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12 Best Practices to Boost Your TikTok Ad Performance

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12 Best Practices to Boost Your TikTok Ad Performance

TikTok has been downloaded a whopping 3.5 billion times globally, and the app has 30.8 million active daily users on the iOS version alone. That all adds up to a ton of consumers eager for consumable content — your brand’s content included.

If you’re ready to take advantage of TikTok trends and expand your business’s reach, you’ve come to the right post. We’re going to dive into 12 best practices for advertisers on TikTok, and provide some actionable tips to help get your strategy started today.

 

Ready for Better TikTok Ads? Follow These 12 Best Practices

 
Creating a TikTok ad that users genuinely enjoy will require you to think outside of what tends to perform on other social media channels. TikTok’s audience is young, casual, and eager to swipe away if your content doesn’t catch their interest – to keep them watching, try following these best practices:
 

1. Set measurable performance goals

 
A strategic TikTok ad push starts with setting performance goals that are specific and measurable. You can find potential advertising objectives in your TikTok Ads Manager account, with goals like driving traffic to a specific URL, maximizing ad impressions or collecting leads.

Beyond the platform’s built-in performance goals, remember to measure the performance of your creative assets. TikTok is a highly visual platform, so ensure you have the analytical capabilities to understand which videos, filters, or sounds are most appealing to your audience.
 

 

2. Stay aware of trends and subcultures

 
From popular dances to the most-used sounds and filters, TikTok is all about trends. In addition to piggybacking off movements, like getting your team to do that unforgettable Meghan Trainor Gucci routine, you should also use hashtags to appeal to the TikTok algorithm and increase the likelihood your ads will end up in front of new audiences.

The importance of staying on trend is one way that advertising on TikTok differs from other social media platforms. While Facebook has traditionally relied on pay-for-play models with hashtags and trending content having little to do with where and how often ads show up, TikTok is all about user-generated content (UGC). You’ll be better positioned for marketing success if your content builds on existing trends while encouraging your audience to join in.
 

3. Partner with creators

 
Your marketing potential will grow exponentially if you join forces with a TikTok influencer. They can help you get traction in a new-to-you niche or dip your toes into content types that aren’t in your arena of expertise. You can research and evaluate individual influencers via TikTok’s Creator Marketplace, or connect with an influencer marketing agency to quickly find your perfect match.
 

4. Create videos for full-screen vertical viewing

 
TikTok’s feeds are all vertically oriented, and your videos should be too. TikTok users aren’t going to rotate their devices or find a magnifying glass to take in your visual masterpiece. And this bit of advice isn’t just for aesthetic purposes, either — vertical videos have 40.1% more impressions compared to videos shot using a square or horizontal aspect ratio.

example of tiktok vertical video

Credit: TikTok

 

5. Keep variety and visual appeal top of mind

 
While a one-shot ad spot may be the easiest type to film, it’s not what TikTok users want to see. Videos that use a variety of visually appealing set-ups, including B-roll and transition footage, see over 40% more impressions. For brands, variety is even more important: 99% of top-performing ecommerce videos on the app use multiple video settings and angles.
 

6. Create short and sweet videos

 
Size matters, but maybe not in the way you think. With TikTok videos, less is more. Viewers need to be hooked immediately – and if your video begins to bore them, they’re going to swipe in search of their next dopamine rush. For that reason, TikTok (and Tinuiti) recommend shorter videos, with important messaging presented up front.
 

7. Center your brand and CTA

 
Don’t get lost in the sauce. As fun as TikTok trends and influencer partnerships are, you still need to keep your brand and CTA center stage. Viewers should have a clear next step in mind after watching your ad. TikTok’s clickable CTAs help move things along by giving you the ability to lead consumers to a shopping deal, special offer, location finder and more.
 

8. Always add captions

 
Adding captions to support visual and auditory messages allows users who can’t have their sound on to understand what you’re trying to convey. It also builds on the story you’re telling by adding facts and expanding the narrative and makes room for hashtags, user tags and pithy language that users can easily connect to.
 

9. Balance entertainment and promotion

 
Entertainment-related content accounts for some 535 billion hashtag views on TikTok, but ads are about sales. How can you reconcile the two? It’s all about balance. Use entertaining elements to get audiences engaged, then sprinkle in promotional content that soft sells users on your product or brand. If you’re new to TikTok, you might kick-start your account with more entertainment-based ads, then ramp up the useful promotional content (think how-tos and interactive videos) once consumers are more familiar with what you offer.
 

10. Keep things lighthearted and fun

 
Your content should focus on being fun, engaging, memorable and relatable. If consumers enjoy engaging with your brand, the TikTok algorithm will show your content to them more often – increasing the likelihood that they’ll follow your account or take a desired action.

If you need some ideas, here are some examples of TikTok content that can help you connect in a lighthearted way:

  • Play with green screen capabilities
  • Do a TikTok challenge
  • Show a fast-forward “day in the life” at your company
  • Test out a viral life hack related to your niche
  • Duet or live react to user-generated content about your products

 

11. Include catchy sounds

 
TikTok is full of sound snippets you can leverage while making your own content. Two popular options are licensed music tracks (used with permission, of course) and voiceovers from other content creators that you can lip sync to while adding your own spin. Over 93% of top-performing videos use audio — just remember to add captions for those viewers sneaking a peek at their FYP during quiet time.
 

12. Engage in creative testing

 
The only way to know whether you’re running the best ads for your business is to continually test new creative approaches. Mix up content styles, production techniques, sounds and influencer contributions. If you’re just getting started, try TikTok’s Automated Creative Optimization to get ideas of which creative assets are driving engagement on the app. However, if you want to understand how your videos impact behavior throughout your entire marketing agency, you should work with a performance creative agency.

example of an influencer filming a tiktok video ad
 

Budgeting Best Practices for TikTok Ads

 
Now comes the big question: How much does it cost to execute on all these tips and best practices? Well, it depends.

Like many other paid media channels, TikTok ads are purchased through an auction process. Brands can set a budget, choose an audience, select a bidding strategy, and TikTok will automatically serve advertisements based on those parameters. This is why it’s so important to clearly define your audience – if you can reach an audience that’s relatively untapped by other advertisers, using TikTok ads won’t break the bank.

However, if you’re looking to estimate how much a TikTok ad will cost, here’s a general idea:

  • Most campaigns require a minimum daily or lifetime budget of $50, but specific ad groups only require a daily minimum budget of $20
  • Conversion-focused or app install campaigns require a minimum budget of $100
  • Your initial budget should be about 20 * your target CPA
  • Using “Promote” on an existing post starts at a $10 CPM (cost per thousand impressions)
  • A Brand Takeover, which shows your ad to a large group of users when they open the app, costs about $50,000 to $100,000 per day

 

Frequently Asked Questions About TikTok Ads

 
Before you start crafting your TikTok ads, here are some questions that clients tend to ask:
 

What video ad specs does TikTok use?

 
TikTok prefers videos that fit the following specs:

  • Aspect ratio of 9:16, 1:1, or 16:9
  • Resolution of 720 x 1280, 640 x 640, or 1280 x 720
  • Length between 5 and 16 seconds
  • MP4, AVI, MOV, or MPEG file type that’s less than 500 MB

 

Which TikTok ad formats can I use?

 
Two of the most popular TikTok ad formats are Spark Ads and in-feed ads, but you can also take advantage of TikTok’s Brand Takeovers, Branded Hashtag Challenges, TopView ads (these videos can be up to a minute long and appear at the top of user’s FYP feeds), and other promotional options like Branded Effects.
 

Which is better: Paid or organic TikTok ads?

 
Both paid and organic TikTok ads can deliver big results. Which avenue you choose depends on your goals. Organic reach is better for long-term objectives, such as building a community and forging relationships with consumers. Paid ads are more effective when you want to push time-sensitive information and boost sales quickly
 

Can I repurpose content from other channels for TikTok?

 
It’s not a best practice to repurpose video content from other channels like YouTube or Instagram. The user interface of TikTok is different, meaning that important information might be obscured by buttons or captions. Additionally, users are looking for different types of content on either platform. While an ad on Instagram should look sleek and professional, it’s better if your TikTok ads are a little more scrappy.
 

Conclusion

 
TikTok is massively popular, which means it has similarly massive potential as a marketplace for advertisers eager to reach out to trend-hungry consumers. While resonating with TikTok’s volatile (but discerning) audience can be challenging, these best practices should help you take steps in the right direction.

Ready to get started? To make the most of your time, energy and budget, check out Tinuiti’s Paid Social and Creative services and see how our experts can help you take your next big step.

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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