In 2022, the average user will spend 38 minutes on TikTok. 38 minutes!
That stat blows past age-old social media leaders like Facebook and Instagram. But that’s not all TikTok has accomplished.
Last year, TikTok surpassed Google in terms of overall web traffic一performance that, until now, was simply unheard of. So what is so addicting about TikTok? And is there a way to harness some of that power and use it to our advantage?
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The short answer is yes: Digital marketers can and do leverage TikTok Ads to drive awareness and achieve ROI seen on no other platform. But it’s easier said than done.
So in this piece, we’ll discuss the state of TikTok Ads in 2022. I’ll share why TikTok is so effective, what differentiates it from other platforms, why you need to get in on it now, and how to build your TikTok strategy from scratch.
Why is now the best time for brands to start running TikTok Ads?
Initially, TikTok concentrated on getting users onto the platform and honing the algorithm to keep users on the platform一and it worked. A study by Neuro-Insight shows that TikTok outperforms all other social media platforms in terms of approach and engagement.
In this context, “approach” referred to likability and spontaneous, in-the-moment action, such as making an unplanned purchase or filling out a form to get more information about a product. TikTok scored significantly stronger (44%) in terms of approach than all other social media platforms.
TikTok has also perfected “engagement,” which quantifies the personal relevance of each piece of content. It’s easy to see how engagement correlates with memory and retention, which, in turn, helps predict users’ future buying and decision-making processes. In this category, TikTok was 15% stronger than other platforms.
So once TikTok knew they had a good thing going, they launched ads. But this wasn’t until a few years ago, meaning very few digital marketers have adopted them.
To encourage more and more marketers to hop on the TikTok train, the company has extremely cheap CPMs: $4 to $12, depending on the vertical. If I saw $15 to $25 CPMs on Facebook or LinkedIn一double or triple the price of TikTok一I’d be jumping for joy.
All in all, TikTok has more engaged traffic that’s more likely to approach and spend time on the platform. And right now, you can get in front of that audience for half the cost of Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
Why is TikTok Ads targeting so effective?
TikTok’s algorithm is fantastic at predicting the content you’ll like by paying attention to several behaviors. Some of these include:
- Watch time: Whether or not you watch a video until the end
- Hashtags: What hashtags are associated with the videos you watch
- Engagement: Whether you like or comment on a video
- Frequency: What creators’ videos you watch over and over
Once TikTok learns your patterns, it continues to show you videos tied to the community or communities you care about. This allows marketers to hyper-target ads to specific hashtags and niches. Since we know with fairly high certainty what people want and need, we know potential customers are much more likely to engage with our ads and eventually, buy our products.
Even if someone doesn’t convert straight from the ad, the content will stick in their mind. TikTok Ads lead to a 23% higher detailed memory than TV ads and 15% higher detailed memory than Google Ads.
Part of that is because TikTok registers impressions as longer page views: 6-seconds versus Facebook’s 3-second impression. So the prospects you’re targeting see your ads for longer.
The bottom line is that these ads are sticky and prompt potential customers to act more readily.
What distinguishes TikTok from other ad platforms?
I think Sandie Hawkins, the US Head of Advertising for TikTok, put it best, “People check Facebook, but they watch TikTok.”
When you check Facebook, you scroll for a few minutes, seeing what your friends might be up to, but you don’t do much. When you go on TikTok, you’re immediately engaged. You’re stuck like glue because the algorithm is so accurate at showing you what you want to see. Really, that’s the biggest difference: the best-performing ads appear native to the platform.
In that way, TikTok is particularly conducive to reviews. People tend to believe their friends or influencers who hop on and shout out a great product. As a business, you can feed off the organic traffic and continue promoting hashtags that lead folks to creators’ reviews of your product.
And there’s not a single business I can think of that wouldn’t benefit from using TikTok. But if you’re working for an ecommerce shop or a B2B SaaS company, TikTok is a must for top-of-funnel lead generation.
Why content creation is the #1 TikTok Ads learning curve
Digital marketers won’t have a hard time learning the interface, as it looks almost exactly like Facebook. The most significant learning curve is content creation. Many advertisers may not have the money or resources to produce engaging video content continuously, but that’s also what makes TikTok such a big opportunity.
The hardest thing to snap out of is that, as digital marketers, we are accustomed to developing professional-looking, clean ads. But on TikTok, what starts trending are videos someone made on their iPhone. So taking a highly-produced spot you’re running on national TV and then running that on TikTok likely won’t work well.
That said, it’s important to note that the top creators manage to make their content look as if it wasn’t heavily produced一even if when there was sound and background editing involved. So it’s all about making something look like it’s user-generated because that’s what gets people to convert.
One of my top-performing TikTok campaigns was for the auto insurance vertical. At the time, gas was at an all-time high. We wanted to capitalize on that and convey that our auto insurance was so inexpensive that members could afford to pay for other people’s gas.
So we went to gas stations, walked up to random people, and handed them $20 saying, “Hey, we saved so much money on our car insurance that we’re paying for your gas.” They signed a consent form and we filmed little snippets of them talking about how we paid for their gas.
That ad pulled like crazy. And it’s not only because it was user-generated, it’s because it was unique and didn’t seem like a sponsored post.
How do you get started with TikTok Ads?
First, integrate the pixel into your website or ecommerce platform to collect as much data as you can.
After that’s all set up, you’ll want to spend time on TikTok. In my view, you must be an avid TikTok user to develop great TikTok Ads. Without getting on TikTok every day, you can’t know what’s trending and weave that into your ad strategy.
When you TikTok consistently, you learn what sounds and hashtags work in your vertical, so I created separate accounts just for work so that I could only engage with videos and audiences in my clients’ industries.
Next, I would play around with the Top Ads in TikTok’s Creative Center. Here, you can sort top ads by location, industry, and campaign objectives, like conversions, app installs, or generic reach.
To get a general idea of what your competitors are doing, I suggest filtering down to ads in your category and sorting by highest click-through rate. You should pay special attention to the ads that pass the 6-second view rate because those count as impressions.
The backend of TikTok also shows you what songs and hashtags are trending and helps you figure out what creators are trending in your industry. Then, if you have the budget, you can reach out to those folks directly and have them produce videos for you. In that way, TikTok almost has a built-in influencer marketing platform.
How long should TikTok videos be?
TikTok recommends 21 and 34-second videos. Personally, I’ve found that 45 seconds works best for lead generation. But it’s one of those things you should always be testing. Try shorter videos and longer videos and see what your audience likes.
What language works in TikTok videos?
The language in your TikTok videos should make your audience feel like they are talking to a good friend. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t think about it strategically. When you’re planning your ads, ask yourself what kind of intro your customers might need to buy into what you’re saying.
For instance, in my auto insurance ads, we have a bit of a preamble that points out what’s included in the policy, the deductible, and the overall cost. All of that matches what our landing page says and how it looks. So when someone clicks on our ad, they are taken to a place that looks familiar.
It’s also good to keep in mind that much of the language on TikTok is centered around saving money or educating people. If everyone is learning x new thing or saving x hundreds of dollars, your target customers will want to repeat those behaviors. Using phrases that make people feel like they are in the know gets them to engage.
Picking your TikTok ad format and targeting options
What’s nice about TikTok is that they copied the same format as Facebook. Ads have three categories: awareness, consideration, and conversions.
For awareness, the only objective is reach. Consideration is about traffic, driving as many people to a specific link as possible. And lastly, you optimize for a specific conversion event, like a completed form or purchased product.
The other thing you can do is catalog ads, where you can show people various items dynamically, and they can click on any item they want to know more about.
Then you get into targeting. The most popular mechanism is lookalike audiences which are based on your custom audiences. You can also do automatic targeting, where TikTok decides what’s best, but I recommend targeting based on interest, like financial services, and behaviors, like time spent on platform.
I also think it’s worth targeting based on the user’s operating system. I always separate out my iOS14.5+ campaigns and run CBO.
Overall, starting with more targeted campaigns helps you in the long run. Being hyper-focused on your ideal consumer gets you some initial data you can use to pivot your strategy. After that learning period, you can switch to broad targeting where TikTok does the work for you.
One thing to note is that your lead quality highly depends on your value prop and your creative. If your ads are gimmicky, unconvincing, and uninteresting, you will not lure in your ideal customers.
How to make TikTok Ads that go viral
TikTok Ads go viral when they are new and intriguing.
Think about it: if you’re shown the same TikTok ad over and over, eventually, you won’t watch it. And TikTok’s AI has “creative fatigue” built-in, so if it sees an ad too often, that ad is placed lower in people’s feeds. I’d say that happens if your creative is running for over 10 days.
An easy way to remedy this is to take a video that is already working and add a viral trend to its beginning. For example, one trend right now is answering the question, “What is one website you’ve seen that sounds like it should be illegal, but isn’t?”
We filmed an intro to our auto insurance ads where a creator talks about how this insurance is so cheap it should be illegal and tacked that onto the content we already filmed.
Because this ad had different words and metadata, TikTok’s AI saw it as “fresh” creative, and that ad still performed really well. When someone clicked on it, their vehicle information automatically pulled in based on their address, and because they were so compelled by the ad, they ended up filling out a 17-page signup form. The best part was that those leads only cost $6 – $8.
Marketers worry that their content won’t go viral because it’s not meant for a young audience. They have this impression that TikTok is full of youngsters, but I found that 41% of my users on broadly targeted campaigns are 30 plus.
Keeping up with TikTok Ads releases
TikTok is getting increasingly sophisticated every day, so keep an eye out for new changes. The latest thing I’ve heard is that they are launching beta search ads for managed partners. If this happens, it’s going to be big.
When you target specific search terms, you get prospects with interest and intent. So instead of attracting more top or middle funnel leads, TikTok immediately sends you people who are ready to buy.
Need help with your TikTok Ads strategy?
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This article was based on a session of our weekly community event called The Growth Clinic. You can watch the full recording here. We have expert sessions every Wednesday at 12 PM, so be sure to sign up for the next one.
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