Engaged communities and clear ROI: how brands can hit the marketing sweet spot

Marketers have been tasked with doing more with less, but targeting engaged communities on innovative platforms with creative, user-friendly content across the entire funnel can help businesses drive awareness, leads and sales

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Businesses are feeling the pinch. The cost-of-living crisis, supply chain problems and the long hangover from the pandemic have prompted leaders to slash spending. Marketers are balancing caution with innovation amid uncertain times.

This is bad news for marketing leaders, who still need to boost brand awareness, nurture customers down the funnel, and drive ROI – with reduced budgets. Leaders want accountability for marketing spend but attribution remains an enduring, complex challenge. 

“Marketers are unsure how or unable to accurately attribute success from marketing across the funnel,” says Kris Boger, managing director, Global Business Solutions for TikTok UK and Ireland. “But they need a clear view of the true performance drivers across their marketing mix to enable better investment decisions.” 

The marketing rule of seven states that consumers need to see a brand’s message seven times before taking action, but the number of interactions with a brand before purchase may be higher. Adobe claims that, on average, consumers are exposed to a brand 36 times before purchasing. With these interactions taking place across multiple platforms, online and offline, where do marketers begin?

Marketers are unsure how or unable to accurately attribute success from marketing across the funnel

“Many marketers rely on last-click measurement. But full-funnel cross-channel attribution – taking into account both views and clicks – is a more robust and fair approach to attributing success. Many of the brands we work with are moving to this model, and seeing significant improvements to their bottom line as a result,” says Boger.

Technology can also help. TikTok provides marketers with a suite of measurement solutions to track the success of their activity. Fundamental to the success of such solutions is the ability to enable safe and reliable data connections. This includes the TikTok Pixel, an industry-standard strip of code that marketers can place on their website to capture events and data they can use to improve campaign performance. An Events API connection can extend to sharing website events with the TikTok platform for further optimisation, and is a future-facing solution for marketers awaiting deprecation of the cookie. 

TikTok’s Lift tests provide another simple way to help companies measure sales or brand metrics and identify the incremental brand impact of campaigns. With extensive third-party measurement partners, TikTok can offer a wide range of solutions for advertisers, helping advertisers to better attribution and investment decisions via e-commerce measurement platforms like Fospha. 

But measurement tools can’t drive brand awareness, nurture leads or drive sales. To do this, marketers must decide which channels are likely to be most effective to reach campaign goals. 

While big brands have slashed their marketing budgets – research by Treasure Data finds that 65% of senior marketers have already had their budget cut – others still focus their spend on social media. The average social media user spends 2.5 hours a day across their channels, according to DataReportal, which is the equivalent of a movie on social media sites like TikTok each day. Couple this with the rich data access that helps justify marketing spend and it becomes clear why TikTok is a powerful tool in the market- ing mix for many global businesses. 

“You don’t check TikTok – you come to TikTok to be entertained and to watch videos in full-screen with the sound on,” says Boger. “This has led to a huge amount of product discovery where people have been shown products from businesses they weren’t familiar with. This is driving sales on and off the platform; the hashtag #TikTokmademebuyit has 68 billion views.” 

Those who have been successful in building audiences on TikTok understand how their customers behave and consume content. Micro-communities are groups of highly engaged users who watch and discuss content around their passions – #BookTok, #RecipeTok and #SkinCareTok are three such thriving communities.

“We help brands to create content organically and encourage them to look at what’s happening in the micro-communities,” says Boger. “A great example is #TravelTok, where users post travel tips and reviews on places to go. Brands like TUI and Booking.com have done brilliantly in creating similar types of content and built passionate followings as a result.” 

Brands can also look to the recent Unilever partnership for #CleanTok™, where TikTok and Unilever have partnered to co-create and curate content for the once mundane category of cleaning – now one of the most loved and entertaining genres on TikTok. 

For brands looking to move beyond organic content, comprehensive media plans and ad solutions offer another avenue to reach millions of new consumers. However, Boger says it’s important that the user and advertising experience is seamless: “When we work with advertisers we want to create content that is entertaining and looks natural and authentic on TikTok. Some brands will film their ads on a smartphone, others will partner with a creator who can help them to reach and appeal to a micro-community.” 

The safety of the community is number one

The approach is working. Boots is one of a host of global brands that has partnered with TikTok to drive conversions of its deals. Using a tailored account nurture strategy, the retail brand targeted ad campaigns at each step of the customer journey and, when consumers reached the bottom of the funnel, used TikTok’s e-commerce solution Video Shopping Ads helped to drive sales. Boots saw a 133% increase in return on advertising spend, a 48% decrease in cost per complete payment and a 20% increase in value per complete payment. 

As well as helping brands boost sales, TikTok is focusing on creating the world’s safest platform for the community and, in turn, for brands. “The safety of the community is number one,” says Boger. “We’ve done a huge amount of work to build trust and keep users and brands safe on TikTok. For example, we’ve prioritised the safety of our younger users, building several age-appropriate safety elements into the platform, while tools like Family Pairing help parents set controls on their teen’s TikTok accounts”. 

At a time of great uncertainty for businesses, trusted and innovative platforms with engaged communities and next-generation advertising tools could be the key to driving real ROI from marketing investments.

Explore solutions and case studies at tiktok.com/business