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Only 18 months ago, 2XU was sitting at a low Instagram engagement rate of 1.8%.
The brand’s digital marketing manager, Simon Jordan, admits it was producing content without a strategic purpose.
“Our engagement rate from an organic point, from Instagram, was sitting around 1.8% for a while there. We are talking about 18 months ago now. That was with somewhat boring content if I’m being honest with you.
“It was more just purely image focused, just a basic picture put on there with copy, and there wasn’t so much of the story.”
The brand quickly recognised there were several other options available through the application that could drive up consumer engagement.
“Through more of a strategic approach of storytelling, delivered through a campaign, whether that be global or regional, we have been able to drive that up to 4.2% to 4.3% on a somewhat regular basis now.
“Sometimes campaigns slip and we might get a 2.8% in there but on average we are getting around that 4%.”
2XU is among a roster of brands joining Instagram advertising, with Neilson reporting it as 2.9% more effective than typical online advertising.
Since its acquisition by Facebook in 2012, the platform has progressively rolled out advertising offers.
More recent additions include sponsored carousel images, which allow consumers to view multiple items and click through to purchase, as well as video advertising, which can be spliced in between ‘active user’ stories.
For Tony Bianco, another brand taking to the application as a means of engaging with a more youthful demographic, what works is slightly different.
Tony Bianco digital marketing manager Beth Auty agrees simple product images don’t resonate, however informational content, such as ‘how to’s’ and styling images do.
Auty says these allow sponsored posts to appear as native imagery, rather than pure advertising content, within a user’s regular feed.
“The posts that work are absolutely lifestyle imagery. You know products that are in the moment, that are on the person or flat-lay imagery, that works more for us.
“It is definitely that just flat plain product shot, that doesn’t sell the product. It has to be something that is styled and is on the foot, with an outfit that goes with the shoe. That certainly works better.
“We find that just as someone is scrolling through the feed, it looks like it a part of their feed it. It doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, it is something that actually looks native to their feed itself.”
Auty says Instagram has become an invaluable tool for the brand, allowing for a constant stream of relevant messaging that can be adjusted at the click of a button.
As a result of this shift in strategy, both Tony Bianco and 2XU have already seen the benefits of the applications’ advertising capabilities, with 2XU receiving between 25-30% of its site traffic from Instagram.
“We traditionally find that when we do paid ads about 25-30% of site traffic comes through Instagram carousel ads, the rest is from Facebook and they are the two channels that we use as our paid social channels.
“We find that we get about a four to one return on Instagram [advertising] whereas Facebook it can balloon out and be about twice that. I think that is purely around the visual component that helps drive that.”
For Tony Bianco, autumn/winter saw lower site traffic numbers generated from Instagram, however advertising yielded a stronger revenue rate.
“From March to now, 5% of our website traffic is from social media. Of the total revenue generated by social advertising for our autumn/winter 2017 campaign, 20% [of that] came from Instagram.”
According to Jordan, success is not simply measured in the percentage of return and site traffic, engagement rates are also vital to understand an Instagram campaign’s impact.
Its ‘men’s recovery’ campaign, which was highly image focused, saw a reach of 189,254 users as well as 818 ad clicks.
Another campaign, around its plyometric tights, made use of the application’s video capabilities, leading to a reach of 74,139 and 618 ad clicks.
Pricing, as well as the ability to tap into a youth orientated market, have been drivers of 2XU’s Instagram advertising.
Recommended daily budgets start at $68 and go up too $1,350, with click rates varying from 77 to 1,526 respectively.
Click rates can also vary based on the existing reach a brand may have, such as the amount of followers.
Millenials are also the highest users of Instagram, with Nielsen reporting that 52% of 18-24 year olds identified as users of the app. A further 39% of those aged 25-34 are also interactive users.
As Instagram continues to evolve and shift to fit its growing global audience, which now sits at 700 million monthly actives, Tony Bianco and 2XU both say they have further plans to develop their approach.
For Auty, she says the ‘learn more’ feature could become a useful tool for pushing further branded content toward its target demographic.
This feature allows users to click through on an advert, taking them to separate page that often contains more in-depth information around the image.
“I think ‘learn more’ would be really useful, for example if we were doing ‘how to’s’ like how to style different shoes, so I think we’d use a learn more feature rather than a shop now.”
2XU will look at developing a stronger prospecting strategy. This is a technique that allows advertisers to approach possible consumers through a more narrowed and fine-tuned criteria.
“It’s super simple in the approach that you are able to prospect, so go out to reach new customers. Basically having paid ads consistently running and reaching people through both Facebook and Instagram that fit whatever cohorts of consumers we think we need to reach.
“So they might be interested in sports, running, high intensity workouts, you know whatever it might be.
“We will be paying to always reach those customers and the call to action might be sign up to something, it might be to visit the website and [we then] try and lead them through the purchasing journey.”