How to Create Instagram Ads That Convert

Instagram can be a great platform for marketing, but it’s important to keep in mind how it differs from other social media outlets. Unlike platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, Instagram is primarily visual in nature. 

The possibilities are endless with Instagram ads – precise targeting and actionable insights are the key ingredients in a successful Instagram ads campaign.

In this post, we’re going to cover the following:

If you want to use a visual presentation to increase conversions, Instagram is a great choice. You can use Instagram to highlight certain products and services, or you can use it to showcase your company, with plenty of opportunities to leave a lasting impression among your audience.

If you want to learn how to create highly engaging Instagram ads that convert, the following is a guide to help you make the most of this potentially invaluable marketing channel.

What to Include in an Instagram Ad

what to include in an instagram ad

If Instagram is ideal for your business, you will need to create high-quality ads that grab your audience’s attention and attract them to your business. One of the first aspects to consider when creating ads is what to include.

Appealing Visuals That Look Like Legitimate Posts

People are far more likely to skip ads if they look like advertisements that stand apart from other native images. When browsing most social media apps, people simply don’t want to be bothered by obvious ads, but you can actually get people to stop for your ads if you use an image that appeals to the eye.

Oftentimes, you can use certain photos that you have taken on your own and would post to your personal social media profiles. For example, a beautiful picture of a city skyline at sunset that can tie into your ads might look far more natural than a meticulously designed image that feels forced and blatantly advertorial. Even if you don’t have any usable personal images, you can always turn to resources such as Unsplash for native-looking stock photos.


Hashtags are still highly relevant in Instagram ads if you want to connect with your target audience or even more people. Look around on Instagram for ads that pertain to your industry or specific ad and see which hashtags tend to attract the most user engagement. When creating your ads, use the most relevant hashtags that apply, which can encourage people to interact with your brand as your ad speaks more directly to them.


Your captions are also important to supplement the image you use. The caption should be relevant, concise, and effective, without going on a tangent. Combined with the image and hashtags, a carefully-worded caption can help clarify the product or service you’re promoting while potentially lending a more human voice to the ad. However, keep in mind that the focus of an Instagram ad should be the image, not the text, so avoid wordiness when writing your captions.

What’s The Difference Between Boosted Posts and Ads?

Boosting posts is a great way to get your content in front of a larger audience quickly. However, Instagram ads can be used to reach your target audience. Instagram offers different ad formats and placement options to further target your audience. 

Where To Include Instagram Ads

Instagram has a wide variety of ad placement options. Here are a few places you can include advertisements on Instagram to reach a larger audience. 


Reels is the newest ad format on Instagram. This ad placement is a short video where you can add special effects or audio tracks. This is a great place to get creative. You are able to add your own audio or choose from the Instagram music library. However, reel ads are different from organic reels in the following ways:

  • Can only be 30 seconds or less (organic reels can be up to a minute)
  • Can only be created on desktop

Here is one example of an Instagram reel format:

instagram reels ad example


Stories are vertical ads that run on Instagram’s story feature. These photos and videos are published outside of your normal feed. Organic Instagram stories are only available for 24 hours, however, with story ads you can choose how long they are available to your audience. 


Similar to Youtube ads IGTV ads show during videos either as pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll. These video ads can only be 15 seconds long but are a great way to get in front of a larger audience. Instagram offers several options for placing these ads. 


Messenger ads or Instagram direct is how you promote your business through direct messages. This ad strategy gives you a unique way to interact with your audience. Although the direct messages are sent automatically you will have to manually respond to messages after they are sent.

Explore Tab

These unique ads are displayed under the Instagram explore tab. The explore tab is where users can go to discover photos and videos. Unlike a normal feed, the Instagram explore tab shows posts from accounts you do not follow based on special interests. Explore tab ads are a great way to be a part of trending industry news. 

Steps for Setting Up Your Instagram Ads

Now that you know what to include in your ads, there are some specific steps to take to create your ads and maximize conversions. With a proven process in place, you’ll be able to easily and efficiently create high-quality ads that help supercharge your social media marketing efforts.

1. Develop a Strategy with Specific Goals

Before getting started on your first Instagram ad, make sure you have a strategy in place. You can begin with the specific goal you would like to achieve with the ad. Do you want to sell a certain product? Do you want to attract more traffic to a specific landing page? Are you trying to get more people to download a free trial or demo? Regardless of your goals, you should clearly identify one or more before designing and developing your ads.

2. Identify Your Audience

Once you have identified the goals, you need to figure out your target audience. Start by developing and reviewing each of your buyer personas and their corresponding demographics. Through Instagram, you can choose the same options for your audience that you would with other social media platforms, with the ability to target people based on their occupation, age, hobbies, and interests, among other criteria.

3. Set Your Budget

With your goals and audience determined, you can begin establishing your available budget for Instagram ads. Calculate how much you can afford to spend on an ad campaign based on what profits you want to make in return. For instance, if your goal is to attract more free trial downloads of software, determine how much you would be able to spend on ads based on how many users you project are likely to purchase the full version.

You’ll probably have to experiment a little when setting the budget, which will depend on how targeted the ad is and the type of media included in the ad, along with the decision to use a lifetime or daily budget.

Start with a smaller budget and run a test ad to gauge how well it performs over the course of a small period of time, maybe a few days. Based on the ad’s performance, you can then make changes to the budget and the ad without wasting your money. The important thing is to remain flexible and be open to making adjustments to your campaigns to optimize performance. At the same time, don’t rush things. Be patient and see if your ads gain traction over time even if they don’t seem to grab people’s attention immediately.

Once you’re ready to launch your Instagram ads, you can do so using the Facebook ad manager, which has Instagram integrated.

Boost Conversions with High-Quality Instagram Ads

By taking all of these aspects into consideration when creating your Instagram ads, you can launch a strong ad campaign that maximizes conversions and helps you get the most out of your available ad budget. With high-performing Instagram ads behind your business, you’ll be able to see a potentially significant boost in sales and further establish your brand as an industry authority through social media.

Interested in Instagram Ads but don’t have the time to run your own campaigns? Let our team of experts take the lead. Contact the Nomadic digital marketing team today for a consultation.

Taylor Townsend

Digital Marketing Coordinator
Taylor is a methodical and clever digital marketer with a strong focus in social media management. She has a diverse background rooted in music and the arts. She is a continuous learner and an experience seeker so in her free time, you would probably find her traveling, meeting new people or diving into a new project.

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