Ranked as the number one global mobile app in 2020, and with 689 million active users worldwide1, it’s safe to say that TikTok has taken the digital world by storm. The fast-growing short-form entertainment platform, which allows users to create and share videos with music, filters and other features, has captured the imagination of GenZ in particular, with 60% of TikTok users falling between the ages of 16 and 242.
TikTok’s enormous, hyper-engaged market (which shows no signs of shrinking any time soon) has some serious buying power, presenting a lucrative opportunity for retailers whose brands and products align with the platform. With the right marketing strategy behind you, you can leverage TikTok to increase brand awareness, create a buzz around your products and convert this into sales.
And for merchants using Shopify, selling via TikTok has never been simpler, thanks to a game-changing integration between these two digital heavyweights.
Below, we’ll explore the benefits that TikTok can offer online sellers, before going over some general best practice tips to help you make the most out of the platform as an ecommerce marketing tool. We’ll then review the basics of the TikTok x Shopify integration, taking a look at some of the functionality available to merchants.
How can TikTok benefit ecommerce retailers?
Provides access to new markets
TikTok has a vast and growing community, with users from all over the world (155 countries, in fact). The sheer volume of active international users represents a valuable opportunity to get your brand seen and heard by a huge audience.
And remember, not every user is a GenZ’er – the number of users over 30 is growing, especially as a result of lockdown-induced boredom. There are also countless unique communities and niches within TikTok’s user base, which means you can reach a hugely diverse audience through advertising on the platform.
Increases brand and product awareness
TikTok has the potential to drive rapid growth for retailers, with benefits across the marketing funnel.
First off, advertising on TikTok aids discoverability and increases brand awareness amongst new customers who you might not have been able to reach before.
The ‘For You’ feed is algorithmically tailored to users’ personal preferences, allowing for the easy and spontaneous discovery of new brands and products. Research conducted in 2020 shows that 67% of TikTok users credit the platform for introducing them to a brand or product they’d not been previously aware of3.
The platform’s Branded Effects also allow brands to engage with potential shoppers at the awareness stage, with tailor-made filters and stickers for users to incorporate in their own content. This is a popular way for retailers to boost visibility and reinforce brand positioning through user generated content. The use of Branded Effects helped international brand Halls lift new product awareness by 60.93%4!
Inspires and aids purchase decisions
Many of TikTok’s user base have purported using the platform to keep up to date with the latest products and trends and discover new things, so it’s no surprise that TikTok is a growing force when it comes to inspiring purchases. 71% of users3 say that the platform inspired them to shop even when they weren’t looking to do so – music to retailers’ ears!
And further down the funnel, 83% of TikTokers3 say that the platform has played a role in their purchase decisions, with users valuing how quickly and easily they can discover new deals and promotions on the platform. This is demonstrated in the success seen by Melbourne-based online jewellery brand Lion Wild, who prominently featured a discount code in each of their in-feed ads in order to drive clicks to their ecommerce site and ultimately convert customers. Their campaign reached a significant 19.35% conversion rate5, illustrating the power of TikTok in spurring purchase decisions.
5 tips for driving sales on TikTok
So, we know the benefits TikTok can bring you as an ecommerce retailer, but where should you begin if you’re new to marketing on the platform?
Fundamentally, TikTok is space for joy and discovery. It’s all about letting your creative juices flow with fun, shareable videos. The platform is famous for celebrating authenticity and encouraging users to be themselves. Your audience will appreciate a genuine connection and are much more likely to engage with your TikTok content if they get a true feel for what your brand is all about. Be sure to keep these fundamentals in mind as you develop your strategy.
Here are a few simple, actionable tips to help you leverage TikTok as a successful ecommerce marketing tool:
#1 Tell your story
Start with a narrative. Use your videos to tell your unique story – how you started out, the journey you’ve been on so far, and the most important things you’ve learnt. Don’t be afraid to talk about your failures as well as celebrating your successes – this transparency will help to humanise your brand and forge meaningful connections with your target audience, not to mention make your company appear more relatable and trustworthy.
We’re curious beings at heart, who love to know what goes on ‘behind the scenes’. With this in mind, why not give a tour of your workspace (no matter how big or small), introduce your team, show people how your products are made, or film the packing process. You could even do a ‘day in the life’ video to really immerse people in your business.
Some of these ideas may not sound particularly interesting or ‘glamorous’ at first glance, but you’d be surprised just how popular and relatable this sort of content is on TikTok. Even the most mundane of tasks can be transformed into a viral video sensation because of their satisfying and soothing content!
Not convinced? Small beauty business owner Kelita Butler saw a surge in online sales, including an increase in international orders, after oddly satisfying videos of her simply filling up lip gloss tubes and mixing glitter gel went viral. Check out an example below (source: TikTok).
#2 Tap into trends and viral content
Acting on trends is a key way to get your brand noticed across TikTok. You can track trends on the app’s ‘Discover’ page, which is a treasure trove of inspiration for creating popular and shareable content.
The most popular videos on the app tend to feature trending sounds – these songs or noises are a great place to start to increase the relevancy of your video ads and get them in front of as many eyes as possible.
You can also stay ahead of the game by leveraging TikTok’s constant stream of fresh features. Whether it’s using a new face filter or GIF sticker, keeping on top of new video elements is a great way to stay relevant and stand out from your competition.
Keep an eye on trending hashtags as well, and get imaginative with how you can incorporate these into your videos. Don’t worry if they don’t match your content – you can use hashtags as an indicator of the types of things people are enjoying watching, helping to inspire your next piece of content.
#3 Keep your videos short
Videos can be up to 60 seconds long, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to create minute-long videos (the recommendation for ads is somewhere between nine and 15 seconds).
The longer viewers stay engaged with your videos, the better your chances in TikTok’s ‘For You’ feed, whose algorithm is based on watch time. Lengthier videos tend to mean lower watch time ratios, so keep your videos short.
#4 Partner with creators in your niche
Collaborating with popular, relevant creators in your industry is another great way to elevate your TikTok marketing strategy and drive brand awareness. Thanks to the influence that established creators have on their followers, this is also an effective tactic for quickly building trust in your business, which is crucial for online selling.
When identifying creators in your niche, look for authenticity within their videos and their interactions with followers. It’s important that your chosen creator shares your brand values as well – you don’t want to risk your partnership appearing forced or ‘salesy’, as this will ring alarm bells for savvy TikTok users.
Take a look at TikTok’s Creator Marketplace to help find popular influencers to partner with. Here, you can view important metrics associated with a given influencer in your industry, including audience age, gender and TikTok usage.
The recent ‘Benefit Brow Challenge’ campaign run by leading global makeup brand Benefit Cosmetics demonstrates the importance of considered creator selection to overall campaign success. The brand knew that partnering with the right creators would be crucial for ensuring a high rate of consumer engagement. With this in mind, Benefit used the Creator Marketplace to shortlist 22 GenZ and Millennial creators who aligned with the brand’s ethos. This careful selection process led to a resoundingly successful campaign, which generated more than 3,500 hours of views and 1.4 million impressions from just 4.5 minutes of creator content6.
#5 Keep testing!
Like with any marketing channel, you won’t know what works on TikTok until you try it. Don’t be afraid to experiment. By continually A/B testing, learning and optimising, you can hone a successful strategy tailor-made to drive conversions.
TikTok x Shopify integration
Shopify merchants, rejoice! Thanks to TikTok and Shopify joining forces in late 2020, it’s never been easier to sell products directly on TikTok. Retailers of all sizes can create in-feed shoppable TikTok ad campaigns, track results and manage orders, all without leaving the Shopify dashboard.
As part of this global social commerce partnership, retailers can simply select which product they’d like to feature in their ad and let the built-in Video Generator tool work its magic, creating TikTok-ready videos in minutes – no need to be a video production whizz! There are also plenty of ready-made templates to take advantage of – all you need is an existing product image or video.
You can quickly and accurately target your specific audience, with a mix of demographic, location and behavioural options that can be adjusted as necessary. Also within the dashboard, you can view campaign performance data (tracked via the TikTok Pixel) and keep an eye on your conversion funnel, helping you to identify opportunities to optimise your ads.
Your shoppable in-feed video ads will be seamlessly integrated into a user’s ‘For You’ page, where they can be liked, commented on, shared and followed. This means your ads retain a more organic feel, helping to drive more impactful engagement from your target audience. Those wanting to purchase will be taken to the Shopify checkout, meaning all transaction data remains within your store.
To get started, simply head to the Shopify App store and download the free TikTok app.
TikTok operates across the entire consumer journey, with its entertaining videos driving product discovery, research and purchases in a fun and authentic way. This offers huge potential for brands to maximise their reach, get more people onto their ecommerce stores, and ultimately increase sales. With the right marketing strategy, ecommerce retailers can capitalise on the lucrative commercial opportunities presented by the platform and turn more TikTokers into customers!
Grow your ecommerce business with Swanky
With over a decade of industry experience behind us, and many of our team having first-hand experience managing their own ecommerce companies, we certainly know a thing or two about getting a brand seen and heard online! From organic social strategies to data-driven PPC campaigns, we’re poised to help our clients get ahead with commercially-guided marketing services.
To find out how our growth services could help transform your brand, get in touch with our team today.
 Marketing Science EU Holiday Shopping Behavior Research 2020 conducted by Walnut International for TikTok For Business