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8 essential tips for maximizing TikTok ads ROI

By Alex Cutler · April 3, 2024
Hero image for TikTok app tips with the TikTok logo on a green background

The world of TikTok is a dynamic one. Fast paced and competitive, TikTok is brimming with opportunities for you to get your brand in front of your target audience, capture their attention, and drive sales.

But in a tight economic climate where every marketing dollar spent has to justify its return, a set-and-forget strategy to target top-of-funnel sales isn't going to deliver the results you need. To harness the full ROI potential of TikTok ads, you need a strategy. 

I've got you covered. In this article, I'm going to run through eight essential tips from eCommerce advertising experts to help you attract, convert, and retain customers through TikTok. Let's dive in.

1. Understand your audience inside and out

Understanding your audience is the bedrock of any successful marketing strategy, particularly on a platform as dynamic and youth-centric as TikTok. 

But this begs the question—who is that audience? Who exactly are you marketing to? And who do you want to click on your ad, visit your store, and become a customer? 

This is where you need to start. By diving deep into demographics like age, gender, and key interests, you'll start to build a picture of who your customers are. These audience personas will serve as a reminder that your audience isn't numbers on an analytics dashboard—they're real people, with real problems, that are hungry for solutions. Use this information to fuel your TikTok ad creatives, and you'll be laying a strong foundation for success. 

Industry disrupting pet insurance brand Waggel cut through the noise of a competitive market with ads that closely addressed their target audience's pain points. Here's an example.

2. Know your numbers and set your target customer acquisition cost 

What's your average net profit after product, packing, and shipping costs? How much can you afford to spend on advertising, and an agency retainer, while still staying in the green? 

This kind of information is crucial to driving profitable ROI from your TikTok ads and determining a sustainable customer acquisition cost (CAC) that aligns with your business goals and ensures your TikTok advertising campaigns are financially viable and strategically sound.

Before setting your sights on customer acquisition, calculate the net profit for each item or service you plan to promote through your ads. This calculation will guide you in understanding how much you can afford to spend to acquire a customer while still maintaining profitability. 

Remember, every product in your range is likely to have different margins. 

Your CAC should be comfortably lower than your net profit to ensure sustainability and account for other variable costs and uncertainties. Define a CAC that allows for a healthy profit margin while staying competitive in acquiring new customers, and you'll be setting yourself up for success.

3. Don't neglect TikTok's Spark Ads

We know that UGC is one of the most powerful weapons in the social media advertising arsenal. But did you know TikTok makes it easier than ever to leverage this as part of your ad campaigns? With TikTok Spark ads, you can quickly and easily leverage authentic content either from your own TikTok account, or from creators—with their permission. Plus, all of the views acquired from your ads are attributed to the original post. Win-win.

TikTok Spark Ads
Image source: TikTok

By using real, authentic content from other creators, Spark Ads help you build trust and credibility with your target audience—a key component in driving conversions. Plus, with Spark Ads' precise targeting options based on user behavior, interests, and demographics, your content is more likely to be shown to a relevant audience, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion. 

4. Run constant A/B testing to find what works

Social advertising is a living, dynamic channel that requires constant attention. TikTok Ads are no different. If you want to drive positive ROI, you need to find the sweet spot with your ad creatives. This is where A/B testing comes in. 

Also known as split testing, A/B testing is a powerful technique to help you improve the performance of your ads. By comparing two similar but different versions of your ads, you can identify new top performers, gradually scaling the ROI of your account. 

TikTok Ads Manager supports built-in split testing for three areas: Targeting, Bidding & Optimization, and Creative. Here's how to get started with TikTok A/B testing:

  1. Know what to test: With A/B tests, you should only test one element at once—otherwise, if performance improves, you won't know which change drove that performance. Whether it's button copy or the opening three seconds of your video creative, pick one element to test and create your A and B versions.

  2. Set up your campaign: Create your campaign in TikTok Ads Manager, and toggle the Create split test option under the settings menu.

  3. Give it time: Schedule your campaign to run for at least seven days, so it has enough time to gather data. 

  4. Analyze and iterate: Once your campaign has gathered enough data, look at your results. Which performed better? Define this as your winning variation, and start your next test. 

Remember—A/B testing is an ongoing process. Stick at it, keep the ball rolling, and watch your ROI start to improve. 

5. Use TikTok Smart Creative

TikTok has brought out the bells and whistles with this one. Previously known as Automated Creative Optimization, TikTok Smart Creative is an advanced solution designed to enhance the performance and efficiency of advertisements on the platform. 

Smart Creative allows advertisers to automate the combination of creative assets, ensuring that ads remain engaging to their audiences over extended periods of time, while also optimizing for performance. 

By setting up Smart Creative on your ads, you can automatically create multiple variants to maximize the value and lifespan of your creatives. This helps you not only cut costs on creative production, but also drive ROI by identifying new high-performing creative combinations that you might not have considered previously. 

To turn on Smart Creative for your campaigns, head to Ads Manager, create a new campaign, navigate to Ad group > Creative type, and toggle on Automated creative optimization.

The Automated creative optimization toggle in TikTok
Image source: TikTok

6. Focus on retargeting strategies to drive conversion and retention

With customer acquisition costs higher than they've ever been, most brands find that focusing on top-of-funnel TikTok sales isn't enough to drive a profit. Churn and burn paid social strategies don't cut it any more. If you want to really leverage the full capabilities of this powerful demand generation channel, you need to focus on retargeting and retention. 

Start by building custom audiences within TikTok Ads Manager based on previous interactions with your website or TikTok content. These are potential customers who you know are on the hook—they just haven't taken a bite yet. They could also be first-time customers that need a subtle nudge to come back to your store and place another order. 

Once you've got your custom audiences set up, you're ready to roll. Create campaigns that target each of these customer segments with content that's relevant to their stage of the buyer journey. Here's how this could look:

  • Viewed an ad, but haven't clicked: Why should they click? What's in it for them? Explain what you offer and the problems your products solve.

  • Viewed a product page, but haven't purchased: Why should they purchase? Showcase your products in action with rich UGC creatives, and consider running a limited-time offer to encourage action.

  • Purchased once, but haven't reordered: Why you, over a competitor? Half the battle is won here. Encourage first-time buyers to place a repeat order, or cross-sell them to complementary product ranges. 

By using custom audiences to set these retargeting strategies in motion, you'll make the most out of each marketing dollar you spend, helping to improve your TikTok ROI. 

7. Build an email marketing strategy to compound your ROI

Your customers don't just spend their time on TikTok. In a world where everyone has the internet in the palm of their hands, your audience is constantly flicking between channels. One minute, they're watching your ad on TikTok. The next, they're catching up on emails or clicking a link in marketing SMS that takes them to an eCommerce sale.

The key to sustainable, scalable growth and a positive ROI isn't forcing customers to engage through your preferred channel, but meeting them on theirs. In short, you need a cross-channel strategy, and the easiest way to leverage this is email marketing

By collecting emails from potential customers with pop-ups or at checkout, before they place their order, you've got everything you need to stay in touch with them. Now it's time to get those email automations live and doing the hard work for you: 

  • Abandoned cart: Did a customer add something to their cart but leave without placing an order? This automation will help you seal the deal. 

  • Welcome flow: Did a visitor submit a pop-up form, but didn't use the coupon? Use this flow to remind them about your discount, and shine a light on the benefits of shopping with your brand. 

  • Post-purchase feedback: Did a customer place an order? Proactively reach out to them for feedback. Leverage shining reviews, and nip negative experiences in the bud to reduce return rates. 

  • Subscription flow: Do you offer consumable products? This is where the real ROI comes in. Create an email automation that targets your regular customers, encouraging them to sign up for a subscription. 

8. Leverage trending audio to drive virality 

Unlike other social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which default to having sound off, TikTok is a sound-on platform. While this presents valuable opportunities in terms of sound effects and compelling voice-overs, the real power of this lies in trending audio. 

Trending audio on TikTok plays a pivotal role in content discovery, engagement, and virality, making it a crucial element for creators and brands alike. But TikTok is a living, breathing organism, and things can change fast. This means marketers need to stay on their toes and be prepared to pivot their strategy quickly to adapt to emerging trends.

TikTok gives you a helping hand with this process. By using Trend Discovery, you can view the sounds that are going viral right now, allowing you to home in on audio that works for your brand. 

From here, you can create new ads and content using this trending audio, allowing you to tap into the momentum that's building on the platform and get your message in front of more people for less advertising spend. 

TikTok's trending page
Image source: TikTok

Do more with Zapier's TikTok integrations

To maximize ROI even more, Zapier lets you connect TikTok Conversions and TikTok Lead Generation with thousands of other apps—so you can automate your work and have more time for what matters most. Learn more about how to automate TikTok, or get started with one of these pre-made templates.

Create lead events in TikTok Conversions for each new media posted in my account in Instagram

Create lead events in TikTok Conversions for each new media posted in my account in Instagram
  • Instagram logo

Send lead events in TikTok Conversions from Landbot

Send lead events in TikTok Conversions from Landbot
  • Landbot logo

Create Google Sheets row(s) for new TikTok Lead Generation leads

Create Google Sheets row(s) for new TikTok Lead Generation leads
  • TikTok Lead Generation logo
  • Google Sheets logo
TikTok Lead Generation + Google Sheets

Trigger webhooks POST requests for new TikTok Lead Generation leads

Trigger webhooks POST requests for new TikTok Lead Generation leads
  • TikTok Lead Generation logo
  • Webhooks by Zapier logo
TikTok Lead Generation + Webhooks by Zapier

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

Related reading:

  • How to drive conversions with TikTok Lead Generation

  • How TikTok for Business improves their users' leadcycle

  • Do more with your TikTok leads with automation

This was a guest post by Alex Cutler on behalf of Upbeat Agency. Want to see your work on the Zapier blog? Read our guidelines, and get in touch.

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