The Essential Guide to Facebook and Instagram Advertising

Tips and insights to shrink the e-commerce path to purchase

The following is based on a true story: The online retailer’s digital marketing strategy was overdue for an overhaul when the e-commerce director decided to make some changes. The question was: Where to start? By many standards, sales were more than sufficient. As a fast-growing startup, the seller had quickly expanded to provide tens of thousands of products to hundreds of thousands of active customers.

Yet much of the company’s catalog still wasn’t getting in front of the right customers at the right times. So the company decided to see what could be accomplished with social media advertising. It didn’t take long.

Within months of placing social media at the core of marketing, the results were remarkable: Average order values were up, costs-per-click were down and sales were stronger than ever.

Prefer the PDF version of this eBook? Download the Essential Guide to Facebook & Instagram Advertising here.

Stories like this one abound, for one very simple reason: Social advertising has become one of the best ways to connect with e-commerce customers and grow sales channels.

Retailers and brands are clearly aware of this shift, as evidenced by the explosion of social-focused digital marketing strategies. Facebook advertising revenue in the US is more than twice the amount being spent on newspaper advertising, and social media ad spending is approaching an astounding $58 billion globally.

Two of the world’s most-frequented social platforms, Facebook and subsidiary Instagram, have proven to be the most profitable social networks for e-commerce companies. But with millions of businesses advertising each month, competition is fierce. Having a laser-focused strategy is critical to success.

In this eBook, you’ll learn:

  • Why Facebook and Instagram are essential to e-commerce success
  • Which advertising options should be on every seller’s radar
  • How to maximize your presence on these top-performing social networks

Prefer the PDF version of this eBook? Download The Essential Guide to Facebook and Instagram Advertising here.

Dynamic & Carousel Ads for Facebook

Facebook and Instagram: Your Ticket to Billions of Purchase-Ready Consumers

When it comes to connecting with e-commerce customers, all social media platforms are definitely not created equal. Savvy marketers are well aware of Facebook and Instagram’s successes as the top two most frequented mobile social networks in the US. Some 1.45 billion people are active on Facebook every day. And while no other social media network comes close to those numbers, it’s Facebook-owned Instagram that takes the number two spot. The photo-sharing social app is up to 800 million users, 500 million of whom interact with the app daily.

But it’s much more than these platforms’ popularity that makes them ideal components of an e-commerce digital marketing strategy. The majority of Facebook and Instagram users are consumers who are actively seeking ideas, inspiration and product information:

This helps explain why so many e-commerce brands and retailers are flocking to advertise on Facebook. Six months after the number of advertisers reached a milestone of 3 million, it quickly climbed to 4 million … then 5 million … then 6 million … and on it goes.

But how do you successfully tap into the growing influence of Facebook and Instagram?

Facebook Features and Instagram Insights For Greater Profitability

Right now, your consumers are experiencing all kinds of micro moments that will influence the next purchases they make. They aren’t yet sure what they want to buy and won’t be doing any product-specific searches today. But show them the right item… at the ideal moment… in the most compelling format possible, and you may just turn their casual social scrolling into full-blown shopping.

With Facebook and Instagram, it’s possible to connect with customers in ways that aren’t possible on other channels — and shrink the path to purchase from weeks or months to days or hours.

Instagram advertising


Facebook is making it easy for marketers to get smarter about how they target (and retarget) consumers with a steady stream of innovative advertising features, including:

Messenger Ads (with Payments)

More than 2 billion messages are sent between people and businesses every month on Facebook Messenger. And, according to Facebook’s own research, 53% of people are more likely to shop with a business they can message directly. Incorporating Messenger into your social advertising strategy can be a great way to develop interactive experiences around consumers’ individualized needs.

You can choose from two basic types of Messenger ads:

  1. Ads that are placed directly on the home screen of the Messenger app to drive new conversations
  2. Sponsored messages that let you send relevant promotions directly to the people your business is already talking to in Messenger.

But that’s not all. Using the payments tool within Messenger allows you to incorporate buy buttons so consumers can purchase your products directly from a secure Messenger bot without having to leave the app.

Here are a few quick tips for maximizing Messenger ads:

  • Integrate Messenger with other Facebook ad formats to guide people further down the path to purchase
  • Experiment with “Messenger-only sales” by using the “Send Message” call to action in Facebook ads to launch a conversation in Messenger
  • Reengage existing customers by leveraging Messenger to offer personalized promotions and upsells based on previous purchases.


Creating Instagram campaigns is straightforward and can be implemented through Facebook, eliminating the need to learn a new advertising platform. Essentials for e-commerce companies include:

Shopping on Instagram

With Shopping on Instagram, you can make it easy for users to explore and buy your best products by tagging them in organic posts. These shopping posts can be used to give people quick access to pricing and product details — both within the Instagram feed and via the Shop tab on your business profile. Originally offered to select sellers in the US, this feature has expanded to empower more e-commerce companies to connect with more than 200 users who visit one or more business profiles daily.

Heres’s how shoppable tags work:

  • After choosing the photos you’d like to feature, you can tag posts with up to five products per image (or 20 per carousel)
  • When someone taps a tag on your post, they’ll see a product description and price
  • If a user like what they see, they can tap “Shop Now” to go directly to your mobile site

Stories Ads

Every day, some 300 million people tell Instagram stories: creative collections of photos and videos that are presented in slideshow format before disappearing within 24 hours. Advertisers can leverage this popular feature by uploading immersive, full-screen ads that appear between the “slides” in people’s stories and include a sponsored label.

Ads in Instagram Stories use the same targeting and measurement tools as ads that run elsewhere on Facebook and Instagram — so you can capture new audiences by showing people ads in stories and then target them with additional advertising that appears in their Facebook and Instagram feeds (and vice versa).

Here are a few quick tips for ads in Instagram Stories:

  • Optimize content to capture attention quickly since stories ads are skippable
  • Incorporate branding that stands out and is easy to remember after stories disappear in a day
  • Take advantage of the full-screen format with optimized images that would otherwise be cropped

Proven Profitability: Dynamic and Carousel Ads

Amidst the many options for reaching consumers on Facebook and Instagram, two specific types of advertising have proven to be consistently profitable: dynamic and carousel ads, which are designed specifically to promote products in ways that are engaging, enticing and relevant.

Dynamic Ads

Dynamic ads allow brands and retailers to automatically promote personalized product selections to people who have already expressed interest, be it through website views, shopping cart additions or previous purchases. Dynamic ads look exactly like other image-based ads, but instead of individually creating an ad for each product, you create an ad template that populates with images and details from your product feed. You can can upload your product catalog once to have the right products automatically shown to the right people at the right time. And if you use dynamic ads for retail, you can also close the gap between mobile searches and brick-and-mortar stores by showcasing nearby in-store availability, pricing and promotions.

Bonus Tip: If you’re already using a product feed with Google, you can use your Google feed with Facebook dynamic ads — and even analyze Google Shopping performance history and other metrics to help you create ads that get results.

Carousel Ads

Carousel ads enable sellers to showcase up to ten images or videos and links within a single ad unit that directs people to your website. They can be used to tell a story around a single product, or introduce social shoppers to multiple products in a visually compelling way. Whether you’re launching a new product line, showcasing top sellers or demonstrating compelling uses for popular products, carousel ads can be a very effective way to increase awareness and grow sales.

Why Use Dynamic and Carousel Ads?

Scale campaigns: Promote products in creative campaigns without having to configure each individual ad.

Connect to new customers: Set up campaigns once to continually reach new audiences with the right product at the right time.

Extend your reach: Quickly create ads that are optimized for all the devices consumers use to interact with Facebook and Instagram, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and desktops.

Dynamic & Carousel Ads for Facebook

Stay tuned…

A “like” here, a “follow” there. Tagging, storytelling, direct messaging… these are the hallmarks of the new consumer path to purchase, which is increasingly influenced by social media interactions. The essentials in this eBook serve as the foundation for a social advertising strategy, but the key is to stay up-to-date on new tools and features as they become available to Facebook and Instagram advertisers. Because when you do, the selling potential of your brand’s social presence will remain powerful.

Stay updated on the latest e-commerce trends, tips, news and best practices to help you drive more revenue across all your online channels.