TikTok ads? For my Startup? It’s easier than you think

Setting up Tiktok ads

TikTok ads are low CPM (that is, confusingly, the terminology marketers use to talk about “cost per thousand” impressions), can be great engagement, and are easy to get started using. If your audience is <35 or is located in South America or Asia, you should probably be checking the platform out.

Yes, even if you’re a B2B startup.

Here’s how you get started:

Step 1: Get Set up for Tiktok Advertising

First up, go sign up for an ads account: https://getstarted.tiktok.com/us-en-brand (this is, of course, a US-based signup link. 😛 ).

With your account set up, you’ll also need to connect a payment method and pre-fund the ad account. Unlike any other social media platform I’ve worked with, Tiktok doesn’t trust you that you’ll pay the amount invoiced, so you need to pre-pay for ads on the platform. Given that one of my ex-clients has owed Facebook 17 cents for a decade–I and I still get MONTHLY REMINDERS OF THIS–I guess I can see why.

Step 2: Create great Tiktok ads

Tiktok has the absolute best resource library I’ve seen from any platform on how to create great ads: https://ads.tiktok.com/business/creativecenter/pc/en?rid=t39stbfj8z.

If you want to know

  • What’s trending
  • What a top-performing ad in your field looks like.
  • What hashtags are most useful for you

And tons of other data, Tiktok leads the way in terms of transparency and information sharing. Funny, given that openness and transparency are not what they’re known for. 😛

There are a few elements to a great Tiktok ad, though:

  1. Engaging content. “But Trevor” you say “I sell a SaaS CRM. How can I be engaging?”. Look: @MissExcel has nearly a million followers on TikTok and she only talks about Excel functions. You can be interesting, too.
  2. Creative visuals and interesting transitions. They won’t help a bad video, but they do a lot to make a decent one good. Take a look at what’s trending in TikTok to get an idea of what people expect to see from your content these days.
  3. Hashtags and an excellent 180 characters of ad text are also crucial. Small changes in any of these can dramatically affect the performance of similar ad units.

Step 3: Choose an Ad Format & budget

Once you have your account and campaign set up, you will then need to decide which ad format you want to use. TikTok offers a variety of ad formats but most won’t really suit your needs. You need to decide whether you want to run an ad in the “Top View” Format, which will be the most expensive unit but also a very high engagement one, or in the “In Feed” Format, which is cheaper but likely much less engaged as well.

Of course, I’m not going to tell you that there are two choices and not recommend one. 😛

If you’re just running your first ads on Tiktok, go with In Feed. You don’t know what makes a good ad yet, and wasting your money on the most expensive set of impressions is not a great idea.

On the other hand, once you’ve got an ad that’s performing respectably well In Feed and your funnel is built up to maximize the revenue you can get from each visit, Top View can be incredibly high-performing. Just don’t waste that ad spend budget until you know your ad’s a banger.

Once you’ve selected the ad format, you can set the budget. Keeping in mind you’re going to pre-pay, I’d recommend you don’t set to anything less than $20 a day.

Step 4: Choose Your Target Audience

The arguably trickiest step is next: who sees the ads.

There are two ways to target.

  1. TikTok’s targeting features
    1. target users based on
      1. age,
      2. gender,
      3. location, and
      4. the hashtags they’ve posted, followed or engaged with
    2. Your own targeting / retargeting
      1. Website Traffic
        1. This requires you have the Tiktok retargeting pixel enabled.
      2. Customer File
        1. From your CRM or–interestingly–any other source of personal emails you could find.
      3. Engagement
        1. Retarget people who have engaged with your posts or your ads or filled out the form in a leadgen ad.
      4. App Activity
        1. Just like you can set up events that trigger when specific pages are loaded on your website, you can also set up events in your mobile apps and then target people based on in-app behavior.

Step 5: The Objective

It all comes to this. 🙂

What do you want people to do after they see your ad? This is going to have a large effect on how the ads are targeted. There are 8 different ones:

  • Traffic
  • Reach
  • Video Views
  • Catalog Sales
  • Lead Generation
  • Community Interaction
  • App Promotion
  • Website Conversions

Starting out, you’re going to want Traffic.

You’re looking to see who engages in your ad. Again, once you’ve got a message that you know works and you’re ready to scale up the performance of it, you’ll want either App Promotion or Website Conversions, depending on what you’re trying to make money off of.

Step 6: The Strategy for your Tiktok ads

Week 1 – Test crazy ideas

Create at least 3 very different ad units. I like to

  1. shoot one with the selfie cam on a smartphone, talking directly into the camera.
  2. Prepare an ad with stock footage taken from one of a hundred different stock video sites
  3. If you have a professional-looking one-shot with a real camera, that’s great, but you can also
  4. Render out something with AI tools like Synesthesia
  5. Run for 5 days targeted on interests and analyze your results

Week 2 – Improve on what works

Which format worked best? Now let’s take that and build upon it with 3 different messages that communicate the value of what you’re offering, not the product itself. Try to create an appeal for each of the 3 common ways to sell someone your unique value.

  1. Logical – talk about hours saved or money increased.
  2. Emotional – share a common frustration or fear among your audience.
  3. Social proof – Get a friend or a client to record a quick video about your product and explain why it’s awesome

Week 3 – Test around your audience

Find 5 – 10 hashtags that are adjacent to the core niche you want to sell to and see how your winning ads from Week 1 and Week 2 perform here. Here are 3 ways to get better at hashtag usage and finding new audiences with them::

  1. Use TikTok’s search function: Type in relevant keywords or phrases related to your business and see what hashtags come up. You can also use the “Trending” tab to see what hashtags are currently popular on the platform.
  2. Check out your competitors: See what hashtags your competitors are using in their TikTok ads and consider incorporating similar ones into your own campaigns.
  3. Use hashtag research tools: There are a number of tools available that can help you research and track hashtags, such as Hashtagify, Hashtags.org, and RiteTag. These tools can give you insights into the popularity and performance of different hashtags.

In just 3 weeks you can have a high-performance TikTok paid ad campaign that’s driving visits and hopefully growth to your business.

Sometimes, though, all of those visits don’t bring growth.

What do you do if your leads aren’t signing up on your landing page? Maybe it’s time to learn how to write a better landing page. so you can convert more visits to leads instead. 🙂

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