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A Brand’s Guide for 2023



A Brand’s Guide for 2023

If you’ve been caught up in a goofy dance challenge, know what a negroni sbagliato is, or recently rediscovered your love for corn, you probably have TikTok to thank (or blame?) for it. Despite proposed and actual restrictions in the US, TikTok was the most downloaded app in the world last year and has woven itself into the very center of pop culture.

Contrary to its early reputation as the former and the spiritual heir to Vine, TikTok isn’t just for teens. Its 1 billion monthly active users span all demographics, with 35-64-year-olds among the fastest-growing age groups (though Gen Z is still dominant on the platform). This makes it a vital advertising marketplace for companies across industries and sectors. And as the first US Independent Agency to receive the TikTok Campaign Management Agency Partner badge, Tinuiti knows a thing or two about how to help brands create engaging and successful TikTok advertising and marketing campaigns.

Here’s a look at how to advertise on TikTok, some of the platform’s key features and best practices, and how you can get started with TikTok ads.

“TikTok is the #1 downloaded platform across mobile. It’s no longer the best-kept secret for advertisers, but the platform is spreading its wings against wider demographics, and we expect this to continue.”

– Avi Ben-Zvi, VP of Social at Tinuiti

Table of Contents

  • How does TikTok work?
  • Is TikTok’s audience a good fit for your brand?
  • TikTok Ad Types for Your Campaigns
  • How to Start Advertising on TikTok: Step-by-Step
  • How Much Do TikTok Ads Cost?
  • 7 Creative Best Practices for Your TikTok Advertising Initiative
  • 6 Successful TikTok Ad Campaign Examples
  • Final Takeaway


How does TikTok work?

TikTok is a channel designed for short-form video content. Users can choose from thousands of audio clips and record videos of themselves lip-syncing, dancing, or acting along to the sound bites. Videos can also be edited, sped up, or slowed down, and users can add stickers, activate a special effect, or use filters to change the video’s look. When you log in, a recommended video on your For You Page (FYP) will start playing right away, as determined by the TikTok algorithm.

You can also follow other users to stay up to date on their content or use the search function to look up specific challenges, keywords, hashtags, and more. There’s also a trending area to find up-and-coming videos.

TikTok logo


The TikTok app isn’t just for individual users, though. Companies use TikTok ads to boost their brand awareness, promote new products or sell directly to TikTok users. But to advertise on TikTok effectively, brands must understand the platform’s audience, ad formats and the process of creating a TikTok ad that will resonate.

“What I love most about working on this platform is how advertisers are rewarded for enhancing the user experience rather than disrupting it. We see much stronger engagement and touchpoints to purchases when we embrace TikTok trends and the native content experience that the consumer leads,” said Haley Kimmen, Senior Specialist, Paid Social at Tinuiti.

Is TikTok’s Audience a Good Fit for Your Brand?


TikTok, in some version or another, is currently available in 150 markets worldwide and 75 unique languages. Its most popular posters have millions of followers and billions of views per month.

graphic showing multiple examples of TikTok creative
TikTok has become popular with all age groups. Though teens were the original cohort to catch on, TikTok videos are now a part of the mainstream social media diet for people worldwide, including 138 million Americans from all walks of life.

Interesting Statistics About TikTok’s Audiences, Reach and Impact

TikTok has extraordinary potential to reach young people while they’re highly engaged. We’ll let these statistics speak for themselves:


  • Of TikTok’s 1 billion monthly active users (MAUs) across the globe, over 63% of users in the US are between the ages of 10 and 29, and nearly 60% are female. 
  • TikTok (37.3 million) recently surpassed Instagram (33.3 million) in popularity among Gen Z users.
  • TikTok has the second-most engaged user base when compared to its competitors, with 29 percent of its active worldwide users opening the app every single day each month in Q2 2022 and spending nearly 1.5 hours per session when they do.
  • For brands, TikTok is one of the fastest-growing channels for product discovery. According to TikTok’s research, nearly 15% of product discoveries began on TikTok in 2022, up from 4% in 2021.
  • Some retail brands estimate that advertising and marketing on TikTok is responsible for 30% to 40% of their offline sales lift.
  • TikTok is expanding into social commerce at a rapid pace, including partnering with Shopify to make purchasing via the platform more seamless.


Given that reach and impact, it’s hard to think of a brand for which TikTok’s audience isn’t a good fit. To borrow a phrase popular on the app, TikTok can offer a huge W for marketers if their content aligns with what users are looking for.

TikTok Ad Types for Your Campaigns

Today, TikTok offers a variety of robust ad types ranging from simple in-feed ads to complex video shopping ads. Let’s dive into how each type of ad works and what your brand may need to get started.


In-Feed Ads

As the name suggests, in-feed ads appear in the feed as part of the FYP video queue and redirect to your website or app. Each in-feed ad video can be 5 to 60 seconds long, and a profile photo, brand name, and text description accompany each video. Users can also interact with these ads, liking or sharing them or leaving comments. Each in-stream video ad can use one of three available action models: CPC (cost per click), CPM (cost per mille), and CPV (cost per view). To count for CPV, a user has to watch your ad for more than 6 seconds.


Spark Ads


Spark Ads enable brands to leverage existing organic videos that align with their campaign aims by amplifying them. Spark Ads use posts from real TikTok accounts (either the brand’s or another creator’s, used with permission), which ensures that all views, comments, shares, likes, and follows gained from boosting the video during the promotion are attributed to the organic posts.


Search Ads


In 2022, TikTok began testing search ads or sponsored in-feed or spark ads that appear in the first few search page results. This allows brands to toggle on search placements for existing campaigns, helping them target users with high interest or purchase intent. However, this placement isn’t available to the general public yet. For now, you’ll need to work with one of TikTok’s marketing partners (like Tinuiti!) to run these ads. 

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Brand Takeover

A brand takeover is when your ad appears immediately after a user opens the app, “taking over” the opening screen. Once opened, the brand can bring users somewhere else, whether it’s a TikTok profile or an external site.

example of a TikTok brand takeover ad by Vans

Source: TikTok

This TikTok ad type has a high barrier to entry, as it’s more expensive than in-feed or spark ads, and the fact that only one advertiser can leverage this ad per day.

TopView Ads

Similar to Brand Takeover, this ad appears when the app is opened. However, TopView allows videos such as In-Feed Video to be used as advertising material.


Branded Hashtag Challenge

TikTok’s user-generated content is unique, clever, and remarkably shareable, and the Hashtag Challenge ad format takes full advantage of this. Users are asked to participate in a challenge campaign that will last for six days, where they post their own videos based on the suggested theme. This is an easy way to make your brand go viral if you leverage your ad creative correctly.

TikTok also offers a subset of the Hashtag Challenge called Hashtag Challenge Plus, which allows users to shop for products featured in a Hashtag Challenge without leaving the app. This will help your Hashtag Challenge generate sales and brand awareness at the same time.

“TikTok hashtag challenges leverage a user’s tendency to create and share content around unified themes. Brands can build affinity by turning users into co-creators. TikTok understands the ripple effect one challenge can have, so incorporating brands elevates the idea even more!”

Kiana Corpus, Senior Digital Marketing Specialist at Tinuiti

Portrait of Kiana Corpus

Branded Effects


Brands can create sponsored augmented reality effects, filters, lenses or stickers that users are free to use on their own organic content. A product or logo is often incorporated into these effects, meaning your brand will appear on each video, encouraging users to interact. If your branded effects add enough value to user’s posts, you can expect to see your brand featured in troves of user generated content.


Video Shopping Ads

In the beginning of 2023, TikTok retired Dynamic Showcase Ads and Collection Ads, and reincorporated them into a new format called Video Shopping Ads. This ad type requires brands to create a catalog within TikTok and populate it with products, allowing users to shop and purchase within the ad itself. This also allows brands to automatically retarget people with products according to their online behaviors.

User-Generated Content

Getting your audience to post videos of them interacting with your brand or product will go a long way to making your branding goals a reality. You can encourage this through your profile and videos or partner with influencers with a large following that may fit your target audience. Many brands have had success with this through “unboxings” or “hauls,” where a user explains, tries on or demonstrates a variety of items bought from or provided by a single brand.

Influencer Marketing

Just like other platforms, influencer marketing is a powerful tool. As long as there are influencers with a following similar to your target audience, you can partner with them to create content promoting your brand to the right users. 

You’ll have to choose the right influencers and communicate effectively for influencer campaigns to be successful. They need to maintain their personal style and be trusted to make content that appears authentic to their followers.


How to Start Advertising on TikTok: Step-by-Step


Setting up your TikTok advertising campaign and running TikTok ads is a straightforward process that allows advertisers plenty of options for reaching their desired audience and driving engagement. Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up a TikTok advertising campaign.


1. Start a TikTok Ad Account


To get started, create a user account through the TikTok for Business website by clicking “create an ad.” Then, submit the following information to TikTok:


  • A business name that matches the information you supply TikTok
  • A link to your business’s website that displays product or service information
  • Additional business information, such as your industry, street address, state/province, postal code, and contact information
  • Tax and payment information
  • Assurance that you’re not promoting prohibited products or services


After verifying the account and agreeing to TikTok’s terms of service, a TikTok ad campaign can be created.

For some campaigns, brands may benefit from setting up a TikTok pixel on their owned platforms. The pixel is a small piece of code that you place on your website to help you track visitor actions, like page views or purchases, and create audience segments to re-engage previous site visitors or model lookalikes to find new customers. TikTok’s tracking pixel is also key if you’d like to run conversion-focused campaigns.


2. Create a TikTok Ad Campaign


Once you have an account, you can begin to build a campaign. Choose “Campaign” from the top tab of the TikTok Ad Manager to start the process. Then select “Create,” and provide details regarding your objectives and budget. Let’s take a closer look:


Setting Objectives


As the first step in the campaign creation process, you’ll be prompted to choose from three objectives: Awareness, Consideration, or Conversion. Awareness will maximize the number of TikTok users who see your ad, helping new brands develop brand awareness. TikTok’s metric for this is Reach. Consideration is better for established brands, as it encourages users to seek more information and cultivates interest in their offerings. TikTok offers five sub-objectives to Consideration, including:


  • Traffic: drives users to a specific URL
  • App Installs: encourages users to download your app
  • Video Views: gets more users to view your video content
  • Lead Generation: collects contact information from potential clients
  • Community Interaction: getts more users to interact with your brand’s TikTok account


Conversion is designed to help organizations improve sales through their TikTok ads and requires brands to install a tracking pixel on their owned properties. Once a pixel is in place, brands can choose from one of three sub-objectives:


  • Product Sales: encourages sales of products from your TikTok catalog, website or app
  • Website Conversions: encourages users to take specific actions on your website, like adding items to a cart or completing a registration form. 
  • App Promotion: drives new app downloads or existing user log-ins 
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The right objective for your brand will depend on your internal business goals and what your team hopes to gain from advertising on TikTok.


Setting a Budget


When setting up the budget for an ad campaign, there are three choices: No Limit, Daily budget and Lifetime budget. No Limit is essentially an unlimited ad budget; the Daily and Lifetime budgets are the maximum amounts set to be spent daily or on an entire campaign. If you’d like to target your budget on a more granular level, you can set a Daily or Lifetime budget for specific ad groups, too.

Keep in mind that TikTok ads have a minimum budget requirement depending on the user’s choices. The minimum for both daily and lifetime budgets is 50 USD, but ad groups can run on a daily minimum of 20 USD.


3. Create an Ad Group & Choose Placements


After setting a budget for the campaign, the TikTok Ad Manager guides you through creating ad groups. Each campaign can contain one or more ad groups. Ad groups consist of:


  • Placements
  • ​Creative Type
  • ​Target Audience
  • ​Budget & Schedule
  • ​Bidding Method & Optimization


The first set of choices to make is about ad placement. Advertisers can choose to advertise directly on the TikTok app, or place ads on one of TikTok’s affiliated properties. These include BuzzVideo, TopBuzz and Babe, for example. TikTok also offers a feature allowing the app to choose ad placement on its own, running ads where they would likely perform better.


4. Identifying Your Target Audience


Every campaign and ad group has a particular customer or set of customers in mind, and the app allows the advertiser to target specifically based on specific characteristics. Typical demographic options available include:


  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Location 


Advertisers can also target their audience by what devices they use and their interests. For more specific targeting and retargeting, TikTok allows advertisers to upload the IDs of existing TikTok users from previous engagement through ZIP, CSV, and TXT files.

TikTok also provides advanced targeting options that dynamically optimize target audiences to lower cost or maximize conversions (Automatic targeting), automatically expand the target audience if the selected targets are predicted to be too hard to reach (Targeting expansion) or recommend interests and behaviors to include in the ad group (Targeting recommendations).


5. Finalize Campaign Details


The final step before pushing your ad live is to set your campaign’s bidding strategy and optimization goal. Optimization goals are straightforward. You can optimize your campaign for conversions, clicks or reach, and depending on the objective you set when creating your campaign, your optimization setting may be preset by default. 

The bidding strategy on TikTok is similar to other social media platforms. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Bid Cap: Brands enter the maximum cost per result based on their chosen objective or billing event. Then, TikTok will deliver ads that do not exceed your desired cost.
  • Cost Cap: Advertisers can set an average cost per result they’d like to spend for a given objective. This acts as a more flexible version of bid cap, since costs may be higher or lower than your desired bid.
  • Lowest Cost: Instead of setting a bid, this option will place your ad as often as possible at the lowest feasible cost. While this is great for maximizing reach, it may result in a high cost per action depending on your target audience.


Whichever bidding strategy you select, you can choose either standard or accelerated delivery. Standard delivery means your ad budget will be spent evenly during the scheduled campaign time. Accelerated means your budget will be spent as quickly as possible, and your ad will be exposed to your target audience in the shortest time frame. 


6. Create and Ship Your Ads


Now for the fun part – creating your ad. First, choose a video or spark ad (or if you’ve selected TikTok’s affiliated regional feeds for placement, image ads are also an option). For video ads, simply add your photos or video, or create a video within the Ads Manager using the variety of video creation tools TikTok makes available. For spark ads, you’ll have to contact the creator whose content you want to leverage, and TikTok has a mechanism for doing that. 

TikTok will review each ad to ensure it complies with its guidelines, including the caption or text, images or visual content, audio content and the targeted region and age group. You’ll be prompted to upload or create a thumbnail and to insert any relevant links, and you’ll be able to preview your ad before submitting it for approval. Once approved, your ad will ship according to the schedule and volume dictated by your campaign set-up and budget.


7. Increase Visibility with TikTok Promote


Dedicated ads aren’t the only videos TikTok can amplify for a fee. You can also boost your brand’s existing organic TikTok content to a broader or more relevant audience using TikTok Promote, similar to how you can boost organic content on other social media platforms.

Here’s how to use TikTok Promote:


  1. Find Creator tools on your TikTok profile under settings
  2. Select Promote 
  3. Choose the video you’d like to promote
  4. Pick an objective: More views, more web visits, or more followers
  5. Select your audience, budget, and the amount of time you’d like your video promoted
  6. Enter your payment information
  7. Select “Start Promotion”


TikTok Promote can help drive traffic to your website, reach more TikTok users, or accelerate your conversion rate. If your brand is already active on TikTok, the Promote feature is like a shortcut through the ad-building process. You’re using your own content as a Spark ad.


8. Continuously Measure and Optimize Ad Performance


As with all social media advertising strategies, it’s absolutely crucial to test, measure and iterate your TikTok ads to optimize performance. The TikTok Ad Manager provides many tools to help you track key metrics like views, interactions and click-through rates, and the TikTok pixel will help you track off-platform activity. Adjust your content strategy if you’re not seeing the engagement and results you expect. 


How Much Do TikTok Ads Cost?


Because of the bidding and budget process, the cost of any individual TikTok ad or campaign will vary. However, there are minimum budgets at the campaign and ad group levels. For campaigns, the minimum daily budget and lifetime budget are $50. For ad groups, the minimum daily budget is $20.

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TikTok offers its own set of recommendations for beginning budget sizes, generally, at least $100 and around 20x what you think the cost per action (a click, conversion or sale) should be. For example, if spending $10 for each additional widget you sell through a TikTok ad is reasonable, then the simplified recommendation would be to budget $200.

TikTok also shares some real-world examples of how much their ads cost specific brands, including:



7 Creative Best Practices for Your TikTok Advertising Initiative

The most successful ads on TikTok don’t look like ads. The more fun you have making your TikTok ad, the more successful it will be. Forget stuffy corporate branding for a minute. Channel your inner performer, and you’ll have a better chance of connecting with your TikTok audience.


1. Use trending sounds


Use commercially licensed tracks to make music an essential part of the storytelling. One of every five ads with the highest view-through rates leverage popular trends, effects, or music. And according to TikTok, 93% of top-performing videos overall use audio.


2. Use captions for accessibility and sound-off users


While audio is what makes TikTok TikTok, the text is important too. Text overlays or captions are considered best practices for multiple reasons. Text can help improve accessibility, allow users with silenced phones to better understand your post, and help every user better internalize your messaging. On top of that, TikTok claims that 40% of auction ads with the highest view-through rate have text overlays or captions.


3. Use text overlays to highlight main takeaways


Just as an attention-grabbing headline will catch a reader’s eye, punchy, to-the-point text on top of your TikTok ad video will immediately alert the user to your intent. Using text overlays for your call to action is the best practice here.

4. Get the brand message out early


Again from TikTok itself: “… over 63% of all videos with the highest click-through rate (CTR) highlight their key message or product within the first 3 seconds.” So get to the point… and keep it short. Shorter videos – 21 to 34 seconds – are best for boosting conversions.


5. Think like a creator


Users and content creators are the ultimate drivers of TikTok culture and trends. As an advertiser, consider yourself a guest in their home. Before you post, spend some time on TikTok and get a feel for the place. Use the native interface to find the right balance between authentic-looking content that fits in with user-generated content and the look of polished advertising.


6. Update your creative often


While it’s important to mix up your content styles and formats (within reason!) on other platforms, it’s downright critical on TikTok, where repetitive content quickly becomes boring and skippable. Use a variety of scenes, subjects and colors, and update your creative often. TikTok ads with varied scenes see a 40.6% lift in impressions.


7. Test and learn


Always measure, track and adjust. Use the tools TikTok makes available and conduct your own A/B testing on ads. Don’t be afraid to move on from content if it’s not performing well, and be consistent with your metrics.

6 Successful TikTok Ad Campaign Examples

Many brands are finding success advertising on TikTok using video ads, spark ads, video shopping, influencer marketing and hashtag challenges. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

1. e.l.f’s #eyeslipsface Campaign

Animation of E.l.f’s #eyelipsface TikTok ad using a music video


“Elf’s music video went viral on TikTok, and since it became so known on TikTok, it brought significantly strong performance when incorporating it across other channels, specifically Instagram,” says Corpus


2. Chipotle’s #Boorito Challenge

Chipotle has been capitalizing on Hashtag challenges for a while now, using holiday promotions like the #Boorito challenge during Halloween and celebrating national Avocado day with the #Guacdance challenge.

Example of TikTok Boorito branded hashtag challenge for Chipotle


While some may find it silly, these challenges grab attention and get users involved in their brand persona.

3. Kool-Aid’s #ohyeahchristmas Challenge

Like Chipotle, Kool-Aid used hashtag challenges to their advantage during a holiday, launching the OhYEAHChristmas challenge.


example of Kool-Aid TikTok ad for #OhYEAHChristmas challenge


They took a well-known part of their previous traditional ad campaigns and made it into something their audience could directly participate in. Influencers also brought in millions of views when they participated in the challenge themselves.

4. Walmart’s #Dealdropdance Challenge

Like many retail giants, Walmart looked to social media to promote Black Friday deals with influencer marketing and a hashtag challenge called the #DealDropDance.


Walmart TikTok ad example with Terry Crews reading #DealDropDance


They worked with six influencers, including Terry Crews, to reach more of their audience to get a combined 17 million users.

5. The NBA’s TikTok Ad Campaign

When sports organizations advertise, they often display player stats, highlight reels, or gameday predictions; the NBA has used TikTok to show the organization’s more human side.

graphic reading “NBA teams on TikTok” highlighting NBA TikTok advertising

Music-backed clips of inspirational messages from players or funny clips of mascots help engage their audience in more endearing ways and make the brand more relatable.

6. The Washington Post’s TikTok Campaign

While it started as and still is, a part of printed media, the Washington Post has not ignored the digital landscape. After creating their TikTok account, they began to post funny behind-the-scenes videos of their journalists in the newsroom.


tiktok washington post ads


While this isn’t the hard-hitting journalism that the Post is known for, it’s funny and engaging, fitting perfectly into the social media landscape. Not only does it help to drive awareness, but it also allows them to keep in touch with the younger demographics.

Final Takeaway

TikTok has grown from its origins as a short-form video app for teenagers into a genuine juggernaut of a social media platform. Its global reach and growth rate alone make it a lucrative opportunity for advertisers, but its unique audience and a particular set of ad formats make it an especially high-potential space to explore. 

While Facebook has historically been the king of direct response, each social channel has a unique offering that aligns with real business goals. TikTok should be considered when pulling together a holistic paid social strategy.

Ready to fuel your TikTok advertising strategy? Download our guide today!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2021 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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The Ideal Length for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn Posts



The Ideal Length for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn Posts

When it comes to writing text for your blog and social media posts, many marketers wonder, “But what’s the character limit?”


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The pitfalls and practical realities of using generative AI in your analytics workflow



The pitfalls and practical realities of using generative AI in your analytics workflow

We’ve heard much about how generative AI is set to change digital marketing over the last few months. As consultants, we work with brands to harness technology for innovative marketing. We quickly delved into the potential of ChatGPT, the most buzzworthy large language model-based chatbot on the block. Now, we see how generative AI can act as an assistant by generating initial drafts of code and visualizations, which our experts refine into usable materials.

In our view, the key to a successful generative AI project is for the end user to have a clear expectation for the final output so any AI-generated materials can be edited and shaped. The first principle of using generative AI is you should not trust it to provide completely correct answers to your queries.

ChatGPT answered just 12 of 42 GA4 questions right

We decided to put ChatGPT to the test on something our consultants do regularly — answering common client questions about GA4. The results were not that impressive: Out of the 42 questions we asked, ChatGPT only provided 12 answers we’d deem acceptable and send on to our clients, a success rate of just 29%.

A further eight answers (19%) were “semi-correct.” These either misinterpreted the question and provided a different answer to what was asked (although factually correct) or had a small amount of misinformation in an otherwise correct response.

For example, ChatGPT told us that the “Other” row you find in some GA4 reports is a grouping of many rows of low-volume data (correct) but that the instances when this occurs are defined by “Google machine learning algorithms.” This is incorrect. There are standard rules in place to define this.

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Limitations of ChatGPT’s knowledge — and it’s overconfidence

The remaining 52% of answers were factually incorrect and, in some cases, actively misleading. The most common reason is that ChatGPT does not use training data beyond 2021, so many recent updates are not factored into its answers. 

For example, Google only officially announced the deprecation of Universal Analytics in 2022, so ChatGPT couldn’t say when this would be. In this instance, the bot did at least caveat its answer with this context, leading with “…as to my knowledge cut off is in 2021…”

However, some remaining questions were wrongly answered with a worrying amount of confidence. Such as the bot telling us that “GA4 uses a machine learning-based approach to track events and can automatically identify purchase events based on the data it collects.”  

While GA4 does have auto-tracked “enhanced measurement” events, these are generally defined by listening to simple code within a webpage’s metadata rather than through any machine learning or statistical model. Furthermore, purchase events are certainly not within the scope of enhanced measurement.

As demonstrated in our GA4 test, the limited “knowledge” held within ChatGPT makes it an unreliable source of facts. But it remains a very efficient assistant, providing first drafts of analyses and code for an expert to cut the time required for tasks. 

It cannot replace the role of a knowledgeable analyst who knows the type of output they are expecting to see. Instead, time can be saved by instructing ChatGPT to produce analyses from sample data without heavy programming. From this, you can obtain a close approximation in seconds and instruct ChatGPT to modify its output or manipulate it yourself.

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For example, we recently used ChatGPT to analyze and optimize a retailer’s shopping baskets. We wanted to analyze average basket sizes and understand the optimal size to offer free shipping to customers. This required a routine analysis of the distribution of revenue and margin and an understanding of variance over time. 

We instructed ChatGPT to review how basket sizes varied over 14 months using a GA4 dataset. We then suggested some initial SQL queries for further analysis within BigQuery and some data visualization options for the insights it found.

While the options were imperfect, they offered useful areas for further exploration. Our analyst adapted the queries from ChatGPT to finalize the output. This reduced the time for a senior analyst working with junior support to create the output from roughly three days to one day.

Dig deeper: 3 steps to make AI work for you

Automating manual tasks and saving time

Another example is using it to automate more manual tasks within a given process, such as quality assurance checks for a data table or a piece of code that has been produced. This is a core aspect of any project, and flagging discrepancies or anomalies can often be laborious.

However, using ChatGPT to validate a 500+ row piece of code to combine and process multiple datasets — ensuring they are error-free — can be a huge time saver. In this scenario, what would normally have taken two hours for someone to manually review themselves could now be achieved within 30 minutes. 

Final QA checks still need to be performed by an expert, and the quality of ChatGPT’s output is highly dependent on the specific parameters you set in your instructions. However, a task that has very clear parameters and has no ambiguity in the output (the numbers either match or don’t) is ideal for generative AI to handle most of the heavy lifting. 

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Treat generative AI like an assistant rather than an expert

The progress made by ChatGPT in recent months is remarkable. Simply put, we can now use conversational English to request highly technical materials that can be used for the widest range of tasks across programming, communication and visualization.

As we’ve demonstrated above, the outputs from these tools need to be treated with care and expert judgment to make them valuable. A good use case is driving efficiencies in building analyses in our everyday work or speeding up lengthy, complex tasks that would normally be done manually. We treat the outputs skeptically and use our technical knowledge to hone them into value-adding materials for our clients.

While generative AI, exemplified by ChatGPT, has shown immense potential in revolutionizing various aspects of our digital workflows, it is crucial to approach its applications with a balanced perspective. There are limitations in accuracy, particularly concerning recent updates and nuanced details. 

However, as the technology matures, the potential will grow for AI to be used as a tool to augment our capabilities and drive efficiencies in our everyday work. I think we should focus less on generative AI replacing the expert and more on how it can improve our productivity.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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The Art of Getting Booked: Mastering the Podcast Guesting Game



The Art of Getting Booked: Mastering the Podcast Guesting Game

I didn’t think it was a big deal. We assumed these were typical results for those who focused and did the work.

The gaping mouths and the bulging eyes were our first clues. My next clue should have been when one podcaster told me he gets 50 to 100 pitches a week and he chose ours. Finally, reality set in like a bolt of lightning striking fifty feet in front of me. The words still rumble in my head like fading thunder echoing through the sky:

“I’ve never known anyone who booked 53 podcasts in two months.”Ryan Deiss

When Ryan said that from the stage at the M3 Mastermind, I finally realized my wife had done something extraordinary. This was no surprise.

She is an amazing woman. Anyone who read her CaringBridge journal in 2021 already knows that. TLDR: The doctors gave up on me and told her to “pull the plug.” She didn’t. She prevailed. I’m alive.

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Craig & Karen Andrews, December 2021

So, in March of 2023 I asked her to come to my rescue again. This time it was much lower stakes. I asked her to get me booked on podcasts.

Why Pursue Being a Podcast Guest?

Guesting on podcasts is a way to expand your own audience. According to ListenNotes, there are more than three million podcasts. The podcast hosts did the time consuming work of building their audience. And as a podcast guest, you get nearly effortless access to that audience.

Guest interviews are a great way to build your authority. Almost every host launches the podcast episode talking about how awesome you are. Their audience trusts them… and now their audience – the podcast listeners – trust you.

Your guest podcast interview will drive business and opportunities. Our 90-day rolling pipeline report tells that story best. “FTO Deals”, our discovery call metric, is up 700% compared to the prior 90-days when we weren’t guesting on podcasts.

“FTOs Sold” means we closed a new client. That’s up 400% compared to the prior 90-days. And we expect that to rise further because most of the discovery calls haven’t happened yet.

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Fill your pipeline by being a podcast guest

Our podcast focus started within this 90-day view. Most of the podcast episodes are scheduled to go live in the next couple of months. And yet we’re seeing triple-digit 90-on-90 growth on our most important metrics.

Look closer and you’ll see another hidden nugget. Double-digit lead growth drove triple-digit opportunity and sales growth. That’s what authority does for you.

If you’re running out of ways to unleash an instant triple-digit firehose on your business, then read on. I’ll show you how we did it.

How to Get on a Podcast: How it Started

Be careful when you curse adversity in your life. If you let adversity be your mentor, it will rip the scales off your eyes and a world of new opportunities becomes crystal clear. And that’s what happened here.

It began in November 2022 when NCR laid off my wife, Karen. We’re not upset with NCR. They’ve been wonderful to Karen. For the three months I was in the hospital, they let her work half-time while paying her full-time. But the layoff was a shock.

While Karen was trying to figure out her “next thing,” I asked her if she could get me booked on podcasts. She clearly knocked the cover off the ball and accidentally found her “next thing.”

Her first step was research. Why would a podcast host want me on their podcast? Podcast hosts receive tens or hundreds of pitches each week. They’re looking for their ideal podcast guests. So, the outreach email is key.

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Create a Personalized Outreach Email for Each of the Podcast Hosts

Sorry, there are no shortcuts here. Automated mass outreach won’t get you guest appearances on any of the relevant podcasts.

I’ll break down one of Karen’s emails step-by-step so you can see the key elements.

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The Intro: Praise the Podcast Host for Their Mission

Praise the host for their mission. Connect with their “Why.” Go to their podcast page. They’ll almost certainly make their mission clear there. They’ll also help you identify their target audience. Make sure their target audience aligns with your target audience. Otherwise, you’re just wasting their time.

Here’s an example of Karen’s intro:

Hi Roy,

My name is Karen and I work on behalf of Craig Andrews.  We have been listening to your podcast and love what you are doing!  

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Recognize and applaud the podcast host’s superpower

Make sure you get their name right!! Ryan Deiss said he gets outreach emails every week praising him for his interviews on the DigitalMarketer podcast. The problem is Ryan doesn’t do the podcast. Getting the host’s name wrong is the first clue that you’re doing spammy outreach.

Next, praise their mission. We could improve this outreach by being specific in praising the mission we see them fulfilling. That would probably boost our results further. But even this generic simplicity has been working. But that’s because of the next paragraph.

The Intro: Reference a Specific Podcast Episode and What Your Learned

This is the most time-consuming part of the process. And no, you can’t automate this.

A leading podcast host achieved their vaulted position by being selective in their podcast guests. So, your window of opportunity is through a few scarce words that communicate you’ll be a great podcast guest. And great podcast guests speak to their audience by knowing their audience.

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Reference a specific episode in your podcast outreach email

So, you need to listen to an episode. Make your outreach email reference:

  • A specific episode.
  • A specific guest.
  • A specific insight you got from that episode.

Here’s what that looks like in Karen’s outreach:

We recently listened to your podcast with Tom Sharp about Strategy Patterns for Business Growth.  We really appreciated his idea that you need to know yourself, your boundaries and your goals and doing the work to understand those goals.

BOOM! Do that and you just distinguished yourself as a podcast guest that cared enough to actually listen to their podcast. You don’t have to listen to all the podcast interviews. One is enough.

Now you have their attention. Next you must prove you’ll bring the goods to serve their audience.

The Meat: Bring the Heat and Add Value to the Podcast Listeners

Bring something new to the table. You’re not going to get booked by pitching “How to Grow Your Business Using Facebook Ads.” That was fresh and relevant about a decade ago. But you may get booked with something more current like:

How you can overcome Facebook’s recent trend of reduced targeting with four carefully selected headline elements.

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Bring something that’s both unknown and valuable

In our case, we specialize in accelerating high-ticket sales. So, we wanted to find podcasts that had a podcast audience with people that fit that description.

In 2023, high-ticket businesses are struggling closing deals. So, our guest podcasting is focused on building irresistible First-Time Offers to overcome the tough economic conditions. This is a great message for podcast audiences that are struggling with sales. Here’s what that looks like in Karen’s email:

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Craig has some fresh thoughts for our currently tough economy that he thought would benefit your audience.

He specializes in First-Time Offers that serve as a “coffee date” to begin an engagement with a potential customer.  Help before you sell!

Again, our goal isn’t to be on all the podcasts – just the ones with our ideal customers. So, we want the message to enchant our perfect podcast hosts while repelling other podcasts that aren’t ideal.

Once you have them enchanted, next deal with their fear.

The Promise: Convince the Podcast Hosts You’re Not a Greedy Bastard

The podcast world is about giving – not taking. So, don’t be a greedy bastard.

Unfortunately, the world is oversupplied with shysters and takers. Your outreach email needs to quickly communicate that your guest appearance will focus on giving. Promise a free gift for the podcast host’s audience.

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Focus on serving and giving

Here’s what that looks like in Karen’s outreach:

He would love to offer a free gift to your audience as an additional way of adding value.  

When you do that, you quickly communicate that you understand the unwritten agreement. It demonstrates your giving nature in action. It also communicates you’ve done this for other podcasts – so you’re an expert guest and a giver. Win-win-win…

But that’s not enough. You’ve got to bring more to the table.

The Sizzle: Promise to be an Interesting Podcast Guest

Beuller… Beuller… Beuller…

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Ben Stein brought humor to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by being the most boring economics teacher on the planet. But let’s be honest… you’re no Ben Stein.

Unlike Ben Stein, you have not mastered the craft of being entertaining by being boring. The only way you’ll land on someone else’s podcast is by being interesting. Promise to tell a story. Look through your life and find interesting stories that tie into your core message.

Here’s what that looks like in Karen’s outreach:

A few interesting things about Craig:
He spent 6 years in the Marines.
He lived and studied in Japan.
He received a graduate degree in Electrical Engineering and later figured out he loved marketing.
In 2021, he spent 3 months in the hospital and woke up from a coma only able to wiggle a finger and a toe.  His recovery has been a miracle.

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Life gifted me with a white-knuckled story of narrowly escaping death. So, yes, I pimp the heck out of that story. But I’ve discovered that some podcast hosts really don’t care about my near early departure from this world.

Karen offers a variety of interesting life events so the podcast host can pick one that interests them most. Look through your life and find interesting stories that you can use to illustrate core elements of your message.

The Close: Bring the Social Proof

Top hosts want to know that you’ve been on other podcasts. Nobody wants to train you on being a great podcast guest. It may feel like podcast access is limited to those who’ve already been on a bunch of podcasts.

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But every podcast guest started with their first podcast. Then they went on more podcasts and built social proof. That’s been the case with me. Here’s how Karen handles that:

Craig has presented at Conversion Conference, various Vistage groups and other podcasts.

Karen used what we had in our arsenal. Yes, I have been on two or three podcasts. In one case I was episode #3 on a podcast that shut down after the 4th episode. But that’s still social proof.

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Find someone who thinks you’re awesome and quote them

If you’re just starting out, get a testimonial from your mom. Hopefully she thinks you’re awesome. Figure out what group she’s involved in… like her neighborhood gardening group. Speak to them about something that interests them. Here’s what that review looks like:

Craig brought an amazing message to the East Peoria Gardening Club. Everyone was captivated by his stories of how rosemary represents the essential spice that should be a part of everyone’s garden of life.” – Mary Andrews, President of the East Peoria Gardening Club.

Get on one podcast and use that as social proof to get on bigger podcasts. Remember, you’re not alone. If you’re trying to break into the guest podcasting space, there are also many new podcast hosts trying to break into the space as well. You’re perfect for each other.

The Close: Give a Call-to-Action to be Their Next Podcast Guest

It’s easy to forget the Call-to-Action (CTA). Don’t let it be implicit. Actively call the host to action. We steal some wisdom from Chris Voss and structure our CTA to be a natural “No.”

Would it be a ridiculous idea to set up a call to see how he can meet the unique needs of your listeners?

Notice how the CTA brings the focus back on their audience instead of you. That reinforces the idea that you’ll bring value to their audience.

Other Things Podcast Guests Need to Consider

Of course there are other things you need to consider in addition to the outreach email. Maximize use of the podcast directories. I recommend you create a speaker page that includes speaking examples, your bio, head shots and other assets.

Those are each a subject of their own. So, we’ll talk about those in other articles. But that doesn’t mean you should wait. Today is the time to begin your journey as a podcast guest.

Stop reading. Set your timer. Use the next 15-minutes to write your first draft of your podcast outreach email. You can perfect it later.

Put it to Work – Get Booked as a Guest

This journey began because I heard Lauren Petrullo proclaim her goal. She set out to get on 100 podcasts before the end of the year. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Neither did Karen. So, we set the same goal.

One of my favorite quotes is by General George S. Patton:

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

General Patton was the only allied commander that Field Marshal Rommel feared. Patton’s philosophy allowed him to make the impossible possible.

If there’s any genius in what we’ve done it’s that we set a crazy goal and aggressively pursued it. We were so ignorant of podcasting that we didn’t realize how exceptional our results were until several folks told us. Now it’s your turn. Go and do the same.

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