TikTok Advertising Guide: Practical Tips for a Winning Strategy

David Morneau
April 17, 2024
February 18, 2023

As ad fatigue climbs and people lose trust in traditional ads, advertising has donned a new, more authentic-looking face with the help of TikTok.

The platform is the home of user-generated content, promoting creative, approachable videos of everyday people.

You can leverage that to your advantage because UGC-based ads have a 400% higher click-through rate and cost 50% less than traditional ads.

This guide will show you how to start your TikTok advertising journey.

Our performance-driven TikTok advertising agency will review the platform’s features, show you how to organize a campaign and analyze targeting options.

We’ll also give you the scoop into our house secrets; we’ll discuss best-winning strategies and plenty of examples from real clients.

Keep reading below.

TL;DR

  • TikTok offers authentic advertising through user-generated content.
  • UGC-based ads have higher click-through rates and lower costs.
  • TikTok boasts a large user base and partnerships with influential creators.
  • Leverage TikTok’s algorithm and focus on conversions rather than virality.
  • Combat ad fatigue by making small edits to ads.
  • Utilize influencer marketing for engaging organic content.
  • Prioritize creativity while maintaining a strategic approach.
  • Employ hooks and test different angles for captivating content.
  • Evaluate campaign performance through metrics like CPC, CTR, and CPA.
  • Adapt strategies to TikTok’s unique characteristics.
  • TikTok advertising trends focus on relatable, authentic content.
  • Stay informed to leverage evolving TikTok features for effective campaigns.

1. Overview of TikTok and Its Advertising Features

Here is a quick snapshot of what TikTok can offer:

  • A larger pool of prospects: The platform has 1 billion active users worldwide and 138 million in the USA.
  • Access to a young, wealthy age group: The percentages of TikTok users by age are:
    • 10-19 years old: 25%
    • 20-29 years old: 22.4%
    • 30-39 years old: 21.7%
    • 40-49 years old: 20.3%
    • 50+: 11%
  • Partnerships with engaged, persuasive creators: TikTok influencers with fewer than 15, 000 followers have a 9% engagement rate, the highest on the platform. The engagement metrics are inversely proportional to the influencer’s number of followers. Thus, a large follower count leads to lower engagement.

For all the reasons above, TikTok has become an efficient way to run ads, especially in tandem with micro-influencer marketing.

inBeat noticed that long-established platforms like Facebook Ads are losing popularity and efficiency compared to TikTok. With CPAs climbing on Facebook, this is bound to happen.

This development makes sense because TikTok is the home of UGC.

  • TikTok rewards quality content above everything else. On Instagram, a content creator needs years to become famous and credible to reach a larger audience. Things move faster on TikTok.
  • Its advanced AI algorithm offers users highly customized content from the get-go.
  • TikTok users expect authentic content without branding.

Besides, TikTok has a host of advertising features to leverage. Let’s discuss them below.

1.1. TikTok Ads

TikTok ads can streamline your advertising campaign, taking you from targeting to creating the ad, optimizing it, and monitoring its performance. TikTok Ads offers insightful reports and several tools that make ad management a breeze.

Platform suggests a convenient tool TikTok Creative Center, which allows advertisers to create captivating and catchy ads, connecting them with their target audience in a more impactful way.

This platform is intuitive and has a low learning curve.

You can choose two price plans:

  • Daily
  • Lifetime

Luckily, you can change your TikTok ads budget whenever you need it according to your marketing goals.

Another benefit of TikTok Ads is that you can create two types of audiences:

  • Custom: Best for high customization
  • Lookalike: Best for replicating an existing target audience

TikTok ads come in a variety of formats, such as:

  • In-Feed ads
  • Brand takeover
  • TopView
  • Branded hashtag challenge
  • Branded effects

That diversity allows you to pick the right format for your current marketing goals.

Pro tip: Try our free TikTok ad mockup generator to test different ads before releasing the right one.

inBeat has created several in-feed ad campaigns for companies such as Bumble. This dating app targeting Gen Z-ers came to us wanting to increase its:

  • App downloads
  • Number of active users

To mitigate ad fatigue and keep its audience’s interest high, we created in-feed ads with the theme: “come with me to my first date.”

Bumble in-feed ad

1.2. TikTok Promote

TikTok Promote is a special in-app feature that you can use to turn any video you want into an ad. This feature allows you to promote your most persuasive TikTok videos. This helps you grow a community organically and drive more traffic to your page.

TikTok Promote also helps you understand your audience better, which is an amazing asset to optimize your products and communication.

Bumble in-feed ad

Pro tip: TikTok announced a new feature recently called “Promote for Others.” This feature streamlines TikTok influencer marketing because:

  • Brands can sponsor influencers’ content.
  • Creators can promote specific products, organizations, or even other users’ content.

That tells us TikTok is taking large steps towards democratizing every piece of content on its platform. And that means viral videos can easily outrank sponsored content, so you constantly have to adapt, creating content that is:

  • Raw
  • Relatable
  • Engaging

2. Setting up a TikTok Ad Campaign

A TikTok campaign follows the same steps as a traditional marketing/advertising campaign on other channels. Let’s try to spice things up: we’ll show you how we applied these steps for our Bumble campaign:

2.1. Set a Goal

Before any influencer outreach via email or social media, make sure that you know what needs to be promoted. It goes further than determining the USP of your product/brand.

For example, you can focus on:

  • A specific product: If your company is well-established on the market and you’re launching something new.
  • Your brand: If people don’t know your company.
  • The relationship you have with your audience or with a specific value: If you want to leverage a trend.

In Bumble’s case, our goal was to increase conversions and in-app purchases. For that, we focused on the brand.

2.2. Research Your Company, Competitors, and Audience

This step of the process is very important because it can give you unique angles and opportunities for your ads.

For example, we got the idea for the Bumble ads by analyzing what the competition was doing.

We also collected various folders with TikTok trends that work for this age group.

So, although TikTok values creativity, you should always back it up with science.

2.3. Set SMART Objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

SMART objectives are specific, easy to measure, and time-related. The KPIs are the variables measuring these objectives.

Let’s get back to the Bumble campaign:

Our KPIs included:

  • Number of app downloads
  • Number of active users
  • Cost per install

SMART objectives can sound like this:

  • Increase the number of app downloads by 10% within two months after starting the campaign.
  • Increase the number of active users by 20% within two months.
  • Decrease the cost per install by 25% throughout the campaign.

2.4. Build a Plan

Our plan for Hopper involved the following items:

  • Strategy: Use influencers because these creators are relatable and persuasive. It is also the one strategy that the competition is missing out on.
  • Tactics: TikTok UGC ads have the highest chances of attracting young people, creating desire, and building social proof.
  • Tools: Five influencers from diverse backgrounds created “come with me to my first date” ads.
Bumble in-feed ad

2.5. Have a Timetable

Usually, inBeat’s ad campaigns last for three months. You don’t have to do the same thing, but it will give you an idea to start your TikTok campaign too:

  • First month: Auditing the company, audience, and competitors. Building the creative brief and finding influencers.
  • Second month: Building the messages and running the campaign.
  • Third month: Reviewing the campaign performance and scaling it up.

2.6. Build and Disseminate Your Messages

At inBeat, we build the creative brief before creating any messages. The brief allows you to organize your ideas and outline clear expectations of what your message should look like.

Here’s an example template you can adapt for your own business:

Bumble Creative Brief

As you can see, this brief has all the necessary details regarding the deliverables. You have a creative storyboard, the do’s and don’ts, plus hook ideas.

2.7. Evaluate Results and Change What You Can

Constantly evaluating your campaign is essential for TikTok because the platform’s algorithm is volatile. That way, you can:

  • Test different strategies.
  • Narrow down on the winning one.
  • Gain more insights into your audience.

    3. Targeting Options for TikTok Ads

    We had first-hand experience with Unroll.me, an inbox decluttering app. We created TikTok ads for it and discovered that TikTok’s algorithm decided who to target:

    • The slower-paced ads were targeted at the 55+ age group
    The slower-paced ads
    • The faster ads, with more bling and animation, were targeted at the 18-24 age group.
    The faster-paced ads

    , tThat brings us to the following point:

    TikTok Ads allows you to set a target audience based on the following variables:

    • Age
    • Gender
    • Location
    • Interests
    • And more

    And like we said before, you can build both custom audiences and lookalike audiences if you want to target TikTok users that look just like your customers.

    Warning: Unlike the advertising on Meta (Facebook & Instagram Reels Ads), the targeting on TikTok depends mostly on how its users interact with the content within the platform.

    • Do they watch videos about family tips until the end?
    • What kind of creators do they follow?

    TikTok creates users’ advertising profiles with these in-app usages and first-party data.

    Therefore, the targeting on TikTok is broad by nature, but that doesn’t mean it’s of lesser quality; it simply offers different advertising opportunities.

    For example:

    Let’s say your e-commerce website retails babywearing systems. Targeting based on how people interact with videos means finding people who like, comment, or share:

    • Baby and parenting videos
    • Baby-rearing tips
    • Parenting advice

    If we compare TikTok and Facebook ads, the latter take into account the websites that people visit. Thus, Facebook can infer which websites, products, and ads these people are more likely to favor.

    Pro tip:

    • It’s essential to have outstanding creatives that will ensure the qualification of your audience.
    • Test different audiences.
    • Scale into new markets by partnering with creators that align with these markets.
    • Do remarketing, not just from your website but also from video views (ex: retarget people who watched 50% or more of your video).
    • Test different types of targeting or content.

    Secret weapon: Configure tracking

    First things first, if you drive actions on the website or app install, you need to configure tracking.

    If it’s on a website, make sure you use developer mode pixel with API monitoring so you can also track people using iPhones with iOS14 and above.

    Get the most out of your TikTok advertising with inBeat’s TikTok Ads Agency

    4. Best Practices for Creating TikTok Ad Content

    4.1. Leverage TikTok’s Algorithm

    Many marketers want to create viral TikTok videos. However, viral has no importance for ads because you’re doing paid reach. As such, it’s not organic.

    It would be fantastic if your ad went viral, but it doesn’t really matter.

    Conversions are more important for your bottom line.

    So how do you leverage TikTok’s algorithm?

    At inBeat, we duplicate the campaign, so the algorithm shows our ads to different people. That’s how we know who to focus on and with what content. In the process:

    We test a slew of ads to see what works.

    Advice to improve your ad performance (tried and tested by inBeat):

    • Leverage TikTok UGC.
    • Use your intuition to select the best hashtags so that people know what your video is about.
    • Your TikTok ad must look organic and homemade so people won’t skip it.
    • The first seconds are critical to raise interest and create a connection.
    • Use attractive captions to prevent people from scrolling down. Your audience must understand what your content is about from the get-go.
    • Qualify your target audience first.

    4.2. Combat Ad Fatigue

    Sometimes small changes make a big difference, so edit and chop to combat ad fatigue. You can:

    • Add subtitles to performing ads.
    • Chop the video after the first few seconds.
    • Add more elements.

    You have to do all that to make the algorithm work in your favor.

    4.3. Use Influencer Marketing

    Our experience at inBeat taught us that impeccable content doesn’t perform as well on TikTok. TikTok knows this and has created the mantra “Don’t Make Ads. Make TikToks” for companies.

    The faster-paced ads

    The solution is simple:

    You need influencers who can produce and distribute engaging organic content.

    Once your campaigns are ongoing, keep an eye on your best-performing ads and think about reaching back to their creator for more collaboration. Collect an email list, integrate an SPF flattening for security, and reach out to the right people base.

    inBeat.co will help you work out and track your entire campaign. This platform allows you to find the red thread that gives consistency and meaning to your entire campaign.

    For example, you can use the inBeat TikTok engagement rate calculator. We help you research these content creators by going beyond the usual vanity metrics and delving into the influencer’s:

    • Content quality
    • Previous partnerships
    • Audience profile and values

    Side note: Even if you don’t choose inBeat, remember to use these variables when researching potential influencers.

    Good tips for sourcing creators from inBeat:

    • Onboard multiple creators, not just one. It’s time-consuming, but you can find a place for more negotiations.
    • Shortlist and pick the right content creators for your brand.
    • Start with various content pieces for your campaigns: the more content you can test, the better.
    • Don’t be too controlling. Remember that TikTok users avoid polished content, so it’s best to hand the storytelling to your influencers. However, remember to draft that contract to ensure everyone knows what they should be doing and towards what goal.

    4.4. Focus on Creativity (but Don’t Neglect Strategy)

    A secret we’ve discovered at inBeat is that TikTok ads rely more heavily on creativity than other social media ads. That’s another consequence of TikTok’s UGC-oriented dimension.

    If your team lacks fresh content ideas, consider doing a brainstorming session and incorporating the mind-mapping technique. This approach is highly effective because you can use a mind map maker to organize all your thoughts and ideas in one place.

    4.5. Use a Hook

    Golden nugget: You have to catch people’s attention, so be very straightforward with your proposition from the first seconds.

    This is called a “hook” because it catches people’s attention and elicits their interest.

    One that works exceptionally well is pointing toward a problem and showing how your product/service solves it.

    Example

    Is your email inbox full of spam? Here’s a life hack that will help you, and that only takes a few minutes.”

    If you miss this 2-second window of opportunity, your audience will keep scrolling down to find more exciting content. You are one thumb-swipe away from being forgotten!

    4.6. Test Different Angles

    Using different angles is always good; you never know which one will catch more attention. This tactic has a significant impact on the conversion rate.

    Tip: You can find different angles by figuring out the various problems your product/service solves.

    5. Measuring the Effectiveness of TikTok Ads

    According to influencer marketing stats:

    “78% of marketers say measuring their influencer campaign’s ROI is challenging.”

    Your company shouldn’t be among those that don’t monitor their campaigns. Otherwise, you won’t know what worked and what didn’t. As a result, you won’t know what strategies, tools, and content you can use in future campaigns.

    inBeat uses the following metrics and KPIs to evaluate campaign performance (and you should too):

    • CPC (cost per click): Usually, the cost-per-acquisition will be high if CPC is high.
    • CPM (cost per mille): The price of 1, 000 advertisement impressions on one web page
    • The number of clicks: You want to see how many people were interested in your ad enough to click on it. Also, find out how many TikTok users click on your CTA buttons.
    • CTR (the number of clicks that your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown): This figure tells you whether your ad is performing or not. A good CTR is 1-4%.
      • Pro tip: If your CTR is low, go at the entry-level of your funnel. Most likely, you didn’t connect with your audience, or you didn’t qualify your audience correctly.
    • CPA (cost per acquisition): This KPI is arguably the most important, and a low CPA implies low CPC and low CPM.

    Pro tip: Duplicate the campaign to reduce CPA. Even though it’s the same target, and the same content, just duplicating the campaign will be 15 cents cheaper, and that’s a big difference.

    6. Case Studies or Examples of Successful TikTok Ad Campaigns

    Let’s review some of our most successful TikTok Ad campaigns:

    6.1. Bumble

    You already know about this one, so let’s summarize it:

    We created “come with me to my first date” ads to raise curiosity and attract attention. These TikTok ads were fast-paced to keep people hooked, but we also included plenty of relevant details about the app.

    The faster-paced ads

    6.2. Hopper

    Hopper is a travel app that helps people book flights, hotels, and rental cars quickly. Our approach with Hopper was to drive app installs and in-app purchases.

    To decrease ad fatigue, we decided to focus on influencer ads, in the form of “secret travel hacks.”

    This approach helped us keep CPAs very low and increase installs considerably.

    The faster-paced ads

    6.3. Unroll.me

    Unroll.me, the inbox decluttering app, is one of our most resounding success stories. We managed to decrease the app’s CPAs by 75% and get over 100, 000 downloads per month.

    Again, we leveraged our platform of TikTok micro-influencers to produce high-quality visual assets for TikTok Ads. This media-buying strategy was built on a scalable user-generated content approach:

    Unroll.me TikTok UGC

    6.4. Mogo.ca

    Mogo.ca is a mobile budgeting app that targets Gen Z. The app helps people put their finances in order by repaying their personal loans and saving money.

    TikTok is an excellent channel for finance-related products because 50% of shoppers have bought a financial product advertised on the platform. Besides, 54% of people are more likely to access TikTok for finance-related advice than other channels.

    The faster-paced ads

    6.5. Prose

    We help Prose create top-performing UGC for their ads regularly because they need high-quality content constantly. The brand wants to stay top-of-mind for its customers without boring them.

    That’s why we revved our micro-influencer recruitment process to get higher-quality assets weekly. As a result, Prose gets 50 unique content assets monthly.

    The faster-paced ads

    7. Tips and Tricks for Maximizing the ROI of TikTok Ad Campaigns

    1. Use hooks: Our experience shows that hooks are directly related to CPA (cost per acquisition) and ad fatigue. A good hook will entice more people to watch your ads and decrease your CPA.
    2. Understand your audience and TikTok’s intricacies: Let your influencers help you. These content creators know TikTok intimately. They know what works on this platform and, even more importantly, what works for them. Most importantly, they will always be on top of what’s working. Your influencers also understand what makes their audience tick.
    3. Develop close relationships with your influencers: Discuss your plans, ask for their feedback, and leverage it. That’s how you get fantastic conversions – if your product is also fantastic.
    4. Adapt and grow: The largest challenge we at inBeat face, and that you’ve probably experienced too, is staying up to date. Social media channels come and go; strategies change; people fall in love with different content. The challenge is to adapt.

    8. Comparison of TikTok Advertising to Other Social Media Platforms

    The harsh truth is that you can’t simply copy your Facebook or Instagram videos on TikTok and expect them to succeed; TikTok marketing is different.

    Let’s break down the multiple differences between creating a TikTok ad and an Instagram or Facebook ad:

    • Strategy: Facebook and Instagram rely heavily on targeting, funnel, and remarketing. You need the right social strategy and advertising.
    • Targeting: TikTok’s algorithm is more volatile and may target specific people, regardless of your targeting options.
    • Content: TikTok is more about content than other platforms, particularly raw, relatable UGC. Therefore, you have to test different types of content to see what works.
    • Visuals vs sound: Unlike Facebook and Instagram users, sound is an integral part of the TikTok experience. Therefore, you don’t necessarily need those subtitles.

    Audience age: TikTok’s audience is younger, but not for long. Every social media platform mainly had young users when they first started getting popular. But just like Facebook and Instagram, more demographics will start using the platform with time.

    Want more examples of successful influencer marketing strategies? Check out our case studies.

    Table of contents