Should you embrace TikTok marketing?

For the past year or so, there’s been one question every marketer’s asking themselves: “Should we start running ads on TikTok?”. The logical follow-up to this question is, “How do we run ads on TikTok?”

Well, we’re eager to answer those questions. So, in October 2022, we invited Luke Jonas, CCO of Nest Commerce, to chat with us about the dos and don’ts of performance marketing for our Ecommerce Corner webinar. In this post, we’ve boiled down his wisdom to help you decide whether TikTok is right for you.

How TikTok differs from other kinds of marketing

Luke highlighted two key differences between running ads on Meta and TikTok. These were the relationship between paid and organic, and working out strategies for measuring performance.

TikTok logo vs Meta logo

Unlike Meta, Luke says that brands can run successful TikTok campaigns without investing in organic. “The correlation between organic and paid is interesting. Organic and paid are inextricably linked in Meta, on Instagram specifically. I’m sure lots of people would disagree with me, but on TikTok, it seems to be less linked. I know brands that spend large amounts of money on TikTok daily and do zero organic. So, it’s less about followers and organic.”

With regard to metrics, Luke notes the difficulty of measuring success with such a new platform. Meta has tried-and-true strategies, but for TikTok, brands are still working it out: “because it’s new, it’s harder to establish what’s working and what isn’t. And you might need to look at slightly different metrics or use attribution software. We’ve seen some brands using self-reported attribution, effectively just asking their customers where and how they found them, and TikTok comes up a lot.”  

Should your company be thinking about TikTok marketing?

First, Luke tells us you need to ensure TikTok will fit into your existing marketing strategy. “If your Meta’s a mess and you need to fix that, why on Earth are you testing TikTok? You need Meta; you’ll get higher scale, higher ROI. You go to TikTok when you’re getting good results from Meta, and you can’t do anything more to it to fix it. Then you would go to TikTok.”

One concern you might have is whether TikTok is the right platform for your target demographic. Luke warns against worrying about the stereotype that TikTok only has young users: “Right now, it has about a billion monthly active users. A billion monthly active users can’t all be just children because, just, the simple economics of that number.”

A graph showing Statista data of TikTok users in 2021: 25% (10-19), 22.4% (20-29), 21.7% (30-39), 20.3% (40-49), 11% (50+)

And he’s right; according to Statista, around 50% of TikTok’s users in the US are over 30. In Luke’s experience, brands targeting this kind of consumer worked very well with TikTok. “Low AOV businesses targeting sub-30-year-old. Beauty or health, that worked pretty well. Not as scalable as Meta, but you could get it moving with the right creative strategy. But now, it’s really interesting, and what makes me really enthusiastic is that we’ve got fashion businesses targeting females aged 30 to 45 with AOV to £200 hitting their CPA targets on TikTok.”

What to do if you think TikTok marketing is right for you

If you think TikTok advertising is the right move for your marketing team, you can’t just go in blind. “The first thing you need is a hypothesis to prove, you need some metrics to judge it against, and you need to get internal buy-in, whether you’re a business owner or you work for a business. Then, if it passes this validation process, what happens? Can I get the budget, am I going to invest more budget into it?”

But as Luke tells us, you need to execute your test quickly. “At the moment, there’s a big cost opportunity to be experimenting in TikTok. I don’t think I’ll be saying the same thing in a year’s time because I predict it to become a significant proportion of people’s advertising budgets in ecommerce.” Indeed, Nest Commerce’s own research has found that 85% of ecommerce companies plan to increase their TikTok spending in 2023. In comparison, most brands anticipate that they’ll either decrease their Meta spend or keep it the same.

You also need to clarify what consists of a successful test: “you need to frame it and work out what pass or fail looks like, using metrics that you have access to, which could be further up the funnel.” As mentioned above, it can be harder to find performance metrics within TikTok. You’ll need to supplement it with self-attributed reporting.

Luke saying: “At the moment, there's a big cost opportunity to be experimenting in TikTok... I predict it to become a significant proportion of people's advertising budgets in ecommerce.”

Next, you need to prepare the creative; “the creative itself needs to be TikTok style, like lo-fi creative. So, you can’t just port your Meta creative onto TikTok and expect it to work.” You also need to be ready to make more content, as TikTok “eats creative at twice the speed as Meta.” So, when you’re just starting out and finding your feet, you can start by making organic content before going into paid. “Organic with TikTok is a good way to test what’s actually going to work in paid, because paid TikTok ads often look like organic anyway. So, you could de-risk your production cost by doing organic posts, understanding what works, and then running them as a paid post as well.”

Strategy is everything!

Luke left us with the critical point: “You’ve got to have considered creative strategy for TikTok… the broad advice would be: if you’re within marketing, don’t do anything unless it has intention. And that intention should fit into your broader strategy. So, for example, if you’re considering testing TikTok, why, why are you doing that? And if you are doing it, what is the intention? What are you trying to achieve?”

Luke saying: "the broad advice would be: if you're within marketing, don't do anything unless it has intention."

But if your company isn’t ready to embrace TikTok, it doesn’t mean you should cut back on your marketing budget. As Luke says: “If you play it really cautious and pull back on all of your advertising, your competitors that aren’t being cautious during this period, they’re going to steal your market share, and you’re going to come out the other end of the recession with a smaller business and competitively less strong to your competition.”

This article was written by Fergus Doyle. The visuals were by Vital Sinkevich, and it was edited by Cassie Powell.

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