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The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Ads for Conversions: Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices

While it may seem like running social media marketing ads, or paid ads on Instagram is remarkably easy, there are a host of aspects to ensuring that they do in fact deliver the right results for the budgets you apply. Since the inception of Instagram Ads, the platform and its algorithms have evolved significantly, and what worked say until recently may no longer be valid. Here are 7 things to consider before you start running ads. 

1. Understand your audience

    Before you start creating your Instagram ads, it's important to have a clear understanding of your target audience. This will not only determine the ad creatives but also the targeting. This in turn will determine the efficacy of your message, followed by the CTR or click thru rate, and conversions. If you understand what makes your audience tick, and what are their concerns you can specifically solve, you have a much higher chance of driving conversions. 

    An example of a focused target audience would be parents to newborn kids in the age range of 0 - 3 years old. This audience might look for a variety of services and products for their baby.  Let’s assume you’re selling skincare products but are focused on baby skincare products, this is the audience you would be communicating with and ensuring you’re addressing some of their biggest fears when it comes to skincare products for their infants. This is specific, and laser focused. By doing so, you’re addressing a need, communicating with people who are going to be looking to buy products and therefore are ready to convert, and finally, can communicate in a way that helps them see the reasons to buy your product. Answering these questions around “Who is your audience and what makes them tick” is what will help you create ads that resonate with your audience and drive conversions.

    2. Choose the right ad format

      Instagram offers several different ad formats, including photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, story ads, reels, in-feed ads, and more. These keep evolving in terms of the number of surfaces you can run your ads on. However, each format has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it's important to choose the right one based on your goals and target audience. Here, too, keep in mind that your ability to create a strong narrative will vary based on the format you choose. A carousel is recommended when you want to tell a longer story, and explain more information versus a shorter story ad which is meant to expose the user to the brand, and doesn’t work for conversions but is effective in driving traffic to the website, landing page, or product detail page. The creative should determine the placement but equally understanding the power of each format and ad placement is critical. Understanding the amount of real estate each ad format consumes, and what is the messaging, and objective behind each type of placement is crucial while developing the creatives. 

      3. Create visually appealing content

        Instagram was and is a highly visual platform from the very beginning. More so with short-form video formats now being ingrained in our lives, the ads we create, depending on the audience, story, and part of the funnel not only need to be visually appealing but need to stand out in a very cluttered market. Use high-quality images and videos, and make sure your ad design is consistent with your brand identity. While this may seem easy, with the growing use of Canva, and similar tools, it’s even more necessary to have a distinct visual identity, brand narrative, and tone of voice. In a scenario that even if the customer doesn’t see your logo, they’re able to identify your communication. Think of a sports commercial, and you’d naturally think of Nike, for example. While that kind of top-of-mind recall takes decades to build, in today’s age of impression burns, this can be achieved through visual signatures, audio signatures, or other cues which are repeatedly used and makes your brand recognizable. 

        4. Write compelling copy

          It’s said that people are consuming approx 100K words per day. Let that sink in for a second. It’s equal to reading Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, every day. This means that the ad copy you create not only has to get the attention but make them want to take action. We always recommend a problem-solution-offer approach for ads which are focused on conversions because the idea is that the audience is familiar with the brand. If you’re communicating with the audience for the first time, the language will need to be different with respect to what we’re asking them to do. Use persuasive language to highlight the benefits of your product or service, and include a clear call-to-action (CTA) to encourage users to take action, depending on what stage of engagement you’re in.

          5. Use targeting options to reach the right audience

            Instagram of course does offer a variety of targeting options based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and their own assessment of the algorithmic likelihood of someone choosing your product or services. These calculations are typically probabilistic in nature; in that, if person A has liked your product or content, then A’s friend B may also like the same product/service. In general, this depends on the overlap in interests between persons A and B. This is useful because finding people who first like your product is critical as we’ve mentioned above. Use these options to narrow down your audience and make sure your ads are reaching the people most likely to convert. This must be done in a sequential manner by way of building an audience funnel. 

            6. Test and optimize your ads

              To get the most out of your Instagram ads, it's important to test and optimize them over time. Try different ad formats, targeting options, and ad creative to see what works best for your audience. Use data and analytics to measure the success of your ads and make adjustments as needed. This is a given since often we find that some creatives work better than others. Typically, testing multiple creatives and audiences for a new brand is necessary until you have a critical mass of your users you can use as seed data to build your own audience pool of converted users. By testing out different types of communication, ad copies, placements, and audiences, we understand what resonates with the customer, and which products are leaders compared to the others in the product portfolio.

              7. Follow Instagram's ad policies

                Finally, make sure you're following Instagram's ad policies when creating your ads. This includes guidelines around ad content, targeting options, and disclosure requirements. Failing to follow these policies could result in your ads being rejected or your account being suspended. Often, many clients come to us because their accounts have been disabled due to errors, their ads have been rejected for using terms which are not allowed, or similar reasons. Knowing what sets of triggers so to speak is crucial to avoid getting into trouble and losing your marketing spending. 

                And if all of the above seems too complex to follow, simply set up a call with us and we can take over the task of managing your account, running campaigns, and optimising them to meet your business goals. With an experience of over half a decade of running Instagram marketing campaigns, Meta Ads, Google Ads, Native Ads, and much more for a wide range of clients, we understand what works and what ingredients are needed to drive conversions.