Man walking into building.

LinkedIn Advertising in 2022: LinkedIn Ad Examples From Tuff Clients

Man walking into building.

Author’s Note: This post was originally published in 2020. It has since been updated for 2022! 

LinkedIn advertising has been quickly gaining momentum as a critical tactic for our clients at Tuff —and for good reason. As a growth marketing agency, we’re constantly testing new channels and tactics to find the right mix for our partner’s target audiences. In this article, we’ll show LinkedIn ad examples for a variety of tactics and industries. 

Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and Google, with LinkedIn advertising, you can connect with granular, business-oriented audiences with targeted copy and creative. 

LinkedIn has gotten a rep in the past that it’s only useful for B2B marketing. And while that is somewhat true – and we’ll provide a few examples below – we’ve also seen great success testing the channel for B2C efforts, too! Linkedin’s member base consists of a more engaged, professional audience than some other channels, so it’s a great place to be if you’re looking to promote a product or service that may best be served to this particular audience when they’re paying the most attention.

At Tuff, we’ve known the value of a comprehensive LinkedIn ad strategy for the last couple of years. We ran our first LinkedIn advertising campaign back in March 2017 and are still actively running campaigns for clients today. 

Example of a LinkedIn ad.

This is the first campaign we ran (ever!) on LinkedIn. It looks a little out-dated now but back then it was CUTTING-EDGE stuff.

We’re also willing to bet that LinkedIn will continue to grow throughout 2022 and beyond, especially as LinkedIn advertising features continue to improve and advance to match the same level of sophistication as other paid acquisition channels. 

That’s why we recommend LinkedIn display ads to a variety of our partners, B2B, SaaS, and eCommerce, especially those with valuable content, brand awareness goals, or leads to collect.  

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the LinkedIn ad campaigns we have run so far in 2022 alongside our partners. 

Using LinkedIn for B2C Advertising Campaigns

Promoting Certificate Programs to Professionals for Pathstream

Goal: Driving leads

Campaign Objective: Website Conversions

Campaign Type: Sponsored Content

Creative Type: Static images

Pathstream offers certificate programs in partnership with Facebook, Tableau, Salesforce, and Asana and in partnership with universities throughout the country to help people who are looking to switch careers by learning something new or those who are looking to advance their careers by building upon their existing skill set. They’ve seen great success from Facebook campaigns, but we knew there was an audience on LinkedIn that we could very easily reach while they’re already scrolling through the channel for career-acceleration opportunities.

We leveraged Sponsored Content with the goal of generating leads by sending our target audience to campaign-specific landing pages where they could fill out a form to learn more about the certificate program they were shown. We learned shortly after launching that the best way to really make sure we were showing to a qualified audience for each program was to TEST TEST TEST these audiences.

We launched the campaigns by targeting an audience with relevant Job Titles AND 1-10 Years of Experience for the Digital Marketing program and an audience with the “Project Management” Skill, Years of Experience, and entry-level Job Seniorities for the Project Management program. In March, we layered new audiences into both programs built around another targeting option – Job Functions:

Project Management:

LinkedIn targeting for Project Mangement

Digital Marketing:

Digital marketing targeting on LinkedIn

Job Function targeting allows us to get a little broader and reach those we may be missing out by only hitting Job Titles, but the Years of Experience and Job Seniority targeting parameters still allow us to hone in on those who are not too far in their career and are looking to make a switch or advance where they currently are.

These audience tests helped us glean insights based on which audience was converting more, AND we were able to drive even more leads! By the end of April, the Digital Marketing Job Function audience had driven nearly double the leads than the original audience, and the Project Management Job Function audience, despite driving 4 fewer leads than the Skill audience, had contributed to a $20 lower CPL.

With the abundance of targeting options that are available in LinkedIn, it’s really important to ensure that you’re testing these audiences to find the one that engages with your ad and, ultimately, converts the most.

 

Getting in Front of Newcomers to the U.S. for Nova Credit’s B2C Efforts

Goal: Driving credit card pulls

Campaign Objective: Engagement

Campaign Type: Sponsored Content

Creative Type: A/B testing video and images

Nova Credit is a financial technology company that helps newcomers to the U.S. apply for financial services using their international credit scores from their home countries as long as Nova Credit services that country. 

Since we are looking to reach people who have just moved to the U.S., we have been taking advantage of LinkedIn’s Member Trait targeting options of “Recently Relocated (International)” and “Ex-pat.” Member traits are distinguished by members’ behaviors and actions they take on LinkedIn, their profile, their device preferences, and/or their general location inferred from their IP address.

LinkedIn Targeting for Newcomers

While our goal is to drive conversions from the campaigns, we have been testing the Engagement campaign objective. This objective shows the campaign to people who are most likely to like, share, comment, view, or click on the ads or follow Nova Credit’s LinkedIn company page. We bid on a “cost per engagement click” model, which means we’re bidding anywhere from $2-5 for an engagement click, making the objective fairly affordable with efficient cost-per-conversions – and we know that LinkedIn can oftentimes cost more than advertising on other platforms  

Through running these tests, we’ve found that LinkedIn has been the top channel in terms of driving conversions compared to the other channels we’re testing, which include Facebook, PPC, and Quora. And not only that, but it’s been one of the most efficient in costs due to the engagement objective.

Testing Video and Messaging to Mental Health Providers for Headway

Goal: Driving leads

Campaign Objective: Website Conversions

Campaign Type: Sponsored Content

Creative Type: Video

Headway is a software company in the mental health space that is working to build a virtual network of therapists who accept insurance that will help patients find more affordable access to therapy and care. We partner with them to target mental health care providers who are either working with insurance companies directly and looking to offload the work that comes with that or who have not yet considered working with insurance companies but would if they could find a helpful tool like Headway.

One element we began testing when we began our partnership with Headway was which creative type worked the best at encouraging providers to convert. It’s important to keep in mind with creative testing on LinkedIn is that you choose the ad format on the campaign level – so you can only set up ads within that format in your campaign. If you want to test between two formats, you’ll need to run 2 campaigns. In January, we ran static image videos but after a month or so of low lead volume, we switched to new video creative that our team had designed – and after swapping to video, the ads generated a 28% increase in click-through rate.

Creative for video ads on Linkedin

Since we saw a stronger CTR from the video creative, we deemed video as the winner and have been running video-only campaigns over the last few months. 

Another element that has led to a large spike in performance at a more efficient cost is the messaging in the ads. Headway services a select number of states throughout the country based on where they have large quantities of patients to work with, so our targeting approach has been segmenting the campaigns out by state and Job Titles. In March, we began to call out the states and statistics around the number of patients in each state in the ad copy. This doesn’t involve a ton of lift on our creative team’s end – we were able to simply swap a different state abbreviation or number depending on which state’s ad it was. 

The difference in performance, specifically the CPL, was very significant. When comparing March-April vs. January-February, the ads generated a 71% decrease in lead costs. While we’ve learned that testing and fine tuning our targeting on LinkedIn is very important, it’s also safe to say that our creative – both the image/video and ad copy text – truly make a difference as well.

Creative Split Test LinkedIn for Headway

Using LinkedIn for B2B Advertising Campaigns

Leveraging LinkedIn’s Company List Feature for Nova Credit’s B2B Efforts

We also partner with Nova Credit to promote their products to financial institutions who are looking for a way to tap into a new market of consumers, and we have been leveraging LinkedIn to get in front of these professionals. Their team provided us with a large list of companies they were looking to target. 

LinkedIn offers company list targeting that allows you to upload a list of company names that will then be matched against the 50 million LinkedIn Pages on the platform. 

LinkedIn recommends the list size be at least 1,000 organizations and to allow it at least 48 hours, or sometimes longer, to generate once uploaded. 

They offer a template to follow so that you can provide all of the appropriate fields to ensure the highest match possible. These fields include:

  • Company name
  • Company website
  • Company email domain
  • LinkedIn Company Page URL*
  • Stock symbol

While not all of these fields are necessary to properly match, the channel recommends you have at least company name, company website, and, most importantly, the company page URL. This last field requires you to manually find the LinkedIn page for each company you’re looking to target, but it’s well worth the match rate you’ll get once you upload.

The list we uploaded was only a couple thousand, but we were able to match to over 2 million members on the channel! From there, you can append more granular targeting options, such as Job Seniority, Job Functions, Years of Experience, or Job Titles. We layered Job Title targeting options into the B2B audiences so we could reach the most relevant people at these companies.

This targeting has allowed us to generate over 150,000 impressions in just over a month to aid with driving brand awareness around Nova Credit’s offerings to lenders and underwriters, all while specifically targeting the companies they truly want to be in front of!

How Are You Using LinkedIn Advertising?

At this point, it’s pretty clear that there is a lot more we can do to fully activate LinkedIn campaigns outside of just targeting Job Title or Company Industry. By taking advantage of the channel’s other features, we’ve been able to layer LinkedIn into our paid social channel mix to reach our target audience in new ways and with new messaging, and there is so much more to explore! If you’re looking to take your LinkedIn advertising to the next level, let’s talk!

startup team working on growth marketing tactics

Digital Marketing vs. Growth Marketing – What’s the Difference?

startup team working on growth marketing tactics

These days, it feels like there’s a new type of marketing that emerges every couple of months: growth, digital, brand, performance – the list is endless. Some people use many of these terms interchangeably. And while it’s true that there are similarities, all of these different fields of marketing are not the same. 

That drives confusion – both among marketers themselves, who struggle to define exactly what they do, and those looking to work with marketing agencies – the founders, CEOs, and leaders of businesses. And as more and more marketing has shifted online, one of the biggest sources of confusion has been the difference between digital marketing and growth marketing. 

What does a growth marketing agency do, and how is it different from a digital marketing agency? And why is it important to understand the distinction in the first place? 

Tuff is a growth marketing agency, and we’re no stranger to questions like this. So today, we’re answering them. Let’s get started. 

The TL;DR

Digital marketing––marketing tactics that leverage internet-based platforms to deliver business growth. 

Growth marketing––holistic marketing strategies built around driving sustainable business growth.

What is Digital Marketing?

Let’s explore this topic in a little more detail. As we outlined above, digital marketing essentially refers to any marketing tactic that’s executed on digital platforms. That definition covers a broad range of marketing tactics, including:

  • Pay Per Click (PPC)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • And more

Because there are so many different subfields of digital marketing, the term “digital marketing” has essentially become an umbrella term that applies to any marketing tactic that uses digital platforms. 

It’s important to note that digital marketing does not have a holistic framework that ties everything together. Savvy digital marketers will stitch together all of these different elements into a cohesive strategy, and create a digital marketing funnel that defines the role of different platforms at each stage of the customer journey. 

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth marketing is the process of building an efficient, scalable marketing strategy that powers sustainable long-term growth for a business. This strategy will use all kinds of marketing tools (including many digital marketing tools) to deliver results. 

Many people have a misconception of growth marketing as being some kind of hack or magic trick. Let us be the first to tell you – it ain’t that. There’s no secret sauce. Sure, there are proven growth frameworks and best practices, but the reality is that every business is different, and it’s just not feasible to copy and paste marketing strategies between different companies. 

The growth marketing process begins with a research process that explores a company’s target audience, competitors, industry trends, and value drivers. Armed with these insights, growth marketers then build a strategy that leverages a variety of acquisition channels. These acquisition channels are then tested iteratively, with results rigorously measured through tracking and analytics

Over time, the effects of growth marketing compound. You should double down on profitable, high-growth acquisition channels and eliminate strategies that don’t work. Along the way, you’ll constantly optimize everything from the conversion rate of your website to the strategies you use to retain customers. 

Dive Deeper: Tuff’s Growth Marketing Guide

What is a Digital Marketing Agency?

Many companies choose to work with a digital marketing agency. These agencies handle the day-to-day running of your digital marketing campaigns and design the strategies that power them. 

Many digital marketing agencies provide a full range of digital marketing services, whereas some are more specialized, and only focus on one or two verticals at a time. There are pros and cons to each of these approaches. 

Full-service agencies ensure that your customers have a holistic experience across different marketing touchpoints, but may lack channel-specific expertise that can drive results. On the other hand, a specialized agency may well be true experts in one field of digital marketing but lack the vision to create holistic strategies that span multiple customer touchpoints.

Digital marketing agencies typically work on a retainer model, although some may also charge other fees, such as a percentage of revenue or ad spend. There’s usually a set contract length, and many agencies have minimum ad spend thresholds to ensure they only work with established businesses. 

On a day-to-day basis, your point of contact at a digital marketing agency will most likely be an Account Manager. They’ll handle client relationships, reporting, and strategy, while the nitty-gritty of media buying or content writing is delegated to Paid Media Specialists or Content Writers.   

Some agencies have teams that assist your brand in producing marketing creative, but for the most part, this is left to the brand. One other point to note: digital marketing agencies will only handle your digital marketing activities – they won’t help with offline marketing. 

What is a Growth Marketing Agency?

At Tuff, we embrace a wide variety of digital marketing channels, but we do so in a holistic, balanced way that aims to deliver sustainable growth for the brands we work with. That means taking the time to establish which channels are the right match for your business, rather than immediately starting to spend thousands of dollars on individual verticals. 

Growth marketing engagements typically kick off with a short research process. In this period, expect your growth marketers to dive headfirst into all your data and identify the areas which are most ripe for growth. They’ll look for opportunities to score quick wins but will also pinpoint which acquisition channels represent the best opportunity for growth. 

At the conclusion of this initial research phase, a growth marketing agency will map out your entire funnel: the customer journey that covers everything from when a prospect first hears your business’s name to the point they convert into a paying customer. There’ll be a strategy to optimize every stage of this journey – from expanding your business to new target audiences or reimagining your landing pages to drive higher levels of conversion. 

Growth marketing starts lean, with small investments into a variety of different channels to identify the verticals that work best for your business. The process of trial and error enables businesses to quickly separate the growth channels they should double down on from those they should kill, and prioritize investment accordingly. 

Throughout this journey, there’ll be constant ideation, testing, iteration, and optimization to ensure that every channel is firing on all cylinders. At Tuff, we partner every client with a Growth Strategist – a dedicated marketer who runs strategy on the account and meets with you every week. They’re supported by a team of channel experts – specialists in a variety of different digital marketing verticals. 

We work on a retainer basis, as do many other growth marketing agencies. Adopting a retainer-based pricing model gives us the freedom to allocate resources wherever they’re most effective for your growth. That means you avoid throwing away money on losing strategies and instead direct your marketing spend towards activities that are proven to deliver results. 

Digital vs. Growth – Which One Is Best for Your Business?

If you already have a firm grasp on your growth strategy and simply want to refine your execution across different digital channels, then a digital marketing agency could be the best fit for your business. Digital agencies––particularly specialized agencies––provide tangible channel expertise that helps your business unlock additional growth on digital channels. Digital agencies are also a good fit for mature companies with in-house marketing capabilities and processes. 

However, if you’re a startup or growth-stage company, then it’s likely that a growth marketing agency better addresses your needs. Growth agencies act as an extension of your in-house team, working hand-in-hand with your employees to conceptualize, design, and execute data-driven marketing strategies. 

Besides, a great growth marketing agency can do everything that a digital marketing agency does. They’ll have deep expertise in a variety of digital marketing platforms, the ability to tie different channels together into a holistic approach, and the strategic vision to build long-term plans that help you achieve your business goals. 

You might think of a digital marketing agency as a collection of musical instruments, with each digital marketing platform represented by a single instrument. Alone, each instrument sounds pretty good, and when three or four play together, they sound even better. But they don’t sound anywhere near as good as an entire orchestra playing in unison. 

That’s a growth marketing agency. They act as the conductor that unites every element of your marketing strategy, with every individual component working in harmony to deliver results. 

Think a growth marketing agency sounds like a good fit for your needs? Let’s talk – we’d love to explore how we can help. 

team planning a fintech marketing strategy

What To Look For When You’re Hiring a Growth Agency

team planning a fintech marketing strategy

If you’re considering hiring a growth agency, you’re likely at an exciting time in the development of your business. The path ahead is lined with opportunities, and you’re at a crucial inflection point in your journey. Hiring a team of growth marketers can be a gamechanger for your business, sending growth into overdrive. 

So far, you might have been running marketing yourself, as a plucky, entrepreneurial founder Maybe you’ve worked with a marketing freelancer, or perhaps you hired a couple of generalist marketers in-house. At early-stage companies, these strategies often work just fine, but if you’re ready to take your business to the next level, it’s time to seriously consider hiring a growth agency. 

Growth agencies build and execute high-impact marketing campaigns across all kinds of verticals: from Pay Per Click (PPC) to Content Strategy. They’ll partner with you to identify key objectives and design carefully tailored strategies that you’ll test, iterate on, and optimize over time. There are no hacks, shortcuts, or tricks – just high-quality, data-backed strategies that deliver results. 

There are a ton of great growth agencies out there. At Tuff, we like to think of ourselves as one of them, but we know there are other great options out there; agencies like NoGood, Ladder.io, Right Side Up, and Part and Sum.

It’s vital you determine which growth agency is the best fit for your team. But how do you know what to look for? Let’s explore the key issues you should consider when hiring a growth agency. 

Define the Scope of the Partnership

Many growth agencies are formed of two key components: growth strategists; the quarterbacks that lead your brand’s overall growth strategy, and channel experts; the domain experts that provide specialized knowledge in specific growth marketing verticals from Google Ads to Conversion Rate Optimization. 

You might already have some of these resources in-house. Before you start talking to growth agencies, define exactly what kind of support you need from the relationship. If you’re working with a PPC freelancer that’s killing it, you probably don’t need a growth agency that specializes in Google Ads. Look for agency partners that can supplement your existing capabilities, not cannibalize them. The best growth agencies work as an extension of your team. 

Identify Major Objectives & Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Effective growth marketing demands a series of milestones and metrics you can use to measure your progress. Exactly what these metrics look like is driven by your company and your business model. A software platform with a subscription-based business model will have entirely different growth metrics to an eCommerce fashion brand. 

As you think about how to measure success, consider your overarching objectives. Work backward to determine the growth metrics that will enable you to achieve these goals and milestones. 

Perhaps you’ve promised investors you’ll hit $10 million in ARR by the end of the year. Calculate what needs to happen for your business to hit that goal. How many new customers do you need to onboard? How many leads do you require to generate those customers? 

The most common KPIs are often the most obvious: metrics like revenue, website traffic, or Return On Investment (ROI). But each marketing channel has its own KPIs too. Partnering with an experienced growth agency will help you determine what these should be, and also the benchmarks you should be aiming to hit. 

Talk to Multiple Growth Agencies

It’s important to explore relationships with several different growth agencies to get a feel for which is the best partner for you. We suggest talking to three to five agencies at this stage. To identify which agencies you should talk to, ask your network for recommendations, or search on Google. Check out the websites of the agencies you discover, and look out for case studies with parallels to your business.

There are all kinds of reasons an agency might feel like a good fit: they might have a lot of experience in your industry or they could specialize in marketing channels that are important to your business. Maybe you just really jive with their team. 

It’s impossible to figure out which growth agency makes the most sense for your team without talking to a few different agencies. Most of the time, these conversations start with a discovery call – a short, no-commitment call with a growth marketer from the agency. These calls are your opportunity to share your growth challenges, ask questions, and learn more about each agency’s approach to growth marketing. 

Here are a few questions to ask during these calls:

  • What do you look for in an ideal client? 
  • How often will we meet and what is the communication structure? 
  • Do you focus on a specific industry? Do you focus on a specific stage? 
  • How much of the work is done in-house vs outsourced? 
  • What’s your pricing structure? 
  • Will you bill a percentage of ad spend? 
  • How many people on the team will we work with? 

If the partnership feels like it could be a good fit after this call, you can expect to receive some follow-up. Often, this takes the form of a detailed growth marketing proposal that outlines exactly how the agency will work with your business. 

Be prepared to give the growth agency access to elements of your marketing stack: platforms like Google Analytics and Facebook Ads Manager give agencies an invaluable window into your current growth strategy, helping them to recommend more tailored strategies uniquely suited to your business. 

Review the Proposals and Make Your Decision

By this stage, you should have received detailed proposals from a few agencies. Take the time to review these in-depth: a lot of thought goes into these documents, and they provide valuable insights into what a potential partnership would look like. 

Incorporate data into your decision-making process, but don’t negate your gut feeling about which agency is the right partner. Ideally, this is a long-term commitment and it’s vital that you work with a growth agency you can trust. Don’t be afraid to schedule follow-up calls with agencies you’re seriously considering: it’s important that you have all your questions answered and can make your decision with confidence. 

Tuff Growth: A Proven Growth Agency

If you’re considering partnering with a growth agency, the team at Tuff would be more than happy to chat. We bring big-picture growth strategists and seasoned channel experts to every engagement, helping you build a scalable approach to growth marketing that promotes efficient, sustainable long-term growth. 

Want to learn more about our approach to growth marketing? Schedule a call with our team now – we’d love to share how we can help!

scale media spend

Tug of War: Balancing Scale and Efficiency with Paid Media Spend

scale media spend

Every business that runs a paid advertising strategy––whether that’s on Facebook, Google, or some other platform––does so with the aim of building a predictable, scalable, growth machine. And in theory, as long as the return on investment (ROI) remains above a certain level, brands should be willing to invest unlimited amounts into paid ad campaigns.

As a growth marketer, it’s common for founders, CEOs, and other marketing leaders to tell me that they have an unlimited paid media budget, provided the campaign demonstrates ROI above a certain predefined level.

But in reality, scaling a campaign isn’t as easy as that. If it was, everyone would be doing it. That’s why I also hear from a lot of leaders that they’re hitting a barrier, where any spending above a certain level sees advertising costs spike, and profitability plummet. 

Scaling a paid advertising campaign––no matter the channel––is hard. There’s a delicate balance to strike between volume and cost per acquisition – and it often takes an experienced growth marketing agency to get it right.

At Tuff, we’ve helped brands from all kinds of industries navigate these challenges. In fact, we’ve tested dozens of different strategies on well over 100 accounts. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about scaling ad spend efficiently while driving real results. 

Here are three of the most important things we’ve learned:

  1. Diversifying channels is key to success
  2. Use a variety of metrics to measure the efficiency of different channels
  3. Model your paid media spend

Let’s unpack each of these three lessons in more detail. 

#1 Diversifying Channels is Key to Success

For many brands, paid advertising on Google and Facebook represents the vast majority of their marketing budget. It’s easy to see why – they’re the two biggest platforms (by far), are relatively easy to manage, and can be experimented with at relatively low costs. 

Both platforms boast powerful algorithms that connect businesses to their customers at various stages. Google Search is fantastic for capturing high-intent, bottom-funnel traffic that’s ready to purchase. Facebook’s platforms have impressive prospecting technologies that enable businesses to reach new audiences well-matched to their products and services. 

Many brands focus exclusively on Google and Facebook. And while it’s true that it’s important to establish profitable marketing strategies on both these channels, there’s a whole world of other channels out there that brands should be experimenting with.

Diversifying your marketing mix helps you mitigate the risks that come with being over-reliant on platforms like Google and Facebook. For many brands, Google and Facebook are like an IV drip that keeps their business going – turn them off, and the business will struggle to survive. 

Embracing new platforms helps you address this dependence, but it also enables your brand to reach new audiences, create more consumer touchpoints, and ultimately, drive increased revenue in a sustainable way.

At Tuff, we’ve been testing channel diversification by running paid campaigns on platforms including: 

What Did We Learn?

This answer won’t hold true for every business, but for the brands we’ve been experimenting with, we’ve seen particular success scaling media spend on both TikTok and Reddit. Here are some tips for success:

Diversifying Your Marketing Mix with TikTok

TikTok has rapidly grown to become the most visited site in the world, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not all Gen Z users: 59% of TikTok users are aged 26 or over. TikTok users also show a much higher rate of engagement than those on other platforms – we see an Engagement Rate of 5.3% on TikTok, compared to just 1.1% on Instagram. 

It’s easy to get started with TikTok advertising. Your TikTok creative doesn’t need to be high production value: users want to see ads that are native to the platform and leverage current trends, sounds, and more.

Dive deeper: How We Achieved a 12x ROAS on TikTok with $7K in Ad Spend

Diversifying Your Marketing Mix with Reddit

Reddit is best-suited to brands seeking to build a loyal community. Regardless of the industry you’re in, it’s almost certain there’s a subreddit that will enable you to advertise to a targeted audience of your prospective customers. 

Our tips for success on Reddit? Make sure your advertising is authentic and true to the platform. Imitate the language used by Reddit users, and don’t be afraid to have fun and make jokes. Want an example? Check out this ad from Bud Light. Content on Reddit changes constantly, so make sure you rotate your ads frequently, and take time to interact with users organically too. 

#2 Use a Variety of Metrics to Measure the Efficiency of Different Channels

It’s tempting to measure the efficacy of different marketing channels solely through metrics like last-click attribution, which attributes all of the revenue from a sale towards the last marketing touchpoint the customer interacted with before converting. This often shows a strong performance for Google and Facebook campaigns, with a positive ROI that indicates you should increase spend and scale the channel.

But to achieve any revenue at all, you need to create demand for your products and services. That’s done at the top of the funnel. If you’re measuring channel performance based solely on last-click attribution, it’s unlikely you’ll see strong results from the marketing platforms you use early in your customer journey.

Just because a platform doesn’t demonstrate last-click results, doesn’t mean that it’s not an important part of your marketing mix. Instead of using a last-click attribution model, use a metric like Effective Cost Per Thousand Impressions (ECPM) to better compare the performance of different channels. 

Customers are exposed to all kinds of different marketing touchpoints as they progress through your marketing funnel. Countless studies back this up: various platforms work in synergy together throughout your customer journey, building brand awareness, educating prospective customers on your value proposition, and driving conversions. Every single touchpoint plays an important role – not just whatever one customers happen to see last.

Not measuring the efficacy of your advertising spend this way can have knock-on impacts that can be catastrophic for your overall marketing mix. In our experience, it’s unlikely that platforms like TikTok, Reddit, YouTube, and Google Display will drive positive last-click attribution – but they are absolutely essential to drive demand.

An Example: Google Search vs. TikTok

Let’s take a look at a trade-off we see all the time: Google Search vs. TikTok Ads. 

It’s likely that your Google Search campaigns will have a lot of last-click attributions – after all, it’s a bottom-funnel, high-intent channel: people are literally searching for what you sell. Your TikTok campaigns probably have a significantly lower number of last click attributions – people are unlikely to convert when they’re relaxing, scrolling through TikTok videos on their phones. 

So, you decrease your spend on TikTok, and increase it on Google Search, expecting your sales to increase. Easy win, right?

Wrong.

TikTok (a top-of-funnel platform) is giving Google Search (bottom-funnel) a major assist. It introduces prospects to your brand, showcases the value of your products and services, and might even be the reminder that the consumer needed to search for your products on Google.

If it wasn’t for TikTok, and other top-of-funnel channels like it, you probably wouldn’t have the sale at all. So by decreasing your investment in TikTok, you’re effectively shrinking the potential audience for your product in the future – not a wise choice. 

How To Measure the Efficiency of Marketing Channels

The key to effectively measuring the performance of different marketing channels lies in regular reporting that uses a variety of different metrics. After all, it’s simply impossible to measure the effectiveness of something as complex as a growth marketing strategy with just a single metric. 

We use last-click attribution, first-click attribution, ECPM, and more. Another hack? Ask your customers how they found you. Include a “how did you hear about us?” field in your checkout flow or demo booking process – you might be surprised at what your customers tell you.

Another thing to keep in mind: generating demand takes time. It’s not an overnight process, and you’ll want to give it at least three to five months to start showing results. Over time, a well-executed growth strategy will see your overall marketing metrics improve significantly – from Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) to Revenue. 

Learn more: From Google Ads to Reddit: How We Tested 7 Different Acquisition Channels to Get Better Applicants for Sabio

#3 Model Your Paid Media Spend

One thing every business values is predictable growth. That’s why it’s important to model your media spend. 

There’s a wide variety of ways to model spend, but the end goal is always the same: to accurately project future revenue. Now, every approach to modeling comes with a series of pros and cons, and it’s up to you to decide which is the best fit for your business. 

At Tuff, we often use historical data and plug it into an equation like this:

Last-Click Sessions x Conversion Rate x Average Order Value = Projected Revenue

Taking this approach to modeling enables us to understand how much traffic we need to drive in order to hit our goals. Once that number is locked in, we can start planning where we need to invest to achieve the desired traffic levels necessary to hit our revenue goals.

Ready to Start Scaling Your Paid Media?

Paid media is unquestionably a major growth driver for brands of all shapes and sizes, but it shouldn’t represent your entire growth marketing strategy. Instead, consider your paid media strategy as just one part of your wider marketing funnel, and work with the understanding that each individual component of your strategy is inextricably linked.

There’s no need to commit to aggressive spending goals upfront – instead, make adjustments to spend as you go along, making sure that you use a variety of different metrics to inform your decision-making. 

It’s impossible to guarantee performance, but one thing you can be certain of is consistent learning and improvement. As you analyze the performance of your marketing stack, refine your strategies, and implement best practices, you’ll notice incremental improvements. Over time, these compound to produce a significant impact on your overall marketing performance. 

Are you struggling to scale up your paid media channels? Set up a call with our team – solving these complex challenges is what makes us tick.  

A person reviewing data on google search console

How to Increase Your Organic Traffic by 117% in 90 Days: The Inside Story of Salam’s SEO Strategy

A person reviewing data on google search console

When it comes to driving traffic and revenue from organic search, it’s typically a long-term solution and not a quick fix. Organic traffic, in general, is high-quality, intent-driven with higher conversion rates than direct or paid, making it incredibly valuable to almost any acquisition strategy. It’s why, even though it can take longer than a Facebook campaign or YouTube ad, as a growth marketing agency, we almost always recommend it as a core growth tactic.  

In October of 2021, Salams reached out to Tuff, asking our team to run a quick SEO audit and see what the organic growth potential was like for their market. Salams is an online dating app for Muslims that dominates the US market and is growing in the UK and other countries. Their growth, to date, has primarily relied on mobile install campaigns, meaning their website had very little content and their SEO strategy had never been a focal point for growth. 

After working on an organic acquisition strategy with Salams in November and then implementing SEO tactics in December and January, the results were staggering and immediate. Here’s the data from the last three months compared to the previous three months: 

  • Impressions are up 130% 
  • Organic traffic is up 117%

google search console results

And when it comes to keyword movement, here’s what we are looking at today: 

  • From #12 to #1 for Muslim dating (Our #1 target keyword)
  • NEW: Ranking #2 for Muslim man
  • From #68 to #1 for Muslim dating rules
  • NEW: Ranking #2 for walima
  • NEW: Ranking #1 for dating a Muslim girl
  • NEW: Ranking #1 for dating a Muslim man
  • From #20 to #4 for Muslim dating site
  • From #35 to #1 for dating a Muslim
  • NEW: Ranking #1 for Islam dating rules
  • NEW: Ranking #1 for dating a Muslim guy
  • NEW: Ranking #3 for what is Nikah

In this blog post, we’re going to outline the steps we took to get these results and explain how you can replicate this strategy. While your results will vary depending on the competition, search volume, your existing traction, and the search landscape, there are elements of this process that can be applied to drive organic traffic and revenue for almost any business. 

  1. Start with foundational research and let this inform your strategy 
  2. Fix any and all technical SEO issues 
  3. Identify your list of focus keywords in a spreadsheet 
  4. Leverage on-page SEO to optimize all current pages for target keywords
  5. Use your focus keywords to build an SEO content plan that includes blog posts, landing pages, programmatic efforts, and onsite remediation 
  6. Publish new content that maps back to your focus keywords 
  7. Ensure all SEO updates are amplified with strong UX 

Foundational Research 

First things first, you have to know where you are starting from and what the search landscape is for your market. This will help you set realistic organic growth projections, as well as outline the right strategy to get there. 

For Salams, we wanted to answer two questions with our foundational research: 

  • Are people searching for a Muslim dating app? 
  • If so, how do we make sure Salams shows up when they are searching so we can capture that demand and grow our organic traffic and revenue? 

In order to understand the answer to the above, we conducted initial foundational research in three ways: 

  • We ran a technical SEO audit using SEMRush (What’s the foundation like now?) 
  • We audited the primary search competitors (Who is the big player and can we compete?) 
  • We reviewed Salam’s existing rankings and current performance (Where are we starting from and how far do we need to go?) 

The combination of the information and data above, helped us identify where the biggest opportunities were, how competitive the space was going to be, and what realistic organic traffic and revenue predictions could look like for Salams. If you’re going to invest time and resources into something, you want to know how it might impact your growth so you can prioritize it accordingly. 

Technical SEO Fixes 

When we ran our SEO audit, the Salams site had the issues and warnings found below, with an overall site health ranking of 75%. 

Errors

  • 52 issues with duplicate title tags
  • 8 pages had duplicate content issues
  • 2 pages had duplicate meta descriptions
  • 1 pages returned a 4XX status code

Warnings

  • 63 pages had no hreflang and lang attributes
  • 63 issues with unminified JavaScript and CSS files
  • 59 pages didn’t have meta descriptions
  • 56 pages didn’t have enough text within the title tags
  • 53 external links were broken
  • 17 pages had low text-HTML ratio
  • 15 pages had a low word count
  • 5 links on HTTPS pages led to HTTP page
  • 5 pages didn’t have an h1 heading

technical seo audit in SEMrush

Technical SEO is often the “tiebreaker” for sites aiming for Google’s first page so the first thing we did in October was fix as many of these 63 errors as possible. Implementing technical SEO basics is essential if you want to ensure that your web pages are structured for both humans and crawlers – and is something you need to fix before producing more content. 

Focus Keyword List 

Once the technical SEO audit was done and the issues were fixed (site health increased to 96%), we built a focus keyword list –  these were terms we wanted to rank for because they were relevant to Salams and would bring us more quality organic traffic. For Salams, we identified 15 focus keywords using the below criteria: 

  • Does it get enough search volume while still being relevant and intent-driven? You don’t want to pick a search term that only gets 10 searches a month because the volume isn’t large enough to have an impact. You also don’t want to pick a search term with a million searches a month either, because it’s likely so generic that even if you could rank for it, you’d get a bunch of low-quality traffic. For Salams, the average search volume for our keyword list was 1,238 search per month per term. 
  • What’s the competition like? We reviewed the competition on each search term we were evaluating. We wanted to know how likely we could rank for that term if we focused on it for 1-3 months. You should know, the more competition, the harder it is going to be – but it’s likely competitive because it’s a lucrative term. For Salams, we wanted a mix. We wanted search terms that we had an actual chance of ranking for that were also relevant to the business. 
  • Is it relevant for the audience? There is no point in ranking for a search term your audience isn’t actively searching for. 
  • Are there any pages that are currently ranking for that search term? This helped us understand if we could gain traction more quickly for terms that we were already ranking for but just weren’t on page one yet. We wanted to know where we stood and if there were any we could give a quick “boost” to. We wanted to move from page 2 to page 1 in a shorter amount of time than it would have taken to get something that wasn’t ranking at all yet, to rank. For example, Salams was ranking on page two already for “Muslim dating” — a key search term. We knew that if we focused on this term initially, it would be easier to get it on page one than a term that wasn’t ranking at all. 

On-page SEO

After analyzing the existing content on Salams’ website, we built a keyword mapping spreadsheet to tie every single page to a target keyword and sift out pages that should be removed from SERPs. 

Salams had several pages indexed in Google that didn’t provide an optimal user experience for organic visitors if they landed on that page.  A few of these pages were their Privacy Policy and T&C pages as well as their blog category pages. You should understand that Google considers a blog category page a SERP and a poor user experience so it’s best to no-index those pages. 

After no-indexing several pages, we mapped every landing page and blog post to a target keyword and then optimized the SEO title and meta description to perform for that target keyword. 

We also noticed that Salams broke up a few of their blog posts into multiple and different URLs. We combined them into more lengthy blog posts to give us a better chance of ranking.  

SEO Content Plan 

Using our focus keyword list, we put together a comprehensive SEO content strategy. Too often, companies produce content (and a lot of it) but never see any significant traction because their strategy doesn’t map back to a list of focus keywords.  When you have a focus keyword list, you can cluster your content and keep it focused on ranking for a select set of terms, increasing your chances of ranking more quickly. 

For this SEO Content plan, we had three core components: 

  • Programmatic pages: These were local-specific pages we could replicate at scale for very specific keywords like “Muslim dating Chicago” or “Muslim dating Houston”. We published 18 different pages on Webflow in the first 30 days and anchored each one to the footer. 
  • Glossary/terms pages: We created landing pages with rich content that focused exclusively on a focus keyword and topic. These were more in-depth than a blog post and typically 2x the length. 

SEO + UX 

SEO design example

In addition to writing new SEO content and optimizing existing pages and content, SEO design played a big role in helping us achieve our results and actually execute on the strategy. For this partnership, we tapped the Tuff creative team to help us mockup and execute SEO landing pages, footer optimizations, and category pages. When doing this for your own company, it’s important to remember that not only do you need copy that is relevant, high-quality, and focused on a select group of keywords, but you also need the user experience to deliver. 

Here are some examples of how we took SEO content and then leveraged strong UX design for the actual implementation: 

We have to admit that there was a time when we thought SEO was all about keywords and link building. Even though these are core components to any organic strategy, SEO goes far beyond them and definitely includes User Experience. It’s now very common for our SEO and Design teams to work closely together to make the site website architecture more streamlined and to elevate the overall user experience with design. 

Disclaimer: 

These results happened FAST – this isn’t often the case with organic acquisition. 

While we’re proud of Salams’ results and the contribution organic traffic is now having in the overall traffic mix, I can’t say the timeline is typical or repeatable for more websites. Organic acquisition is a long-term, compounding solution (6-9 months), not a quick fix. Salams had a trusted brand and a strong reputation. Even though they weren’t optimizing the website or prioritizing organic growth before engaging Tuff, they had a credible brand that Google (and people!) trusted. This existing reputation was definitely a factor that allowed these results to surface so quickly. 

Whether it takes a few months or a full year, you’ll find the Tuff team invested in organic growth for almost all our partners. It’s a true game-changer when it comes together and drives real revenue growth for businesses at nearly any stage. 

building a growth marketing strategy for a business on a computer

Every Growth Marketing Framework and Formula Ever

building a growth marketing strategy for a business on a computer

Building a reliable, scalable growth marketing engine is central to the long-term success of any business. Done right, growth marketing drives sustainable, profitable growth, with a battle-tested framework that delivers a tangible return on investment by constantly optimizing every element of the marketing strategy.

And while you might primarily associate growth marketing with the tech industry, its principles can actually be applied to literally any field, and help companies of all shapes and sizes to prosper. Accordingly, the popularity of growth marketing has increased rapidly in recent years, and more and more businesses are abandoning more conventional marketing activities and reallocating resources towards a growth marketing approach. 

Successfully embracing growth marketing means mastering new tools, frameworks, and formulas, many of which are radically different to traditional marketing strategies. There are many processes, frameworks, and formulas that outline the various elements of growth marketing. But sorting the good from the bad can represent a challenge – especially if you’re new to the field. 

All good growth marketing frameworks and formulas have one thing in common: they bring clarity to your business. Great growth marketing doesn’t have to be complicated, or rely on a million different moving parts. Instead, a great growth marketing strategy clearly defines the most important things you need to focus on to deliver results. 

As a growth marketing agency, Tuff’s approach to growth is constantly evolving. We embrace a growth mindset, and adopt the latest tools, processes, and perspectives as they emerge, incorporating them into our work to help us get that little bit better every day. 

Every growth marketer should do the same. This field moves fast, but there’s some principles that have stood the test of time, and have established themselves as cornerstones of our industry. Let’s explore ten of the top growth marketing frameworks and formulas out there today:

#1 Forbes: Growth Marketing: A Five Step Framework

This framework, from Phillip Alexeev, Head of Growth at Sketchfab and a member of the Forbes New York Business Council, can be applied to any business, and helps marketers think through their growth strategy in five key stages:

  1. Identify a ‘North-star’ metric
  2. Achieve product/market fit
  3. Apply data and analytics
  4. Understand user journeys and funnels
  5. Analyze paid and organic traffic

We like this model because of its simplicity and accessibility. The five steps are progressive, and clearly outline the steps that businesses should take before diving into the deep end of growth marketing. All too often, we see businesses without product/market fit pursue growth marketing. But the fact is that it’s almost always extremely challenging to achieve sustainable growth with a product that doesn’t truly meet the needs of your market. Focus on nailing your product/market fit, and then scale your business with growth marketing. 

#2 In The Know: A Three Step Framework

In The Know is a great resource for growth marketers, with regular podcasts and articles from some of the world’s top growth practitioners. Their three step growth marketing framework is based on years of research and experience successfully scaling businesses. It’s designed for businesses that have already achieved product/market fit. 

The framework goes into great depth, and is built around the concept of ‘storyvesting’ – true, meaningful alignment between businesses and their customers. Businesses reach this status by deeply understanding their customers, closely aligning their product with their customers needs, and recruiting employees who truly believe in the alignment between customer and product. In some ways, it’s a step beyond achieving product/market fit.

Once a business reaches this point, they should focus on the three P’s that make up much of growth marketing: people, processes, and platforms. To be successful, businesses need skilled people, systematic, documented processes that are frequently updated, and a range of platforms, or marketing tools, that enable them to successfully conduct growth marketing. Apply these principles throughout your marketing funnel, and your business will be well positioned to create enduring customer relationships and sustained growth. 

#3 Neil Patel’s Seven Step Growth Hacking Framework 

If you search for growth marketing on Google, a lot of what you’ll find will be tips, tricks, and tactics that promise to help your business scale. But growth marketing demands much more rigor than that – applying a series of ‘growth hacks’ won’t deliver the sustained growth businesses desire. Instead, growth marketing is driven by clear processes, with a repeatable formula that enables you to quickly test out new ideas. 

Neil Patel’s growth hacking framework starts with this idea at its very foundation, and expands into seven steps that, when followed, help businesses to create growth marketing playbooks that can be applied to all kinds of use cases. 

Check it out here: How to Create a Growth Hacking Framework

#4 Demand Curve: A Methodical Process

This framework, from the team over at DemandCurve, explores the five key phases of a growth funnel. Like other models, before you can successfully apply these principles to your business, you need to have a product that people actually want. Without this product/market fit, the funnel quickly collapses, and your growth strategy will never truly get off the ground. 

Here’s the five stages of the growth funnel:

  1. Acquisition: the channels that bring customers to your business
  2. Activation: getting customers to start using your product
  3. Revenue: getting customers to pay for your product
  4. Retention: ensure customers continue using your product in perpetuity
  5. Referral: evangelizing customers and encouraging them to refer others

You might see this model, or a variation of it, referred to as the AARRR model – it’s one of the fundamental ways of thinking through the various stages of a growth funnel, and appears in several frameworks. If you apply it to your business, ensure that there are tangible metrics that can be reviewed at each stage, and use them to continually iterate and optimize every element of your growth funnel. 

#5 CrowdTamers: A Seven Step Process

Growth marketing is all about continuous experimentation and ideation. But without a framework to effectively measure every new acquisition channel or retention initiative, it’s all too easy for a growth marketing strategy to get off track. 

This framework from CrowdTamers provides growth marketers with seven repeatable steps that can be used to systematically test every element of a growth marketing strategy. It starts by helping marketers understand how to define and measure their marketing funnels, and then outlines how growth teams should conceptualize, prioritize, test, and evaluate their ideas. 

We’re fans of this framework because it helps marketers easily identify the metrics they should focus on. As an extension of that, the framework also makes it easier to understand the actions that will have a direct impact on moving the needle on these metrics, closely tying actions to results.

#6 Lean Labs: The 6 Levers of Growth

Effective growth marketers know which levers to pull to deliver growth. In many ways, growth marketing is like operating a complex piece of machinery, and it’s important that marketers understand the relationships between the various levers that drive growth. 

Lean Labs, a team of growth marketers, highlight six key levers of growth in their framework, which they call the AAARRR growth marketing framework. It’s similar to Demand Curve’s framework, and is sometimes referred to as the pirate funnel (Aaarrr… get it?). Here’s what each letter stands for:

  1. Awareness
  2. Acquisition
  3. Activation
  4. Revenue
  5. Retention
  6. Referral

In a traditional business, the three A’s of the framework are handled by marketing, and the three R’s are managed by sales. But in the view of the team at Lean Labs, it’s important that businesses take a more joined up approach to ensure each lever, and the relationship between them, is fully optimized. We agree. 

#7 Growthmentor: From Framework to Experimentation in 90 Days

This growth marketing formula, from Christopher Schachner at Growthmentor, walks businesses through the first 90 days of building a growth strategy from scratch. It incorporates many lessons from elsewhere, including the AAARRR framework, and emphasizes the importance of aligning on North-star metrics. 

To successfully get the ball rolling on a growth marketing strategy, businesses should follow the following steps:

  1. Day 0 – 7: Setting the stage
  2. Day 8 – 15: Identifying and building frameworks
  3. Day 16 – 30: Analyzing potential growth channels
  4. Day 31 – 38: Building processes to rigorously experiment
  5. Day 39 – 53: Running various experiments
  6. Day 54 – 90: Optimizing strategies based on initial learnings

#8 Mbudo: Three Step Growth Marketing Framework

Mbudo is an inbound marketing agency that helps to scale B2B tech companies in Europe. Their growth marketing framework keeps things simple, outlining the three most important steps businesses should bear in mind as they implement a growth marketing framework:

  1. Identify and track key metrics
  2. Understand and strengths and weaknesses 
  3. Secure buy in and alignment from the entire organization

> Learn more about Mbudo’s three step growth marketing framework

#9 The Ladder Growth Blueprint: An Interactive Strategy Framework

This blueprint, from growth marketing strategists Ladder, is designed to act as a map of a businesses marketing funnel and growth strategies. 

If you’re new to growth marketing, it can be all too easy to dive into testing all kinds of channels and strategies without having a solid understanding of the relationship between them; nevermind the impact they have on your overall growth marketing funnel. With so many channels out there, this is a great way to burn through your budget fast, with little to show for it.

Ladder’s interactive growth framework seeks to address that. It provides marketers with formulas to measure the effectiveness of their entire funnel, identifies areas of concern, and gives marketers the metrics they need to make better decisions. We recommend that marketers use the blueprint as a living document, and focus on the output and process – it’ll help you identify which levers to pull to increase growth. 

#10 New Breed: Five Steps for Running an Experiment

Running experiments is a central component of any growth marketing strategy. After all, growth marketing is driven by data, and it’s impossible to get high-quality data without constant ideation, testing, and analysis. 

This framework from the team at New Breed offers a series of guidelines that specify how growth marketers can run effective experiments across every stage of the AAARRR growth marketing cycle. Here’s a brief overview of each step:

  1. Identify metrics that need improvement
  2. Design an experiment around this focus area
  3. Run the experiment, making sure you achieve statistical significance
  4. Analyze the results
  5. Start the next experiment

Key Takeaways from Our Top Ten Growth Marketing Frameworks

There you have it: ten frameworks from some of the world’s best growth marketers. Some frameworks have as few as three steps, while some have as many as seven. Each approach is called something different: a framework, a formula, a system, a process, and so on.

But by now, you’ve probably realized that there’s a lot of overlap between these frameworks. That’s not surprising: they’re all based on similar principles, and they’ve all been tested and refined to ensure they work. 

We get it – you’re not going to apply ten different frameworks to your growth marketing strategy. That would add more confusion than clarity. Instead, identify the core elements they all share, and take inspiration from the best pieces for each framework. Here are our key takeaways from these growth marketing frameworks:

Product/Market Fit is a Prerequisite to Success

Unless your business has product/market fit, it’s unlikely you’ll be successful. If your product doesn’t satisfy the needs of your customers, no growth marketing strategy will save it. When you’ve got product/market fit, you’ll know it – if you don’t, keep working on your product. 

Identify Your North-Star Metrics

Remember, growth marketing is driven by data. And as the old adage goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Identify the metrics that are the clearest indicators of the success of your growth marketing strategy. What those are will be dictated by the nature of your business, but it’s crucial you closely monitor them and gear every element of your framework towards improving them. 

Master The AAARRR Funnel

Virtually all of these frameworks, whether they called it the AAARRR funnel or not, are premised on the importance of optimizing every element of the marketing funnel. Getting familiar with the various levers you can pull at the Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, and Referral stages of this funnel are key to creating a winning strategy. 

Commit to Constant Experimentation

Growth marketing moves fast, and new technologies, processes, and best practices are constantly emerging. The ability to rapidly generate new ideas, rigorously test them out, and act quickly on the results is central to the continuous improvement of your growth marketing strategy. 

Tuff Growth: Your Trusted Growth Marketing Partner

These processes are all well-documented and proven to scale across a variety of industries. But real growth isn’t driven solely by frameworks and formulas: it’s driven by the right team. 

At Tuff Growth, we’ve got a deep bench of talent, from experienced growth marketers that build and manage bespoke growth strategies, to channel experts that get down in the weeds and own the details on every single platform.

Want to learn more about growth marketing? Check out our 50 page growth marketing guide. It’s an open scrapbook that walks you through our approach to growth, and shares the step-by-step process we’ve successfully applied to scale more than 50 companies across a wide variety of industries. 

> Get Tuff’s Growth Marketing Guide now

growth marketing team

16 Growth Marketing Myths and Misconceptions

growth marketing team

Growth marketing is a huge field, and relies on a vast array of diverse strategies, tactics, and acquisition channels to deliver growth for your business. The principles of growth marketing can be applied to practically any business, and help to deliver growth through a process of rapid ideation, experimentation, and optimization. 

There’s no shortage of places to learn about growth marketing: there are countless industry blogs and well-established experts to follow. But as with any form of learning, it’s crucial to make sure that the information you’re consuming comes from a credible source. 

Growth marketing moves incredibly fast. As a discipline, it’s driven by constant iteration, newly emerging best practices, and ever-improving technology. Some––or many––of the opinions you might read and take as gospel simply don’t hold up anymore. 

In this article, we’ll explore 16 of the most common myths and misconceptions in the growth marketing world. As you continue your learning journey, bear these in mind. Interrogating assumptions and challenging commonly held knowledge is at the heart of any growth marketing agency, and you should apply that same approach as you learn about the industry. 

Ready? Let’s deconstruct the most prevalent myths and misconceptions out there today!

#1 You should only focus on last-click attribution

We get it: everyone wants to know which marketing channels are responsible for driving revenue. The easiest (aka, laziest) way to do that is to use a last-click attribution model: attributing revenue from a sale to the last marketing touchpoint the customer interacted with. 

This completely overlooks the important role all kinds of other sources play. Consumers interact with your brand many times, through all kinds of channels, before getting out their wallet. 

The implications of over-indexing on last-click attribution can be disastrous. Reallocating spend to different channels based on a last-click attribution model could have a domino effect on your campaign results, and severely limit your ability to test channels like Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and more. Increase spend in one channel that’s attributed with a lot of last-click conversions, and you could easily see the performance of your marketing stack crumble. 

Pro Tip: adding a “How did you hear about us?” question to your demo request form or checkout page can produce high-quality insights into the channels that are working the best. 

#2 Test every channel

There’s no shortage of potential acquisition channels, and it’s tough to know which ones will work. But don’t be tempted to just test every channel out: be intentional and focus on the channels that make the most sense for your business. 

Few businesses can afford to test every channel, and even if they can, it’s difficult to get a read for what works when you’re spreading your budget thin across a number of different platforms. Instead, your approach should be shaped by user research. 

Listen closely to your customers and make an effort to deeply understand their perspective. Pay attention to where they are, and how they interact with your business. User research should, in some shape or form, play a role in the design of any new channel or tactic strategy. 

Learn More: How We Tested 7 Different Acquisition Channels to Get Better Applicants for Sabio

#3 It worked for one company, so it’ll work for you too

We’re all for exchanging ideas, chatting about growth tactics, and borrowing inspiration from other places. Connecting with fellow founders, engaging with your network, or talking to a mentor is extremely helpful as you grow, but it can lead to you chasing ideas that don’t drive growth for your business. 

Your business is unique. It solves a specific problem, for a specific group of people, in a specific way. A growth strategy that worked for another business––even one in the same industry as you––isn’t guaranteed to work. Avoid the temptation to take strategies that worked for others and directly apply them to your business; instead, focus on your users and the unique value your business provides to them. 

#4 TikTok only works for younger demographics and DTC brands

TikTok might be known for dance videos and silly challenges, but it was actually the most visited website in the world last year. More people visited TikTok than Facebook, Google, or YouTube. And it’s true that there are a lot of young people on TikTok, and that it’s a great channel for DTC brands. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s not also an incredible channel for businesses in other verticals. At Tuff, we’ve seen TikTok work REALLY well for businesses in the Fintech and B2B SaaS spaces. Try it out – we bet you’ll be surprised with the results. 

Double Click: How We Achieved a 12x ROAS on TikTok with $7k in Ad Spend

#5 Top of the funnel channels don’t drive bottom-line results

If you’re stuck on a last-click attribution model, it can be easy to think that investments into the top of your funnel don’t show a tangible return on your bottom line. But here’s the reality: without the right investment in top of funnel channels, there is no bottom of the funnel where customers convert. 

Countless studies have shown the synergy between different channels at different stages of the funnel. To convert users, it’s critical to get in front of them at every stage of their buying journey, from driving awareness and demand at the top of the funnel to nudging your prospects towards conversion as they learn more about your business. 

#6 Our product is right for everyone

If you’ve invested lots of time and money in developing a new product, and have fallen in love with its potential, it’s easy to think that everyone will feel the same way. While this can be the case for the world’s biggest brands (think the iPhone), it’s probably not the case for your startup. 

If you try to appeal to too broad an audience, it’s more than likely you’ll end up wasting a lot of your ad dollars on audiences that won’t convert. Instead, carry out initial research and audience testing to identify groups of people that are most likely to buy your product or service, and then cater your growth marketing approach to reach them directly. 

#7 Facebook is the only scalable channel

Look, Facebook, with its huge reach, different platforms, and sophisticated targeting algorithms, is more than likely going to play some kind of role in your growth marketing strategy. But to say it’s the only truly scalable channel – well that’s a flat-out lie. 

Since the launch of iOS14 last year, many businesses have been focused on channel diversification, branching out to other platforms, including TikTok, YouTube, and programmatic display ads. A diverse mix of channels adds strength, reduces dependence on any one channel, and provides your brand with a broader range of touchpoints to engage with customers. 

#8 Good growth marketing will deliver instant results

Want to know the ultimate secret for skyrocketing your growth overnight? 

It doesn’t exist. 

Scaling a business is hard. It’s a process, one that requires investment, patience, and continuous, iterative improvement. It’s just not possible to flip a switch and profitably acquire thousands of new customers overnight – otherwise everyone would be doing it. 

Embracing a growth marketing philosophy puts your business on a path to creating a sustainable growth curve. It’s about investing your marketing dollars intelligently, with a balance between high-risk/high-reward strategies and stable, proven tactics. It’s about creating valuable, relevant marketing campaigns that speak directly to your buyer’s needs. And it’s about a commitment to constant improvement that over time, delivers a meaningful impact to your bottom line. 

#9 More money = more customers

At some level, there’s some truth to this statement. The business with a $1m marketing budget is virtually always going to attract more customers than the business with $100k to spend. 

But there’s a lot of variables that are equally, or more, important than the amount of capital you’ve got at your disposal. If you don’t have the right strategy, or growth marketers to execute it, it’s easy to waste a big budget, fast. The scale of platforms like Google and Facebook mean you can easily spend a month’s budget in an afternoon. Besides, throwing more money at a channel doesn’t guarantee better results, especially if you’re not set up to track the right KPIs. Scaling ad spend effectively demands a deliberate, strategic approach: not a blank checkbook. 

#10 If you build it, they will come

Content plays a key role in growth marketing. You could create the best content in the world, but if you don’t tell anyone about it, they’ll never consume it. In growth marketing, content distribution is just as important––if not more important––than content creation. 

To be successful, it’s vital you discover sustainable, scalable ways to get your content in front of your target audience. 

Related: How to Use Off-Page SEO to Supplement Your Growth Content

#11 You need all the right tools

There’s an arsenal of growth marketing tools out there that you can incorporate into your growth marketing stack, but you’d be surprised at what you can achieve with free tools like Google Analytics. 

As you scale, you’ll definitely benefit from the detailed analytics available from more sophisticated platforms, but access to these platforms should never hold you back from testing out new channels, learning about your audience, and developing strategies that work. 

#12 Gated content works

The idea behind gated content is simple: in exchange for some value-add content, you get a lead’s contact information. But in our experience, gated content just adds friction to the process, and causes potential leads to drop out of your funnel, never to be heard from again. 

Nobody wants to field phone calls and emails from your sales reps just for a PDF. If you truly believe in the value of the content you’re putting out there, then share it openly. Far more people will read it and will interact with your business organically, on their own terms. 

#13 It’s all about speed

A lot of people are rooted in the belief that growth marketing occurs at breakneck speed, and adopt the ‘move fast and break things’ mantra – but that era is over now

Sure, growth marketing moves quicker than conventional marketing, and it’s true that growth marketers rely on a lot of rapid ideation, testing, and iteration. But successful growth marketing is anchored in long-term thinking. Creating a sustainable, scalable growth marketing model cements a defensible long-term competitive advantage, and while it might take some patience to get there, it’s absolutely worth the investment. 

#14 Every decision needs to be supported by data

A lot of growth marketing decisions are––and should––be backed by data, but that shouldn’t be the case for every single decision. Sometimes, you’ve got to go with your gut, trusting the intuition and experience of your growth marketing team to guide you down the right path. 

We often see teams try to back into data to support every decision they make. This impacts speed, creativity, and even accuracy; after all, it’s possible to spin data to support any narrative you like. It’s important to accept that not every decision, strategy, or tactic is a guaranteed success. As a growth marketer, you’ll make mistakes. What counts is that you learn from them, and take forward the lessons and apply them to future decisions. 

#15 Any design will do

Creative is central to the success of growth marketing, and you ignore it at your peril. As consumers, we’ve all built up some level of immunity to ads: after all, we see thousands every day. 

Many marketers overlook the importance of creative, instead preferring to focus on shaping strategy, allocating spend, and building out audiences. But without killer creative, none of that matters. Your ads will blend in, potential customers will scroll right on by, and you’ll spend your entire budget with little to show for it. 

With the huge array of channels we growth marketers have at our disposal, it’s never been easier to get the word out. But at the same time, it’s never been harder to stand out. Meaningful, impactful creative is the secret sauce that helps set your brand apart. 

Dive Deeper: The Beginner’s Guide to High-Performance, Channel Specific Ad Creative

#16 You can do it without a team  

Effective growth marketing demands a wide range of skills. It’s impossible for one person to handle everything alone: they’ll quickly become overwhelmed, and progress will be minimal.

At Tuff, we take a different approach. Every client is paired with a growth marketer responsible for setting goals, shaping strategy, and overseeing successful execution. From there, we draft in channel specialists to work on everything from Google Ads to content strategy – they’re true masters of their craft who dive into the details, optimize every tiny aspect of your strategy, and deliver results on a channel-by-channel basis. 

Successful growth marketing demands expertise, and real expertise demands a team of specialists who live and breathe their craft – not a lone wolf going it alone.   

***

Interested in learning more about growth marketing? Check out our Growth Marketing Guide for an overview of what we’re learning about and working on right now. 

Want to talk to us about growth marketing strategies for your business? We’re down – schedule an intro call now

How Much Will Growth Marketing Costs Be For My Startup?

Gearing up for a raise takes serious time and effort. Between conversations with investors, validating your idea, finding PMF, refining your pitch deck, and reviewing term sheets, it’s a tricky balancing act of prioritization. 

And at the same time, while you work to secure funding—whether that’s pre-seed or Series A—you also need a plan to allocate the investment once you have it. Count “growth” among your key expenses.This encompasses both a growth model as well as a team that can help you prioritize high-impact campaigns to quickly drive key learnings, then invest in additional campaigns to scale up what works. This will help you to demonstrate that you can hit very specific, value-creating milestones and regale investors with drool-worthy potential.

Enter: Tuff! We’re a growth marketing agency that partners with startups and scales ups. And we often get this question: 

“I’m looking for initial talks and ballpark estimate of pricing so that I can take that information to potential investors I am working with to raise money.” 

Here’s an example of a founder who asked this exact thing in our contact form last week: 

question about growth marketing costs

If you find yourself asking this question, too (whether you’ve recently secured funding or are at the beginning of the journey) here’s how we think about it at Tuff. 

First, Reframe The Question

Another version of the question above is this: How can I allocate investors’ money wisely to increase startup performance? How much should go to growth marketing to help us find traction and scale? 

With limited funds, you have to think strategically about what success looks like, what you are trying to learn, and how you’re going to make it to the next milestone. While revenue is often the most important long-term goal, right now, the biggest priority is to turn guesses into facts by gaining knowledge, data, and experience. 

But you can’t test on every channel and you can’t afford to waste money on tactics that are sub-optimal. So, what do you do? 

First, you want to identify a milestone. Milestones are different from your company’s general goals in that they are specific, measurable, and tangible. They are well-defined steps in a company’s growth journey. These are things like a new feature launched, acquisition metrics hit, a new important hire, or reaching first revenues. 

Once you have your initial set of critical milestones, you want to create a growth model for your business. A solid model will also help you identify priorities to feed into your growth machine. From traffic to qualified leads to paying customers, you’ll be able to measure and optimize the full funnel to increase conversion rates and uncover pressure points that need extra attention. 

This will help you spend your time on things that will have an actual impact on your growth. At the very least, it’ll help you eliminate things that don’t. 

Then, Test Ideas Quickly (Learn) 

When it comes to growth marketing, there are hundreds of different tactics, channels, and campaign ideas that you can test out. Additionally, there are a ton of different frameworks out there that seek to help you identify the right user acquisition channel to pursue, but ultimately this all comes down to knowing your industry and target market.

Instead of spending months and tens of thousands of dollars building a product you are not sure people need and will pay for though, it’s much more effective to build a growth model that enables you to learn where people go to find products like yours, how much they’re willing to pay for it, and, ultimately, whether or not they’ll pay enough (often enough) to keep you in business. 

Here are three specific examples of ways we’ll tackle these questions: 

  • Create a landing page and drive paid traffic to it for two weeks. While you do this, set up Google Analytics to track onsite behavior, as well as hold interviews with at least 10 potential users. Identify what is resonating (and what’s not) and move forward. 
  • Test value props on Facebook with a $1,000 budget. Using Tuff’s value prop spreadsheet (#11), identify 2-3 distinct value props. Then, set up a campaign in Ads Manager to test these against each other. What ad copy has the best CTR and onsite performance? Learn from this and weave it into your messaging for landing page creation, website optimization, email copy, and more. 
  • Set up Google Search campaigns for non-branded traffic. With Google Ads, identify 10-15 high-intent keywords that you know your audience is searching for. Start with Google Search and run your campaigns for two weeks. Unlike Facebook or Landing Page development, these clicks are high-intent, meaning they are in the process of looking for a solution. If you have your value props, pricing, and offer right, this traffic should be highly engaged and willing to convert. 

And Then, Invest in the Right Team & Growth Tactics 

Once you have your milestone on paper, have experimented and tested a few initial growth ideas, and begun generating a small amount of traction, you’ll be in the perfect position to think about resourcing. Now, do you bring in a team, hire in-house, or continue to do it yourself? Or a combo of all three? 

The Case for a Team / Agency 

When you hire a growth marketing agency the major, overarching benefit is that it typically comes stacked with a full team that can get a holistic view of your business. This team will collaborate with you to identify the best course of action and delegate execution tasks to true channel experts. With an agency, you can often reallocate resources as you learn and move more quickly because the team has a long history of experience.

An agency is going to cost you anywhere from $7,500 – $20,000 at this stage depending on the pricing model. Here’s how we think about pricing at Tuff

The Case for an In-House Hire 

Finding a full-time hire is a great option for many companies. But they come with their own set of pros and cons when compared to a plug-in growth marketing team. The major benefit is the expertise and time they bring to the team. Pulling a full-time, smart marketing hustler that can squeeze the most out of a small budget and stay in lockstep with everything else you have going on can be a huge asset. The biggest downsides and risks are finding the right fit, investing the high cost and hoping that they can remain your go-to even if it becomes time to test tactics that fall outside of their wheelhouse. Ultimately, an in-house hire is right if you’re already confident in the channels that work for you and just need someone to help you refine and grow those 1-2 channels.

The Case for DIY 

A third option is to continue experimenting with growth tactics on your own, as your company’s Head of Growth. We strongly recommend that Founders and CEOs play an active role in growth marketing in the early stages of the company to get a real understanding of the growth process and how to think about experimentation. The downside here is of course time. It’s not likely that you’re an expert at each channel and that you’ll have time to research the right strategy and then execute. What might take you 5 weeks to execute could take a team or in-house hire just 1. 

Most common growth marketing expenses

It’s important to understand the different types of costs you’ll incur as you think about growth marketing. Here’s a shortlist of costs you’ll likely have as a startup when it comes to growth marketing:

  • Ad Spend: $3,000 – $5,000 per channel 
  • Content Production: $0.35 per word at 4,000 words per month 
  • Design: $1,500/month  
    • Ad Creative 
    • Email 
    • Landing Page Design 
  • Website CRO: $1,500/month
    • Developer Costs 
  • Marketing Tech Stack: $250/month 

If you work with an agency, a lot of these costs will be included already in the retainer depending on their services so you’re really just thinking about agency cost + ad spend. For example, if you work with Tuff and are in our Lean Package, we’ll cover design, website CRO, and Content under our retainer if we’ve scoped those services. You’ll pay our $10,000/month management fee + ad spend per channel. We have clients spending as little as $5,000 a month and as high as $1M a month. 

If you work with an in-house hire, the same logic applies but changes based on that in-house hire’s skillset. If they are really great at development and you’re using a friendly CMS, you won’t have to outsource that cost. Or if they are a great writer and can manage content production, you won’t have to outsource that cost. Instead of an agency retainer, you’ll pay a salary or contract hours, plus ad spend and any execution they need to outsource. 

Last but not least, if you continue to DIY, you’ll likely need to outsource some, if not all of the execution. You save on a retainer or salary but lose on-time costs because you’ll be the one managing and running the strategy. For this, if you outsource design, content, and website development then you are looking at around $5,000 a month + ad spend. 

Consider all your options before hiring an agency 

The more we have these conversations, the more the internal team at Tuff comes back together to really try to get to the root of the question: “if you’re an early-stage startup, should you hire a growth marketing agency?” There are pros and cons to resourcing your team and we break down considerations in this blog post here.

using google search console to measure impressions

How Do You Evaluate the Efficacy of Your SEO Efforts?

using google search console to measure impressions

As a growth marketing agency, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to increase traffic volume to a website, product, or app for our clients. Because acquisition is 50% of the growth model, right? So, we ask ourselves on the daily: how do you get the right message to the right audience at the right time? The golden ticket to growth is to nail this and then convince that traffic to take it a step further and complete an action on your website. Acquisition + conversion = 🚀. 

With that in mind, if you jump into Google Analytics right now and take a peek at the data of any of our 30 clients, you’re going to see traffic coming from these five core traffic sources: 

  • Paid 
  • Organic 
  • Direct 
  • Email 
  • Referral 

While they all play a critical role in acquisition, organic traffic is often the second largest (if not largest) traffic driver for companies in established industries. It also happens to be my personal favorite. Organic traffic is the hardest to grow, but it’s typically the highest quality. 

Take a step back and it all makes sense. If someone has a problem or need, they’ll oftentimes take their query to Google. If they naturally find your website and you give them valuable information, they’ll trust you. Here’s an example from the Tuff blog—this is a lead that came through our form fill earlier this month after finding this blog post about the differences between performance and growth marketing

question about SEO performance

At Tuff, to help drive organic traffic and results, we’ve broken down the core components of what it takes to make a SEO strategy and built a team around them. Including: 

  • SEO Growth Strategist
  • Technical SEO Expert 
  • Content SEO Specialist
  • SEO Writers 

In short, this high-level combination is truly the only way to get serious results when it comes to your search ranking. But it’s not just about the components and the people tasked with executing it. We also get extremely specific and clear as a team when measuring the success and impact of the SEO strategy we implement. Here’s how we measure success: 

  1. Traffic 
  2. Traffic Quality 
  3. Keyword Movement
  4. Revenue 

In this post, I’m going to take a closer look at the four organic growth metrics we use to answer: “How do you evaluate the efficacy of your SEO efforts?” 

Traffic 

The first metric is easy. Is your organic traffic increasing or decreasing? 

If you’re a newer startup or company, finding initial traction with organic traffic is going to take some time. For our clients, we typically start seeing results after about 3 to 6 months of consistently posting SEO content. It’s super important to monitor organic traffic growth because it helps you understand the role that organic traffic is playing in your overall traffic mix. 

To measure organic traffic growth, we use both Google Search Console and Google Analytics

Google Search Console helps us understand impressions and the search terms our clients are showing up for. And if it’s increasing: 

google search console results

We can also look at Google Analytics to see how this is trending MoM or YoY: 

Organic Traffic results in Google Analytics

If we are putting time and resources into SEO, we want this number to go up. 

Traffic Quality 

If organic traffic is increasing, you need to ask: Is it high quality? 

It’s one thing to increase organic traffic but if the new visitors to your site aren’t sticking around or taking a desired action, it’s just traffic for traffic’s sake. 

So, we like to look at three core quality traffic metrics using Google Analytics: 

  • Time on Site: Average time on site is how long a user spent on your site in total. It’s the total time of all sessions divided by your number of sessions. According to Klipfolio, the Average Time on Page across industries is 52 seconds, with B2B leading with 82 seconds, based on 20 billion user sessions.
  • Bounce Rate: A ‘bounce’ (often called a single-page session) happens when a user lands on a website page and exits without triggering another request to the Google Analytics server. This article has industry benchmarks as well as bounce rate benchmarks by source for 2021. 
  • Pages Per Session: The average number of website pages visited during a session. Seeing a greater number of pages per session typically means that users are more engaged with your website and the traffic quality is high. 

Organic Traffic Quality

In Google Analytics, we’ll filter the view to only show organic traffic (60-second video here on how to do this) and compare these quality metrics to the rest of the site. 

If the traffic is high quality, great, go get more of it. If the quality is low, dig into the pages your organic traffic is coming from and how they found your site. More often than not, when this happens, it means you are ranking for search terms that aren’t super related to your business. 

For example, if our website ‘Tuff’ ranked highly for ‘Tuff Shed’ we might be getting a bunch of traffic from people looking for sheds. We might see that organic traffic is increasing MoM but that the bounce rate is 95% and the time on site is less than 3 seconds. We don’t want this type of traffic to our website because it’s useless to us. 

Keyword Movement 

So far, the traffic increase and traffic quality are metrics we track for all sources. Keyword movement though, is specific to our SEO efforts. 

When working on an SEO Content Strategy, here’s how we tackle it: 

  1. Research the audience 
  2. Do a search competitor analysis 
  3. Identify a list of 10-15 focus keywords 
  4. Select the type of SEO content — blog posts, landing pages, long-form, etc 
  5. Write SEO outlines 
  6. Assign deadlines and build a calendar 
  7. Write content 
  8. Publish with all the right SEO components and links 

With step 3, we hone in and identify the list of target keywords we want to see traffic from. Here’s an example of a list for one of the Tuff clients: 

focus keyword list in spreadsheet

You might already be ranking for some of the keywords in your list (always a pleasant surprise!) and you are just trying to improve positions. For others, you might not be ranking at all and you’re slowly trying to make it to page one. 

For us, it’s incredibly important to track keyword movement (did it go up or down in rankings) for our keyword list because it helps us understand if we’re making any progress. The SEO content we produce will focus almost exclusively on ranking for those search terms so tracking movement on those terms is an easy way of knowing if what you set out to do is actually working. 

For this, we use SEMRush and set up a dashboard like the one below for each client that includes our focus keyword list. 

keyword list in SEMRush

Revenue 

Last but not least, is it having an impact on revenue? Whether your business plays in the B2B, Tech, SaaS, DTC, or eCommerce spaces, you want to know if the hours of work you are putting into technical SEO and SEO content is having real, measurable business impact. 

For eCommerce, it’s easy to pull organic revenue directly from Google Analytics: 

eCommerce revenue organic

For other industries, and for more granular information, you’ll need to rely more on your CRM or Customer Analytics platforms. In a perfect world, the software and attribution all work together nicely. In reality, that almost never happens. More often than not, we’re pulling spreadsheets from Google Analytics and a CRM and merging the data manually to get a clear idea on return. While this is sometimes the trickiest organic metric to track, it’s ultimately the most important! 

Tools & Tracking Resources 

The tools we use to track these metrics include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMRush, and various Customer Analytics platforms (Amplitude, Mixpanel, Hubspot, Salesforce). 

  • Traffic = Google Search Console
  • Traffic Quality = Google Analytics
  • Keyword Movement = SEMRush
  • Revenue = Customer Analytics / CRM 

The thing about organic traffic though (we’ve said it once and we’ll say it again and again) is that it’s going to take some time to see traction. When you do, though, the results will be compounding and rewarding, but you’ve got to work your way there. It takes time. It’s worth it, but you’re in it for the long haul. 

One way to help stay motivated? Know exactly how to track the effectiveness of your efforts by using traffic, traffic quality, keyword movement, and revenue as your core success metrics.

tiktok ads on a phone

TikTok Ad Examples: 7 Video Ideas That Work

tiktok ads on a phone

In just a couple of years, TikTok has risen from a niche social network to become one of the leading players in the industry, racking up weeks at the top of app download charts and passing 1 billion global users. That’s more than Snap, Reddit, Pinterest, and Twitter, and TikTok is even gaining fast on Instagram, which launched Reels, a similar product, just a few months ago. 

Understandably, growth marketers are desperate to incorporate TikTok to their brand’s strategy. But it can be difficult to know where to start. Not every TikTok ad agency has a team of in-house experts (Tuff does though, and Jack, McKenzie, David, and Kate are great!), and it’s hard to navigate an entirely new platform without support.

We covered the basics of running a successful TikTok ad campaign previously, but today, we’re going to focus on how to create high-performing TikTok creative. We’ll look at six successful campaigns, explore what made the creatives work, and share how you can apply these lessons to your own TikTok campaigns. 

We’ll share creative from huge brands like Chipotle and Burger King, as well as creative from a campaign we ran for Sabio, which delivered a huuuge 12x ROAS. Ready to learn how to make outstanding TikTok creative? Let’s dive in!

Chipotle & Roblox: Boorito Campaign

Every Halloween, Chipotle hosts their Boorito event, a long-running fan favorite promotion that offers discounted burritos to customers who come into Chipotle stores dressed in costumes. This year, Chipotle decided to do things a little differently, and partnered with Roblox to open the first virtual Chipotle location and launch the first ever metaverse burrito giveaway.

> Watch the Chipotle and Roblox Boorito TikTok

The campaign was anchored by TikTok creative that shared how fans could claim a free burrito from Chipotle. There was also a virtual maze, Chipotle themed Halloween costumes, special unlockable rewards and more. In a 30 second TikTok video, Chipotle and Roblox seamlessly explained how fans could claim a free burrito and experience the Roblox universe. 

Using TikTok creative to drive in-person visits to stores proved a huge success, with $1 million in burrito giveaways, huge exposure for Roblox and Chiptotle to high-interest audiences, and increased traffic to both the Roblox ecosystem and Chipotle stores nationwide. 

Sabio Coding Bootcamp with Tuff

You might think that TikTok ads are best suited to glossy consumer products in the cosmetics and fashion categories, but we’ve had success with all kinds of brands, including Sabio, an online coding bootcamp.

> Watch our Sabio TikTok Creative

Your creatives should mimic the style of other TikTok videos. Get this right, and your target audience shouldn’t even realize they’re watching an ad. Here’s a few best practices to keep in mind from this Sabio creative:

  • Add text overlays that highlight your brand’s core value proposition, but keep them brief.
  • Make it short and sweet – 10-15 seconds is the perfect length. 
  • Use background music that adds to the video – bonus points if the song’s currently popular on TikTok!
  • Feature real people, and add lots of color contrast to make text pop.

The results when we applied these principles to Sabio’s TikTok creatives? A 12x ROAS, with TikTok CPA’s coming in 62% lower than other paid acquisition channels. 

HP – #HPRadicalReuse

When you think of a brand with huge TikTok reach, HP – makers of computers, printers, and IT accessories – probably isn’t the first brand that comes to mind. But with their #HPRadicalReuse campaign, HP redefined what legacy brands could do on TikTok, inspiring millions of viewers to think about reusing everyday plastic items. 

HP partnered with Avery Cyrus, a TikTok influencer with more than 7 million followers, to produce a short ad showing Avery recycling plastic soda bottles to create planters. At the end of the video, Avery challenges her followers to share their creations, helping the campaign to spread far beyond the initial ad creative. 

The campaign reached millions of TikTok users, with the most popular creative pulling in more than 36 million views. Sometimes, it’s best to let influencers who know their audience drive the direction of your creative.

> Watch the #HPRadicalReuse TikTok with Avery Cyrus

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star CX by Obviously

Shoes don’t come much more recognizable than the iconic Converse Chuck Taylors. But when it came time to launch an exciting new shoe, Converse turned to TikTok. 

By working with influencer marketing agency Obviously, Converse was able to partner with 24 different influencers to launch their new shoe. The campaign used a variety of personalities, from skaters to artists, helping promote the shoe to diverse audiences. All creative told the Converse brand story and prominently featured the shoes in all kinds of hero shots. 

> Check out the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star CX Creative

When all was said and done, the campaign generated over 2.3 million impressions, delivering a 1,554% ROI and winning an award for the Most Effective TikTok Campaign at the 2021 Effective Digital Marketing Awards.

Fanbytes x Burger King

When it comes to fast food, there’s a lot of misconceptions out there, and with this campaign Burger King was keen to dispel them. But simply publishing an ad saying their burgers used 100% real meat wasn’t enough – the message needed to be delivered in a way that would resonate with their target audiences. 

Enter the Burger King Conspiracy Challenge, which featured amazing creative from eight popular TikTokers. Each influencer was tasked with dreaming up the most unimaginable conspiracies about the contents of Burger King’s burgers, and then refuting them by championing Burger King’s talking points to their audiences.

> Watch the Fanbytes x Burger King Campaign

The campaign delivered success, with an innovative format and support from multiple different TikTok personalities, each with their own audiences. This creative leveraged the trust between influencers and their audiences, underscoring the importance of harnessing influencers in TikTok campaigns. 

With 575,000 views in just a week, and a 16.8% engagement rate, the creative helped Burger King cut through the misinformation and highlight the best attributes of their food to important audiences.

NeoReach and DraftKings

As sports betting becomes legalized in an ever-increasing number of U.S. states, DraftKings, a leading operator in the space, is experiencing huge growth. That’s especially true at the start of a new NFL season, and with their #MakeItReign campaign, DraftKings were keen to take advantage.

The campaign leveraged 50 different influencers, and challenged each of them to create their own touchdown dance. Football fans loved it, with more than 34 million views, 400+ fan created videos, and tens of thousands of new followers on DraftKings’ TikTok account. 

The key to success? Letting influencers unleash their creativity to create winning creative that connects with each individual audience, while challenging their fans to create their own TikTok videos. DraftKings achieved a 1.83x ROI, underscoring the fact that not all creative has to be professionally produced – sometimes it’s best to let your influencers get creative. 

> Check out the Draft Kings #MakeItReign TikTok Campaign

Key Takeaways: How to Produce Great TokTok Creative

There’s plenty you can learn from the TikTok creatives we’ve shared here, but it’s also worth sharing some fundamental principles that you should keep in mind when developing TikTok creative for your brand.

Here’s some of our key takeaways:

  • Use the TikTok Creative Center: TikTok’s Creative Center helps you discover what’s popular on TikTok right now. There’s templates to help you create your ad, tools to help you add the perfect captions, and detailed breakdowns of high-converting ad creatives.
  • Lighting is Key: all great creatives have one thing in common: the lighting is perfect. Make sure your video is clear and well-lit – shooting at golden hour is your friend.
  • Leverage UGC and Testimonials: the more natural your creative seems, the better it converts. Recruit customers to talk about their journey with your product.
  • Use Native TikTok Text: this helps your ad look less like, well, an ad. Be sure to add color contrast to make your text stand out – we like to use a red background on our text.
  • Lean Into Trends: there’s always new trends popping off on TikTok. Share your brand’s take on them, but be quick! These trends are often fleeting, but catching them at the right time can be a major boost.

These principles will take you a long way, but as with all digital advertising, the key to success really lies in continuous testing. Start with at least three very different ads, and run experimental campaigns with smaller budgets to learn what works best. And have fun with it – TikTok is a great platform, and nailing your strategy will see huge returns for your brand!

Got some awesome TikTok ideas for your brand? Reach out and let us know – we’d love to help you make them a reality!