TikTok Ecommerce Best Practices: See How 11 DTC Brands Scale Their Campaigns
June 9, 2022
Since its bold entrance on the scene back in 2016, TikTok has taken the social media world by storm.
With 94.4 million users expected on the platform by 2023 (each spending 37 minutes a day!), the question is: How do you use TikTok to meaningfully grow your ecommerce brand without launching yet another marketing channel?
There’s no beating around the bush—TikTok is a plant that needs watering. It has the potential to sprout thousands in revenue for your scaling brand, but only if you invest resources into building an audience, producing content, and engaging with users.
Unsure where to start? This guide shares how you can capitalize on the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt revolution and pull maximum ROI for your business.
- Isn’t TikTok just a “Gen Z thing”?
- The benefits of producing TikTok content
- TikTok and ecommerce: How to stand out on the channel
- How to scale ecommerce TikTok campaigns
- 3 mistakes to avoid when scaling on TikTok
When expanding into any new marketing channel, you need to decide whether the potential payoff is worth the upfront investment. Running a TikTok profile is time-consuming, from researching creative hooks to engaging with followers (more on that later.)
But is TikTok right for your ecommerce brand? Or, more specifically: Is it only worth investing in if you’re targeting Gen Z audiences?
Data shows that Gen Z is the largest demographic group on TikTok, with 40% of Gen Z consumers spending more than three hours a day using the platform. TikTok’s penetration rate for this demographic is incredible—more than half of all people in the US, ages 12 to 34, are already on the app.
That said, people aged 35+ account for almost a quarter of TikTok users. And this is on the rise: users ages 65 and up will increase by 13.4% this year.
But TikTok isn’t just for DTC companies targeting US consumers, either. Scaling brands can tap into the channel’s widespread user base across countries like Indonesia, Brazil, and Mexico to sell internationally.
Brand awareness is a natural byproduct of expanding into any new social media platform. But that doesn’t guarantee revenue increases nor prove to stakeholders that TikTok is a channel worth investing in.
Here are four strong benefits of producing TikTok for ecommerce and DTC brands:
- Product research. TikTok is credited with driving major trends, from sunset lamps to veggie choppers. Use that consumer behavior insight to fine-tune your product offering, show the item on TikTok, and drive purchase-ready browsers to your ecommerce store.
- Build brand equity. TikTok works best for companies who show behind the scenes how they’re building a business. This format attracts attention not just from consumers but the publications they trust. Beauty brand Saie secured a feature in Vogue after its concealer went viral on TikTok. This helps build brand affinity so you can charge a premium for your products.
- Partner with creators. TikTok was the first social media platform to shine a light on small creators. Followers don’t matter as much as content quality and engagement, allowing DTC brands to experience the power of influencer marketing without thousand-dollar investments.
- Purchase intent. It’s not just a platform for entertainment. Nearly three-quarters of TikTok shoppers worldwide shop on TikTok when they discover something in the feed.
“Our marketing engagement and revenue has increased by almost thrice the amount than last year. The switch to TikTok has proved integral in improving the business model.” —Aviad Faruz, CEO of Faruzo
#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Enable your whole team to start creating<cta-title>Designed for larger ecommerce teams, Page Builder Advanced gives you 10+ user seats with unique roles and permissions to scale your content creation efforts.Learn more
Let’s take a look at how you can use TikTok for brand awareness and product discovery while using the algorithm to leverage the way content is discovered.
Use trending songs
Dances and pranks are the two most popular types of TikTok content—both of which surge in popularity once they show any signs of virality. The algorithm displays this type of trending content to users on their customized ‘For you’ page.
Unsure which trends to follow? Instead of spending hours of your own time scrolling through videos, use TikTok’s trend discovery tool.
It shows the most popular sounds, how interest changes over time, and related interests. Use this data to identify and produce trending TikTok content that aligns with your brand.
TikTok hashtags tell the platform’s algorithm the type of person your content should be shown to.
If you’re a kid’s health supplement brand, for example, supporting hashtags could be #childrenshealth or #healthykids.
Either is likely to be monitored by your target audience. Including these hashtags in your TikTok video’s caption increases the odds of reaching them.
Alongside niche-specific hashtags, use popular hashtags across the entire platform to increase overall awareness. Data shows the most popular TikTok hashtags are:
- #fyp (meaning “for you page”)
Host a series
The more TikTok followers you have, the greater chance you have of going viral with content aligned with your store or brand. You’ll have a group of loyal followers who drive early engagement, which also impacts who your content is shown to.
A series is the perfect format to encourage new followers and amass an audience.
It’s a sequence of videos that encourage people to follow your profile and visit for the next installment. Test whether TikTok series work for your brand using one of the following formats—making sure you remind people to follow your brand’s account to see the next installment:
- Questions and answers
- Blind reactions to your product in different cities
- Testing your products in different environments (such as workout leggings in the gym, on the hiking trail, or at yoga class)
Run Gum, for example, visits college campuses and challenges students to beat the brand ambassador in a range of sporting exercises—all of which feature a box of Run Gum products:
Kelly Donahue, Digital Marketing and Design Director at Viv, also adds that TikTok series help with customer education:
“Menstrual cups can be really intimidating if you’ve never used one before, so we make a lot of content breaking down how it works, from cleaning, to inserting, to removal and more. Learning how it works makes it a lot more approachable.
“Viv recently did a series of TikTok answering questions about the menstrual cup, talking about cup sizing, cleaning methods, when you can use a cup, etc. and it definitely created a lot of buzz,” Kelly says.
“Our sales from TikTok went up 141% in the month we shared this series.” — Kelly Donahue, Digital Marketing and Design Director at Viv
#cta-visual-fe#<cta-title>Ensure your ecommerce site is ready for TikTok success<cta-title>Create a memorable online shopping experience with Page Builder Advanced.Learn more
TikTok recommends that brands post new content up to four times per day.
So how do you scale your TikTok content output without draining already-limited marketing resources?
Partner with creators to produce UGC
TikTok paved the way for micro-influencers. Thousands of creators use the platform to produce user-generated content—some of whom are full-time creators who dedicate their entire schedule to producing UGC content for ecommerce brands.
Partnering with creators allows your brand to experience the benefits of traditional influencer marketing without the expensive price tag.
Influencers on other platforms (ahem, Instagram) charge a minimum of $193.74 per sponsored post. On TikTok, however, creators prioritize their relationship with followers over the amount they have.
Finn is one DTC brand that recently expanded into TikTok. Its co-founder James Shalhoub says, “We researched competitors on TikTok as well as popular pet viral videos to understand what is already working well for others in our niche.
“After experimenting with similar video formats, we found that using user-generated content on TikTok was the best performing content for our brand in terms of engagement, referrals, and increasing reach.”
James adds, “It eases our social content strategy to feature UGC while simultaneously increasing our product ethos due to the credibility of third-party video reviews.”
The TikTok Creator Marketplace is a good place to start experimenting with creator collaborations. Filter creators by region, niche, follower size, and budget. Choose those that match your brand values.
The platform is investing heavily in its creator resources, including a new crediting tool that helps TikTok users credit their inspiration (such as brands they’re collaborating with) and Branded Mission, a way for brands to turn high-performing creator content into TikTok ads.
Expand your search for creators outside of TikTok by taking a leaf from Doe Lashes’ book.
The brand turns its existing customers into TikTok creators with a $1 per 100 view bounty. Visible from the product page, the bounty is an added incentive for shoppers to buy.
Customers can get the product for free if they drive enough TikTok views for the brand.
Encourage employees to create content
Behind-the-scenes-style videos have racked up 42.2 billion views to date.
It proves TikTok users don’t engage with uber-polished marketing campaigns preened to perfection. They want to see what things look like behind the curtain—including their favorite brands.
City Crews Apparel is the perfect example of how DTC brands can capitalize on this content preference.
Almost all of its ecommerce TikTok content shows behind the scenes, from “embroider with me” videos to new arrivals coming soon to its online store.
Similarly, Sirat Customs Jewellery uses its TikTok account to show how its necklaces are made. This video, in particular, racked up more than seven million views—proving that TikTok users engage with brands who let customers see how much attention goes into each product.
Answer question stickers
The best marketing campaigns speak to your target audience, answering questions and eliminating pre-purchase objections. TikTok question stickers make it easy to do that while also producing high volumes of content in little time.
“A comment response is one of the most powerful things on the entire platform,” says Jon Shanahan, co-founder of Stryx—a brand that’s increased its TikTok following by 400% year-over-year.
“It’s native to TikTok; people are used to seeing it; it’s a way for viewers to understand that you make regular content and that you’re engaging with the community,” Jon says. “That’s something I don’t see enough brands doing.”
Take Sugardoh, a DTC brand that sells home waxing kits through its online store.
One TikTok user asked whether first-time users should use their fingers or the applicator to apply the wax. Sugardoh responded with a mini tutorial that used the question sticker.
Kameleon Swim takes a similar approach.
A previous TikTok follower asked whether its swimwear came in different color variations. Although the brand doesn’t offer that specific match, it does use the question as an opportunity to highlight its product catalog.
Integrate TikTok with Shopify
The social commerce industry is worth $958 billion. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have in-app shopping features to capitalize on consumer spend.
Each helps users discover products and purchase them—all without leaving the app.
Shopify merchants can scale their social commerce strategy by integrating TikTok ecommerce features with their online store.
Through TikTok Shopping, for example, brands can add their product catalog to their TikTok profile and tag products in video content. This removes the friction between viewing a product and making a purchase.
To make TikTok ad management easier, install the TikTok app. You’re able to create campaigns, track results, and drive ecommerce sales—all without leaving the Shopify dashboard.
#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Is your ecommerce store ready to leverage TikTok success?<cta-title>Create a memorable online shopping experience with Page Builder Advanced. Learn more
Repurpose TikTok videos
There’s a limited number of hours in the day. Get the most mileage out of your TikTok content by repurposing it on other channels, such as:
- Instagram Reels. The average Instagram user spends 53 minutes per day watching Reels—the platform’s equivalent of TikTok videos. Just make sure to remove the watermark first; Instagram’s algorithm won’t promote Reels that contain the TikTok logo.
- Facebook ads. Reach new audiences using the same content you’ve already produced. It’s the type of short-form video that almost 60% of marketers say outperforms image-only ads.
- Throughout your online store. Use tools like VideoWise to showcase TikTok content on product pages. One-third of Gen Z consumers won’t purchase products without seeing this type of UGC.
Experts predict that consumers will spend $13.8 billion on TikTok advertising by 2026. One reason for that growth is Spark Ads—a native ad format that allows DTC brands to repurpose their top-performing organic content and turn them into feed ads.
According to Franco Crean, managing director at Digital Boom:
“Having a solid TikTok brand account with content which showcases your brand’s voice, will allow your ad impressions to click through to your account and truly feel the brand, while feeling more comfortable to purchase after seeing the social proof. With TikTok Ads, arguably the toughest thing to crack is creative, as that is the most important factor nowadays, so make sure you use the content you have for ads—but always include a CTA at the end.”
For even better results, Franco advises:
“[Ask] micro-TikTok Influencers to give you permission to run ads from their TikTok profile. This is easily done via Spark Ads, but just ensure the creative includes them. You’ll notice your CTRs will shoot up and the creative will look much more native.”
Build a marketing funnel around TikTok content
You’ve convinced someone to watch the first few seconds of your video.
The hard part is over, right? Not necessarily.
Viewers need to take action after watching the video—be that visit your ecommerce site, sign up to your mailing list, or purchase a product—to make your Tiktok marketing strategy worthwhile.
Add a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of your content, so people know what to do next. Shelly Cove, for example, overlays a text CTA that directs people to its ecommerce website:
#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Is your ecommerce store ready to scale with TikTok success?<cta-title>Create a memorable online shopping experience with Page Builder Advanced. Learn more
Taking TikTok more seriously?
Draw inspiration from Jones Road Beauty, a DTC brand that spends $8,000 per month on TikTok ads that point towards a “find my shade” quiz. It works for several reasons:
- The hook: TikTok users have a reason to stop scrolling. They’re promised personalized makeup advice vetted by an expert in the industry: the brand’s founder, Bobbi Brown.
- The commitment: Potential customers hand over their email addresses in exchange for quiz results.
- The opportunity: Jones Road Beauty can use data it collected about customers to personalize future content—proven to influence 80% of people to make an online purchase.
#cta-paragraph-pb#This TikTok marketing funnel has helped Jones Road Beauty collect 124,000 emails from potential customers targeted through TikTok ads. Some 15% of those quiz-takers make a purchase, netting the brand seven figures in profit!
TikTok marketing is both an art and a science. But when experimenting with TikTok for your growing ecommerce business, avoid these mistakes to keep customers engaged.
1. Being too sales-y
It’s easy to treat TikTok like a sales channel for your DTC business. However, users are turned off by polished content from brands. They prefer behind-the-scenes, authentic content—a format that helps brands build deeper relationships with their followers.
“TikTok in particular is definitely a place where you’re not really selling a product necessarily; It’s really the place where you kind of come on [to] really tell who the brand is and what [you’re] about.” — Meghan Alfano, marketing manager at P.F. Candle Co.
See The Way I See takes this non-sales approach with its TikTok content. The founder regularly produces behind-the-scenes videos, like this one filmed five minutes before the brand’s “biggest launch of the year.”
The video is personable and authentic; followers can see themselves in the founder. It’s no wonder Shopify reports that brands will invest more into customer connection than any other strategy over the coming year.
2. Guessing video hooks
The first few seconds of your TikTok content are more important than the minutes that follow.
Fail to grab the user’s attention, and they’ll scroll past your video—no matter how good the production is.
“When you scroll and hit upon something that makes you laugh, your brain receives a hit of dopamine,” Dr. Sanam Hafeez Psy.D., neuropsychologist, said in an interview with Bustle. “When you see something you don’t like, you can quickly pivot to something that produces more dopamine.”
Figure out which scroll-stopping hooks engage your audience with TikTok search. Type in your niche and analyze the top-performing videos. If you’re a DTC skincare brand, for example, you’ll see videos like:
- Pimple popping
- ASMR skincare
- Celebrity skincare secrets
Each of these content ideas makes for a great hook in your TikTok content.
They’re already proven to be popular with TikTok users. By reverse engineering those hooks with your branded content, you’ll stand a better chance at overcoming the first hurdle of TikTok marketing: getting people to watch the first few seconds.
3. Lack of engagement
Posting new content to TikTok is only half the battle.
Don’t forget to engage with the people already interacting with your content—a tactic shown to influence the algorithm’s likelihood of promoting your content on even more users’ “For you” page.
Cheeky Pants is one brand putting this TikTok strategy into action. Its founder Helen Ranking says, “We’ve found that user-generated content works best, rather than more generic ads as such. No one wants to be advertised to anymore, but they do want to be spoken to and entertained.
“As with all social media, it’s great if you can interact with any comments you receive, while maintaining your brand tone of voice. The comments on this video were incredibly amusing and are a great example.”
Helen adds, “That particular video above has had more than 197k views, and more importantly received 286 comments which is huge for engagement and exposure. The TikTok algorithm thrives on engagement metrics like these.”
TikTok is an incredible channel to scale your ecommerce brand awareness
As you can see, TikTok isn’t just another marketing channel to brush off. It’s here to stay, and your brand can benefit!
In light of Facebook’s privacy changes and Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm, it’s worth testing whether TikTok gives you the chance to reach new customers on the platforms they’re already using.
TikTok is a noisy platform with millions of posts shared by consumer brands each day.
From partnerships with content creators to video series, use these tips to stand out from the crowd and build a profitable marketing channel for your ecommerce business.
#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Ensure your ecommerce site is ready for TikTok success<cta-title>Create a memorable online shopping experience with Page Builder Advanced. Learn more
Elise Dopson is a freelance writer for B2B commerce and martech companies. When she's not writing, you'll find her in the Peak Freelance community or on Twitter.