Instagram Stories have proven to be a fundamental force of successful Instagram marketing. The evidence is clear: of the 500 million active accounts using this feature, one-third of the most viewed Insta Stories are those published by businesses.

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Not only that, but Instagram’s data further shows that one in five Stories elicit valuable interaction from its audiences via direct messages. And with interactive features such as Polls and Question Stickers introduced to Stories last year, their role as a powerful medium for encouraging interaction and boosting engagement has become even more prominent.

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It comes as no surprise that brands that are keen on harnessing the maximum potential of this ephemeral platform are also utilizing it to run targeted ads.

From boosting visibility and promoting brand awareness to driving conversions, Instagram Story ads can be an invaluable addition to your existing presence on the network. But with the overwhelming competition and picky, distracted audiences, you certainly don’t want to wing it and roll out something mediocre.

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To help you hit the nail on the head, we’ve rounded up the vital features of a Story ad designed to be a success, as well as some wonderful examples you can refer to.

Brand identity is front and center

Clear brand messaging is Advertising 101, but when it comes to ephemeral content, this point can’t be stressed enough – and you’ll want to make sure you adjust the concept well to the given platform.

This is a specific medium, where your ad will run as a slide amidst Stories the user was watching intently. Similar to a pop-up, a Story Ad is something of an interruption in the user’s flow. Not only that, but your ad appears among content that’s already presented in miniature chunks and often skimmed over in hast or skipped entirely with a simple swipe.

The takeaway? In order to raise brand awareness and stay top of mind, you need to put the vital branding elements (such as your company name and logo) in the spotlight from the very beginning and keep them there until the end of the ad.

Increasing brand awareness: DairyPure

You’ll find one of the best examples of successful branding in the DairyPure video ad campaign. Notice how the dairy company displays the product and brand logo prominently throughout their short video ads.

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The ads, featuring children, speak directly to its target audience – Millennial mothers – thus establishing a strong emotional bond that’s crucial to successful branding and successful marketing on social media in general. The ads also employ a charming and original sound strategy, which brings us to the next part.

Sound done right

According to Instagram’s own reports, 60% of Stories are viewed with the sound on.

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Now, what this means for marketers is that you clearly need to focus on sound to capture your audience’s attention and immerse them in your story, but that’s not all.

Just the same, you can expect a large portion of your audience (the other 40 percent, statistically speaking) to view your ad in silent mode. This ultimately means that you need to have a sound strategy which will enhance your message and help you achieve your goals, but that your ads also need to be able to perform well if the sound were to be taken away.

DairyPure does a wonderful job of using sound to display pure childish joy and humor, with a girl who buries her face in a cake (we can hear the sloshing) and then proceeds to yell “Caaaaake!” with chocolate smeared over her face. When you view the ad with the sound off, however, you’ll find it still works great because:

  • The feeling of joy and childish enthusiasm for cake is also conveyed visually
  • The brand name, logo, slogan, as well as the advertised product (a bottle of milk),  are clearly displayed
  • Sound is utilized to evoke feelings, but the ad employs strong copy to convey its message and bring the point home, stating: “Pure Milk. Pure Moments. Nothing Else.” In other words, the essence of the ad campaign is still there without the sound, but the sound adds another layer of effect.

Compelling visuals

This one goes without saying, considering the points we’ve stressed so far, as well as the fact that Instagram as a platform upholds very high visual standards.

You can use photos or videos to convey your point visually, or even a combination of the two, which can be a compelling way to capture attention and tell a story. Whether you’re telling the story of your brand, featuring a product, or trying to illustrate a specific point, bold imagery that reflects your brand image is the way to go.

Once again, this is where you need to understand your audience and take into account which kinds of emotions you’re seeking to evoke through your ads.

For example, a fashion retailer targeting upper-class Millennials isn’t going to approach visuals in exactly the same way as a company selling affordable children’s vitamins.

The former might be going for sleek and sophisticated imagery that alludes to exclusivity, while the latter will speak to dedicated parents, using visuals to display the happy, healthy childhood they want to provide for their kids.

Appealing imagery: Swiggy

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You’ll find plenty of amazing examples of bold and compelling visuals on Story ads, and Swiggy’s campaign is certainly one of them. It’s quite simple: in order to promote its app, the food delivery platform turns to Instagram Stories as the space where foodies across the world share their love for food through photos and videos.

And to hit home, they don’t only use beautiful, mouth-watering imagery, but they manage to convey a love for food and its creation through these visuals.  

Bold text

The part concerning your ad copy isn’t any different on Insta Stories from what you know so far. Make it concise, creative, and speak directly to your audience. The thing that is specific about Story ads in this context is that you have such a short window of time to convince the viewer to stay there and hear you out.

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Swiping away is just too easy, and you want to put your best marketing minds to work to immerse the viewer into your Story almost instantaneously – visuals will play a key role in grabbing their attention, and bold text follows closely to help you make the most out of that.

You want to make your value proposition crystal clear, and the sooner you do that, the higher your chances of success. If you can manage to do this within the first two seconds, you’re doing a stellar job.

Facilitating interaction creatively: Dunkin’Donuts

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Dunkin’ Donuts’ Story ad campaign is a golden example when it comes to using text in Story ads, and that’s because it does more than that.

The ad creators took a unique approach and decided to experiment a bit, using Instagram’s poll feature to make the ad interactive in a simple way. This helped engage the viewer in a conversation right before swooping in to deliver their message, making it all the more compelling.

Notice how the other vital elements are utilized clearly:

  • Upbeat music that plays well into the illustration
  • Bright, bold images
  • Telling a story progressively through very simple images
  • Clearly visible branding elements

Powerful CTA

What’s the specific action you want users to take after seeing your ad? It might be visiting your website to shop or learn more, visiting your profile, participating in a contest you’re announcing, etc.

Your ad needs to make it clear what the desired action is, as well as to creatively utilize all the previous elements to encourage them to take that action. Don’t leave it to chance – make sure that the CTA is crystal clear so that it may influence the viewer accordingly.

Strong messaging and gentle guidance: The North Face

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The North Face did an amazing job in their Story ad campaign, speaking to their audience directly and using strong wording to influence them – but without coming off as pushy. Notice how their ads are focused on messaging that shows them as relatable, helping engage the viewer and form a bond.

They actually use the ad to tell a story in sequences, finishing it off with one of the finest examples of CTA’s on Story ads to date: “Don’t swipe right, swipe up to match with the perfect bag.”

There are plenty of opportunities when it comes to Story ads. Take notes from these examples, immerse yourself in the ways of the platform, and then put your thinking caps on. Hopefully, this article has helped you gain a better understanding of the vital elements of a successful Story ad, as well as some enticing ideas. With a bit of creativity, the possibilities are endless.

About the Author: Natasha is lady of a keyboard with a rich history of working in the digital marketing field. She is always happy to collaborate with awesome blogs and share her knowledge about growth hacking and the latest online marketing trends. To see what she is up to next, check out her Twitter.