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A Guide to TikTok for Ecommerce Businesses

Kaleigh Moore
Kaleigh Moore
December 2, 2021
2 min read
A Guide to TikTok for Ecommerce Businesses

TikTok is no longer just a social media platform; it's now a massive part of pop culture. Careers are being built there. Brands are flourishing there. And because it's because it's still relatively new, the opportunities here are vast.Translation: TikTok is an excellent avenue for ecommerce marketing.On this social platform, the only thing required is a little creativity. With that comes the chance to fuel brand awareness, website traffic, and ultimately, customer acquisition.

Why TikTok is a powerful ecommerce marketing tool

In January 2021, TikTok had only 658 million active users. Eight months later, that number has grown to 1 billion. That places it behind more established platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but it's an impressive growth clip nonetheless.And that's not all. As its user base has grown, TikTok has fueled remarkable user spending.In Q2 of 2021, global spending on TikTok jumped to $525 million. To put this in perspective: Only 16 non-game apps have generated more than $1 billion in gross revenue since January 2014. For marketers, this presents a massive opportunity.

TikTok Global Consumer Spending by Quarter

Here’s the most exciting part: Because of the way TikTok's algorithm works, if brands are able to create content that takes off, it can gain the same level of attention as the top brand in its niche (without spending endless advertising dollars.)TikTok’s #ForYou page also encourages users to discover fresh content and new accounts to follow. Unlike other social media channels, the number of followers doesn't determine a user’s visibility on the platform.

TikTok's #ForYou Page

Instead, TikTok’s algorithm is all about user engagement. Earn a spotlight on the #ForYou page via content that resonates, and brands can tap into a massive audience that’s curious and ready to buy.

5 ideas: Getting started with TikTok marketing

Perfectionist tendencies around content can hold marketers back from creating their first TikTok videos.But here’s the thing: TikTok’s audience isn’t after high-quality videos, so there's no need for professional equipment or an expert videographer. The platform thrives on content that’s authentic, unpolished, raw, and real. On TikTok, content is king—not the production quality.Take it from Pattern Brands Co-Founder Emmett Shine, who shoots all of the brand’s TikTok content with nothing more than a smartphone:

Screenshot of Pattern Brands Tweet

And guess what? It’s working. “Our audience on TikTok is so engaged, asks tons of questions on each post, and is starting to purchase items after viewing the videos,” Shine said. So far, Pattern has had two TikTok videos earn more than one million views.Like other platforms, your brand’s potential TikTok fame begins with virality. While there’s no recipe for surefire success, there are a few TikTok marketing tactics you can use to help your ecommerce business gain traction. Let’s look at what they are.

1. Share a sneak peek of your daily routine with your followers

Influencers aren't the only ones who profit from sharing their daily routines. These days, 86% of consumers agree authenticity is an important factor when choosing brands to buy from. You’ll be doing your brand a disservice if you don’t offer them a glimpse of the people behind the brand.The key is making sure you relate some bits of your content to your brand, like pet clothes and toy brand Miso and Friends does on their influencer account @misocomehere:

Miso and Friends TikTok Screenshot

Despite its subtlety, the video works. We’re getting a glimpse into the personal lives of the people behind the brand (and their pets!) plus a product plug: In almost every video they produce, you'll find people asking where Miso’s toys or clothes come from. And if you watch the video, you’ll notice Miso's mom used this opportunity to promote the launch of the brand’s first tug toy.

2. Run contests or giveaways

Social media giveaways are always a hit, and TikTok contests are no different. In fact, a survey shows 82% of brands run simultaneous giveaways on multiple social networks—meaning brands can experiment with running contests across various platforms at once (including TikTok.)Contests are an inexpensive way to generate user-generated content (UGC), which helps generate social proof without expensive marketing costs. Start by deciding on what to give away, setting a timeframe, and developing a fun and engaging concept that encourages users to participate.Basketball video game NBA2K, for example, created the #GiftofGame contest on TikTok. To enter, users had to share a video of themselves showing off their basketball skills and use the branded hashtag for a chance to win an impressive prize: To be made into a playable character within the game. The contest generated more than 8 billion views.

NBA 2K21 #GiftOfGame Screenshot

Here are some important suggestions for running your first TikTok contest:

  • Create a hashtag to group the content and make it more visible
  • Set clear terms and submission guidelines
  • Repurpose the best submissions on your own account (with permission)

With a bit of planning, this strategy can drive brand awareness plus a flood of fresh content and social proof for your brand.

3. Share valuable tips, tricks, and insights

Educating your audience establishes your authority in their eyes. This is important, considering 43% of customers would stop buying from you if they lost confidence in your brand.You can explore different ideas here, such as sharing information about your industry, product, and/or causes you support. For example, if you sell skincare products, describe the ingredients and benefits of your products in your videos, as Curie does:

Doing this allows you to not only educate your audience, but is a low-production way to share deep insights into your products, brand ethos, and long-term vision for the company.

4. Make use of hashtags

TikTok may give you plenty of opportunities to reach new audiences, but its popularity means there is a chance your content could get buried under a sea of videos. Hundreds of videos are released every hour there.If you're just starting on TikTok, consider jumping on an existing trend and using a popular hashtag or music track. Hashtags give life to challenges, memes, and even storytelling, which is why they’re so important—even more so on TikTok. Plus: Hashtags also help with discoverability.Aside from using industry-related hashtags (e.g. #TikTokTravel and #Fashion), keep in mind that music also works like a hashtag on TikTok. With a trending track, you can reach viewers who have seen videos with the same background music. Doe Lashes did this with one of its “behind the scenes” TikToks:

5. Use TikTok ads

TikTok ads are relatively new, but worth considering. They work like any other paid social media ads, except that you have more control over where and how they're displayed.Options for TikTok ads include:

  • Brand takeovers
  • Branded effects
  • Branded hashtag challenges
  • Top views
  • In-feed ads

And the best part? They work. TikTok delivers far more impressions than Facebook and Instagram. Data shows TikTok has an average cost-per-click of $0.19 and a cost-per-impression (CPM) of only $1.82, compared to a CPM of $6.73 for Facebook and Instagram.Here's further proof of success from growth marketing firm Ampush’s co-founder, Jesse Pujji:

Proof of success from growh marketing firm Ampush's co-founder, Jesse Pujji

As with any advertising platform, TikTok ads require experimentation. Social Media Expert Savannah Sanchez says that in her experience, TikTok ads bring in more income and generate more purchases than Snapchat ads.However, every brand is unique. Test and learn from the data.

Pitfalls to avoid on TikTok

Virality is TikTok's staple. If you play your cards right, you may hit the jackpot in a few tries. However, you need to avoid certain practices that won’t sit well with TikTok’s target audience.

1. Avoid repurposing content for TikTok

TikTok has a reputation for creativity and originality. You'll likely lose viewers if your videos are dry, boring, or too long. Create videos that scream "made for TikTok".Viewers won’t appreciate inauthentic content and will flag your brand as uninspired if you repurpose existing video content that was made for a different platform. It’s best to create content just for your TikTok audience.Remember: it doesn’t have to be polished. All you need is to understand your brand and display it in its full glory—quirks and all.

2. Don’t oversell your offer

Overly promotional content is generally unwelcome on TikTok. Treating your TikTok videos like they're a shopping channel will only drive viewers away.Instead, create narratives around your brand. Show viewers what your brand can do for them. Show them how your products work, why they’re great, and the people behind them. Leverage pop culture and spotlight your brand’s unique personality and voice.Of course, it’s okay to promote your products—it’s your channel after all. But subtlety is key. And if you do create product-centric videos, find a way to make them creative or engaging.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of influencers

It might be tempting to create TikTok content all on your own, but don’t forget the power of creators and influencers. With hundreds of thousands of seasoned creators in this space, leveraging these external voices can be a secret weapon for your marketing efforts.Partnering with an influencer in your niche allows you to reach an established audience with top-quality content and drives word-of-mouth marketing in a big way.

5 brands to check out on TikTok

Looking for inspiration? These brands are crushing it on TikTok, proving the platform has leveled the playing field for viral success.

1. Crumbl Cookies

Crumbl Cookies uses TikTok to let their audience know which five flavors are available in their store each week. This creates a sense of excitement and mystery, prompting viewers to try to get a taste of their cookies. Not only that, this strategy has led top TikTok influencers to create product reviews, allowing the cookie shop to reach a wider audience.Here’s a clip of TikTok influencer @thehungryfoodie (Kelsie Flaim) showcasing and rating Crumbl's products.

TikTok influencer @thehungryfoodie (Kelsie Flaim) showcasing and rating Crumbl's products

2. Scrub Daddy

Scrub Daddy, a cleaning tools company, first became popular after being on the reality TV show Shark Tank. But they're also making a splash on TikTok. They perfectly capture what users love about the platform, sharing fun, original, and entertaining videos.

Screenshot of Scrub Daddy

3. Nectar Hard Seltzer

Gluten-free and keto-friendly beverage Nectar Hard Seltzer’s TikTok content is fun and fresh. They do an excellent job connecting with their audience by sharing their successes and challenges as a growing brand. Here’s an example:

Screenshot of Nectar Hard Seltzer

4. Supply

Razor brand Supply, another Shark Tank finalist, is also doing well on TikTok. Aside from providing helpful tips for their audience, they also keep up with trends, such as the "Questions I Get Asked” chopping dance.Supply also leverages TikTok's unique algorithms by using trending music on the platform. For instance, they used Vive La Swing in this video, which currently has 924.1K videos anchored to it.

Screenshot of Razor Brand Supply

5. Doe Lashes

Doe Lashes knows what it takes to make a viral video. They use TikTok to share product tips and tricks, to leverage influencers and UGC, and to share video responses to comments. It’s no surprise they have more than 117 million likes just one year after joining the platform.This educational video highlights the perks of using reusable cotton rounds than their disposable counterparts:

Screenshot of using Doe Lashes reusable cotton rounds

Get started with TikTok for your ecommerce business

TikTok hasn’t reached saturation yet, which makes it an attractive platform. Many brands have yet to take advantage of its features, giving newcomers, even small ecommerce businesses, a competitive advantage. Hopefully, these tips and examples have eased your concerns and inspired you to jump on board the TikTok train.

Kaleigh Moore
Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore is a writer and subject matter expert specializing in ecommerce and Saas.

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