7 reasons your Instagram Ads aren’t converting
Are your Instagram Ads a flop? Columnist and Bitly senior content strategist Blaise Lucey explains what you might be doing wrong.
I’d rather see comedian Amy Schumer spit up milk than watch most Instagram Sponsored Ads. That was an actual thought I had when I was scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day. First, I saw an ad that I immediately skipped. Second, I saw an organic video of Schumer with milk dribbling out of her mouth. I chose to watch the latter.
Since Instagram rolled out Ads to the public, the number of ads in a user’s Instagram feed has exploded. The weird thing is, despite years of data showing that authenticity is the best practice to connect with their audience, companies are still treating social media ads like banner ads. And the average click-through rate for display ads like that is only 0.07 percent.
If your Instagram Ads aren’t performing well, here are seven things that might be causing users to skip over them:
1. The ad looks too professional
Instagram, like YouTube, is a sea of user-generated content. Anything with a corporate facelift is bound to stick out. The traditional clean, white look of an airbrushed ad isn’t visually compelling.
On Instagram, where colors and motion pop off the screen, users are looking for the extraordinary. Usually, “extraordinary” and branded colors don’t mix.
Create ads that look like the pictures that your audience’s best friend took. Natural lighting, candid shots and behind-the-scenes pictures all go a long way to building a connection.
2. Your ad doesn’t tell a story
A lot of Instagram Ads just have the brand name, a catchy tagline and a picture that almost looks like a stock photo. In other words, a banner ad.
Instagram users aren’t just looking at pictures. They’re looking for pictures that tell stories. The story can be funny, aspirational or action-packed. This is really the art of Instagram: transforming photography into stories that have a deeper meaning for the viewer.
3. Loud call-outs & banners
Just like with other social channels, Instagram users are coming to the app looking to be entertained, connect with friends and learn. If you really want them to ignore you, you can break their immersion by slapping a big red banner onto their screen.
On a mobile screen, a banner is the equivalent of a pop-up ad. With Instagram’s default call-to-action buttons, brands should focus more on content and less on driving people to tap.
When you genuinely engage a user with the right content, their eye will naturally drift to the “Buy Now” or “Learn More” button at the bottom of the ad.
4. You feature shadowy and/or generic people
Big, anonymous hands. The shadowy back of a shadowy person. A woman with no facial expression. If your Instagram Ad has any of these, delete it and try again. Even more than on Facebook, brands are competing for attention with puppies, motorcycles, jewelry, the Kardashians, concerts, Hollywood and more.
If you’re trying to create compelling images, you should either find an influencer who can bring his or her own audience to the content or focus on something that isn’t just the brand logo or bold text announcing a sale. If your Instagram Ad looks like a stock photo, it’s going to fail.
5. Your product is just sitting there
I’ve bought two watches from companies I found on Instagram. Neither was through an ad. So I know that commerce and Instagram can comfortably coexist. People follow aspirational luxury brands, and they like to see those products.
But, more importantly, they want to see those products in the context of that world. Luxury watches are set against the backdrops of city skylines. Energy drinks are seen in the context of dirt bikes and hang gliding. Fashion brands show off fashion tips, and the models are featured in beautiful urban and natural settings.
Your Instagram Ad needs to be about lifestyle first and product second.
6. Too much text
Text is the natural enemy of the mobile user. Research shows that when we look at our phones, our eyes gravitate toward the center of the screen. We notice images first and foremost. So if you’re depending on text to get your image across, you’ve already lost a good chunk of your audience.
While big, bold quotes can work as organic content, they fall flat if no one has heard of your brand before.
7. You’re not trying video
Instagram allows for 60-second videos. If you come up with a good way to show your brand or product in motion, you can easily catch people’s attention. Even as users scroll, the videos will auto-play. So that could be the difference between someone moving past the ad or taking the time to look at it.
A video series, interviews and action shots can go a long way toward establishing your brand as a leader in great Instagram content.
Referrals, followers, clicks
Just like other social channels, Instagram shouldn’t be thought of as a place to just push paid ads, hoping for conversion. That seems to be the guiding philosophy behind a lot of the Instagram Ads today, but as the space gets more competitive, quality content is going to win out.
With Instagram’s new algorithm fully rolled out, the social network weighs engagement heavily when it comes to deciding what content users see. Likes, views and new followers will all factor into whether or not people see the images that you’re rolling out. So creating more compelling ads is in a brand’s best interest.
Great content attracts great followers. Instagram users who follow your brand over time are going to tell their friends about the products and share posts with their friends. And eventually, many of those loyal Instagram followers will become loyal customers.