What was once considered a platform for users to share silly, short-form videos that featured new dances and or lip-syncing trending audios in 2016 is now considered the top app for consumer spend in 2022. Not only does TikTok have over one billion monthly active users, but 67% of users say the app inspires them to shop AND it was the most downloaded app in 2021 and it’s expected to triple revenue by the end of 2022.
What does this mean for your business? It means TikTok has A TON of potential and should be considered in your marketing mix.
But how do you build broad, prospecting campaigns that convert? As a growth marketing agency, we’ve tested on all of the major channels and TikTok has now become a core platform in the channel mix for almost every single client we work with today.
TLDR, here are the do’s and don’ts of TikTok campaigns that convert:
- Cast a wide net with targeting
- Incorporate Spark ads
- Shoot videos raw, unfiltered and lofi
- Get too specific with your audiences
- Be quiet (TikTok = Sound on optimized platform)
- Forget subtitles and or text overlays
When setting up a typical paid social campaign, you’d likely focus on a few variables, like the campaign objective, audiences, and creative. While aligning the campaign objective with your business goal and targeting an audience that is congruent with your product and brand are incredibly important pieces of the puzzle, creative can make or break your campaign. 70% of campaign performance on TikTok is rooted in the creative assets you use. Read that again.
Cast a wide net with targeting
That being said, targeting IS important; it’s just not AS important as your creative assets and that is because broader is almost always better when audience planning on TikTok. TikTok appeals to a variety of demographics, and it’s catching up to Meta in size.
There are the typical options you would imagine, like location, language, gender, age and interest options. There are also some unique-to-TikTok targeting options, like interactions with specific videos, creators and hashtags! Combining relevant interests with interactions has been a winning strategy for us in the past.
One of our partners, Sabio, has a broad target audience ranging from people who are interested in gaming to music lovers. Taking this into consideration, we tested segmenting out our interest audiences vs. combining them into one supercharged audience, and we saw our conversion rate skyrocket from around 5% to 24% and our CPA drop from $16 to $8.
Combining these interests + utilizing their strong organic presence with Spark Ads helped us improve performance immensely.
Incorporate Spark ads
Spark ads have changed the game by creating a powerful and unique way to boost organic content in your paid campaigns. What are they, you ask? They’re one of TikTok’s newer ad formats that lets a brand boost their own organic content. According to TikTok, Spark Ads have a 142% higher engagement rate and generate a 43% higher conversion rate than standard in-feed Ads. If the creative is produced specifically for TikTok and does not feel overly polished, Spark ads are a strong way to optimize creative in a way that feels cohesive when served on a user’s FYP.
But do they actually convert? We have utilized Spark Ads in quite a few of our campaigns across different industries – eCommerce, B2B, Tech – and have found time and time again that they’re an incredibly effective and efficient way to push conversions.
We have been testing Spark ads for one of our partners, Joylux, to compare how they perform with standard in-feed ads. Analyzing the data after being live for around two weeks now, this ad format is serving more impressions, clicks and video views at a higher CTR with longer average watch times – All while generating more conversions. See the chart below for more specifics!
Beyond these paid KPIs that we look at when determining campaign success, paid metrics (such as paid followers, likes, comments, shares, and profile visits) were also much higher from the Spark Ads. This contributes to a higher engagement which in turn means that TikTok’s algorithm will push the video out more!
Spark ads can be used directly from your branded account or from an influencer’s account. Making your brand’s content feel like user-generated content and or using an influencer’s account to promote your brand automatically builds a foundation of trust with the audience by humanizing the brand and making the content feel less outright like an ad.
Shoot videos raw, unfiltered and lofi
TikTok recently released a presentation highlighting their best practices for TikTok ad creative, and the recurring theme seems to be shoot your videos lofi and don’t make creative that feels overly polished.
I could not say it any better than Elle, one of the creative strategists here at Tuff, “Almost every single video looks like it was shot on an iPhone. And even the ones that were shot with nice equipment get some sort of filter or treatment that *suggests* it was casual or off-the-cuff.” (More helpful tips from Elle on that in this article about TikTok ad creative!)
One of partners, Sesh, leaned into that creator-first, user-generated content vibe, and it really paid off. Our creative team here at Tuff created these two assets – A Day in The Life + Group Support – that we tested against some other videos that felt more produced and polished. The results speak for themselves.
More impressions, clicks and video views do not always mean higher CTRs, longer watch times and more conversion volume. However, in this instance, it did. It is important to dive deep into these metrics as a whole to understand the audience on the platform and what speaks to them, ultimately driving them to convert.
TikTok trends, targeting capabilities and creative best practices are always changing, and we’re always testing and iterating. If you’re ready to start running TikTok campaigns that actually convert, give us a shout!
Hi there — I’m Kate, a Social Ads Strategist based in Knoxville, TN. I have over four years of experience in social media, focused predominantly on paid social media planning and buying. When I am not at my computer, I am likely hanging out with my dog, Benji, or cooking up something good in the kitchen.