If you’ve arrived on this page, it’s because you’re looking how to execute a successful TikTok marketing strategy. Smart decision. Shopping on TikTok has increased 553% over the past 12 months, so it’s time for you to adjust your marketing tactics for Generation TikTok. 

This guide covers everything you need to know about TikTok marketing. Not just how to do it, but how to do it well. For ease, we’ve broken the piece into four specific areas.

Chapters:

  1. Curating a brand voice for the TikTok crowd
  2. Utilizing TikTok Shopping tools
  3. TikTok marketing for business
  4. Boosting user-generated content and how to leverage it off the platform

The TikTok e-commerce era has arrived

The TikTok generation is well and truly here. The fast-growing platform’s young audience has discerning taste and a short attention span. They need to see the product in motion and hear what people like themselves think about it before they make a purchase.

TikTok provides brands with the invaluable opportunity of reaching a new cohort of customers. A favorite app of Gen Z, nearly half of US TikTok users are between the ages 10 and 29.

They come to the app not just to laugh at memes and keep up with challenges but also to discover new trends, brands, and products. In fact, 60% of international TikTok users follow brands on the app.

The platform is gearing up to take advantage of the burgeoning social commerce market that’s projected to reach over 100 million buyers by 2023. More specifically, they recently released a new suite of TikTok tools for e-commerce that complement their advertising capabilities.

Here’s everything you need to know about TikTok marketing for your e-commerce brand.

Find your TikTok brand voice

TikTok’s not like any other social media app. You can’t use the same messaging on it as you would for other platforms.

Authenticity plays a major role in TikTok’s appeal. While platforms like Instagram are often associated with polished images that aren’t reflective of reality, TikTok users aren’t afraid to come off as vulnerable, goofy, or self-effacing. And they expect the same of brands.

64% of users say they can be authentic on TikTok, with 56% responding they share content on the app they wouldn’t share on other platforms. As a result, over half of TikTok’s users believe that other users are also being their authentic selves in videos.

Naturally, brands that are already geared toward a youthful audience will have an easier transition to TikTok. But as you’ll see from the examples below, any company can create a unique TikTok brand voice.

Quirky and educational content is at the forefront of TikTok marketing

At this point, social media and memes are inseparable — and humor is what TikTok users have come to expect of business accounts. 74% of Gen Z and 72% of users over the age of 26 prefer to see funny content from brands on TikTok, according to a 2021 Attest survey. Some of the most successful brands on TikTok have a humorous brand voice.

Low-cost airline Ryanair has amassed more than 1.3 million followers with their self-deprecating videos of a talking plane just trying to sell plane tickets. A video following the social media manager into the Ryanair offices, captioned with, “me clocking in to play a TikTok airplane for 9 hours so people buy more flights” has over 3 million views.

@ryanair

The hustle is real oml 😩🤧 #ryanair #grwm

♬ Bratz App Commercial – Jovon Hooper

Ryanair’s tongue-in-cheek, self-referential humor is consistent across all social media platforms. But this isn’t the case for all brands. For example, The Washington Post’s TikTok account transforms news into funny videos aimed at engaging a younger audience. Like this recent post covering the COP26 conference:

@washingtonpost

Youth climate activists slammed the COP26 deal, while some delegates called it “real progress.” #climate #glasgow #COP26

♬ original sound – We are a newspaper.

Its Instagram account, however, has a more serious and straightforward tone, with images recapping current events dominating their feed.

TikTok marketing
The difference between The Washington Post’s TikTok (left) and Instagram (right) feeds.

But you don’t need to be a meme expert or hire a 19-year-old social media manager to build a large following for your e-commerce brand. Educational content also performs very well on the platform. Tutorials are the second most popular type of brand content on TikTok, and companies such as Fenty Beauty regularly share helpful hacks that keep their audiences engaged.

@fentybeauty

How To Contour A Round Face—SAVE THIS FOR LATER BOO! ✔️ @rachelocoolmua shows us how to #contour round faces using #MATCHSTIX and blush 👏🏼 #roundface #tutorial #beautyhacks #makeuptips

♬ original sound – Fenty Beauty

What’s more, educational content has the power to build trust with your customers. It effectively illustrates you’re not on TikTok just to promote your product but also to provide value.

Making sure your brand voice is appropriate for your target audience

While creating engaging content is crucial for TikTok success, none of it matters if you’re not targeting the right audience and adjusting your voice to their preferences.

Take a luxury clothing brand like Louis Vuitton and compare it to a fast-fashion retailer such as H&M. Louis Vuitton’s TikTok targets older, affluent users and features artistic campaign videos and behind-the-scenes looks at their fashion shows.

@louisvuitton

#LVFW21 #LouisVuitton

♬ original sound – Louis Vuitton

On the other hand, H&M is an affordable brand, and their profile consists of playful videos and helpful hacks that appeal to young consumers:

@hm

The struggle on set is REAL 😅 #hm #bts #foryou #foryoupage

♬ original sound – hm.official

Considering TikTok’s audience is mostly made up of teenagers and young adults, businesses aiming at older consumers would be right to ask if they should invest time and resources in the platform to begin with.

While it’s true that Gen Z dominates the app, it’s not all teenagers on TikTok. Almost 22% of TikTok’s users in the US are between 30 and 39, and roughly 20% is made up of adults in the 40–49 age group.

As the app matures, so will the audience — and their purchasing power. Gen Z is expected to earn more money than millennials by 2031, according to Bank of America research, with their global income reaching $33 trillion.

Keeping this in mind, you should carefully consider how TikTok can benefit your e-commerce brand in the long term. Even if zoomers aren’t at the heart of your target audience.

Pro tip: Bazaarvoice Insights & Reports can help you understand exactly who your target customer is, allowing you to curate a TikTok marketing profile that’s in alignment with their preferences. It offers insights into the behavior of more than 6 million shoppers, so you can customize your research and remove the guesswork out of understanding your audience.

Make the most out of TikTok Shopping tools

In September 2021, TikTok launched TikTok Shopping — a set of e-commerce tools to help you bring your products closer to your existing customers and reach new ones.

Exposing users to new content, brands, and products is a key part of TikTok’s magic, and these tools aim to bring the shopping experience into the app, creating a smooth journey from discovery to purchase.

The TikTok Seller app

A full-service commerce platform, the TikTok Seller app handles all stages of online shopping, from product upload to order fulfillment.

Merchants who sign up with the app can use it to manage their orders, returns, and refunds, as well as to provide customer service. As of now, this solution is only available in the UK and Indonesia.

Third-party e-commerce connections

If you’re using an e-commerce provider like Shopify or BigCommerce, you can sync your product catalog with your page using a TikTok for Business account. (The exact setup will vary depending on your provider.)

After the sync is complete, a shopping tab will appear on your profile, leading users to an in-app storefront they can browse.

One of the first businesses to install a shopping tab was Kylie Cosmetics, alongside other cosmetics brands such as Glow Recipe and Item Beauty. The co-CEOs of Glow Recipe, Christine Chang and Sarah Lee, have already stated that a growing number of customers use the new shopping tab.

TikTok is planning on expanding the Shopping tab integration soon with Wix, Base, Shopline, and OpenCart.

Product links are undoubtedly one of the most useful e-commerce features TikTok has released. The concept is straightforward. Once you integrate your product catalog with TikTok, you can display links to products in videos where they are featured.

Beauty brand Glow Recipe, for instance, was able to increase both discovery and sales of their products through their organic content by using product links.

LIVE Shopping

LIVE Shopping is a solution that enables you to host a livestream and sell products, all while engaging with your customers. Like QVC, but for TikTok.

Walmart saw huge success with their first LIVE Shopping event, which grew their following by 25% and had an audience that was 7 times bigger than expected. A few months later, Walmart organized a second livestream event, partnering with TikTok influencer Gabby Morrison.

TikTok Shopping API

Finally, the TikTok Shopping API is a solution that lets you directly connect and display your product offerings right in your TikTok page.

Use TikTok for Business to widen your reach

TikTok for Business is the app’s marketing solution where you can design and launch ads, as well as analyze the success of your campaigns.

If you’re an e-commerce brand trying to go viral, it’s worth investing in ads to complement your organic content.

While marketers perceive advertising on TikTok as less trustworthy than on established platforms like YouTube and Instagram, it’s also the platform with the most entertaining ads. At least according to a 2021 Kantar report.

If you’re on the fence about investing in ads as part of your TikTok marketing efforts, you should know that the report also named TikTok the number one brand for global ad equity for the second year in a row. Meaning that TikTok users have a more favorable opinion of the ads they see on the app.

In addition, more than half of TikTok users described ads they saw on the platform as “fun and engaging” in a 2021 Disqo report. Another 68% say that TikTok ads are unique compared to other social media platforms, according to a recent Nielsen study.

Advertising on TikTok

With an audience that’s very receptive to ads and open to discovering new products, TikTok has the power to turn users who’ve never even heard of your brand before into customers.

To do this, you have the following TikTok marketing ads at your disposal:

In-Feed Ads

With In-Feed Ads, your content will appear on the ‘For You’ page as the user scrolls through their feed.

In-Feed Ads give you free rein over how you choose to present your brand. Some businesses, such as men’s skincare brand Bulldog, partner with influencers to create funny ads that seamlessly fit into the TikTok landscape. In Bulldog’s case, the ads resulted in a 5–10% sales boost and 29.8 million impressions.

TikTok has also expanded In-Feed Ads with a new feature, Collection Ads. It enables you to show product cards alongside the ad, allowing users to immediately click on the product and learn more about the item:

TikTok marketing
In-Feed Ad featuring a Collection Ad at the bottom. Source: TikTok

TopView Ads

As the name implies, a TopView Ad appears after a user opens TikTok, at the top of the feed. In this setup, your video ad can be up to a minute long, and it plays automatically with the sound on. According to TikTok, this is the ad format their users prefer the most when compared to ads on other social media apps. 72% of users favor TopView.

TopView Ads are especially suited for the consumer packaged goods industry. TikTok claims that in this case, these ads are 67% more effective for sales.

One of the brands that turned to TopView Ads was Puma, which used them to promote its Suede shoe and new Ambassador in France. The campaign generated 2.6 million engagements and 15 million views.

Dynamic Showcase Ads (DSA)

TikTok launched DSA alongside the Shopping suite of solutions in September, allowing businesses to easily generate promotional videos based on a user’s interests and activity. These ads are based on templates and appear as part of In-Feed Ads.

Using DSA templates, you can create ads with engaging music and visual content that appear in the feeds of relevant users who have already engaged with your brand in some way, such as by browsing products:

TikTok marketing
Example of a DSA. Source: TikTok

Clothing brand Aerie has already had a lot of success using DSA, achieving a 2.9% conversion rate after developing custom DSA templates for their brand.

Branded effects

By inviting users to have fun with promotional filters in their videos, branded effects raise awareness of your business.

From creating stickers to filters, numerous brands have opted to go down the special effect route for their TikTok marketing. (Often combining it with In-Feed and TopView Ads as part of a bigger campaign.)

Take M.A.C. Cosmetics, for example. To promote the launch of a new lipstick range, the company created a branded effect displaying the new colors alongside positive affirmations:

Branded effect by M.A.C. Cosmetics. Source: TikTok

Branded Hashtags

Hashtags are equally as important on TikTok as special effects and music.

Users explore trending hashtags on the discover page to get up to speed on what’s popular in the community. Branded Hashtags allow you to capitalize on that interest and inspire TikTok users to create videos related to the product or service you’re offering.

German luxury fashion brand Hugo Boss launched a campaign with the hashtag #MerryBOSSmas that also included a branded effect and In-Feed and TopView Ads to boost the hashtag’s popularity.

As part of the #MerryBOSSmas challenge, creators were encouraged to strike a pose while wearing their favorite Christmas Hugo Boss looks:

The #MerryBOSSmas hashtag campaign. Source: TikTok

Brand Takeover

The Brand Takeover ad option allows businesses to be at the front and center of TikTok for one day. Aka, perfect for brands that are launching new products or services with a major campaign effort.

As part of the #InMyDenim campaign, clothing brand Guess launched a brand takeover that displayed an ad on the app’s splash screen:

The Guess brand takeover. Source: TikTok

The accompanying hashtag challenge inspired users to show off their denim looks to the tune of “I’m a mess” by Bebe Rexha. Guess also made sure to partner with influencers to get the ball rolling. By the end of the campaign, more than 5,000 creators participated in the challenge.

Spark Ads

Finally, with Spark Ads, you can boost existing posts to reach a bigger audience, just like you’re able to do on Instagram or Facebook.

Connect with customers using Lead Generation

TikTok’s Lead Generation feature simplifies the process of capturing leads and allows users to fill out sign-up forms within the app. When luxury brand Nina Ricci launched a new perfume in Spain, they promoted it using Lead Generation:

TikTok marketing
Nina Ricci Lead Generation campaign. Source: TikTok

To get a free sample of the fragrance, users filled out an in-app form by following the blue button at the bottom of the screen. The campaign resulted in a 41.9% conversion rate and reduced the cost per lead by 83% when compared to past campaigns.

Boost user-generated content

With the power to go viral and increase awareness of your product, user-generated content (UGC) can be of immense benefit to your brand.

For proof, look no further than #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, a trend with over 5 billion views on TikTok that’s causing stores to put up signs that indicate a product is popular on the app.

Here’s how you can boost UGC and get the most out of it.

Host contests and challenges

A contest or giveaway is an easy way to draw attention to your brand. Especially if you have a limited marketing budget.

For example, cosmetics brand e.l.f. launched an #elfgameup challenge to promote their Twitch channel and new makeup set. It encourages followers to share videos of their makeup looks using the hashtag for a chance to win prizes.

@elfyeah

Game Up with @kenzertt!🎮💄 Use #elfgameup & tag @elfyeah to win a gaming+makeup prize & a spot in e.l.f.’s gaming clan e.l.f. You!

♬ GAMEUP by umami mami – elfyeah

Partner with influencers

Influencers play a major role in TikTok marketing.

Brands hire influencers not only to promote new products and reach new customers but also to get the ball rolling on TikTok hashtag challenges. Users are more likely to partake if they see their favorite creator participating in a challenge first.

In 2021, TikTok influencer marketing boomed. 68% of enterprise marketers are planning on using TikTok for influencer marketing in 2021, compared to only 16% in 2020. The social media platform is only surpassed by Instagram in this aspect.

And of the brands that tested their content performance compared to influencer content, over 50% responded that influencer content outperformed the former.

While finding the right TikTok influencer can be a long process, there’s tools like Upfluence to help you narrow down the search. And be careful not to dismiss an influencer due to a low follower count! Niche creators might still have a very engaged following.

Leverage TikTok videos on other channels

A 2021 study found that 85% of marketers plan on reusing influencer content in other channels, such as email newsletters or the company website — and you should too.

The reason? Shoppers like to see real people interacting with a product they’re interested in — it builds trust. According to our survey, 62% of customers say they are more likely to make a purchase if UGC is available.

What’s more, placing UGC on your website can help customers discover new products and spend more time on your site. Since e-commerce sites are designed with conversions in mind, they make it difficult for shoppers to enjoy browsing around like they would in a physical store.

By adding UGC, you can mimic the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, allowing site visitors to see videos of your products in a format they’re accustomed to.

Pro tip: With our social commerce solution Showroom, you can repurpose influencer videos and images, turn them into storefronts, and allow shoppers to discover products on your website effortlessly. This results in a 53% lower bounce rate while site visitors discover 60 times more products than usual.

Harness the immense potential of TikTok marketing early on

While TikTok tools for e-commerce are relatively new, the app has a distinct advantage when it comes to its audience.

TikTok users log in to the app to discover. Whether it’s a new skincare hack or a must-have pair of leggings, they’re open to trying new things just because they saw it on their ‘For You’ page.

This level of receptivity has opened doors to brands that are willing to take a chance on the platform.

By curating your brand voice, leveraging advertising and UGC, and taking advantage of all the e-commerce solutions TikTok offers, you can follow in the footsteps of brands like e.l.f. and Ryanair that are certified TikTok famous. Next it could be you!

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