How to Convert Short Attention Span into Direct Sales When Advertising on Instagram

Irene Chan
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Do you have difficulty capturing your target audience's attention when advertising on Instagram? Do you then struggle to convert those leads into sales?

It’s not surprising if you’re facing this problem right now.

The human attention span is getting shorter as confirmed by Oxford and Harvard universities. CNBC also supported such findings. Even the NBA is reviewing the length of its games due to the shortening attention span of millennials.

When advertising on Instagram, fewer people watching your ads equate to fewer leads. And that in turn brings in fewer sales.

But here’s the thing.

There’s a proven framework to address the situation you're facing now. This framework helps to convert short attention spans into direct sales.

A Framework That's More Than a Century Old

The framework I'm referring to is AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). Studies in 2015 by Shahizan Hassan, Siti Zaleha Ahmad Nadzim and Norshuhada Shiratuddin revealed its effectiveness. “The finding shows the model can be applied to social media for marketing purposes.”

The Founding Father of AIDA

Elmo Lewis started the use of this model around 1898. He published the principles (known as AIDA today) in The Printer, an influential American magazine.

In the column, he stressed, "If you want to be successful in your advertisement, you need to follow this AIDA formula." Ever since then, advertisers, marketers, and copywriters have adopted this model.

What Is the Purpose of AIDA?

AIDA represents Attention (sometimes known as awareness), Interest, Desire, and Action. These are the four stages your prospects will go through before buying your product or service.

As they progress through each stage, your prospects will be more aware of your products or services. They will develop a certain outlook on what you have to offer. If it's favorable, they will finally buy into what you've got to offer them.

As a result, it's critical for companies to create the right message for the stage these buyers are in. Only then will your prospects resonate with your message.

The Pure Magic of AIDA

Here is an example. Let's say you want to create an ad for your service or product. The first stage is about capturing your target audience’s attention. The ad you create needs to attract your prospects. It needs to stop them from what they're currently doing and get them to take a look at your ad.

But before you can achieve that when advertising on Instagram, you will need to have done thorough research on your market.

Some questions to ask are as follows.

  • What is your buyer demographic?

  • What are their likes and dislikes?

  • What keeps them awake at night? What’s their pain point?

  • What's their desire or their dream?

  • How does your product or service solve your prospect’s problem?

Get those questions answered. Then you can craft the appropriate marketing message to your target audience.

Speaker and author Andrew Davis said, “The key to grabbing someone’s attention is to create a curiosity gap. And tension is created in this gap. Between what we know and what we want to know. This tension will cause your prospects to chase you for an answer."  And that's what you want.

Get your prospects to chase after you.  Don't chase after them.

WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)

Your prospects are only interested in one thing. If they have an existing problem, can your product or service solve it?

At this second stage, your ad needs to hold their attention. In other words, the ad needs to be of interest to your readers so that they will carry on reading.

You can fulfill that by highlighting the situation they’re in and the problem they're facing. How this problem is affecting their lives now?

The key is to illustrate that you understand what they’re going through and the pain they’re in.

In the third stage, you need to show how your product or service can fulfill your prospects’ desires and improve their lives. And you must show that you can help solve your prospects' problem.

Your products or services are the solutions to help your prospect to close the gap between where they are now to where they want to be. Your prospects will then proceed to the last stage.

That's when they'll take action to become your customer. And that happens only if they believe your product or service does indeed help them.

Most importantly, don't forget to have an option in your ad that allows your prospects to buy what you have.

Direct them. Be explicit. And ask them to take action.

Applying AIDA When Advertising on Instagram

Whether you're using Instagram images, videos or carousel ads, pay attention to the following when advertising on Instagram.

1. Captions

Captions are those written words that go along with your images, videos, and carousels. These captions can make or break your ad. For instance, images stop Instagram users from scrolling.  And your captions are the words that lead them to click on your CTA (call-to-action).

Also, avoid crowding the post with too many words.  Instead, treat the caption like a headline. Create a headline that creates curiosity and states benefits.

Next, be concise. Instagram cuts off captions after 125 characters. Anything longer requires Instagram users to click on more. This becomes an extra step for them to take. You want to reduce the clicks from the caption to your landing page.

Do take note that Instagram ads have a built-in CTA like “Learn More", “Shop Now” or “Watch More”. You need not duplicate the exact same CTA in your caption. This allows you to save those characters for other uses.

Next, you have to avoid linking to the URL since you can’t click on it. Instead, direct your users to click on your bio.

If you need to use emojis, do so only if these icons align with your branding. Does your audience use emojis when commenting on your posts?

Finally, hashtag your way to higher engagement. But include only relevant ones.

2. Images

Include photos with sharp images. Internet personality Gary Vee advises, “Include photos of humans.” Pictures with humans have more views. And let your pictures do the talking. Avoid text on images.

3. UGC (User Generated Content)

Why not make full use of content produced by your audience?

The data from Nielsen shows that 92% of users take into account products or services recommended by those they know. And 70% of users trust an online review of products or services given by those who have bought.

If you’ve already got testimonials, leverage this UGC. Why not get users to provide an honest review of what you offer and use that in your ad?

4. CTA

Include a CTA in your bio and direct users to click on the CTA. That’s the first step users need to take. This will allow them to find out more about your products or services.

5. Landing Page

You need to have a landing page that leads your users to step-by-step click and order your products or services.

Likes and comments from users are nice to have, but those clicks that lead to sales are what counts. To convert leads to sales, have a landing page with persuasive words. It's like taking a slide without bumps, hiccups, or stops on the way down.

Imagine this.

While reading your sales page, your readers feel they're understood. You describe the problem and what they're now going through as if you too are experiencing it.  

They've been reminded of the situation they're in now. They've been told the dream they want to realize. And your page also presented your product or service as THE solution to their problem.

Think about it. What would such a persuasive landing page do for your business? What would those extra sales do? And what would your business look like to you with more sales coming in?


Use the AIDA framework to help you craft the ideal message when advertising on Instagram. Then work on the following:

  • Captions

  • Images

  • User-generated content

  • Call-to-action

  • Landing pages

These are all important elements to pay attention to when advertising on Instagram. If you neglect this list, you miss the chance to turn leads into sales, especially when you're advertising on Instagram.

If you're troubled or unsure about why your pages aren't converting, you can give us a call today.

A whole new world of more leads and more sales are waiting for you here.

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Irene Chan

Are you looking for sales copies that convert your targeted audience into your customers? And to have optimized content loved by your market and Google? If this is what you want from your copywriter, Irene is here to help. She'll help you YOU generate more sales, more revenue, more business.

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