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

phone using tiktok

Diversifying your paid social channels is the name of the game when it comes to social advertising in 2021, especially since iOS 14 rolled out. And any growth marketing agency like Tuff is testing TikTok, trying to find ways to make the viral video platform profitable for our partners.

We’ve managed thousands of dollars in TikTok spend for our clients, and we’ve seen a ton of success and growth opportunities on the channel, particularly for our client Sabio – an online coding bootcamp based in Los Angeles. (So much so that we had to pause campaigns for a bit because there were too many leads for their sales team to work. 🤓)

Like any new channel that a TikTok ad agency tests, we started small to make sure TikTok was going to be effective, and gradually increased our spend over a three month period. Numbers speak louder than words in most marketing conversations, so this blog post includes data from Sabio campaigns.

A little bit of background so these numbers have context: 

  • Sabio is an online coding bootcamp — our primary goal is to grow the number of qualified applications submitted on their site. 
  • Our primary KPI is Cost Per Application (CPA). 
  • We’ve ran ads on 8 different channels for Sabio – Reddit, Google, Bing, Quora, YouTube, Facebook & Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat! So we have a ton of data to compare channel performance.

The CPA on TikTok was 62% lower than the CPA on other paid acquisition channels.

When we first launched TikTok, we saw immediate success, with CPAs consistently in the $11-$16 range over the first few months. But I think we were all a bit skeptical over the quality of the applicants. 

To help keep a pulse on lead quality, we worked closely with the Sabio team to keep a pulse on how many TikTok applications were attending info sessions and enrolling in bootcamp programs. 

We did see that TikTok’s applications were slightly less qualified compared to Facebook, but the CPA was 62% lower, so it still made sense to continue to run ads on TikTok.

In fact, TikTok campaigns generated 448 total applications, and 7 enrolled students. With a bootcamp tuition of $12K, that’s $84K in total revenue, and a 12X ROAS.

Here are some of our biggest takeaways so far from TikTok:

High-Impact Creative is Necessary

If you want to see success on TikTok, you have to make sure you’re using creative that mimics the TikTok style that users expect to see when they scroll on the platform.

tiktok ad example

For Sabio, this was easy. They’ve already gone all-in organically on TikTok. They post several videos a week, and some of them have half a million organic view. 

Our top-performing ads played off of some of TikTok’s most viral video trends, with text overlays that speak to Sabio’s value props.

BUT if posting to TikTok everyday isn’t right for you, don’t let it deter you! TikTok ads could still work for you if your audience is on the channel. You can still create strong video ads without necessarily repurposing organic posts. Check out this article where we talk about some of our best creative tips for TikTok!

But is your audience on TikTok?

TikTok’s ad platform is still in its infancy, and like all other social ads platforms when they first got started, the audience target capabilities leaves us wanting more (much, much more). 

Before you add TikTok to your mix of social advertising channels, take a beat and ask yourself if your audience is ACTUALLY an active TikTok user, or if this is a shiny new toy and you’re jumping in without a real strategy. 

Not all audiences are on TikTok, and it doesn’t make sense for every single brand. But if we’re working with a B2C brand targeting users between 17 and 35 years old, TikTok’s probably going to be on our list of channels to test.

Sabio’s target audience is perfect for TikTok: 18-30 year olds who tend to be early adopters. Specifically, we targeted:

  • Users interested in Gaming (top performer!)
  • Users interested in Music
  • Users interested in Culture/Education
  • Users interested in Tech (top performer!)

At the time that we launched these campaigns, TikTok didn’t have a lookalike audience feature, and the number of applications on our TikTok pixel wasn’t quite big enough. But this is on our radar to test in the coming weeks!

Campaign Setup

Whenever we test new social channels, one of the first things we test is campaign optimizations. For Sabio’s TikTok campaigns, we tested conversion vs. traffic. 

While our traffic campaigns had insanely low CPCs (like $0.08), the quality wasn’t there. The conversion rates were abysmal, and we quickly decided that conversion campaigns were the clear winner. 

Note: That seems super intuitive, but you’d be surprised how many times we see traffic campaigns crush it on some of these secondary social channels like TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Day Parting

Within the first month, we noticed that our TikTok campaigns were spending the daily budget before 2 p.m., and we knew that our audience was likely active on TikTok at night. 

We tested running ads from 12 p.m. to midnight, and saw 33% lower CPAs compared to the original campaigns.

While TikTok was wildly successful for Sabio, it definitely hasn’t worked for all of our partners. No matter what campaign optimization tricks you have up your sleeve, TikTok will only work if you have the perfect audience + creative combo. 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for spending a few minutes reading through my TikTok endeavors! I hope you picked up a thing or two to test. 

I’d love to hear how TikTok has performed for you! HMU with any questions.