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If you want to get the most out of Instagram these days, you need to go beyond just publishing photos. Videos drive the highest engagement on this network – 21.2% more interactions than images, according to one study:
The same thing applies to ads: According to another study, video ads generally generate 7.5X more clicks than display ads.
But again, just publishing any video won’t automatically get you sales. You need to be strategic about this. This is why I'm going to share with you my top tips for creating Instagram video ads that actually generate sales.
#1 – Keep It Short & Simple
One of the biggest mistakes I notice with Instagram video ads is that people try to make them as sophisticated as possible. They create long videos and use complicated wording in the captions in hopes that this will help them convert better. But this only harms them.
If you want to get the most out of your ads, you need to keep them as simple as possible:
Instead of creating long videos, create short videos and keep the text at a 5th-grader’s reading level.
This is because short videos do better on Instagram. This platform lets you create video ads that are up to 120 seconds long – but they themselves recommend that you create short videos that are only 6 seconds long to see “higher brand metrics across the board.”
As the length of the video goes up, the watch time drops:
So instead of creating long videos in hopes to get the biggest bang for your buck, create succinct videos that get to the point and communicate your message quickly.
And as I mentioned earlier, keep the captions simple, too.
People don’t visit Instagram to look at ads, they go there to look at photos and videos from people they follow. In other words, they are looking for every excuse to get distracted from your ads.
To capture viewers' attention and increase the chance that they will take action, keep your wording as simple as possible. You can use a tool like Hemingway to simplify your writing to that of a fourth or fifth grader before you add it to your Instagram caption:
A good example of a short and simple Instagram ad that I came across was this one from Elementor – it starts off with a wizard doing a trick…:
And the call to action appears quickly. You will also notice that the caption is very easy to read. It’s just a couple of simple and short sentences:
If you want to get even more specific about the length of your videos, captions and even other elements like hashtags, I recommend that you conduct a thorough analysis of your past posts on Instagram. This will help you check which videos got the most views, likes, comments, sales, etc.
You can then create similar videos for your ads. You can also experiment with video lengths that are about the same as your top-performing videos. If the videos did well organically, they will probably do well as ads, too.
To analyze your Instagram account and find your top-performing posts, you can use Whatagraph’s Instagram Analytics Reporting tool:
Whatagraph will go through your entire account and tell you which posts got the most impressions, likes, saves, comments, etc. This will make it easy for you to find your best-performing videos quickly.
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#2 – Use Subtitles
Using subtitles on your video ads is important for several reasons.
83% of people watch videos on mute – and this number bumps up to 92% on mobile.
Some people watching your video with the sound turned on won’t be able to follow along properly if English is not their first language, some people are deaf or hard of hearing, and others mute their devices when watching video in public places, like on the bus or metro.
Therefore, you should take steps to make your video ads more watchable for these people. One easy way to do this is by adding subtitles.
When you add subtitles, 91% of viewers will watch videos to completion, compared to just 66% of those watching videos without subtitles or captions:
To easily add captions to your videos, you can use a tool like Screencast-O-Matic’s Video Editor:
This tool comes equipped with a speech-to-text feature that will automatically convert and display all the spoken words in your videos as subtitles so you don’t have to manually add them. The editor also lets you add overlays that can get the important elements in the video to standout.
A good example of a video ad where the entire speech was converted to text is this one from Elegant Themes:
It makes it easy to follow the ad even while on mute.
Another good example is this one from Indiegogo – although there's no talking in the ad (it’s all background music), they communicate with the viewer through image and text overlay:
#3 – Establish a Conversion Scent
What is conversion scent?
Conversion scent (or ad scent) is the visual relationship between the ad and the landing page. When the design of the landing page is the same as the ad, it indicates a strong conversion scent.
Here’s a great video that explains conversion scent:
The reason why visual consistency increases conversions is that it gives people a sense of familiarity when they land on your website from your ad. This is especially necessary when you are driving cold traffic, as these people have no idea who you are.
When people notice that there is a similarity between the ad and the landing page they will be more likely to convert to a lead or sale.
You don’t have to always make the entire ad look identical to the landing page; sometimes just adding your logo or making the headline/overlay text on the ad similar to the headline on the landing page can improve conversion scent.
An example of this is this video ad from Artgrid. The images are similar and they use the same logo in the top left corner of both the ad…:
And the landing page:
Even if you don’t add your logo to the ad (although why wouldn't you?), make sure to use the same logo for your Instagram profile picture and landing page. As you can see in the above ad and all the ones shared before, the profile picture is clearly displayed on the top of the ad.
If you don’t have a logo, you can quickly create one with the tool Zyro.
#4 – Create Shoppable Video Post Ads
One of the biggest problems with Instagram is that you cannot share links in your feed posts.
You can share a link in your ad, but then again it is only one link that will lead to one page. So if you have multiple products in your ad, you will need to create a special landing page where all the products are listed.
However, if you run an e-commerce store, there is an alternative solution: use shoppable posts. When you use shoppable posts, you can tag products in your posts like ORO does with the “view products” link:
When people see the video post in their feed, the shopping bag icon will appear, and when they click on the icon all the products tagged in the post will appear:
People can click on them, check them out and visit the website.
As a result of using shoppable posts, ORO was able to increase their MoM revenue from Instagram by 29.3%. They were able to take advantage of this feature as their store was built with Shopify, which has an Instagram integration that lets you tag products in posts:
The shoppable posts feature can be used while creating video ads as well. If you want to increase the click-through rate and sales from your video ads for your e-commerce store, instead of just relying on that one call to action link, take advantage of shoppable posts. It will make it easy for people to find the exact product they are looking for quickly.
#5 – Team Up with Influencers
Influencer marketing on Instagram is very popular as it generates the most revenue from sponsored posts compared to other social networks:
Most businesses just team up with influencers for an organic post. But Instagram also allows its users to publish branded content.
When influencers use the branded content option, they will be able to tag your business account in their posts, which will get your business name to appear at the top of the post. It will be displayed as “Paid partnership with” followed by your brand name:
It will also give you the option to run this post as an ad and get it to reach more people. You will even be able to view the metrics.
You should take advantage of this option and turn your best-performing influencer posts into ads. Your ad might also do better by running under a third-party (influencer’s) account. It will look more persuasive.
To find Instagram influencers for this, you can use a tool like Shoutcart:
They offer a directory of influencers with over 600M active followers and subscribers. You can browse through it by category and find influencers who would be interested in promoting your specific products.
#6 – Create Special Retargeting Videos
If you want your ad to generate more sales, you need to get very specific about who you are targeting.
If you are trying to reach a cold audience, it would be better to create slightly longer ads that tell people a bit about who you are.
But if you are retargeting people who visited your blog or people who have abandoned their cart, you need to create special retargeting videos for them. Because these people have already become acquainted with you, you can create shorter videos that get to the point more quickly.
For example, if a video is targeting people who have just abandoned a cart on your site, you can create a short video that simply asks people why they abandoned their cart and provides them with a discount code.
This will drive a good amount of traffic that will convert to sales, as retargeting ads have 10X higher CTR than display ads:
Also, website visitors from retargeted ads are 70% more likely to convert.
To retarget people, you will first need to install the pixel on your landing page and/or create a custom audience with your email subscribers.
To see retargeting in action, you can visit websites of the brands you like. Some of them will retarget you with ads that follow you around the web, so you can study them in order to get a better idea of how to get this right.
An example of retargeting is this ad I got served from Studiopress:
I use a theme for my blog that was made by them, so after I visited their site, they retargeted me with a video ad that provides a tour of another theme.
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#7 – Create Attractive Thumbnails that Follow Guidelines
When most people come across your ad, they will see it play automatically. But some won’t, as Instagram has a feature that lets them disable auto video play when they are on mobile data.
This is why if you want to get these people to watch your video ads, you need to create an attractive thumbnail that gets them to click on the play button.
This can be easily done by thinking about your target audience’s pain point (the one that your ad will solve) and adding the solution to it as overlay text. You can also add other overlay elements that can make the thumbnail stand out in the feed.
But you need to follow two rules while doing this:
Rule 1: Limit the amount of text on your video ads to less than 20%. Both Facebook and Instagram have a 20% text rule, and if you exceed it, they will limit the visibility of your ad (plus it will cost you more to run it).
So, work on reducing the amount of text on the thumbnail by using fewer words, a smaller font and by avoiding capitals (as they occupy more space).
Rule 2: Ensure that you have a conversion scent. This means keeping the font color palette and writing style similar to the rest of the ad and the landing page.
You can use Canva to create your ad thumbnail. They have pre-made templates for both feed posts and stories, so all you need to do is pick one and modify the text:
#8 – Place Your Best Content in the First Few Seconds
Just because people hit the play button, it doesn’t mean that they will watch the whole video.
This is why you need to make a strong first impression in the first few seconds. You can do this by immediately talking about your audience’s pain point and how your product will help solve it. Or just by starting with something that will get them very curious.
Don’t try to dilly dally with extra unnecessary information. Get to the main information ASAP. Doing so will also get people who have haven't hit play but do have autoplay turned on to watch the rest of the video. If you can capture their attention in the second or two before they have a chance to scroll past your video ad, there's a good chance that they will take action.
A good example of an ad that placed powerful content right at the beginning is the aforementioned one from Elementor with the wizard and his magic trick. When you see it, you are immediately curious and want to find out what is happening, so you continue watching it.
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#9 – Focus on One Goal
You should always focus on one goal per ad video. This actually applies to any video or post you publish on Instagram.
Quite often I notice people including multiple goals in their video. They ask people to check out their product, to like the post and to comment on it. When you give people too many tasks to execute, it just confuses or overwhelms them and they won’t take any action at all because of decision fatigue.
As I am showing you how to get more sales here, your ad should only focus on getting people to visit your website and buy. Don’t ask them to leave a comment or like your post or tag their friends. Those CTAs will be better suited if you want to improve brand impressions or engagement.
But if people do leave a comment, especially comments related to the product, make sure you respond to them quickly.
A good ad that focuses on getting more sales is this one from Lensdistortions. The video and the caption (“Shop Now”) are all about getting you to visit the website and buy the product. They don’t add any other call to action.
Now Create Your Own Winning Instagram Video Ads!
These are my top nine tips for creating Instagram video ads that actually drive sales. If you want to ensure that you generate maximum ROI from your ads, make sure you follow all the steps listed here.
It can take a bit of time to get all this work done, but you will be very pleased with the results.