With more than two billion active monthly users, marketers are turning to Instagram more than any other social platform to promote their brands.

how to create instagram ads that convert

Instagram is 12 years old and gaining popularity with users and businesses. It was the world’s most downloaded app in the fourth quarter of 2021—beating out even the supernova that is TikTok. With more than two billion active monthly users, there are more than 500 million people signing into the platform every day.

Building a large following is as important on Instagram as it is on any other social platform, but with so many people logging on to Instagram, the best way to extend your brand reach is to build ads. Social ads allow you to target the demographic, the location and the interests of people you know are likely to engage with your brand.

Over the past 12 months, Instagram’s advertising audience reach grew by 20.3 per cent – much faster than Facebook’s advertising reach. 

Proof of brand engagement is there. A whopping 90 per cent of Instagram users are following businesses, 83 per cent are discovering new products or services,  81 per cent  are researching for brands, and 80 per cent are deciding whether or not to make a purchase. More importantly, Instagram users are liking, commenting, or connecting with brands in some way.

If you aren’t already on Instagram and leveraging Instagram ads, you are missing an opportunity to reach your target audience where they are.

How to create Instagram ads that convert

  1. Set your budget
  2. Define your audience
  3. Choose CTAs that make an impact
  4. Choose hashtags that are relevant
  5. Use carousel posts for higher engagement
  6. Create engaging video ads
  7. Optimize for mobile
  8. Track performance
digital marketing strategy template

What are Instagram ads?

Instagram ads are paid posts, short videos, carousels, and stories that appear in your Instagram feed or Stories. They look just like regular content on Instagram, with two key differences:  They are labeled “Sponsored” and you can include Call to Actions (CTAs) to encourage users to visit your website, sign up for a webinar, or make a purchase. 

There is an 89 per cent chance campaigns that emphasize a CTA will outperform creative that doesn’t.

A quick look at Instagram feed ads and Instagram Stories ads

There are two places to host ads on Instagram: in your feed and Instagram Stories.

Instagram feed ads can accommodate a range of sizes including landscape, vertical, and square. The more your ads resemble organic posts, the better they perform. 

Instagram Stories ads will fill the entire screen with 1080 x 1920 vertical images or video and are placed seamlessly in between individual stories. As an advertiser this is an excellent feature because it means you have your audience’s complete attention. Users can swipe up to go to your website, landing page, or wherever you want them to land.

Instagram will automatically adjust ads to ensure they are formatted correctly for Stories.

Why businesses should use Instagram ads

The numbers speak for themselves. Instagram is one of the strongest platforms out there when it comes to engaging with brands. It’s important to note that Instagram outperforms Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Facebook when it comes to engagement.

Brand engagement at a glance:

  • 11 per cent of U.S. social media users use Instagram for shopping
  • Engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook
  • 60 per cent of households with yearly income above $100,000 use Instagram
  • People who see a product or service on Instagram take action
    • 79 per cent search for more information
    • 65 per cent visit a brand’s website or app
    • 46 per cent make a purchase, either online or off
    • 37 per cent visit a retail store
    • 31 per cent follow a brand online
    • 29 per cent will talk to someone about it

With figures like these, brands can send highly targeted ads to segmented audiences to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. Marketers can monitor campaign performance in real time to gain important insights about conversion rates.

Best practices to create Instagram ads that convert

A well-planned advertising campaign on Instagram can help businesses get noticed and drive sales. Here are eight best practices to help create Instagram ads that convert.

Set your ad budget

Instagram’s parent company Meta (aka Facebook) defines a budget as the average amount you’re willing to spend on your ad every day. This is entirely up to you, but it’s important to set a budget that funds what you’re trying to achieve and to update it as necessary. The more you spend, the more people will see your ad. Once you set your budget, you can see an estimate of how many people your ad will reach.

The budget should also include the amount of time you’d like your ad to run on Instagram. Meta recommends starting with at least $5 per click and setting a duration of more than six days. This will allow Ads Manager, the ad delivery system it shares with Facebook, to target the most appropriate people for your ad. You can pause or cancel ads at any time.

Define your audience

You can create targeted ads based on location, gender, and interest in Ads Manager or right from your Instagram account. You can also target based on connections. For example, you can create a custom audience composed of your existing customers.

You can also create a new Lookalike Audience that are similar to your customers or similar to those who’ve already engaged with your content. Up to 500 lookalike audiences can be created from a single source audience. Instagram also provides automatic targeting. This means it will help you develop an audience that’s likely to be interested in your products and services based on a variety of signals.

Choose your words – and CTA – for impact

Instagram is all about beautiful visuals. People don’t come here to read. Meta finds that images and videos with less than 20 per cent text perform better. Users on your feed will only see up to 15 words in a caption. Make your first sentence one that entices people to click.

If you don’t have a specific CTA, Instagram offers predetermined CTA buttons such as Apply Now, Learn More, Book, Shop, Reserve, Download, and more. Be sure your CTA aligns with the goals of your ad.

If you use hashtags, make sure they’re relevant

Hashtags offer an opportunity to show your personality. While it’s fine to add 10 or more hashtags to organic posts, it’s important to be more discerning if you choose to include hashtags on your ads. The key is to make sure the hashtags you choose reflect your industry, will mean something to your target audience, and align with the goal of your ad campaign.

Use carousels to make your case

Carousel posts have the highest engagement rate per impression as compared to images and video posts. Carousel ads (both in your feed and Stories) help brands deliver messages with multiple components. For example, you can highlight several products or share different perspectives on how you can solve a problem. Up to 10 images or videos can be added and shared as a single carousel ad.

Create engaging video ads

Video is the most popular way to consume content with 86 per cent of businesses using video to market their products and services. Ninety-three per cent of marketers who use video say it’s integral to their overall marketing strategy. Using video will increase the likelihood that people will click on your ads.

Video ads tend to outperform image-based ads on Instagram Stories and can be repurposed for Facebook.

Keep the length of your video to 15 seconds or less. This also makes them eligible for in-stream placements on Instagram Stories and Facebook. Also, be sure to include captions or subtitles. Not everyone will have the sound playing when they first see your video.

Optimize for mobile

Make sure your Instagram ads’ text, images, videos, and post-click destinations are fully optimized for mobile. This includes fast load times and smooth navigation.

Track performance

Take advantage of Meta’s Ads Manager to understand your ad performance. You can monitor a wide range of metrics for deep insights, including the number of post engagements your Instagram ad achieved and total reach, amount spent, cost per result, and more. This will help you see what works and what doesn’t so you can improve performance. 

Test individual variables of your ads to determine the most effective combinations to drive results. 

Instagram started as a photo-sharing app and visual content remains central to how it attracts and retains users. Instagram ads can be images, groups of images, or videos that also include text. Brands are using Instagram ads to increase brand awareness and website traffic, generate leads, and convert clicks into sales. This platform is the best place for earning engagement with your brand. What are you waiting for?