TikTok became the most popular social app in 2020, topping 2.6 billion downloads in that year alone. User growth shows no signs of slowing down, either. Research indicates TikTok continued to dominate global download rankings between July and September in 2021.
The fast-growing, short video platform—which allows people to create and share videos with music, filters, and more—has captivated millions of Gen Z’ers; over 60% of users are between the ages of 16 and 24.
TikTok’s highly engaged market has money to spend, making TikTok an attractive opportunity for brands. Here’s how to use TikTok to build brand awareness and convert followers into sales.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a short-form video-focused social networking platform that launched in 2016. It was originally known as Douyin in China but released internationally as TikTok in 2017. ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, bought the app Musical.ly in 2017 and merged it with TikTok to create the app we know today.
The app interface features a home feed TikTok users scroll through to watch full-screen trending videos and videos posted by other users they follow. The Discover tab—found at the bottom of the home screen—is where you can find trending effects, hashtags, and sounds.
You can create and post your TikTok videos using the middle tab on the bottom of the screen. Next to the middle, you’ll find the Inbox tab, where users can send each other messages and share videos. The last option on the bottom is the profile tab, where you can access your profile information and video content.
How can TikTok benefit retailers?
If you’ve already built a social media presence, you’re probably wondering why it’s worth investing in a TikTok marketing strategy. Well, for one, you can use TikTok to make serious money. Check out its top benefits:
Easily enter new markets
TikTok marketing will give you access to a younger target audience. According to research from Statista, Facebook (and Whatsapp) is falling further out of favor with younger generations.
While Facebook is still fairly popular, this data shows that the younger demographic favors more visually-based social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat compared to their older age groups.
Therefore, if you’re looking to appeal to these audiences, TikTok (and Instagram) are great channels to penetrate that market.
Increase brand and product awareness
Instagram launched in 2011; seven years later, it hit the 1 billion user milestone. Pretty impressive! However, TikTok managed to cross the same milestone in just five years (only four if you start from the international release), reaching 1 billion monthly active users in September 2021.
Its massive growth alone offers great potential for brands to increase brand and product awareness.
Yet, if the sheer number of users isn’t enough to convince you, consider this: TikTok also commissioned research that found that 52% of users said they found new products from ads on TikTok. An estimated 61% of them said they feel ads on TikTok are unique from other top social and video platforms. Finally, it will give you access to an audience that’s largely different from Facebook’s, allowing you to expand your overall reach.
Encourage purchase decisions
Thanks to their seamless inclusion in the platform, TikTok ads help move users down the sales funnel. Feed ads on TikTok are a full-screen, sound-on experience and no different from normal TikTok content. The full-screen experience means users are less likely to be distracted compared to standard Facebook feed ads. Fewer distractions = more conversions.
Brands have already learned that ads on this platform produce stellar results. Using TikTok ads, Blue Specs Glasses managed to pull off a conversion rate of 2.8% and a $7.59 Cost per Acquisition (CPA).
Ads that are indistinguishable from normal, immersive content were a big factor behind their success. Moreover, research from Kantar found that consumers saw TikTok ads as “the most fun and entertaining.” If users find your ads entertaining, they are more likely to pay attention to them.
How to create a TikTok sales funnel
Creating a sales funnel on TikTok is the best way to take advantage of the benefits outlined above. Now, let’s move on to how to build your entire funnel in TikTok from the top down to the bottom.
In digital marketing speak, “top of the funnel” strategies help build brand and product awareness. While TikTok’s algorithm is already awesome for organic reach, there are a couple of other strategies you can employ to turbocharge your results.
Work with influencers
TikTok is a platform ripe for influencer marketing—such individuals are why the app appeals to many users. The best part? There’s a TikTok space and influencer for virtually everything you can think of.
Influencers can help you promote products in a way that differentiates your brand from your competition. What’s more, when followers of influencers see them promoting your products, they’re more likely to trust you by association. This is something a normal ad can’t help you with.
Take @junktramp, for example.
Their TikTok account almost exclusively features videos of their team doing tricks and stunts with their trampoline. However, they also appear to have a long-term sponsorship with Bang Energy drinks—an obvious choice for their adrenaline-fueled content.
TikTok advertising is another cost-effective method for top-of-funnel lead generation. Since TikTok isn’t as well established in terms of marketer trust, it isn’t as oversaturated and competitive for advertisers as other platforms.
However, as with many other platforms, different types of ads appear in the app:
- TopView Ads: These ads appear at the top of the For You page about three seconds after opening the app.
- Brand Takeover: A full-page ad that appears as soon as you open the app (after the loading screen). The brand takeover ad can include a clickable link to an external webpage, app store download, or even your TikTok shop (if you’ve been approved).
- In-feed Ad: Standard ads that users encounter when scrolling through videos in its For You home feed.
Brands can also leverage the ad space in the Discover banner, branded Hashtag challenges, and branded effects in addition to the standard ad placements listed above.
Run contests or giveaways
Running a contest or a giveaway is a more interactive way of boosting brand awareness on the platform. Bear in mind that, as with other social media platforms, you need to follow TikTok’s rules and guidelines to try this strategy.
That being said, contests and giveaways can help you reach a huge audience organically. You won’t need to pay for ads, but you’ll incur the cost of the products you’re giving away.
TikTok influencer @itskristiii regularly creates giveaways and contests on her account, as shown in the example below:
Kristiii uses the popular “follow me and tag friends” method for her giveaways, which produces a snowball effect for follower growth and brand awareness.
The middle of the sales/marketing funnel is where to start taking advantage of your newfound attention. Interacting with your audience in multiple places is key to draw people closer to your brand and products. Here’s how to do it right:
Interact with your followers
Like it or not, engagement metrics matter. Most, if not all, social media algorithms favor content that generates conversations. The more buzz your post produces, the more people will see it.
So, what is the best way to make sure your posts create conversations? Like and respond to your comments. Take a look at how Beardbrand responds to its followers:
The company often likes and responds to comments on its TikTok videos, showing it cares about its audience’s opinions.
When you respond to comments on your posts, you’re also encouraging the commenter to continue the thread. This behavior nurtures a business-consumer relationship, i.e., they’re more likely to remember and buy from you.
Encourage follows on other platforms
The other major element of any social media marketing strategy (including TikTok) is to cross-promote and encourage your followers to follow you on other platforms.
The other social media platforms you decide to cross-promote largely depend on your target audience. However (and this is a biggie), TikTok allows you to connect your Instagram account or YouTube channel, both of which show up as a dedicated icon next to your follow button on your profile.
Remember the Statista data we saw earlier? Most age groups favored Instagram over YouTube, so it’d be a better choice to connect Instagram to your TikTok account.
When you connect your audience to Instagram, you can take advantage of its established Shop features and use Instagram Automation by ManyChat to scale your lead generation up even further. With the importance social media platforms place on engagement, it’s a no-brainer to leverage Instagram Automation tools that allow you to automate these types of interactions.
The bottom of the funnel is where the magic happens. It’s the part of the customer journey when people have heard of you, they like what you’ve got to offer, and they’re considering buying from you. All they need is that little extra push to encourage a purchase. Use the following tips to help clinch your sales:
Link or promote your Shopify store in your content
TikTok is now testing shopping features in the app and has partnered with Shopify to help make it all happen. If you own an eCommerce business, you’ll want to request access to this feature as soon as possible.
When you get access to a TikTok shop, you’ll be able to create a frictionless journey from your feed content to the checkout page. In the meantime, you should include a link to your Shopify store or landing page in your profile bio.
Simply linking to your store isn’t normally enough to deliver that extra push to get people over the finish line. However, what you can do is integrate Shopify with ManyChat. With this integration, you can leverage a powerful combination of tools from Shopify coupons to abandoned cart reminders and more to generate new sales and recover lost ones.
Send people to Messenger
Another method you can try at this point in the funnel is to skip the store browsing option altogether and use your bio link space for a Messenger Ref URL instead. This feature sends people directly to your Messenger chatbot and might be a better option if you want to create a memorable experience.
For example, you can create a chatbot quiz just like hideAWAY Handmade did (which earned them $100,000 in a month, then create TikTok videos that encourage followers to go to the Messenger Ref URL in your bio to try out the quiz. With the Shopify integration, you can offer coupons at the end of the quiz to encourage purchases.
You’ve set up your TikTok funnel. What’s next?
Thanks to TikTok’s popularity, it’s now easier than ever for small businesses to make money online. But sending people through your TikTok sales funnel is just one part of the process; true growth comes from making this a recurring funnel.
With ManyChat, you can create an omnichannel marketing strategy around your TikTok funnel by building up your contacts list and connecting with them on Instagram, Messenger, email, SMS—wherever they prefer to be.
The more places you can reach your customers, the more opportunities you have to repeatedly sell to them.