9 Ways to Optimize Your Business’s Instagram Ads on a Small Budget

Developing and optimizing Instagram ads for a business is not an easy task. 

And when your business has a small budget to spend on Instagram ads, there’s no room for mistakes. (Yikes!)

While some businesses outsource their social media marketing, that’s not really possible when your advertising budget is small to start with. 

So, where do you get started, and how can you make the most out of your business’s Instagram ads with a small budget? 

Keep reading for 9 tips to help you achieve the best results for an Instagram ad campaign of any size.


1. Start With a Few Bucks 

Regardless of the size of your budget for Instagram ads, it’s still recommended to start off with a low dollar count for your first few ads. 

Before you put all of your advertising dollars behind a single creative, you’ll want to know that it’s going to perform well. 

So, dedicate a small portion of your budget to testing out different options before you put more money behind any one ad. You can try testing an ad for $3-$5, for just one day. 

Then, if the results are good, you can put a $5 budget behind this ad for a few more days. For every dollar spent, you can expect to see several website clicks, and $5 a day should generate about 500-1,000 impressions a day, depending on the audience and your industry.


2. Test Several Different Ads 

Before you start putting money behind any ads, you will want to brainstorm several different copy options and design a few different types of creatives to give you plenty of options to A/B test. 

An A/B test is sort of like an experiment to figure out how a specific element of an ad, such as copy or imagery, affects the success of the ad. To A/B test an ad, create two versions of the ad that are the exact same, except for one detail like the caption, CTA (call-to-action) or the image. 

Your first ad might not be the best version, so it’s important to create multiple options to see which image, video, copy and CTA will be the most effective. 

In order to set up a true A/B test, you will need to test only one variable at a time. 

For example, if you want to test the ad copy, you’ll want to make sure the image/video and CTA are all the same in both ads. Once you’ve put a small spend behind several different ads, you will have a better idea of what’s effective, which will allow you to best optimize your small budget and get the best results.

Here’s an example of an A/B test that we are currently running on Facebook. We’ve created a high-quality marketing video in the Boosted App and are using the same video in two different ads:

We changed the copy in the ads to test which copy will perform better. Simple tests like this will help you learn which ads perform better and how to keep creating more effective ads in the future.


3. Take it One Day at a Time

When your business is relying on Instagram ads to help drive sales, it can be tempting to spend your whole budget quickly to get results sooner. 

But, it’s important to take it one day at a time when it comes to managing an Instagram Ad campaign with a small budget. 

Like we said earlier, you’ll want to test different ads and closely monitor performance each day. 

The most important metrics to measure for paid Instagram ads are the impressions and the clicks; if you aren’t generating several clicks and a few hundred impressions per several dollars spent, this is a sign the ad isn’t doing well. 

Don’t forget, Instagram ads sometimes need a little time to start seeing some traction, so be patient. Taking Instagram ads one day at a time will allow you to pause ads that aren’t doing well and put more money behind the ones that are getting solid results. 

And, don’t forget, managing Instagram ads for your business isn’t a one-time project; it needs to be a daily task, especially when you have a small budget.


4. Use Themed Videos for Holidays

As a small business owner, you’ll need to make sure you are promoting high-quality content that will be the most likely to drive traffic (and sales!) for your business. 

If there are any holidays or significant cultural moments coming up, it’s a good idea to create themed ads, since your customers will be more likely to notice this type of content. 

For example, if you had a Black Friday sale for your business, a Black Friday themed video will likely have been much more eye-catching than a static ad (a photo with no movement or change) promoting a general sale.  

This same concept applies for holiday moments throughout the year. You can find holiday themed video ad templates like this at Boosted, the video-making app for small business owners.

Here’s an example of a themed video we did for Thanksgiving. With a fall-themed design, customers knew the post was about Thanksgiving, and the simple added movement from using a video instead of just a photo made this post much more engaging, and resulted in more impressions. 


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A post shared by Boosted (@boosted_by_lightricks)

5. Target Ideal Customers 

Once you have an idea of the type of Instagram ad content that is going to be the most engaging and successful for your business, you need to make sure you are targeting your ideal customers. 

In order to do this, you can either create a ‘Custom Audience’ or a ‘Look-A-Like Audience’ to promote your Instagram ads to. 

A. Custom Audiences:

A Custom Audience is made up of individuals who have already engaged with your business. For example, they might have checked out your website or they may be following you on social media. Promoting ads to this audience can lead to higher conversions (this could be clicks or sales) for less money, because they are already aware of and interested in your business.


B. Look-A-Like Audiences:

A Look-A-Like Audience is a brand new ad audience that you can create based on a variety of things such as location, demographics, behaviors, and interests. Promoting your Instagram ads to this type of audience is a good way to reach new customers who might not be aware of your business yet but are most likely to be interested in your offerings.

6. Optimize for Website Traffic 

Facebook and Instagram ads allow businesses to optimize their ad spend for a variety of goals.

But when you have a small budget, it’s important to optimize your ads to help drive the most sales. So, in order to get more visitors to your website, you’ll want to optimize your ad for link clicks or landing page views. This tells Instagram how to best optimize your ad to achieve those goals for you.

It’s easy to optimize an ad for website traffic when creating a new ad in Facebook Ads Manager. As soon as you click on ‘Create Ad,’ you’ll be prompted to select from several options for the goal of your campaign. Select “Get More Website Visitors” and finish creating your Instagram ad.  


7. Match Webpage to Ad 

Not only do you need to optimize your Instagram ads to drive more traffic, but you’ll also want to make sure you’re driving that traffic to a site that will lead to the most conversions (sales). 

For example, if you’re promoting a specific product, make sure that ad clicks through to that product page, not just to your homepage. You will make more sales and get more results for less money with your Instagram ads if customers are able to click your ad and be sent straight to what they were expecting to see.

Here’s a good example of an Instagram ad that provides a straightforward customer experience:

This ad is promoting a specific product (a dress) and once consumers click on the ad, the ad goes straight to the product page for the product that was advertised.


8. Use Videos in IG Stories 

One of the very best secrets to achieve the lowest cost per click/conversion is to utilize Instagram Stories

Over 500 million Instagram accounts use the Stories feature (multiple times a day!) which means Instagram Story Ads are a great way to connect with a large audience. Also, since Instagram Story ads are presented full-screen in between organic (non-paid) content, your customers will be more likely to see and engage with your ad.

Since many organic Instagram Stories are short-form videos, we recommend testing video content in your Instagram Story ads.

A few best practices for Instagram story ads include using engaging video content, short captions and a strong call to action (like “Swipe Up” or “Shop Now”). Apps like Boosted make it easy to create a custom marketing video that’s already perfectly sized for Instagram Stories.


9. Have Clear Copy

Not only is the ad creative essential for effective Instagram ads, but the copy is just as, if not more, important. 

The copy for your ads needs to be short, clear and compelling. Ensure that your customers are clear on what you are selling and how it benefits them. 

And, don’t forget to add in an obvious CTA! As we’ve mentioned a few times in this post, CTA stands for “Call to Action” and is the step that you want a customer to take after they view your ad. 

A strong CTA is important because it helps a customer understand exactly what next step they should take from your ad and what they can expect after they click on it. For example ‘shop now’ is a great CTA because your customers know you want them to check out an online shop and they can expect to see products they can purchase.

Here’s a great example of effective copy from Fiverr:

Source: https://www.facebook.com/ads/library/?id=742409053059048


They used keywords throughout their caption such as ‘outsourcing’ and ‘freelancer’. They also used an engaging video with short copy that helped the consumer understand the exact steps on how to execute a project with Fiverr. 

Ready to Create Your First Ad? 

Now that you know how to optimize your Instagram ads on a budget, it’s time to get cracking! Remember, when your business has a small budget to spend, it’s important to take it slow. Make sure to test lots of options in order to optimize your ads and help your small budget achieve the best results possible. 


About the author

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Kira Goldring is the Content Lead at Tailor Brands. She’s passionate about personal finance and digital marketing, and she currently covers all things branding, design and small business.

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