How to Create Instagram Ads that Drive Sales: 7 Best Practices

Reading Time: 17 Minutes

GRIN also recommends this free guide:

Influencer Marketing Best Practices

Download Guide

Twelve years after the introduction of a photo-sharing app, people use Instagram in many ways beyond just sharing photos. With 130 million accounts that tap on shopping posts every month, Instagram has become a rapidly growing marketplace for businesses of all sizes and niches to market their products and acquire more customers.

Instagram’s great sales potential has attracted more than 200 million businesses to the platform, making stiff competition for brands seeking consumers’ attention. To win the Instagram game, the solution for companies is simple: Create Instagram ads that drive sales. Below, we’ll outline seven incredible Instagram ads examples that will inspire you in your next ad campaign.

Why do Instagram ads drive sales?

Instagram isn’t just about photos. Today we’re in the era of in-app shopping on Instagram.

Users discover, research, and buy products in-app, which makes this platform an effective marketing tool for businesses that want to attract and retain online shoppers. 

When you market your product on the platform, you encourage Instagrammers to consider it as an option. In fact, one report has found that the majority of users search for information (79%), visit the brand’s website (65%), or even make a purchase (46%) after seeing a product on Instagram. 

Instagram stats

Image via Facebook

People surveyed said they took the following actions after seeing a product or service on Instagram:

  • 79% searched for more information
  • 65% visited the brand’s website or app
  • 46% made a purchase online or offline
  • 37% visited a retail store
  • 31% followed the brand’s account online
  • 29% talked to someone about it

Over 25 million businesses see sales potential in this platform and use it for customer acquisition. There’s only so much space in the news feed for organic reach, however, marketers and business owners run paid ad campaigns to cut through the noise and achieve their business goals. 

Here are three reasons why Instagram ads help to drive sales. 

  • Instagram ads have precision targeting. Successful marketers define buyer personas to offer their products to the most profitable customers. When you know the portrait of your ideal customer, it’s easier to promote and sell your products. With Instagram ads, you can target your ads at people who are more likely to find them useful, or even set up “lookalike” campaigns to target people who have similarities to your most loyal existing customers.
  • Marketers can select the conversion objective for ad campaigns. The best thing about paid ads is the opportunity to choose an advertising objective and achieve your advertising KPIs. If you want to reach potential customers and increase ecommerce sales, use the conversion objective that allows advertisers to drive catalog sales or store traffic. You can also build multi-ad funnels, starting by optimizing for post views and then later retargeting those who engage.
  • Paid ads help to beat an Instagram algorithm. Instagram prioritizes content from friends and family or accounts people find useful, so it takes time and effort for businesses to create the right content and cut through the noise. However, when you create Instagram ads, you can circumvent the Instagram algorithm, as the platform shows it to your target audience.

7 Instagram ads examples of best practices

Instagram ads can be an effective tool to achieve your business goals if you know how to create eye-catching posts that convert viewers into customers. To inspire your next Instagram ad campaign, here are seven best practices on how to create Instagram ads that drive sales.

1. Create stunning visuals.

Paid ads bombard customers from all sides. Today, people see around 5,000 ads a day. For brands, this points to the importance of creating memorable ads that stand out from the crowd. 

First, lay a bet on visual content. Appealing visuals grab your audience’s attention. Why? Research has found that 65% of people perceive visual information better and people retain 80% of what they see. A good visual helps to deliver your brand message and convert viewers into customers. 

For instance, Milly made bright and eye-catching photos for its in-feed ad campaign to target potential customers. The company made a carousel post to show off several outfits, dedicating each of the five visuals to a different color. The campaign resulted in a 44x increase in purchases.

Milly Instagram ads examples

Image via Milly

But if your company doesn’t have the budget to hire a product photographer who can take similar stunning visuals of your product for your ad campaign, consider the following options:

  • Find freelance photographers who are just starting out.
  • Use free photo editing software.
  • Repurpose old visual content.

2. Invest in video ad creation.

In the last decade, the popularity of social media videos has been on the rise.

Merging movement and sound, videos grab audience’s attention and spark interest in your product. According to video marketing stats, 82% of global web traffic is video content, 54% of customers want to see more videos from brands, and 53% of people interact with a company after watching its video on social media. 

Long story short, people crave video content. And creating a video that shows your product from all sides positively influences purchase intent. 

Let’s take a look at Ralph Lauren. In honor of its 50th anniversary, the company made a video that showed multiple scenes to raise awareness about its company and drive sales of specific product lines.

Screenshot of Ralph Lauren Instagram ads examples

Image via Instagram Business

Dynamic and engaging video ads lead to an increase in video views. The campaign achieved significant results: 41% more product page views, an 18% increase in online sales, a 17-point lift in ad recall among the acquired millennial audiences, and a 7.1X return on ad spend online with dynamic ads.

And if you’re not one of the world’s most well-known fashion companies with an in-house team of video makers, you can still create outstanding video for your Instagram ad campaign with easy-to-use video editing tools. 

For example, Vivian Rodrigez, also known as @livbyviv on Instagram, used the video editing platform Videoleap to mix several short videos into one tight clip that showcases a lace wrap dress. Not only did she add text to the video, but Vivian also created a descriptive caption with a strong call to action that guided viewers on how to shop the featured look.

Investing in video ad creation pays off. To create video ads like a pro, try to:

  • Tell a story that works without sound. 
  • Mix photos and videos with the help of video editing tools.
  • Diversify video ad placement (Instagram Stories, Reels, in-feed).

3. Promote creators’ branded content posts.

With 92% of people trusting media figures and opinion leaders as much as real-world friends, the era of influencer recommendations is officially here. Brands of all niches collaborate with Instagram influencers to market their products on the platform.

More and more brands realize the power of Instagram influencer campaigns, so they reach out to opinion leaders and ask them to create content that shows off their products. What’s more, Instagram allows brands to promote creators’ branded content to reach a wider audience of potential customers.

Branded content ads are effective, as people find them trustworthy. To get better results, companies can:

  • Send branded freebies for a product review.
  • Work with cost-effective nano- or micro-influencers (those with less than 10k followers).
  • Reach out to the right influencer for your brand in the same niche.

To connect with influencers for your ad campaign, find relevant people’s email addresses on Instagram. You can also use a creative collaboration marketplace platform that allows businesses to get in touch with interested opinion leaders in the same niche who have an engaged and relevant following on Instagram. It can ​​increase efficiency, boost your campaign performance, and improve your influencer marketing strategies.  

Case in point:

Meal delivery service Trifecta Nutrition leverages GRIN’s leading Creator Management platform to commission a high volume of user-generated posts. The company worked with 170 creators who made over 2,000 content pieces, just like in the example below:

Then, Trifecta reused and repurposed content pieces for paid ad campaigns. When featuring creators’ content on Instagram, the company tagged the author to give image credits and increase brand trust: 

This uniquely designed and artfully crafted post type grabs the attention of potential customers, making it perfect for branded Instagram ads that can result in more sales.

4. Understand customer pain points.

Due to market overchoice, people expect brands to pay close attention to their needs and wants to stay competitive. Otherwise, they lose interest in buying from your company.

When you reach out to potential customers with paid ads, you have just a few seconds to catch their attention. Not only should your ad be eye-catching, but it also should provide value if you want to attract more followers. This means you need to understand customers’ pain points. 

In the following Instagram Story ad, modern mattress company Simba turned to its potential customers who searched for high-quality mattresses to improve their sleep. The company explained its brand’s technological benefits to please any type of sleeper and encourage them to make a purchase. The campaign got a 73% higher return on ad spend, a 31% lower cost per click, and a 45% lower cost per purchase.

Simba Sleep Instagram ads examples

Image via Instagram Business

When using this strategy, consider including a call to action button like Simba did in the example below. With a “Shop Now” button, viewers get directions on what they should do after watching a paid ad. It encourages impulse buying. 

But it can increase the number of customer inquiries from potential consumers, too. Thus, having a virtual telephone number on your profile can be a good way to make it easier for potential customers to get in touch with your customer service representatives, ease their worried minds, and get more sales. 

5. Encourage active engagement.

Instagram claims that 90% of people follow at least one business in-app, and ⅔ of users interact with brands in-app. With 150 million people who have conversations with brands via DMs each month, not only do customers use Instagram to read companies’ news and updates, but they also expect brands to communicate with them on the platform.

Brand communication matters. To turn reached viewers into followers and customers, it’s important to show that you value your consumers, so listen to your audience. How? Encourage conversation with your ads!

The best way to do it is to use Instagram Story ads. First, it’s easier to increase a following with Instagram Stories. Second, Stories have in-built features to interact with followers (polls, question stickers, quizzes) in a fun and engaging way and therefore automate business communication

For instance, ASOS made a series of images that showed celebrities’ outfits and included a poll sticker that encouraged viewers to vote for their choice:

Series of Asos celebrity shots Instagram ads examples

Image via Instagram

Since people love sharing their thoughts, the example mentioned above performed well, giving ASOS a solid reason to boost these Stories and turn them into the next ad campaign.

Creating bright and fun visuals for its ad campaign is a way to grab the attention, but asking about customers’ preferences is another proven way to show interest in your consumers and start a conversation with viewers.

6. Incorporate exclusive promo codes.

No matter what you sell, your customers are definitely interested in exclusive promo codes from your brand. As specified in this post, 93% of customers use a discount or coupon at least once per year, and offering a bonus pack leads to a 73% increase in sales.

As such, it’s always a good idea to include a discount or promo code when creating and running Instagram ads.. Moreover, Instagram allows advertisers to include clickable links in ads, so you can quickly redirect interested users to your website to get more traffic from Instagram and encourage them to complete a purchase.

The image below shows an example of this strategy in action from Fresh Beauty. With a simple yet effective visual, the company got straight to the point with its time-limited discount.

freshbeauty Instagram ads examples

Image via Instagram Business

The company also included product tags, making it easier for customers to discover product details. As a result, the campaign got 8x more content views per link click from ads with product tags and generated 32% of sales from Instagram.

To stay ahead of your competitors, you can also offer interested viewers to share their contact information and send exclusive offers right to them. This strategy helps businesses capture more leads and convert them into paying customers.

7. Provide social proof.

Customers choose to buy from brands they trust. From peer recommendations to influencer endorsements, there are many ways to increase brand trust. However, providing social proof is one of the most effective ways to convince customers to choose your company over competitors.

To drive holiday sales, Milton & Goose shared crowdsourced images in its ad campaign to raise brand awareness, provide social proof, and build a following of potential customers. As a result, 50% of customers discovered Milton & Goose on Instagram, and the company got a 4.6X increase in the 2018 Black Friday sale compared to the previous year.

And if you want to repurpose these assets for your ad campaigns and emphasize details, always use an image upscaler to increase a photo in size without losing its quality.

However, always keep your customers in mind and ask for permission to repost their images. After all, satisfied customers are loyal customers who can become your brand advocates.

Key takeaway: Level up your Instagram ads to drive more brand awareness, conversions, and sales. 

Running Instagram ad campaigns isn’t enough to convert reached people into customers. Analyze your consumer behavior, understand their needs, and put your potential customers first to create Instagram ads that spark interest in your product and give a solid reason to make a purchase immediately. It’s the best way to drive sales on the platform, and the above-mentioned best practices can inspire your ad campaigns.

Are you ready to stake your claim in the creator economy? Discover more helpful tips and resources from the experts at GRIN: Creator Management Learning Center

Updated: June 2023

Was this article helpful? Give it a share!

Want to be the first to know what’s new in the creator economy?

Our team keeps a finger on the pulse, so you’re always working with the latest information.

Get the GRIN newsletter for all the trends and insights you need to grow your business.

Written by Val Razo

Val Razo is a freelance SMM consultant who helps small and medium businesses establish and maintain a social media presence. She also writes for digital marketing blogs and Val has been featured on SME, Hubspot, Wordstream, and others. You're welcome to contact Val on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @ValRazo1.

© Grin Technologies Inc. 2024. All rights reserved.

GRIN's Discovery Suite


Supercharge Your
Influencer Discovery Efforts

Discovery Suite

Supercharge Your Influencer Discovery Efforts

GRIN's NEW Discovery Suite

Discovery Suite
Compare the Time of a Manual Process vs. GRIN
Compare the Time of a Manual Process vs. GRIN
GRIN favicon

GRIN + Uber Case Study

How did one person build Uber's robust TikTok community from scratch?

Find out here
GRIN logo


Uber logo

Introducing GRIN
Professional Services

Our team of experts is ready to drive the results you need.

Learn more