4 Ways You Can Use Instagram Ads To Grow Your Business

After the recent launch of Instagram ads, we’ve gathered some early learnings at Cuponation on the best way of utilizing this new powerful marketing platform which will be available in the Nordics towards to the end of September.

In many ways, the launch of Instagram’s ad product resembles that of the mother company Facebook. From a user perspective, it’s somewhat annoying to start seeing ads where you’re not used to it, and from a company point of view, few will win the game of being able to deliver timely, relevant and cheap ads that convert.

While testing the product, we’ve seen a clear tendency that although many say that do not want to be bothered by ads in their feed, the consequence is little to none. As the ad product was being tested in the US and UK for 18 months before rolling out in other countries, it’s rather clear that Instagram wanted to test and make sure that they would not lose users because of this.

At the right you see the first Instagram “sponsored post” – And at the left you see a CupoNation sponsored post.

As a general rule, no matter if your marketing platform is Google, Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, the key learning is to understand the platform and the people you’re trying to reach.

One of the key aspects of Instagram is the focus people have when going through their feed. It’s a focus that only Snapchat at the moment can compare with, as their product is all about those seconds of attention. Platforms like Facebook is suffering from having many tabs open at the same time, although the mobile version can be compared with that of Instagram in terms of attention although people are used to more “noise” on Facebook than they currently are on Instagram.

It will be a key aspect for Instagram and their success with ads that they will not overdo it in a way that users will start to not pay attention at the same level. It will be the major threat for them now, and I expect we’ll see a somewhat slow rollout as they will be continuing to test this feature.

Here’s four key learnings we’ve observed so far:

1) Deliver relevant content

As mentioned, people pay 100% attention to what they see on Instagram. It is key that your material is of excellent quality, hits the right target group and does so in a seemingly natural way.

2) Start early

As with the early days of Facebook ads and Google AdWords, prices are extremely cheap at the moment. That allows you to test in a more aggressive way than you can on other platforms, as your CPC is extremely low.

This can be what separates you from your competition.

3) Utilize the nature of Instagram and Facebook

You have the best targeting possibilities in the world using these two platforms. With most users, you can target incredible specifically down to geography, interests, education and so on.

You need to know who you want to reach, and you will be able to reach them.

4) Make sure your landing page is optimized for mobile

It sounds simple enough, but it’s a points that I’ve seen several companies miss so far.

As the very nature of Instagram is mobile, it is important to understand that all your traffic from the ads will be mobile and hence be ready to convert that traffic in the best possible way.

Instagram ads are relevant to us as we offer big discounts and great deals on a variety of brands. Therefore, our target group is constantly changing. With the nature of Instagram, doing beautiful, simple ads that can reach the exact target audience is perfect for a company like ours.

I do not believe it’s the right platform for everyone – but I challenge you to test it and find out yourself if it will help your business to grow.

How to boost your productivity

I bet you know the people who seem to be able to get a million things done every single day, and you have no idea what they do different. I am here to tell you some of the things that make some people extraordinarily productive while keeping others reactive and always a few steps behind.

Some things to be aware of upfront:

  • People who are more productive take responsibility. For themselves, people around them, their time and the results they deliver. Own that responsibility every day.
  • Productive people are proactive, not reactive. What does that mean? It means that they do not sit around waiting for a lucky strike in productivity, but pursue it constantly on a daily basis.

Some of the things to be aware of here is that in the typical office community, the most productive people are rarely the most popular colleagues. Therefore, you must make an active choice to be “less social”, take shorter coffee breaks etc. to maximize your results and ultimately be the person in the office that people respect for their work ethic, not their coffee stories. (The two can be combined, but happens rarely.)

A recent study conducted by RescueTime about the use of the typical office worker time shows worrying results as to where time is allocated. In order ranked for most time, the list is:

  • Emails and Instant Messaging (37%)
  • Meetings (21%)
  • Helping colleagues with tasks (17%)
  • Primary work (16%)
  • Lunch, coffee etc. (9%)

So, besides a difference in the attitude you bring to your professional life, let’s look at some of the specifics that great leaders and employees do to maximize output (results) per unit of input (time, resources).

  • Emails: Productive people realize that email and IM is a tool for them to use, not the other way around. It is extremely easy to fill up an entire day of emailing back and forth, asking pointless questions, file information, re-read it etc. People who consistently deliver results will limit their digital communication to a few minor slots throughout the day to make time for what really matters (the primary work).
  • Meetings: Just like emails, people tend to be both annoyed and flatters when invited to many meetings. Common for meetings in most companies is that they are not effective. That means many people are there who does not need to be; meetings do not have an clear agenda and deadline; decisions are not made in meetings; meetings are being “kidnapped” for other purposes than intended (again, no clear agenda). All these factors weigh in to make even modern meetings extremely unproductive for everyone who participates. Therefore, refuse any meeting that does not come with 1) a clear goal (what is the outcome); 2) a tight agenda; 3) where people do not show up on time or leave the meeting when it is done.
  • How to structure your tasks: If you are like most people in the morning, you open your email, get a coffee, write the first few emails back, talk to a colleague, go for lunch, check email, and then, if you’re proactive, deal with your work at this point.
    Disregarding your email from the early morning and having your list of daily tasks ready, it is my belief you can handle your most crucial tasks within the first 3-4 hours of the workday. How? By prioritizing your tasks correctly and not wasting time.
    Prioritizing in this matter will mean to look at which of your tasks will produce the greatest output – the kind of result you can take to your leader and be extremely proud of. How often do you deliver something you have pride in and that you will remember at the end of the year? Focus your time and energy on these matters – opportunities will be there to do so, but coffee breaks and emails tend to get in the way for most people. I will do a follow-up post shortly on how to structure your tasks most effectively.
  • Got a minute?: The answer should be “NO!” unless extreme conditions are in play. Generally speaking, as with emails, instant messaging and meetings, you shouldn’t let external things (including colleagues) take your most productive time. Instead, if you’re being interrupted several times during the day, set up a few times slots throughout the day so you can bundle these “Got-a-minute”-moments, and handle your email at the same time. It is the only time you will be reactive, but at least you will have a proactive approach to it and not let it ruin your general productivity.

Having worked with big and small companies, startups and old conglomerates, I know that the things outlined above are the majority of the productivity (profit) killers in most companies. If your company can create healthy habits for everyone, it will benefit greatly. I have not yet met a company or organisation that couldn’t reach minimum 25-30% improvement in productivity in a matter of just a few hours or days.

Key points from my speech at Ecommerce Helsinki

Yesterday, I had the big pleasure of sharing my thoughts on how to win ecommerce this year at the Ecommerce Helsinki conference.
At the conference, I spoke about how you need to look beyond your traditional marketing efforts to really do well and beat your competition. A lot of the thoughts are based on what we have done in Cuponation throughout the last year, and is something we strive to improve each and every day.

The topics I covered was:

1) The development of marketing: How we went from “oldschool” marketing efforts as banners in newspapers and radio spots to more sophisticated and highly analytical tools like Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. Now though, a lot of the marketing platforms used – be it Instagram (before ads), Snapchat or Periscope – have taken our analytical advantage down a notch again, therefore arguable we’re a bit back to “oldscool” marketing in the newest channels.
Also, I shared how sometimes you need to rethink your marketing efforts, much like how Cuponation and Ekstra Bladet built a common platform together in Denmark.

2) How and where you spend your marketing $$ this year: Most people in the room were still spending the majority of their marketing budget on TV and radio. In my opinion this is as wrong as it should be. Not because the platforms are not good, quite contrary. Simply because of the fact that no one watches TV commercials anymore. If they by random coincidence have them running, they are not looking at them, but rather at their smartphone. Therefore, I think the pricing for these platforms are way too high.

3) Lastly, I shared thoughts on how, specially as a startup, you need to make your “boring business” into a cool story. No one is really interested, and ads as we know them traditionally are rather expensive. If you can however convince people of the fact that you are an interesting company, that you have great people or that you serve your market much better than anyone can, you have a real shot at getting some genuine interest from the people you are trying to target. Whether it’s from PR, ads or social media, this is one of the most efficient ways to reach your target group as costless as possible.


Feel more than free to contact me for any further ideas on marketing in 2016!

Instagram Ads are here: All you need to know

Think what you want, but no one doubted this would come. Instagram ads are being rolled out globally these days, and thereby extending the 18-month beta-version of the product they have been running in US and UK.

Whether you’re a business looking to expand your reach and sales or a consumer hating the idea of another social platform introducing ads, this is major news for you. We know this will change the rules of marketing just like Google and Facebook have done it in the past, and we know it will have an effect on the 300 million people using Instagram worldwide. Some will dislike it, whereas others will be happy that there will finally be some more transparency on the social media, as previously companies have paid the owners of big Instagram accounts to broadcast their images. Not only is this in the grey zone as it lacks transparency, it also does not allow for very smart targeting. Therefore, opinions are split between those who simply do not want to see ads and those that appreciate the increased visibility of when a post is sponsored.

An example of our ad and an Instagram ad

As a business, we see three major things you need to do to win the Instagram ad game:

1) Be early adapter and start now – before your competitors

2) Be authentic, and deliver high quality that does not annoy people’s experience on Instagram

3) Utilize the extreme targeting options: A restaurant owner can now target one picture of a steak to meat-lovers and picture of a salad to vegetarians – all in a 500m radius

The most important reason for businesses to start utilizing the ad function of Instagram is that people keep full focus while going through their feed. Unlike TV-commercials or billboards which are ignored completely in 2015, being able to deliver relevant content to people in a native way on their favorite platform is a recipe for success, just like we have seen with Facebook sponsored posts.

As a general comment, we’ve previously seen that Danish companies are slow to adapt to changes like this. Therefore we believe we’ll see more international companies being able to compete smarter and better on the Danish market, thereby taking a significant amount of our sales and exports.

Early reports expect Instagram ads revenue to reach $2.81 Billion by 2017. We clearly expect that number to be significantly higher for two simple reasons:

1) The assumptions are made on a expected growth rate of 0. We expect Instagram to keep growing despite the introduction of ads – just like we saw with Google and Facebook in the past.

2) With the learnings of the above mentioned companies, we expect Instagram to be able to monetize faster than similar companies in the past. This will mean average CPC (cost per click) will increase at a faster pace than expected, and more businesses than expected will pick it up.

As for the details of the rollout, few things are clear:

  • You will be able to send traffic to your website or to download your mobile app
  • Your setup will be from your Facebook Power Editor where you can also choose your audience
  • The rollout is happening slowly and thus not all will have access to this service at the same time

At CupoNation, we’re already experimenting with this service in the countries where we can. Early learnings for us show that it is a very effective way to reach new audiences, and that we are not seeing any negative part from the customers at all. Quite the contrary, it seems that sharing good quality images (even when sponsored) are the new core of Instagram, and exactly the reason people use the platform so much.