photos into ads, while also posting images on its own account and the photographers’.

The result? A 3 percent increase in overall image perception, and perhaps more intriguingly, a 25 percent boost in ad recall among Instagram users ages 45 and holder. 


The Iconic: Instagram Engagement + Facebook Conversion

Instagram Ad Campaign - The Iconic
Influencer Danielle Bernstein, the fashion maven behind @WeWoreWhat, helped boost engagement for The Iconic.

On the surface, the success of a niche brand like The Iconic, an Australian retailer that caters only to its home country and New Zealand, might not seem relevant to global advertisers. But a recent Instagram marketing strategy for their fall/autumn collection shows the power of applying Instagram ads in a way that other brands can emulate. Initially launching on Instagram,  a campaign for fall/winter featured photos solely designed to pique their interest — incorporating influencers ranging from Sophia Lazarides (audience: 1 thousand) to Danielle Bernstein (audience: 1.3 million). A Facebook campaign ran a week later with direct response ads designed to capitalize on the Instagram-driven ad recall and convert interest into sales.

The results were dramatic. Of the audience that saw posts on both Instagram and Facebook, the brands saw 23% more conversions than among those who saw only the Facebook ads, reported an Instagram case study.

“From a brand marketing perspective, working with Instagram has reinforced our hypothesis that traditional media isn’t where our consumers are anymore, and there was a bigger opportunity to engage with them in more emerging digital platforms,” said Adam Jacobs, Managing Director and Co-Founder of The Iconic.


Maybelline: Global Strategy + Local Content 

Instagram Ad Successes: Maybelline Brow Drama
Maybelline combined global campaign elements with local familiarity to boost sales of its Brow Drama eyebrow liner.

In another Australian success story, Maybelline New York combined its global familiarity with localized content to more than double sales of its Brow Drama product. Maybelline was the first mass beauty brand to use Instagram advertising in Australia, according to a recent Instagram marketing case study. Using photos of Australian model Stephanie Smith, Maybelline endeared its target audience of Australian women ages 18 to 40, boosting brand awareness by 16 points in addition to the impact on sales.

“Women are already using Instagram for beauty advice and inspiration, especially when it comes to new looks and trends,” remarked Maybelline New York Marketing Director Aurelie de Cremiers in the case study.  “As a visual and creative platform, Instagram allows us to engage authentically with our customers while also profiling our products. It’s a great match for us.”

Brands of all sizes can take a page from Maybelline’s success by identifying local influencers within key target groups and incorporating their organic messaging into ads.


Mercedes Benz: #GLAPacked

Instagram Ad Campaign by Mercedes
Photographer Hunter Boone was just one influencer tapped by Mercedes. The brand also enlisted photographer Theron Humphrey of @ThisWildIdea, shown in the feature photo.

Mercedes has inched its way toward younger audiences with campaigns touting the brand as ‘affordable luxury’ as early as 2013, but to promote the agile GLA SUV to social-media-savvy Millennials, Mercedes turned to Instagram, playing on the growing trend of customization with its #GLAPacked campaign, a take-off on the #ThingsOrganizedNeatly hashtag. Using influencers like SoHo based photographer Hunter Boone and wanderer Theron Humphrey, the brand reached its target audiences with content that felt more personal than Mercedes’ standard ads. As a result, the brand saw a 54% increase in web traffic by serving ads to the same people across Instagram and Facebook and intriguingly, a 580% increase in traffic when branding ads were paired with direct response ads on Facebook, mirroring the success of The Iconic.

These early Instagram marketing successes offer a clue about the types of campaigns that yield the best results on Instagram’s ad platform, regardless of business size or audience type. The biggest takeaways for brands?

Combine influencer marketing with user-encouraged participation and a strong call to action on Facebook.   

818 Agency provides creative B2B content marketing and social advertising campaigns to Fortune 500 companies and growth-oriented startups. Purveyors of real-time event content marketing. Based in NYC and LA.


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