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The TikTok sales funnel: How to convert viewers into customers

By Alex Cutler · February 21, 2024
Hero image for TikTok app tips with the TikTok logo on a green background

TikTok offers digital marketers a fantastic opportunity to reach and convert high-value audiences. The platform provides you with everything you need to succeed, from mind-blowing scale to data-driven targeting options and creative ad formats

But here's the catch. Not every TikTok user is ready to purchase your products on the spot. In fact, not every TikTok user is even aware that your business exists. This is where a balanced, full-funnel TikTok marketing strategy is key. 

The TikTok world is fast-moving, and customers are in a constant cycle of discovering new brands, consuming fresh content, and moving on to the next big thing. If you want to unlock a steady stream of conversions, you need to ensure that you're consistently reaching audiences across this dynamic sales funnel—from brand-new prospects to red-hot buyers. 

In this guide, we'll be sharing expert tips for building an effective TikTok sales funnel—and showing how Upbeat Agency used these strategies to deliver outstanding results for their client, pet insurance provider Waggel.

What is a TikTok sales funnel—and why is it so important? 

There's a lot of nuance to the TikTok sales funnel, but it essentially represents three main stages of the customer journey: awareness, consideration, and conversion. 

Whenever you're building a TikTok advertising strategy, you need to consider how you're activating across these stages to transition users from viewers to buyers. 


Many TikTok users will be totally unaware of your brand, so you'll need to introduce them to your business and products. You'll need to do this in a memorable way, though, because the TikTok platform is absolutely packed with eye-catching videos and new trends.


Ok, a TikTok user is now aware that your brand exists. That's a good start. Now, you need to prove why your products/services are relevant to them. That means building credibility, increasing familiarity, and explicitly showcasing the benefits you can bring to their lives. 


Finally, it's time to transform that consideration into conversion. Your audience feels like your products are a perfect fit, so you need to cut through the noise on TikTok with compelling, sales-led messaging that incentivizes immediate action. 

Remember, though, that the sales funnel isn't a linear journey. Your customers won't be sitting there thinking: "I can feel myself moving from the upper funnel to the consideration stage. Maybe soon I'll be ready to make a purchase decision." (Although that would make things a lot easier.) 

Instead, every user in your audience will be on their own unique journey, interacting with your brand in different ways and at different times. By building a dynamic marketing strategy that addresses each stage of the sales funnel, rather than just blasting out the same ads to every person, you can nudge prospects from viewing your ads to buying your products. 

Let's take a closer look at each stage of the TikTok sales funnel, and explore a few strategies that you can implement to drive valuable audiences toward that all-important conversion.

Building awareness at the top of the TikTok funnel 

The importance of building brand awareness can be summed up pretty easily: if you want to persuade customers to buy your products, they need to know you exist.

Strategy #1: Engage a broad audience, then narrow your focus 

While it can be tempting to drill down to niche audiences when you're trying to drive conversions, upper-funnel TikTok marketing is all about effective reach. 

If you want to fill your sales funnel with strong prospects, you need to draw in a large number of potential customers. 

By casting a wide net at the top of the funnel, you'll give yourself a much better chance of reaching profitable users—and you'll also fuel the TikTok algorithm. Whenever you launch a new campaign, the TikTok algorithm will automatically test multiple audiences to identify high-value segments that are interested in your ads. 

The more scale you give the algorithm to work with, the faster it can narrow down your best audiences, and the more efficient your funnel will become. 

How did this work for Waggel? 

A broad-targeting approach allowed Upbeat Agency to help Waggel quickly discover high-value TikTok segments and drive quality prospects through the funnel. While Upbeat Agency always focuses on relevant demographics, they avoid restricting the upper funnel with excessive targeting filters: this allows them to populate the funnel with promising customers for mid/lower funnel activity. Upbeat found that some wackier audiences worked wonders for Waggel, too, so don't be afraid to think outside of the box with your audience testing. From 2022-2023, this approach reduced Waggel's CPA by over 60%.

An example of a TikTok that Upbeat Agency implemented for Waggel

Strategy #2: Capitalize on popular TikTok trends to build visibility 

Video trends (think: challenges, hashtags, audio snippets) make the TikTok world go round. 

New trends are constantly gaining traction on TikTok and can help you rapidly generate viral reach. Unsurprisingly, this means a great option for driving brand awareness is to capitalize on these trends with both organic content and paid advertising. 

Jumping on rising trends is a surefire way to build visibility on the platform, but it will also help your brand feel more authentic and relatable. Data shows that "TikTok-first" ads frequently deliver superior outcomes in terms of brand metrics and clicks, so think carefully about how you can tap into TikTok trends to improve performance. 

To create effective native TikTok assets, be sure to use creative elements such as audio snippets, sounds, duets, and emojis. 

Not only will this increase the likelihood of users paying attention to your ads, but it will also fuel the TikTok algorithm, which is crucial for growing brand awareness. 

How did this work for Waggel? 

Upbeat Agency helped Waggel significantly decrease CPMs and increase CTRs by using TikTok-first creatives. These assets leverage trending audio, subtitle and editing styles, and hooks to drive a greater number of interactions and prolonged user engagement. This tells the TikTok algorithm that Waggel is providing audiences with quality content, which increases the likelihood of its ads being shown. 

An example of a TikTok that Upbeat Agency implemented for Waggel using TikTok-first creatives

Understanding the relationship between creative content and algorithm optimization is crucial to building a cost-efficient TikTok strategy. 

Strategy #3: Establish your brand with clear messaging 

The TikTok feed is constantly being refreshed with tons of new content, so if you want to get your brand known, you need to cut through the clutter with direct messaging. 

Clarity is absolutely key at the top of the TikTok sales funnel. 

Remember, the upper funnel is all about building high-level awareness of your business. You don't need to go super in-depth about your product details or features because this will be covered further down the funnel.

TikTok campaign stats

Instead, focus on capturing attention with bold, punchy creatives that stand out. Ensure that your brand name/logo is clearly visible in your ads, give consumers a clear idea of your offering, and distill your messaging to make it easily digestible. 

You'll only have a precious few seconds to establish your brand in the chaotic world of TikTok, so make them count. If your audience can identify your business and understand your purpose after seeing your ads, then you've succeeded at the top of the funnel.

Driving consideration in the middle of the TikTok funnel 

Once audiences are aware that your brand exists, you need to start showcasing how your products can benefit them. This is crucial for setting up conversions later down the line. 

Strategy #1: Interact with your target audience frequently 

Trust is a critical part of the sales journey. If your TikTok audience isn't confident in your credibility and reliability as a business, they're unlikely to consider your products. 

Building direct relationships with your audience is vital to gaining their trust and ultimately helping them feel comfortable buying your products. 

(In saying that, there's no need to set unrealistic expectations for these customer relationships on TikTok. You don't need to become best friends, but you do need to become a brand they're confident in.) 

Interact as much as possible with your audience to establish yourself as a responsive, accessible brand. Always reply to comments (particularly if they include questions about your products), duet customers, and try to maintain a human tone of voice. If users feel like they can communicate with your business, they're more likely to consider a purchase. 

A whopping 80% of TikTok users claim the platform "helps them get ideas about brands and products they've never considered before," so it's crucial to actively connect with your audience. Every positive interaction on TikTok can help you build mental availability and increase the likelihood of future conversions, so look out for these opportunities. 

Strategy #2: Collaborate with relevant influencers

Influencer marketing is incredibly powerful on TikTok, and by partnering with the right creators, you can rapidly increase brand credibility and consumer trust. 

78% of TikTok users have purchased a product after seeing it featured in TikTok creator content, which speaks to the effectiveness of influencer campaigns. By allowing influencers to showcase your products in an authentic way, you can instantly tap into brand-new audiences and leverage the reputation of your chosen creators. 

Not every influencer campaign needs to involve a global celebrity, either. You can also partner with less expensive micro-influencers to reach specific customer groups in niche areas. 

Micro-influencers aren't just cost-effective: they can also drive significantly higher engagement rates since they're more relevant in smaller digital communities. 

How did this work for Waggel? 

These micro-influencer partnerships have proven to be extremely effective for Waggel, who has collaborated with popular creators in the pet space to dramatically increase consideration.  

An example of a TikTok that Upbeat Agency implemented for Waggel using a micro-influencer

Mid-funnel activity is all about emphasizing the relevance of your products, and influencer marketing is the perfect way to highlight the benefits you can deliver to your audience. 

Strategy #3: Utilize UGC to showcase your product benefits 

User-generated content (UGC) is a ridiculously powerful form of social proof that can strengthen audience trust and boost consideration. 

Since UGC is created by real people, it inherently feels more trustworthy and authentic than other forms of advertising. This is massively beneficial when you're looking to grab attention and build trust. Customers are more likely to believe recommendations from other users, so you can use reviews, testimonials, and ratings to build credibility at scale. 

To take full advantage of user-generated content on TikTok, make sure you're actively incentivizing your audience to create their own UGC, and partner with relevant influencers in your industry to capitalize on the trust of their audiences. TikTok has a built-in affiliate network known as Creator Marketplace, which makes it easy to find potential influencers that could fit your brand. 

It's also worth running multiple UGC creatives at once. This provides more testing opportunities (i.e., combining different assets to launch new variations across the funnel) and strengthens your social proof by showcasing content from multiple happy customers. 

How did this work for Waggel? 

Waggel saw fantastic results launching UGC assets that clearly highlight audience problems within the first three seconds, and then present the solution. After launching UGC-based creatives, Upbeat Agency analyzed them to find the points at which viewers stopped watching, and used this to create fresh tests. This strategy led to creatives that stood out, with TikTok rating them in the top 25% of videos for Waggel's industry. 

Generating sales at the bottom of the TikTok funnel 

Once your target audience clearly understands your product benefits, it's time to leverage strategic, data-driven tactics to transform consideration into action. 

Strategy #1: Launch efficient retargeting strategies 

Retargeting is one of the most cost-efficient ways to drive sales on TikTok. 

Retargeting allows you to reach users that are already familiar with your business. These audiences have expressed some form of interest in your products, meaning they're much more likely to convert. 

To maximize retargeting performance, make sure you're segmenting your audiences properly (e.g., ad engagement, website visit, cart abandonment, previous customer) and tailoring your creatives based on their behaviors. 

For instance, TikTok users who reached the checkout are showing a very different level of intent than users who briefly visited your website. Adjust your messaging accordingly to make your retargeting ads feel more relevant and persuasive. 

How did this work for Waggel? 

One of Upbeat's first priorities for Waggel was creating clearly defined retargeting segments, as they often find that clients haven't fully explored Custom Audiences, a tool that can be incredibly effective at the bottom of the funnel. This worked wonders, with Waggel seeing retargeting campaigns deliver a staggering 63% lower CPA than cold audience prospecting. 

Strategy #2: Run sales-focused TikTok video ads

Lower-funnel advertising is explicitly about driving conversions, and your TikTok ads need to reflect this. 

Reiterate your product benefits, use compelling CTAs, and use strategic promotions/discounts wherever possible. Create a sense of urgency to incentivize purchases (e.g., time-sensitive offers, stock alerts, countdowns), and be clear about the action you'd like audiences to take.

And remember, for your lower-funnel ads to deliver cost-efficient conversions, your entire funnel needs to be working hard. 

How did this work for Waggel? 

Getting Waggel's upper-funnel strategies right made securing bottom-funnel sales significantly easier. That's because qualified audiences were already familiar with the problems Waggel solved: they felt like the brand understood their challenges, and knew their products could help, which created a high-converting sales funnel. 

Remember: every stage of the funnel is connected, and sales-focused ads can't miraculously convert uninterested or irrelevant TikTok users.

Strategy #3: Leverage TikTok Shopping Ads to ramp up conversions 

TikTok Shopping Ads can be a game-changer at the bottom of the funnel, so make sure you're including them in your marketing arsenal. 

Shopping Ads can transition users from the For You page to the checkout in a couple of taps. This makes for a seamless customer experience, which lends itself to convenient and consistent conversions. 

If you want to set up an efficient TikTok sales funnel, you need to remove obstacles from the customer journey and make purchases as simple as possible. Showcase your products through snappy and engaging video ads, utilize clear Shop Now CTA buttons, and drive quality traffic to your online store. 

The TikTok sales funnel is critical to a successful marketing strategy

If you can build a full-funnel strategy that resonates with your target audience, seamlessly moves prospects along the customer journey, and capitalizes on the unique opportunities that TikTok presents, then you'll be onto a winner. Best of luck! 

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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