How to Use TikTok for eCommerce Marketing

tik-tok for ecommerce

TikTok, this name does not require any introduction. It is an acronym to success boom with OUT of the BOX approach. Yes! You heard that right. TikTok’s success credibility depends on its very own unique marketing strategy i.e. Open Engagement.

    How Did They Start?

    Initially, they started as a Chinese video entertainment application Douyin with multiple effects owned by a company named Bytedance in Beijing, China on Sept 16; which officially launched as Musical.ly for a certain period. Finally, on Sep 17, the application was rebranded as TikTok. 

    “ On 23 January 2018, the TikTok app ranked No. 1 among free app downloads on app stores in Thailand and other countries. “

    Subsequently, TikTok emerges as an engagement and entertainment giant for an infinite number of Gen Z demographics in various countries all over the globe. TikTok followers rise within no time ascending their success graph. 

    What is TikTok All About?

    TikTok initially made an appearance for the entertainment aspect like Snapchat but soon this lip-syncing video streaming app backed up with crazy dance moves turned out to be a marketing and engagement colossus. TikTok created a huge hullabaloo for different social engagement platforms in no time. 

    “ In April 2020, 800 million users bumped up on TikTok making it the first application of its kind to reach such a par. “

    They started with a strategy to promote spiced-up videos with a humorous and trendy pinch. People enjoyed this new approach and their success reached par within no time. TikTok’s engagement approach sounds bizarre but it’s interesting, people enjoyed others’ content shared on the application and also contributed their own as it was free and required no specialized training or tools.  

    You might think why TikTok got popular when giants like YouTube are already there. Yes, that would be a point but TikTok’s experience is quite different from YouTube in every aspect, as TikTok offers short engaging videos which are humorous yet catchy. Keeping the point in check that long-duration videos require a lot of boosts to engage rather than short ones. Additionally, TikTok also offers multiple built-in opportunities for engagement like #tag challenges, promotional campaigns, ads, promotional programs, etc. which thereby engage loads of Gen Z. 

    Are They Succeeding?

    I don’t think I’m a better one to answer that, their insights tell their success story. Some of them I’m listing below…

    “ In Dec18 TikTok was awarded as the MOST ENTERTAINING APP at Google Play Awards 2018 & also signed a partnership with SRK’s Zero for Red Chillies Entertainment starting the #zero-challenge. ”

    “ Fastest growing entertainment platform over 100 million users in the US alone ”  -Satish Kanwar(Shopify) Techcrunch

    TikTok’s major audience load lies for the younger Gen Z i.e. from 19-24 years of age. Till Apr18, TikTok owned a huge user graph of about 800 million or par around the globe. After that, due to some sudden shift of political controversies with China, it lost about 200 million users from India as well from other countries following the controversial mire. Google Play and iOS stores thereby effectively banned the application from their stores in some countries.

    The loss impact was quite huge, still, TikTok coped up with that to come out victorious. TikTok introduced many major changes to their strategies resulting in more effective ways to gain prospects. Their outstanding reach and engagement cannot be compared with any mere application. TikTok proved this by securing the No. 1 position on Google Play Store on May 18 in India also.

    Importance of TikTok in eCommerce

    TikTok is still facing huge challenges after the sudden geopolitical hurdles but their future foresight is quite backed up with numerous plans. Such a controversial mire cannot stop investors from investing in TikTok. Marketers find this platform to be the best place for initiating engagement as well as triggering audiences over the par, inside and outside the network. 

    After the launch of TikTok’s latest monetization model i.e. eCommerce, marketers started taking more and more interest. To date, TikTok makes money through engagement and short video advertisements but as per its future foresight is innovating, TikTok might harness the purchasing power of their audiences to boom in the eCommerce domain too.

    Many huge eCommerce retailers initially planned to partner or invest in TikTok and back up a battle with huge eCommerce giants like Amazon. But the political tensions and geopolitical mire between China and other countries resulted in a halt in that deal. 

    TikTok is for Open Engagement, that’s what eCommerce sales thrive on. This cooperation can bring out innovations in the coming years for sure, we expectedly will witness the zenith of engagement through this platform. 

    TikTok is fully packaged with featured plans that surely amplify the growth rate of your eCommerce brand, due to its huge engagement opportunities. Indirect social persuasion is highly required for brand awareness that can easily be gained through TikTok. 

    Some points that emphasize the importance of TikTok are listed below-

    The solution to Marketing Fatigue

    TikTok is all about short, entertaining, and creative content that openly engages its audiences Gen Z. As the majority of Gen Z on TikTok is younger in age, they enjoy creative content rather than focusing on polished and high-quality work. 

    People are often fed up with buzzing advertisements everywhere that create fatigue situations. Here TikTok comes to the rescue, even ads on this platform are engaging yet entertaining and concise.

    Built-in Promotional Opportunities

    TikTok follows its very own promotional model that works according to multiple, bizarre yet innovative approaches. TikTok offers multiple promotional opportunities for brands and eCommerce marketers like #tag challenges, Brand Stickers, Infeed Ads, Trends, Awareness Programs, Influencer Support, etc.

    A Broader Reach

    Like Snapchat, TikTok is continuously available for people outside your network too. This is quite an engaging opportunity for eCommerce to showcase its brand from a broader perspective. Broader reach doesn’t assure your success; for this, you need to be equally innovative and creative to boom above your competitor’s reach. 

    Matters to Worry at Pre-phase

    TikTok is relatively new to eCommerce but has much more exposure than any other platform for marketing as well as rebranding. Marketing and selling on TikTok initially can be quite tricky, as the platform is quite quirky, both in its form and its strategy to engage. To stand out, you need to be very creative and sharp while planning for your strategies. Taking baby steps towards your goal can be a prospective approach. 

    eCommerce is quite vast as well as the opportunities over the platform to engage. Your brand requires a boost of innovation along with a tinge of creativity and humor in it to engage the demographic Gen Z available there.

    TikTok is good for engagement and promotion on a broader perspective for brands but still, there are exceptions everywhere. Not all brands can make use of TikTok’s functionality to its par, you need to be very strategic and cautious before jumping into it. Below are some key metrics needed to be taken care of before opting TikTok for social media branding of your eCommerce business-

    Target Audience Space

    Marketing and branding strategies are subject to risks. Never underestimate your strategic planning on anyone’s recommendations. First, make sure whether those efforts are prospective for your business or not. eCommerce engagement’s main object lies in its audience board. Make sure foremost, that whichever platform you are opting for covers your target audience. If not, never invest in that, either your efforts might result in the trash.

    Surveys suggest that eCommerce businesses following the B2C model or industries like food and fashion are most likely to prospect over the platform due to the majority of younger Gen Z available there. Although, we can never predict the future anyway or discourage anyone.

    Just the case, other domains might face issues in fabricating entertaining content to engage with ease over TikTok.

    Platform-based Content Relevancy

    Platform dependency might also become a reason if you are a beginner eCommerce business at TikTok. Content ideas based on your viewer’s behavior are tough to recognize as well. Constant innovation is possible but if your brand showcasing content lacks entertainment, you might lose the battle there. Make sure your eCommerce brand domain is compatible with the type of platform and the content you are planning to offer. 

    TikTok offers an individual Brand Channel for every brand to showcase their content among their prospects and other user networks outside the board. For that, your content strategy should be innovative yet concise; framing your brand message and story. If you are not sure to offer such features then never opt for platforms like TikTok either take risks cautiously.

    Innovate your Product Placement Strategy 

    Product Placement is the hot upcoming feature of TikTok for engagement under its latest Monetization Model i.e. eCommerce. To build prospects within no time, your product placement strategy should be above your competitors here on TikTok. If your brand does not engage through entertainment content more, then need not worry; just choose the correct strategy pins to trigger and be creative.

    If your target strategy excels, there’s a chance that your brand might reach levels on TikTok. Proper risk assessment, squeezing best efforts from your resources, backing up your content with an innovative tinge, taking risks, analyzing the Gen Z behaviors, etc., might amplify your efforts.

    TikTok’s offering for eCommerce

    TikTok is very much innovative and appreciates the creative side of brands to showcase their story. Brand storytelling now has an acronym over social platforms i.e. Indirect Social Persuasion. Plenty of opportunities are lying there on TikTok, since the inception of their Monetization Model. 

    Below are some TikTok’s innovative features to enhance eCommerce.

    Video Watching Tick 

    Backed up with smart algorithms, TikTok does not require any sort of audience behavioral understanding to display relevant content. Rather, TikTok’s Video Watching Tick suggests the system automatically about the audience persona stats. 

    The clever algorithm goes deep down the rabbit hole to display the type of content repeatedly based on the user’s past watching habits. This could be an outstanding feature for eCommerce budding engagement over TikTok, as recognizing the buyer’s persona helps them reach with ease.

    External Links

    Like Instagram, TikTok is also now offering external link-sharing features on the platform itself. Brands as well the users can provide external links to their website or blogs in their bio section. This might be a useful feature for eCommerce as external links are like assets to them.

    Shopping Features 

    TikTok’s marketing and branding strategies are innovating day-by-day paving the path of other platforms, now even TikTok is offering both branding and direct response on products. The revenue generated through this would be shared among influencers concerned and Tik-Tok itself.

    Shopify Partnership

    TikTok has recently undergone a global partnership deal with Shopify, the motto of this deal lies in the engagement of 1 million merchants of Shopify with the vast younger Gen Z of TikTok to drive sales prospects smoothly. 

    This engagement allows Shopify merchants to create, run as well as optimize their TikTok marketing campaigns directly through Shopify’s dashboard only. 

    “We are delighted to partner with Shopify and provide a channel for their merchants to reach new audiences and drive sales on TikTok,” 

       -Blake Chandlee, Vice President, Global Business Solutions at TikTok

    This deal can be an open opportunity for eCommerce merchants on Shopify to elevate their branding strategies with a soft touch single-handedly over a platform. Shopify merchants can make use of TikTok advertising and branding ad features as well as access their tracking insights combinedly. Just a mere requirement lies in the installation and placement of their TikTok’s Business Account.

    Powerful CTA

    Innovation in advertising features of TikTok now allows its prominent Creators and Influencers to add a power punch to their content shared over the platform through the CTAs. CTAs or the prominent call-to-action buttons create a direct marketing opportunity for the Influencers or Creators to link their advertisers and generate revenues thereby. Being in the testing phase, the call-to-action buttons are only available for selected advertisers and agencies.

    Promotional Campaigning Opportunities

    TikTok is all about open engagement, that’s why they always come up with new ideas and engagement strategies from time to time. To pace with their branding speed, eCommerce brands need to be way more innovative and ready to experiment with. On TikTok, there are lots of opportunities available to showcase; just smartly proceed to your prospects. Few promotional strategies of TikTok are listed below to make use of-

    #Tag Challenges

    TikTok offers multiple short campaigns followed by #tags i.e. known as Hashtag Challenges. Such challenges are meant to encourage and engage the younger Gen Z  with a hidden motto to encourage or aware. 

    reasons to advertise on tiktok bliss

    This is an innovative approach to reach audiences outside the board and engage them creatively. 

    A few popular challenges that witnessed outstanding reach are listed below.

    #TransformUrDorm challenge was initiated by a US grocery store named Kroger. It became the first company on TikTok to experiment with its hashtag feature. They asked their viewers to post short videos on their college dorm “before and after” transformations as well as invite them to buy home essentials through their brand page. 

    Kroger also hired TikTok creators and partnered with a marketing agency 360i, this strategy boomed out with 304K video creations reaching 806M+ video views which landed about a 16.7% engagement rate. Kroger became the first of their kind to diversify the Gen Z perception through creative engagement on TikTok.

    #SockThem challenge started by the sports brand PUMA got outstanding traction, engaging lots of users to contribute their personalized 15-second video on the hook line of the campaign. Results were just amazing, they received 1.5 million videos accumulating about 1.7 billion views overall. Such a huge commotion was started with just a challenge.

    Small Gesture

    During the COVID19 widespread, TikTok came up with an amazing campaign that creates new ways for people to connect with their loved ones near and far through a small gesture of sending a gift to them.

    TikTok’s industry-leading partners in beauty, music, gaming, creativity, fitness, food, hospitality, and many more shared offers as small gestures to users. Users could thereby search offers and share them with their friends and family as a sweet reminder of “thinking of you”.

    TikTok For Good

    This is one of TikTok’s awareness program that encourages and inspires people, basically the young Gen Z, to mark a positive impact on the planet and their surroundings. Many organizations have made use of TikTok For Good to drive active supporters, raise awareness through and grow their audience reach along. 

    Some of the challenges followed under the program’s banner are listed below for a better understanding-

    #EduTok is a challenging program under this banner encouraging users to create short motivational videos based on educational content. This challenge is the most popular of all to date reaching around 8.8M videos and 48.1B views

    TikTok also launched a mentorship program with Josh Talks and Nuge Foundation followed by this challenge.

    #PetBff is another challenge under this program that creates awareness for the welfare of stray or homeless animals. Partnering with animal shelters and welfare organizations worldwide, TikTok celebrated International Homeless Animals Day 2019

    TikTok also donated (USD 175,000) followed by the challenge as donating $1 for each video posted. This challenge reached 490k videos and about 2.4B views worldwide.

    #BetterMeBetterInternet challenge rolled out following the global initiative of Safe internet Day that promotes and encourages children and young people to be more responsible for use of technology and mobile phones.

    Especially for the challenge initiation, TikTok partnered with 29 NGOs around the world and gained 1.6M videos with about 82.2M views.

    #JaiLeDroit (I Have The Right) along with AuFeminin, TikTok initiated this challenge in France on the occasion of International Women’s Day

    This challenge received a huge appreciation of 27k videos reaching about 12.2M views.

    #Skills4All challenge was initiated by TikTok in partnership with the National Skill Development Corporation in India on the occasion of World Youth Skill Day 2019

    The aim was to encourage the young demographics to boost the creative economy by providing a showcasing platform to them. This challenge was huge in success reaching 424K videos and 3.7B views.

    Branded Stickers

    It can also be considered as a creative yet bizarre approach to reach out to your prospective audience boards. Under such a campaign, TikTok requested brands to offer some sort of promotional effects to their users aiming engagement and persuasion to showcase hand-in-hand. 

    Brands offer multiple stickers, lenses, badges, etc. free on TikTok to users for videos.

    Viral Content

    Ocean Spray can be a good example as it is the first of its kind. A 90-year-old brand named Ocean Spray, gained enormous hike and viral fame when TikToker Nathan Apodaca posted a personalized video of himself skateboarding while drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice and listening to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” 

    This content gained much more reaction than expected and went viral thereby sending the 1977 hit song “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac rollback to the charts as well as tripling their sales. Even Ocean Spray benefited through this viral sensation doubling its stock value overnight without any extra engagement strategy. 

    This is just a mere example to showcase the actual power of open engagement driving prospects through viral content on TikTok. We can never predict the viral content strategy but it’s far more beneficial than engaging through trending content. To come up with a new and innovative idea that engages is quite troublesome sometimes, but being creative in viral content might not.

    Live Streaming Purchase

    TikTok is offering an out-of-the-box and innovative way to engage with your targeted prospects and other audiences available outside your graph in the form of live stream purchases. There are more chances that such an innovative purchase mechanism can gain way more success being quirky. 

    Many brands have experimented with this feature and skyrocketed their purchase, few are listed below-  

    Pantaloon’s Amazon – Fabian Bern, co-founder of a Chinese creator and influencer agency named Uplab, being the first to share a short video showcasing the live streaming purchase feature on Twitter. The video featured a costumed dog created by influencer Eugenia Chen’s company i.e. Pandaloon along with an Amazon product listing link thereby. That link acts as a medium to shop or a power-packed CTA for the users to buy without leaving the platform.

    Walmart Inc, which was initially interested in investing over TikTok, later partnered with the platform for their Live streaming Purchase Feature. They initiated a campaign for 100 million viewers available officially on their TikTok page featuring national brands like Champion, Jordache, Kendall + Kylie, Scoop, etc. Viewers can watch as well as purchase thereby from Walmart without leaving TikTok’s platform. 

    Experiment with Paid Advertising

    Paid advertising can be a way, more innovative yet smart to gain prospects other than your organic reach. Like the advertising model followed by Google and other platforms, now TikTok is also ready to mark its presence there. Paid advertising amplifies your organic efforts and boosts your strategies to meet conversions and prospects with ease. 

    Larger eCommerce brands like Nike, GrubHub, Disney, etc. have already accumulated the feature and are making use of it, whereas TikTok ads might not be easily affordable for small businesses. As the advertising model of TikTok is new and rare, costing about $10 per CPM is way more costly. 

    TikTok is offering a full-fledged set of advertising variants to help eCommerce brands engage and reach broader audience boards. Some of them are listed here –

    Brand Takeover Ads

    These are the types of ads offered by TikTok that appear instantly when the user opens the application. Such ads generally cover the whole page followed by the CTA button or an external link that might land you on another page of a website, or a video on TikTok either on an application’s page. 

    reasons to advertise on tiktok HBO

    Brand Takeover Ads create way more impressions than others as they catch users’ attention as soon as they open the application. Currently, these ads are limited to an advertiser per day.

    Top View Ads

    These Ads are way more similar to Brand Takeovers as they appear at the time of opening the app but are different in format i.e. video of 60 sec or more. These ads are way more engaging as well as entertaining when compared to other formats. 

    reasons to advertise on tiktok hollister

    One can upgrade their Brand Takeover Ads by paying the difference amount i.e. costing about 7.4M impressions to $65000 per day.

    Infeed Ads

    These are TikTok’s native Ads that are often placed either on the bottom of organic videos or in the feed as a part of your brand’s video queue. 

    Such Ads do contain external links to offer engagement as well as are way more affordable than the Brand Takeovers.

    reasons to advertise on tiktok bumble

    Biddable Ads

    TikTok is essentially competitive in bidding for ad space, which normally occurs in real-time, as many advertisers found bidding for ads way more engaging than their initial persuasion. TikTok offered Ads are influential as well as costly.

    The biggest hurdle for the success of such a feature on this type of platform might be the cost. It might act somewhat like a grey area for biddable advertising followed by small eCommerce businesses but still an open opportunity to experiment. 

    Variants of the advertising model offered by TikTok are mentioned below-

    • CPV (Cost Per View) 
    • CPC (Cost Per Click)
    • Optimized Cost Per Click (oCPC)
    • CPM (Cost Per Mile/Thousand Impression)

    Make Use of their Sharing Enability

    SDK for Sharing

    Sharing enability is a requirement for engagement when you are branding or showcasing your products on a new platform. Keeping track with other platforms, TikTok also offered its Share to TikTok SDK to encourage third-party apps to directly integrate and share content from their space. 

    “We are constantly experimenting with ideas and features to improve the app experience for our users. TikTok is a platform for creative expression and a big part of that is showing and sharing the things you love with others. We’re in the early stages of testing a way users can add links to products to their videos and will share more updates when we have them.” 

    -DigiDay, a TikTok spokeswoman

    Under such a sharing feature, TikTok partnered with about seven third-party apps like Enlight Videoleap, Adobe Premier Rush, PicsArt, Momento GIF Maker, Plotaverse, Medal.tv, Fuse.it enabling their users to directly upload content from their editing platform.

    Creator’s Marketplace

    As social media influencers are taking branding and engagement to different levels just by adding followers to their page or content, it is way more convenient to showcase your brand with their support. Keeping this point in check, TikTok created a separate space for the influencers and creators, where advertisers or brands can easily acquire them for their promotional requirements.

    Previously there wasn’t a structured way to acquire TikTok’s creators or influencers like Creator’s Marketplace, but now brands need to follow the platform’s aesthetics to showcase or acquire. Right now, full access to Creator Marketplace is not available to all as it is still in the testing phase.

    Analytical Support

    TikTok is experimenting with its advertising features that’s why it would be quite handy to own a personalized tracking system. Below mentioned tracking features are available on TikTok.

    PRO Benefits

    TikTok offers a separate set of analytical support to their users with accounts on PRO mode. 

    This feature allows you to keep track of your followers’ analytics, your most to least engaging content shared, your ads performance records etc. through TikTok’s dashboard or your Shopify dashboard.

    TikTok Pixel

    Like Facebook, TikTok introduced its very own tracking feature named as TikTok Pixel. You just have to install the respective plugin and it will automate the tracking code within your website. 

    Pixel would let you access your analytics right under your fingertips and assist to increase and recover your lost profits thereby.

    Note: If you are on WooCommerce, you can check these useful plugins to boost up your eCommerce store.

    Outstanding Efforts that let your eCommerce Gain Prospects on TikTok

    Do-Follow Trends

    Although TikTok is full of opportunities for eCommerce, trends still matter the most here. The branding strategy for eCommerce on TikTok would only work if they innovate their content as per the trends. TikTok is always open for support, so if you find yourself oblivious of the latest trends; just hop on their Discovery Page.

    Use Right #Tags

    Whether campaigning or sharing your content over TikTok, always make it in practice to have initial short research regarding suitable #hashtags. The major search criteria of the platform depend on Hashtags.

    Engagement is Recommended

    TikTok is all about engagement, so your content shared over the platform must be engaging to gain prospects. You can also build engagement through comment replies and contributions.

    Spice your Content with Humor

    TikTok came up with an idea to engage with a tinge of joy, make sure your content is engaging yet entertaining and trendy. As the major Gen Z here is young, that’s why serious content might not engage them.

    Partner with Creators

    Creators might be of help if you are a budding eCommerce business owner planning to experiment with TikTok. You can strategically plan to partner with creators to showcase your brand depending on their popularity and domain favored.

    Potentially Invest in Ads 

    The advertising model for TikTok is quite beneficial for budding eCommerce brands to harness their potential viewers’ buying power. For a better understanding of Ads on TikTok, kindly refer to the Inspiration Section and have a look at their sample content posted there.

    Get Influencer Support

    Social media influencers have now become the new engagement role models, people prefer recommendations from their favorite influencers to purchase. Similar to other platforms, TikTok influencers can also flourish your brand awareness if you acquire them for support.

    Put a Keen Eye on Your Content’s Analytics

    Being a budding eCommerce store owner at TikTok if your content has started giving prospects to you, do not setback and rest. There might be a chance you lose the battle with just a little negligence, that’s why for better practice always keep track of all your content performance analytics. 

    Final Thoughts

    Till inception, TikTok’s journey was unpredictable, we can still not predict what surprises are waiting for us in the coming future. 

    “ Data company Apptopia estimates the TikTok app was downloaded 100 million times worldwide between Mar. 20 through Apr. 28. Apptopia estimates 11 million of those downloads were in the U.S. TikTok was the second top free app in both the iOS and Google Play stores in the U.S. on Apr. 28, behind Zoom, according to Apptopia, which estimates TikTok has 328 million monthly active users. “

    Although it’s true that TikTok is full of opportunities for eCommerce engagement, as it is still not a finished product there might be several limitations. Being a budding eCommerce business on TikTok if you still want to experiment, just make sure you have a Plan B.

    “TikTok is still very much a brand [advertising] platform — it’s still nascent.”        

    -Andrew Jude Rajanathan, a global director at media agency Zenith.

    The innovation and growth we have witnessed to date on TikTok are all astonishing. Their marketplace is also huge and covers audiences openly, so if you are still not on the list, you’re simply encouraging your competitors to mark there first.

    This post was written by Himanshu Rauthan, an entrepreneur, Co-Founder at MakeWebBetter, BotMyWork, and the Director of CEDCOSS Technologies. He has worn many hats in his career – programmer, researcher, writer, and strategist. As a result, he has a unique ability to manage multi-disciplinary projects and navigate complex challenges. 

    He is passionate about building and scaling eCommerce development. 

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