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Instagram is more than a popularity contest – it’s a powerful sales tool.
Instagram is more than a popularity contest – it’s a powerful sales tool.

How to create an Instagram ad that increases sales

Instagram advertising is an important and ef cient tool in building your business, writes ALLISON HALL – but it is essential to have the correct strategy in place to make the most of this social media platform.

Small business owners – particularly independent retailers – are told time and time again that they ‘should’ be advertising on Instagram. Yet it can be challenging
to harness the true power of this social media platform.

Instagram advertising is like a magnetic field that attracts customers to your business.

According to Instagram’s figures, it has 400 million active daily users who create 80 million posts each day. This means your advertising has the ability to reach a very large number of people.

At the same time, you can also create very targeted ads to maximise your chances for converting sales.

Paying for Instagram ads need not be a large financial commitment, and the types of ads you create can be tailored to your budget – whether it is $10 per day or $10,000.

Most importantly, Instagram ads are extremely effective. Some digital marketing experts say that Instagram ads are twice as cost-effective as Facebook ads due to the higher number of clicks they receive.

Developing a strategy

Once you decide to create an Instagram ad, the first step is to determine your objective. Some of the most common goals include driving traffic to your website, increasing sales, gaining more social media followers, and increasing engagement to build brand recognition.

Don’t try to ask a viewer to both follow you (increase your follower count) and make a purchase (increase sales). The total viewing time of your ad will be short, so the goal needs to be succinct and attainable.

The next step is to decide who your audience is. Instagram’s targeting options can be broken down into three categories:

  • Core Audiences – The app’s default option
  • Custom Audiences – Numerous data sources are used to pull a group of users who have previously interacted with your brand
  • Lookalike Audiences – Data is analysed to create a group of users who have similar characteristics to your existing customers or followers

Look at your Instagram page’s Insight tab in order to find out the demographics of your pre-existing followers.

Alternatively, you can make decisions based on the type of person who is going to be interested in your specific product or service.

Creating the content

Once you have your objective and audience in mind, the next step is to determine which type of Instagram ad would be the most effective to achieve your goal.

You can choose from single photo ads, carousel ads – that is, multiple photos that users ‘swipe’ through – video ads, Instagram Stories ads, and ads on the ‘Explore’ page.

There are different benefits to each type. For example, static photo ads are visually compelling, and users can ‘Save’ and return to the post.

“One of the best approaches to avoid being skipped over is to make your Instagram ad look like a post created by a friend.”

Video ads can be up to one-minute long which allows you to tell the story of your business, present a problem and solve it, or go in-depth about how a product works.

When you create an Instagram video ad, optimise it for mobile viewing. Natasha Courtenay-Smith, CEO of digital marketing firm Bolt Digital, says this means incorporating movement in the first three seconds. The audio of the Instagram video will also be muted by default, so it is crucial to add text or captions to let viewers know what is going on.

Meanwhile, carousel ads allow up to 10 images or videos and give you the ability highlight multiple products, or ‘deep dive’ into the details of a single product with multiple angles and styling options.

The most important thing is to grab the attention of the consumer immediately. There is no time to waste – studies show an ad needs to compel a viewer to stop within milliseconds.

Holding attention

One of the best approaches to avoid being skipped over is to make your Instagram ad look like a post created by a friend. In other words, make the ad not appear to be an ad.

We see this increasingly with cosmetic and skincare companies, such Glossier.

These advertisements are effective because they blend into an Instagram feed and therefore are not immediately ignored.

They also feel authentic, approachable and familiar – and can make it appear as if the products are recommended by a user’s peers, instead of being promoted by a business.

Finally, decide on your call-to-action button. For example, do you want the viewer to immediately purchase your product or call you to make an appointment? Choose the option which caters to your goal, and then create visuals which compel them to click.

By following this guide to brainstorm your Instagram advertising strategy, you will put yourself on track for a focused, successful campaign that persuades potential shoppers to act.


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Allison Hall

ALLISON HALL is a marketing and public relations specialist at Three Girls Media, an award-winning agency based in Seattle. Visit:

Showcase Australia (JIMACO)

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