Garnering +511% Followers YoY Running an Instagram-Focused Campaign

Advertising
Content & Messaging
Instagram
October 19, 2021
Financial Services

Key Takeaways

Step is a mobile banking app targeting teens through a variety of Instagram ads on both feed and story platforms that has helped lead to a +511% increase in Instagram followers. Step’s ad strategy takes the following factors into consideration:

  • Ad Platform & Content: Step prioritizes story ads, focusing 80% of their ad budget towards them. Step’s ad creative varies and blends several categories including TikTok inspired videos, testimonials, stylized editorial content and parent & teen imagery. These ads are personable, eye-catching and product focused.  
  • Content Opportunities: Step has been experimenting with TikTok style videos, prioritizing them with 34% of the ad budget for Instagram stories. Step has creators make videos with TikTok features and uses them as a new approach to the Instagram story ad.
  • Audience Funnel Targeting: Instagram post ads are more focused on top and middle of funnel audiences, promoting more brand awareness and visibility. Instagram story ads are heavier in middle and bottom of funnel audiences, using stronger CTAs and leading viewers to app download landing pages.
  • Verbiage: Ads are targeted both to parents and teenagers. Even though the product is developed for teenagers, marketing to parents enables Step to reach the people with both buying and decision making power, using verbiage towards teens to help encourage the benefits of them using the product.

Step is a mobile banking app targeting teens through a variety of Instagram ads on both feed and story platforms. Step has developed a strategy that addresses both the buyer and the user through campaigns speaking to parents and their teens, leading to increased visibility and followers online.

Step Bank Instagram Following

As of September 2021, Step Bank had 143K followers with a 1.3% engagement rate. Since October 2020, Step saw an increase of +511% followers on Instagram.

Step Bank Advertising Spend

From Q4 2020 into Q3 2021, Step Bank only made advertising spends* on Instagram seeing a peak in spending in Q2 2021 at +153% compared to Q4 2020.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting. *Oct. ‘20 - Sept. ‘21.*Not including Google Ads

Instagram Post Ads

In Q2 2021, Step spent the highest amount of money on their Instagram advertising at $771K. Step spent 80% of their budget on Instagram story ads and 20% on Instagram post ads. 

Instagram Post Ads

With the 20% budget allocation to Instagram post ads, Step only ran five creatives at $152K over Q2 2021. 

Ad Funnel: Instagram Posts

Instagram post ads have a heavier focus on top and middle funnel audiences. The top of funnel content focuses on brand awareness and visibility. Middle of funnel content focuses on previous affinity to the brand by providing additional value such as a blog posts & interviews. 

Instagram Post Ads

This ad of TikTok influencer Charli D’Amelio uses $48K of the Instagram post budget. The content features the influencer speaking organically in selfie mode about what Step is and how it works. The caption speaks directly to teens and clearly lists the benefits of joining. 

Q2 2021 Influencer Ad Performance:

Spend: $48K | Impressions: 4.8M | CPM: $10.00


$1.2K of the Instagram ad post budget went towards an A/B test comparing two ads with the same creative and different captions. 

Creative B won with a caption focused on talking to a pain point in many teen’s lives in the form of a question, “Are you a teen looking for a way to send and receive money with your parents and friends?”.

Q2 2021 A/B Test Ad Performance:

Spend: $1.2K | Impressions: 124K | CPM: $9.67

Post Spend: $600 Impressions: 61.4K | CPM: $9.77
Post Spend: $600 Impressions: 62.1K | CPM: $9.66


$9.8K of the Instagram ad budget went to two different ads about Step’s “Real Talk” blog post series. Each ad features a different guest, including the CEO of Step as well as a financial influencer @pricelesstay.  Both ads link back to the Step Instagram account keeping viewers on their owned media channel.

Q2 2021 Podcast Ad Performance:

Spend: $9.8K | Impressions: 982K | CPM: $9.97

Post, Spend: $600 | Impressions: 61.4K | CPM: $9.77
Post, Spend: $1.3K Impressions: 128K | CPM: $10.15

Instagram Story Ads

With the 80% budget allocation to Instagram story ads, Step prioritized story creatives with a spend of $620K in Q2 2021. Into October 2021*, Step ran 77 ad creatives that all have Instagram story platform variations. Instagram story ads fall into four categories including videos edited as to look like TikToks, testimonials, stylized editorial videos and parents & teens. 

*Individual Instagram story spend and impression data cannot be accessed.
Only creatives for current month (October 2021) can be reviewed.


Out of the four content categories for story ads, TikTok based videos had the highest number of creatives (34%), compared to the remaining content all averaging at 22%.

Ad Funnel: Instagram Stories

Ads run as Instagram stories have a split focus on middle and bottom of funnel audiences. TikTok style videos and testimonial ads focus on educating while stylized and parent ads focus on calls to action. Both sets of ads click through to app download landing pages.

Instagram Story Ads

34% of story ad creatives are TikTok inspired videos. These videos feature teens recreating popular dances or vlogging similar to content that would be posted organically on TikTok. 

📹  Tactics:

  • Text on screen
  • Innovative transitions
  • Trending songs
  • Bright colours

Post #1, Post #2


22% of the ad creatives are testimonials from teens about Step. These videos are natural, organic and authentic to how the person in the ad feels about their experience with the bank.

📹  Tactics:

  • Personal selfie view
  • Closed captions
  • Passionate ambassadors
  • Organic content
Post #1, Post #2


22% of the ad creatives are more stylized videos featuring graphics, colours and professional footage featuring Step. This acts as editorial and traditional advertising content focused on the benefits of the product.

📹  Tactics:

  • Text on screen with service benefits
  • Detailed, close up shots of product and service
Post #1, Post #2


22% of the ad creatives feature parents with their teens. This demonstrates the collaborative and open nature of the product for more protective parents.

📹  Tactics:

  • Authentic selfies and smiling imagery with family
  • Working with influencers and their parents, such as Charli D’Amelio and her mom in the second creative.
  • Text on screen to show benefits
Post #1, Post #2

Instagram Story Landing Pages

Where Instagram post ads click through to Step’s Instagram account, stories drive traffic to Apple and Google Play landing pages to download the app.

Apple Store, Google Play


Step’s Android app saw an increase of +72% in Monthly Active Users going into Q2 2021 and onwards. 

Audience & Messaging

To maximize the reach and strategy behind their Instagram ads, Step employs two forms of verbiage based on their audience. One speaking directly to the user (teens) and one speaking to the buyer (parents).


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