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Best Instagram Ads for DTC Brands

Best Instagram Ads for DTC Brands

Discover the best Instagram ads for DTC brands. Learn strategies, see real-life examples, and enhance your Instagram marketing with MagicBrief’s comprehensive guide.

Jun 3, 2024
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Best Instagram Ads for DTC Brands

Brands have traditionally relied on third-party sellers for their products. This method is tried and tested, but like most things, has its limitations. With 93% of marketers worldwide in 2024 leveraging social media for sales, DTC (direct-to-consumer) brands have now become the face of social commerce. 

So which social media platform do DTC brands turn to? 

Well, turns out it's Instagram. 

Once primarily a photo-sharing app, Instagram has transformed into an advertising powerhouse. With an anticipated 1.4 billion active monthly users in 2024 and the extensive data capabilities of its parent company, Facebook, DTC brands can engage their target audience directly and skyrocket sales. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll review the best Instagram ads for DTC brands, provide real-life examples, and give tips on how to improve your Instagram game. 

Is Your Brand DTC?

Before diving into our Instagram ads for DTC brand examples, let's establish if your brand is considered DTC.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands sell their products directly to consumers, cutting out the middleman (third-party retailers). They typically operate solely online, without a physical storefront or a combination of a few brick-and-mortar locations.

Additionally, the DTC concept isn't just about the sales channels. It's also about the brand's relationship with its customers. With no third-party retailers to hide behind, DTC brands must handle customer interactions and satisfaction, data collection, and personalised marketing independently.

Some key characteristics of a DTC brand include:

  • Ownership: The brand controls the entire supply chain and customer experience.
  • Distribution: The brand sells products directly to consumers through an online store or physical retail location.
  • Direct Engagement:  Brands will directly engage with their customers through various channels, including social media and email marketing.
  • Data-Driven: By selling directly, brands can collect vast amounts of consumer data to refine their product, marketing, and sales strategies.
  • Community Focus: DTC brands often foster a community of customers with similar values and interests.

If your brand aligns with these characteristics, chances are you're a DTC brand. Now, let's see how some successful DTC brands use Instagram to reach their target audience and drive sales.

What Instagram Ads are Best for Your DTC Brand?

Your business may fall under the umbrella of DTC, but your advertising strategy should be unique to your brand. Here are the primary types of Instagram ads that can benefit DTC brands:

Reel Ads

Reel Ads are Instagram's answer to TikTok's massive output of short-form video content, lasting up to 60 seconds. With this ad format, users can add music, filters, and text to make the content more engaging, letting them create fun, creative ads that can quickly grab attention.

Due to Reels being so versatile, it's become a go-to format for many DTC brands promoting their products or services. Simply put, there are fewer ways to show your products in action that are more fun than a catchy reel.

Below are DTC travel, clothing, and food brands that have seen success with Reels:

ThirdLove

ThirdLove is a start-up lingerie company that focuses on all body types, whether you're petite or curvy. Their ad campaigns also have this mentality, diversifying models by featuring women of all sizes and races.

In their Reel ad, the brand features customers showcasing their inclusive sizing options and comfortable and flattering bras. 

Their ad copy, meanwhile, addresses the common issues with traditional bras and highlights their unique selling points.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron has revolutionized the meal kit delivery industry by offering a convenient and personalized cooking experience. They frequently use UGC in their ad campaigns, featuring real customers describing their experience with the brand’s meal kit.  

Blue Apron's use of real customer testimonials gives their brand a compelling edge. It's goes beyond selling meal kits -  it's about sharing everyday, relatable experiences that show the joy and simplicity of using their products. This show-not-tell strategy connects, builds trust, and offers a real glimpse of real-life success stories instead of generic ads

Video Ads

Instagram video ads are essentially all ads in a video format, including Reels, Stories, and In-Feed video ads. Due to the many video formats available, DTC brands have no shortage of content ideas for showcasing their products or services.

Some popular video ad ideas include product demos, customer testimonials, behind-the-scenes footage, and influencer endorsements. These can be short or long-form, depending on the platform and target audience.

Let's discover some successful DTC brands that have leveraged video ads to reach their customers:

Paravel

Paravel is a DTC sustainable travel brand that creates luggage and travel accessories from recycled materials. Their values essentially put them on the map, and they've successfully incorporated that into their ads.

In their video ads, Paravel uses professional and sleek product imagery to demonstrate their classy luggage products. This approach is more reminiscent of top luxury brands,  making them stand out in an industry often dominated by mass production and cheap materials.

Clothing - Black Milk Clothing

BlackMilk sells clothing for those on the more daring and bold side of fashion. Their collections are brimming with patterns and bold designs, perfect for those looking to make a statement among the subdued.

This DTC brand was primarily built through direct marketing, using social media platforms like Instagram to create edgy, colorful ads that align with their target audience.

Food - HVMN


H.V.M.N., "Health Via Modern Nutrition," is a pioneering American DTC enterprise dedicated to creating and distributing innovative nutritional products. Its primary product is the cutting-edge Ketone-IQ™ beverage, designed to redefine how we fuel our bodies and minds.

In this video ad, the DTC brand features one of their client's morning routines, consisting of icy cold showers and gaging on 'delicious' apple cider vinegar. Of course, it's all satire to introduce the brand's performance-enhancing beverage.

Image Ads

Instagram image ads include any format not primarily a video, such as single images, carousels, and collections. These ads typically appear between organic posts on a user's feed and can also be found on the Explore page.

As Instagram is highly visual, DTC e-commerce businesses gravitate towards using image ads to showcase their products and brand aesthetic. These ads typically include high-quality product shots, lifestyle images, or creative graphics that capture the attention of users scrolling through their feeds.

Home - Burrow

Burrow is a DTC furniture brand that creates modular, customisable furniture that's easy to put together and move.  But what makes them shine is their free shipping and 30-days returns policy, keeping customers happy and invested in their products.

Now, let's move on to Burrow's advert.

Unlike most big box furniture brands, Burrow introduces their products by name. This personal touch makes each item feel special, rather than just another piece of furniture you'll see in every home.

Food - Hungry Harvest

Hungry Harvest is a DTC company that sells ugly-looking yet perfectly edible produce farmers tend to throw out. Hungry Harvest saves this produce and delivers it to customers' doorsteps at a discounted price. And for every box they deliver, at least 10 pounds of food is saved from being thrown out.

Their image ads ensure to convey that message too. They often showcase close-up shots of the wonky-looking produce and explain how their subscription service helps reduce food waste and provides fresh produce at a lower cost.

Away

Once a normal luggage company, Away's shift towards a DTC model was due to personal frustrations with suppliers overcharging for quality products due to the traditional retail markup. Today, they're one of the highest-funded, female-led startups in the US.

Away's carousel ads follow the same minimalist, sleek aesthetic as their products, showcasing only one product per slide behind a shadowed background. Their ad copy is succulent, focusing only on the product's core features and unique value proposition.

AYR

AYR (All Year Round) focuses on practical wardrobe staples for people on the move. Instead of making fast fashion for quick trends, they use quality materials and low-key (or old soul) designs to promote versatile, comfortable clothes.

But while their clothes aren't flashy, AYR's high-end advertising campaigns certainly are. Along with their featured Forbes endorsement, their products are professionally shot and modeled. This instantly demonstrates their commitment to production quality and gives potential customers a sense of elevated style.

Story Ads

Instagram story ads appear in between users' stories and are a great way to reach potential customers in an authentic, organic way. They're highly immersive and engaging, appearing so quickly that users don't have time to scroll past them.

American Giant

American Giant is a clothing brand that uses American-made materials to make their products.

While they do own retail stores, it's eCommerce where they thrive as a DTC brand.

In this 10-second Instagram Story ad, we can see their wide range of full-zip hoodie dresses. Coupled with a 5-star review praising their hoodie's quality and fit,  this ad instantly appeals to online shoppers looking for high-quality, locally-made clothing.

Collection Ads

Instagram Collection ads are a shopping-focused format that features multiple products through a combination of images or videos. When users tap on the ad, they're taken to a full-screen product page to browse and learn more about the featured products.

JustFab

This membership service provides consumers personalized monthly selections from different retailers. VIP members, meanwhile,  get the very best, most exclusive deals, whether it's big item discounts or access to their newest products before everyone else.

In their Instagram Collection Ad, we see Their various products available, along with descriptions, consumer ratings and discounted prices. 

Explore Ads

Explore ads are any ads appearing in Instagram's Explore tab, making them easily discoverable by shopping-focused users. These ads are usually in the form of sponsored content, including photos, videos, and carousel ads.

So, which DTC brand type best suits these types of Instagram ads?

Any brand heavily relies on visual appeal, especially for impulse buys or requiring minimal thought from the consumer. This includes fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands. However, due to the Explore tab's broad reach, any DTC brand can benefit from advertising here.

Shopping Ads

Have you ever clicked on an ad only to find the CTA 'Shop Now' or 'Buy Now'?

These are Instagram's Shopping ads.

This type of ad allows brands to showcase their products or services and tag them in the photo, making it easy for users to purchase directly from the app.

After clicking on a shopping ad, whether it’s a video or image, consumers are taken to a product detail page within the app. This page provides more information, including pricing, and product descriptions, additional images, and sometimes user reviews. From this in-app page, consumers can typically tap a link to buy the product, which may lead to the brand’s website or an in-app browser where they can complete their purchase.

Why Should DTC Brands Focus on Instagram Advertising?

Around 130 million Instagram users engage with shopping posts every month. And out of its 1.4 billion users, 70% go on Instagram to discover new products and services.

These impressive statistics are precisely why DTC brands should hop on the Instagram advertising bandwagon. With a highly engaged user base who loves to shop, DTC companies everywhere can catapult their growth by promoting on this platform.

Below are some of the top reasons why DTC brands should prioritize Instagram advertising in their marketing strategy:

Higher Engagement Rates

Instagram users love to heart, comment, and share content, making it a hub for brands looking to gain traction. According to studies, Instagram has an average engagement rate of 1.58% in retail, outperforming other social media platforms shown below:

Retail

  • Average Instagram engagement rate: 1.58%
  • Average Facebook engagement rate: 0.73%
  • Average X (Twitter) engagement rate: 0.93%
  • Average LinkedIn engagement rate: 1.08%
  • Average TikTok engagement rate: 0.63%

DTC brands can use Instagram's highly visual platform and various interactive features like Stories, Reels, and Shopping tags to achieve higher engagement rates and connect with potential customers.

Build Trust with Your Audience

Since DTC brands don't have established third-party retailers or distributors to vouch for their quality and reliability, they must do it themselves.

Through Instagram DTC's friendly platform, these brands can easily connect, nurture, and establish trust with their audience. They can do this through their policies, i.e., Burrow's convenient shipping and returns, or engaging directly with customers through comments, likes, and prompt responses regarding inquiries or orders.

Visual Storytelling

Before explaining the importance of great storytelling, let's dive into the stats:

  • 500 million people engage with Instagram Stories daily.
  • Instagram Reels usage has surged by 57.4% year-over-year, and 74% of Instagram users now engage with Reels.
  • Instagram carousels enjoy a higher engagement rate among business accounts, with an average rate of 0.76%.

So why do I bring up these ad format stats? It's because they reflect how Instagram users prefer to consume content on the platform. People want visually appealing content that essentially tells an entertaining or informative story, going beyond product promotion and sales pitches.

DTC brands can utilize these formats to their advantage by creating engaging visual content that shares the brand's story, values, and overall personality. This helps build a connection with the audience, humanize the brand, and set it apart from traditional businesses.

Drive Targeted Traffic to Your Business

Instagram is an excellent platform for driving targeted traffic to your business.

DTC brands can use hashtags and geotags to target a highly relevant audience of potential customers.

For example, sustainable fashion brands can use hashtags such as #sustainablefashion or #ecofriendlyfashion to target people interested in ethical fashion.

Moreover, Instagram's algorithm considers users' interests and behaviour, showing them content they are most likely to engage with. If your content is engaging enough, Instagram will deliberately push your posts to a wider, more relevant audience.

MagicBrief: The Essential Ad Library Tool for DTC Brands

MagicBrief is a powerful ad library tool explicitly designed for DTC brands. It helps create and organize ads for various platforms, including Instagram.

Here's how MagicBrief can help DTC brands make the most out of their Instagram marketing:

  • Gain inspiration: Select and analyse the best ads in your industry from our Ad library.  Use these insights to create compelling ads for your brand.
  • Ad Organisation: Create new ad groups and campaigns, and manage them efficiently with MagicBrief's organizational tools.
  • Storyboard and Creative Brief:  Use the storyboard feature to map out your creative ideas for an ad campaign visually. You can also use the creative brief tool to outline all the components of an effective ad.
  • AI ad ranker: Our AI-powered ad ranker analyzes all ads ensuring you get acess to only the best performing ones.

Sign up To MagicBrief and join our growing community of DTC brands! This way, you'll learn how to stay ahead of the competition by creating high-quality, effective ads for Instagram and other platforms. 

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