Instagram has sailed past the billion-users mark, and it shows no sign of stopping. For brands, that’s a lot of potential customers. It’s understandable if you’re eager to jump into Instagram advertising, but it’s also understandable if you find the process to be a little intimidating.
Marketing teams that decide to promote their products and services on Instagram have to find a satisfactory answer to one question: How do we create high-performing ads that meet our objectives with a good return on investment?
The answer to that is to do these five things before you publish your Instagram ad.
1. Perfect the Intro to Your Video Ads
Social media users tend to scroll and skim, rather than thoroughly read each post. Instagram is no exception. The challenge is to get people to stop scrolling and pay attention. If you choose video as your format, that means grabbing attention within the first couple of seconds.
What’s the best way to accomplish this? There’s really no fail-safe trick to this. But the best way is typically to create different opening sequences, then A/B test those to see which performs best. Once you’ve settled on a higher-performing sequence, you can attach that intro to finish your creative.
Fortunately, Instagram offers analytics that you can use to track ad performance and compare one ad intro to another. Pay particularly close attention to ad impressions, bounce rates, and click-through rates. These will give you the best feedback on user engagement.
2. Entice Users to Swipe Left on Carousel Ads
Carousel ads have the highest engagement rates on Instagram. That makes sense when you consider it takes time to swipe left and view that content. Or course, that only happens if the person who sees the ad is enticed to do that.
How do you get people to swipe left? Start the carousel with something exciting. Ask a compelling question, lead with a great value proposition, or begin with some other call to action. The idea is to get your target audience interested in seeing that next slide.
For example, if you’re promoting a fitness product, you could lead with, “Swipe to learn ten ways to recover faster from intense workouts!” Then, follow that with ten slides of organic tips, followed by one that features your product.
As a bonus tip, intro slides that use the words “swipe” or “swipe left” tend to get users to perform that action more frequently.
3. Use Best Practices for Ad Optimization
You can put so much work into creating great Instagram ads, but that won’t matter if no one sees them! It’s important to understand Instagram’s algorithm and how it recognizes and responds to the ads you upload.
Start by knowing where you’re going to place the ad, then optimize for that. Will the ad show in-feed? If yes, it should be a bit more refined. Go for larger image sizes to improve user experience across multiple device types. For stories, film everything in vertical format.
Understand your audience and choose the right content based on their needs and preferences. It’s important to be precise here. Audiences have high expectations on Instagram. The photos you choose should be high quality and your call to action clear.
Also, remember that you can’t add links to your feed ads. However, you can add a link to your bio. For story ads, use a swipe-up link.
4. Test with Organic Content
The advertising content that resonates with your audience is going to look very much like the organic content they like to see. Don’t throw money at Instagram advertising campaigns if you don’t have enough insights into your audience. Instead, focus on creating and testing organic content. See what gets the best response. Then, use that information to inform your Instagram ad campaigns and goals.
5. Improve Your Production Values
Like most advertising platforms, video ads work very well on Instagram. They work so well that almost every brand on the platform uses them. This is why it’s so important to pay very close attention to quality and best practices.
Fortunately, this is something that most businesses can achieve. As long as you have decent equipment, some basic knowledge, and an understanding of the ideal Instagram ad specs for video, you should be able to get the kind of polished yet natural results that Instagram users expect.
Set Yourself Up for Success
It may help to think of these five steps as quality control for your Instagram ads. They will help you keep your ad content polished and get your information in front of the right people. This should lead to improved ad performance over time.