With its immersive ads and powerful influence over user attention, TikTok is one of the most significant cultural phenomena since Facebook first hit the advertising scene. Now that Meta shows declining user growth and continued struggles driving efficient media performance, advertisers are left wondering, “What’s next? What can be done to both engage users and increase declining sales performance?”
Advertisers like you are finding themselves gravitating to TikTok’s extensive user pool and interactive interface. But there are certain nuances to introducing your brand to the platform, so let’s dive in to ensure your brand is ready to take on TikTok.
Developing a Full Funnel TikTok Approach
TikTok feeds primarily consist of user-generated content (UGC), and users focus on advertising that doesn’t break their immersion in the platform. As a result, traditional ads that perform well on other social platforms are ineffective on TikTok. Building a brand presence through an organic and/or paid upper funnel approach will be necessary to later capitalize on users interested in making a purchase.
The upper funnel engages and captures users’ attention without breaking platform immersion, almost as a way for users to “forget” that they are engaging with a brand. Once users engage with the ad in some way, they will receive more action-oriented content prompting them to visit the website and learn more outside of TikTok. It’s important to remember that with paid social across all platforms, including TikTok, frequency is both your best friend and your worst enemy.
It’s essential to diversify content in the TikTok ad manager and adhere to a strict audience strategy to not over, or under-saturate users. Oversaturation will annoy users with the brand, and undersaturation won’t prompt any recognition whatsoever. Ultimately, full-funnel strategies should consistently replenish engaged retargeting audiences for as affordable as possible while also targeting users most inclined to make a purchase.
By diversifying the upper and mid-funnels to later focus on sales-driving media in the lower funnel, brands will find that perfect balance for their media mix. The lower funnel should have the smallest audiences but the most substantial results. Directly impacted by the performance of the funnels above, the lower funnels ensure that every dollar is spent on users who are heavily invested in the brand and have a high potential to make a purchase.
Finding That Perfect Audience Strategy
On TikTok and most social platforms, audiences and ad sets within campaigns should be relatively similar in size to provide the best results. With a full-funnel strategy in mind, defining ad groups throughout is essential.
The upper funnel should be as broad as possible, whether targeting all active users or individual users with specific characteristics and behaviors. Advertisers cast a wide net to drive efficient performance and avoid oversaturating users who will be placed in retargeting pools. Ultimately, advertisers want these users to generate a brand presence and build brand recognition and engagement to capitalize in the mid-funnel.
Targeting in the mid-funnel should shift from the upper funnel’s broad approach to a more defined but highly refined approach. Targeting users at this level through a prospecting TikTok ad campaign gets users off the platform to engage with the brand more actively. As users visit the website, add items to their carts, and make purchases, there is an opportunity to create look-a-like audiences and target users that have similar characteristics to those users.
More broad retargeting efforts, such as engagement, could scale similarly in size to these LALs (lookalike audiences) to provide similar performance and scale so the platform will allocate spend appropriately. Since these users actively engage on TikTok or are similar to those taking actions on the website, the likelihood of these viewers clicking off-site dramatically increases. To avoid oversaturation, remember to negate retargeting audiences from each funnel if they are utilized in the funnel proceeding it.
For example, suppose an advertiser is using an engagement retargeting audience in a mid-funnel campaign. In that case, advertisers should remove those users from all audiences in an upper funnel campaign, so users are pushed down the funnel and do not see the same content/messaging they did in the previous funnel. So when moving toward lower-funnel campaigns, only highly refined retargeting, specifically users that have taken action off of TikTok of some kind, should be considered.
This retargeting would include page viewers, users that added an item to their cart, visited a specific webpage, or made a purchase; the list could go on and on. Since the upper and mid-funnel will populate these audiences over time, with typical lookback periods extending up to 180 days, efficient investment in these qualified audiences scales growth over the long term.
Investment Growth on TikTok Over Time
To consistently capitalize on TikTok, strongly consider a long-term investment strategy. Since it is an “Awareness-First” platform, consistent support is necessary to build brand presence and later capitalize through conversion.
When first investing on the platform, a staggered investment strategy is essential for populating retargeting audiences. Upper funnel tactics are the most important to launch upfront, followed by mid-funnel to get users on-site and lower-funnel to encourage users to purchase.
Adlucent recommends launching with upper-funnel media for at least two weeks and then introducing each subsequent phase for the same duration. It is critical to create KPIs and success metrics specific to each funnel. For upper-funnel, we recommend CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions), mid-funnel cost-per-landing page view, and lower funnel cost-per-purchase or ROAS (return on ad spend).
Sales-focused results will be down during this period, but the priority of this media is building retargeting pools and in-platform metrics (like CPM, CTR, etc.) before shifting focus to sales or ROAS goals. All three funnels are essential to each other and serve the following purposes for developing this long-term relationship with TikTok users:
By investing in the upper funnel, new users consistently see and engage with the brand to build up ad recall, brand recognition, and brand relationship.
By shifting focus towards driving users to take action after establishing a relationship, they will become more likely to consider purchasing once they land on the website.
Once users actively visit the website and take specific actions, they will be more likely to make a purchase.
TikTok is the next “big thing” for any brand’s paid social strategy. It is crucial to approach initial investment carefully to build a presence before focusing on sales to define success. A full-funnel approach will allow for long-term growth on the platform and successfully assimilate.
Full-funnel strategies come with nuances requiring specific setups throughout the funnel that ensure users go consistently down the funnel and populate various retargeting audiences to capitalize on later. While some brands may want to dive head first into TikTok, we recommend a staggered approach to best build an optimal media setup for brand recognition, engagement, and sales success.
Are you ready to take the next step and crush paid social? At Adlucent, we take a scientific approach at every step of the customer journey. Let’s chat.
Austin Gilliland is a Sr. Account Supervisor at Adlucent with extensive experience managing large enterprise brands. He is passionate about thinking outside of the box and questioning the norm of traditional strategy to perfectly combine past and new approaches to increase success in the future.
Now more than ever, businesses are looking for incremental revenue opportunities. And global advertising is leading the pack. Follow these three tips to learn how to leverage Google's Performance Max to expand your global marketing strategy.
In today’s Catalyst episode, Brad Costella discusses Prime Early Access Results, retail media networks, and Netflix ads. The Catalyst is your one-stop shop for the hottest digital marketing news month over month. Watch now.