With 201 million users accessing the photo and video sharing platform, India is a leading audience segment using Instagram. Statistics state that there are 140 million daily active users on the platform, sharing and consuming content. That’s the very reason why you need to sell on Instagram as a part of your holiday marketing strategy.
But getting noticed on Instagram is now easier said than done. No matter how good your image or video, which trend you’re hopping onto or how many hashtags you’re making use of, organic reach is dipping every day.
If you have been there, experienced that, it’s time to start leveraging Instagram ads!
Before you get excited, let us tell you that getting conversions on your Instagram ads isn’t easy either. But it does help you expand your reach to capture new, relevant audiences.
If you’re new to this, you can learn about what Instagram ads are, the different types and formats, and targeting, in our beginner’s guide to advertising on Instagram.
In this article though, we’re going to share some tips on the one aspect that can make or break your ad campaign’s success. And no, it’s not the discount you’re offering.
We’re talking about your Instagram ad creatives to sell on Instagram.
- Keep in mind the specifications of Instagram ad formats
- Keep the text on your ads catchy yet minimum
- Focus on one thing (product or the text)
- Add a call to action on the creative
- Create FOMO using the text on creative
- Use the power of contrast
- Try different creative types
- Always ensure your creatives are branded
- Use social proof in ad creatives
- Show multiple products
- Keep your product in focus
- Highlight the product features
- Ensure the ad graphic has some structure
- Show people using the product
- Different ad creatives for different audience segments
- Use numbers to get your point across
- Stick to 1-2 fonts per creative
- Location-specific ad creatives
- Use children and pets in creatives
- Make them funny and odd
1. Keep in mind the specifications of Instagram ad formats
Your Instagram ad’s appearance (whether it is seen in Instagram Stories or Feed) will depend a lot on the format you choose for the campaign. As per Facebook, here are the available formats for Instagram ads:
- Images: If you’re making use of a single image in your Instagram ad, your image will appear in the square, landscape or vertical format.
- Videos: If you plan on using video creatives in your Instagram ad, your video then appears in the square or landscape format (excluding Instagram Stories).
- Carousel: If you want to use multiple images in your ad campaign – carousel format, your ad will then appear in a square or vertical format in the Feed and Stories.
- Instagram Stories: This particular Instagram ad format can support the same media you use in other placements – single image, or videos; but it’s recommended you use a fullscreen vertical creative instead.
- Instagram in-stream video: This Instagram ad format supports video creatives up to and including 15 seconds long; it is recommended to use a fullscreen vertical asset though.
- Reels: You will be able to use fullscreen vertical assets only as ad creatives for Reels ads.
- Instagram Shop: For this, your ad creative must be either single image, carousel or in collection format. The ad will appear as a square 1:1 image and will be tappable to your website for product details.
2. Keep the text on your ads catchy yet minimum
High quality visuals are important when you’re selling on Instagram. The photo and video sharing platform has time and again emphasised the importance of keeping your content catchy for it to perform well, and it’s no different for ad creatives.
Keep your ad creative text to the minimum. The idea is to let people visualise what your product looks like – be it an image or a video.
And on top of that, keeping the text crisp will also help you boost the readability of it. Too much text in too small dimensions might only end up looking like an eye sore.
While Facebook has removed the 20% text rule from ad creatives, giving you more room for creative copy, we think you can use catchy words in the ad description. For your ad creatives, stick to power words on actionables.
For example, if you’re promoting a new collection on your Shopify store, you can simply add ‘NEW ARRIVALS’ on the ad creative. Go into sharing more details about the collection in the description instead.
Here’s an example of DMODOT keeping text as a secondary element in their ad creative:
3. Focus on one thing (product or the text)
While the human brain can process multiple pieces of information in one go, it tends to focus on only one of those things the most. If you present an ad creative that showcases the products on sale, along with a lot of text, there’s a high chance your audience actually consumes only one of them.
Simply put, either their focus will go on the product imagery, or the text. And if that one element isn’t the strong point of your ad creative, your sell on Instagram campaign will not succeed.
For example, if you’re targeting a new audience with your Instagram ads, we recommend following Tip 2 – keeping the right mix of product visuals and text to highlight your value proposition.
But if you’re targeting an established audience, who know what you sell, you can experiment with ads with creatives that include only text, like: CHRISTMAS 20% SALE IS LIVE!
The golden rule to choose the point of focus here is asking yourself, who are you targeting and what do you want them to take away from the Instagram ad.
Here’s an example of a text-focused ad from Ikea:
And here’s an example of a product-focused ad, that keeps text to minimum from the same brand:
4. Add a call to action on the creative
Yes, your Instagram ads – no matter what the format, will have a CTA added to them. It could be to visit your profile, your website or send you a message.
But if you really want to hack your Instagram ad performance, leverage the copy on your ad creative to nudge an action from your target audience. Keeping your ad creative copy crisp, you can include a CTA (call to action) that tells the audience what to do next!
For example, Fossil is running Instagram ads to get more audience to their social media account. While their chosen ad formats do have a CTA, they also use the creative space to spell it out clearly ‘Follow us on Instagram’.
Similarly, if you want them to visit your site to take pre-orders on a limited edition collection, your ad creative can spell out ‘Pre-order ABC now’.
5. Create FOMO using the text on the creative
Another tip on making the most of your Instagram ad creatives and the copy that goes on it, is to create FOMO.
69% of millennials experience FOMO and 60% of people make online purchases because of it – mostly within 24 hours. It’s human psychology – no one wants to miss out on a good product, a good deal or something that’s trending!
You can incorporate FOMO in your ad creatives using product labels like ‘fast-selling’, ‘trending’, ‘offer until stocks last’ or ‘running out soon’.
The idea here is to keep your product as the focal point of your Instagram ad creative, but use the call-to-action space to create an urgency around the purchase of it!
6. Use the power of contrast
There are a number of steps in the decision making process when consumers look at ads. So you need your ad creatives to grab attention, trigger interest instantly, increase their desire to make the purchase and nudge a desired action like visiting your store. This is where using a ‘contrast effect’ comes into play.
Contrast is essentially the difference in luminance and/ or color that makes an object or its representation in the ad creative (image/ video) distinguishable.
Using color psychology, you can create a contrast in your Instagram ad creatives to trigger an emotional reaction that favors a buying decision. Although, it is important to focus on using colors that are consistent with your brand style and target audience preferences.
Here’s an example of ad creatives that use contrasting colors from Bummer:
Here are some resources to understand color psychology and contrast better:
7. Try different creative types
While a lot depends on the format of advertising you’re choosing, it is also important to experiment with the type of creatives you put to use.
For example, for Instagram Feed ads, don’t just use static or single images. Experiment with short videos, GIFs or even boomerangs to showcase your products in different ways.
The idea is to make your ad creative capture attention and also present the value proposition of your products. Using carousel images to showcase different features of your product may be too tedious for a buyer to browse through; using a GIF here would be a smarter move!
Aachho uses different formats on Instagram to promote their products. Here’s an example of a single image Feed ad:
Here’s them using carousel images to showcase multiple products:
And here’s how they’re using videos in Instagram ads:
8. Always ensure your creatives are branded
According to a study, an average internet user sees about 5,000 ads every day and recalls only 2% of them. Running Instagram ads shouldn’t be a short term strategy; you need to plan them in such a way that they add to your long-term goals.
When working on your ad creatives, keep them consistent with your brand. From the colors you make use of to the fonts, logo and other elements, you want to keep something that instantly strikes a chord with your audience and can be related to your brand.
Think about how you know McDonald’s is right around the corner when we see the smallest flash of red!
9. Use social proof in ad creatives
About 87% of buying decisions begin with researching brands and products online. A typical online shopper seeks reviews, ratings and testimonials before even interacting with a brand. That’s why adding social proof to your ad creatives is a good idea!
For example, if your product has been featured in a popular magazine, add a little ‘featured on’ label on your creative. You could also showcase the number of reviews it has received or the overall product rating so that your audience feels compelled to explore what others love.
Fizzy Goblet uses celebrity photographs to show how their products are being styled by those that their audience looks up to:
Here’s another example from Aachho:
10. Show multiple products
Every consumer is different and may have different style preferences. If you have products in different variants, showcase them all using either multiple images to create a carousel or a short video that presents them all.
You can also use multiple products from different categories and collections to target a new audience to let them know what’s available on your Shopify store.
Here’s an example from Heads Up For Tails:
11. Keep your product in focus
DTC brands tend to keep a lot of their focus on product photography. This includes clicking pictures in different set ups and on different backgrounds. While these product images look aesthetic when used on product images or as hero banners on the website, they’re too distracting to be used in Instagram ads.
Make sure the ad creatives you use (images or videos), are focused on your product more than the background. If there are too many elements in the backdrop, it may take consumer attention away from what you actually sell.
For instance, when you’re selling stationery items, you don’t want them thinking you also sell electronics!
Here’s Headphone Zone promoting one of their products by exclusively keeping their ad creative specific to it:
12. Highlight the product features
Depending on the product you want to sell on Instagram, your ad creative needs to highlight its features. The idea is for you to visually convey the USP of your product and appeal to the viewer’s interest.
For example, if you sell travel accessories and are promoting a bag. You can use a carousel of images or a short video to highlight things like the number of pockets, zips, waterproofing and other aspects that make it travel-ready.
Here’s an example from DMODOT showing what’s the USP of their footwear:
13. Ensure the ad graphic has some structure
When designing a storefront, we focus a lot on how the page flows both in terms of design and content. Ideally, you should be using the same logic while designing your ad creatives as well!
The foundation of a good Instagram ad creative is making information consumption easy and telling them exactly what to do next. A recommended structure of a good ad creative, which may vary based on the format you use is:
- Headline (USP)
- Call to action (CTA)
As a DTC brand, your unique value proposition, CTA and visuals are the most important elements of an ad creative. Make sure they stand out distinctly in the creative you plan to make use of.
14. Show people using your product
Your ad has to look like it is a part of someone’s Instagram Feed if you want people to engage with it. No one likes to interact with business content; but love engaging with content from those who they relate to in some way.
Show people using your product instead of always displaying just the product. You can ask your existing customers to share photo reviews or even record videos of them putting them to work.
Using this hack in your ad creatives is also a good way to add more perspective to your campaign. It helps your audience visualise how to put your products to work.
Here’s an example of Suta promotes their sarees; this helps them show how flowy the fabric is to match the look one would like to go for at different occasions:
15. Different ad creatives for different audience segments
Different strokes for different folks.
While a younger audience segment may like seeing and engaging with visuals that are nice and bright, an older segment may find them too jarring. This is why we recommend using different ad creatives for different segments of the audience you’re targeting.
Strategise your ad campaigns in such a way that you can segment your targeting as well. Prepare ad creatives that address each differently. This will also let you test different ad copies, offers and call to actions to see what each responds to the most.
16. Use numbers to get your point across
People are conditioned to pay attention to numbers in visual content. It helps them instantly understand the value your brand has to offer to them.
So make sure your ad creative includes any number that puts forward your ad’s value. For example, “20% off” or “Save 15% on all products”. Use a bold font and a bigger font size to bring the numbers to attention.
Here’s an example from Fabuliv promoting the ongoing sale on their website:
17. Stick to 1-2 fonts per creative
Using too many fonts in your ad creative is like trying to convey too much information in one go. That will leave your audience confused, overwhelmed and not knowing what to do next. People tend to shy away from anything that feels uncomfortable or ambiguous.
So when designing your ad creatives, try sticking to 1-2 fonts only. One that lets you create a title of some sorts and one that describes the value proposition.
A good idea is to use fonts consistent with your brand, or those that are used on your Shopify store.
Here’s an example of the same from Blue Tokai:
18. Location-specific ad creatives
Familiarity and a localised experience is a part of personalization that 80% of consumers expect from brands as of today.
If you sell locally or are running ads to target consumers from different locations, this tip comes handy!
Make use of location-specific elements in your Instagram ad creative. For example, if you’re opening a store in Mumbai, adding the Gateway of India in your creative becomes depictive and instantly recognisable, conveying half your information instantly.
19. Use children and pets in creatives
Who doesn’t like cute babies or fur buddies?
Time and again, marketing and advertising experts have found that people from all demographics respond positively to pets and children. You can leverage the same in your Instagram ad creatives as well to drive more engagement.
But make sure that when you’re putting their images to work, you’re losing context of what your brand actually sells or the audience you’re addressing.
You do not want to come across as insensitive or spammy.
20. Make them funny and odd
Depending on what you sell and who your audience is, you can also experiment with funny or add images.
Such types of Instagram ad creatives not only grab attention instantly, but also help you position your brand as ‘fun’. So make sure that’s the market positioning you’re going for before putting this tip to work.
Apps and tools to help you create Instagram ad creatives
We know a lot of you are solopreneurs or have smaller marketing teams who might find it all too overwhelming to create ad creatives. But the good news is that there are a number of tools and apps you can make use of to create them!
Here are some of them:
Canva is a smart drag and drop tool to design creatives. It comes with ready to use and customizable templates for all formats of Instagram that you can use to quickly create something for your ad campaign.
Another online design tool that comes with plenty of templates and customizations, Visme will let you get your ad creatives ready and running in no time as well!
If you want to create video ad creatives, you need a tool that will help you quickly patch your product pictures. You can use the Typito app for this as it pulls in product images from your storefront with ease, letting you do quick edits, add copy and filters before pushing them out for ads.
Another plug and play design solution you can use on your Shopify store, is Bannr. It comes with plenty of post ideas and templates for Instagram that you customize and edit for your ad campaigns.
Looking for other apps and tools you can use for photo and video editing? Check out the 25 Best Online Photo Editor Softwares & Apps (Free and Paid).
Sell on Instagram, and make more sales. Start today!
Running Instagram ads that drive engagement and more sales for your online business is a continually learning process.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the best Instagram ad creatives or Instagram advertising best practices. You need to start somewhere, monitor the results your ads bring in and optimize your strategy as per your audience’s response.
The above listed tips are a curation of Instagram ad creative best practices recommended by advertising experts and actively used by leading brands. And we truly hope you found an idea in there for your first (or the next) Instagram ad creative!
Looking for more resources on Instagram marketing? Here are some we recommend reading: