How to create Direct Response Ads on TikTok

Before we even begin, let’s take a moment or two to truly understand what direct response ads really are. DR ads for short, are specific creatives designed to provoke specific action in users. That can include boosting the number of views on a website, ads intended to motivate users to sign up to a mailing list, and of course, ads designed to drive purchases.

Today, we will take a closer look at some common traits that the best direct response campaigns share on TikTok, helping you put these principles into action when it comes to your brand as well.

Here’s where you can start.

Set up your TikTok ad properly

We have written extensively on everything you need to know about TikTok advertising in our Ultimate guide to TikTok advertising, so make sure to check it out before you get started. You need to decide on the format and the type of campaign you want to run with your direct response ads. 

The first thing to decide on is the objective of your ad campaign (awareness, consideration, conversions) and the ad group selection. These will determine the steps you need to take in your Ad Manager account. We will not be going through the steps as they are very self-explanatory and user-friendly, but we’ll highlight a few things you need to keep in mind. 

First, remember that an ad group is limited to 20 ads. 

Second, your ads can only be in video format in the TikTok app proper. The associated apps, like BuzzVideo/Pangle, support image ads as well. 

Once you decide where you want to place your ad, the next step is to add media through TikTok Ad Manager. You can create a brand new video, upload one from your computer or pick one from your Assets, which stores all the ads you’ve previously created. 

Next, choose a thumbnail for your ad. It can be something from the video, or a custom cover image. Which of these you will use should depend on your branding. If your TikTok presence is casual and spontaneous (which hopefully fits your branding) then you can go with something from the video. However, for the sake of brand recognition and coherence, you may want to use your logo or other branded visual content. 

Now it’s time to add your display name (the name of your brand or your campaign, if it guarantees brand recognition), text explaining what you’re promoting, your CTA (more on that later) and profile image. Of course, you will also enter the URL you want the ad to lead to. 

Once your direct response ad is ready, you need to set up ad tracking, using TikTok Pixel or third-party tracking solutions. 

Now that you’ve got everything set up, let’s see how you can assure the best possible performance of your direct response ads. 

tiktok direct ads

Show your product immediately and always be direct

In order to be as direct as possible, try to speak to the camera as if you were talking to your friends in a coffee shop. What does that mean exactly? Simply eliminate complicated, overly-pronounced words, as that can seem fake to users. What succeeds on TikTok is using your natural tone of voice, but make sure to enunciate the words correctly, without using unnecessary words or pauses.

Another very important piece of advice is to showcase your products and services as soon as possible in your TikTok Ad. There is no need for long introductions, just jump straight to the point. With the dwindling attention span we all suffer from in the modern age, there’s no time to waste. Finding ways to engage with users may not always be as simple as it sounds, but you will get better at it over time. If you have no time to waste, you can always hire a proven content creator to do it for your brand instead.

Be smart with ad targeting

Proper ad targeting is half the battle in advertising, be it on TikTok or in other channels. Inadequate selection of target groups can cause an entire campaign to fail, being delivered to the audience that has no need nor interest in what you’re offering. 

On TikTok, you can target based on: 

  • Audience (by creating and then including or excluding custom audience or so-called lookalike audience)
  • Demographics (gender, age, location, language)
  • Interests and behaviors (interests, purchase intent, behavior like watching, liking, commenting, and hashtag targeting)
  • Device (type, OS, price, carrier)

There is also the smart targeting feature, which includes targeting expansion (in case your original targeting makes your ads hard to deliver, expanding the reach to wider relevant audiences), automatic targeting and targeting recommendations by the app itself, based on your industry and your past account performance. 

Don’t worry too much about the production quality

Unlike some other social media platforms, TikTok was adamant from the start that the originality and creativity of the content is much more important than sheer aesthetics. Engaging and entertaining videos that are not overly produced still represent most of the content that you’ll find on TikTok. Your direct response ads on TikTok should look like that too.

This is great news for brands, being that they don’t have to invest large sums of money in order to create captivating ads on TikTok. A decent mobile phone, good lighting and an eye for detail is all that’s necessary for even the most important campaigns. This is not only good from a standpoint of saving money, but it also means that on TikTok, you can be as creative as possible, without having to worry too much about spotless production quality.

Create a sense of urgency

In direct response advertising, in which you want your audience to perform a specific action, it is crucial to create a sense of urgency around your offer. That way, people will want to act immediately, as you won’t leave them enough time to reflect and perhaps change their mind. Urgency is an amazing conversion booster and can be achieved by putting some sort of limitation to your offer. In most cases, it is a time limitation – today only, sign up now, expires in 24h, and so on. It can also refer to availability – low stock alert, limited supplies, only a few left, etc. 

We often tend to respond to urgency through FOMO – fear of missing out. We feel we simply cannot afford to miss an offer that can turn out to be useful or lucrative. That’s why ad copy that successfully creates a sense of urgency always has excellent conversion rates. 

Of course, people are not sheep. They are not going to buy something just because it may not be available soon. You need to offer something that people really want, but that’s the crucial condition for ads in general, so hopefully you’ve already made sure your ad meets people’s needs and desires. 

Always provide captions

At first glance, this might seem unimportant, but there’s a good reason why most popular videos on TikTok nowadays have captions. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, it’s a fact that most of us like looking at our phones when we’re feeling bored at work, school, or when using public transport.

All of these situations have one thing in common, it’s pretty difficult to watch videos with the sound turned on. However, if a video has proper captions, it becomes much easier to follow the story. Depending on your intentions, you don’t have to use captions for every sentence, just for those that you want to place emphasis on.

Make sure to finish off with a strong CTA

Even if you follow all of the steps mentioned above, it won’t do you much good unless you create a strong call to action at the end of your TikTok video ad to put it all together. In order to do that, you must provide clear instructions on what the users need to do, which should be the goal of your direct response strategy. Try to be upfront about everything and explain to viewers what they stand to gain if they decide to follow your instructions.

If you provide enough value in the TikTok video ad and manage to showcase your products and services in a good light, then this step will be a lot easier. Without this, even the most engaging call to action will not get its chance to shine, so always try to follow the steps we mentioned previously.

Don’t forget to track and measure ad performance

It should go without saying that any ad or marketing campaign you run has to be thoroughly tracked and analyzed. However, a surprising number of businesses fail to do so. Without tracking and analyzing, there is no way of knowing whether your direct response campaigns have been successful or not and consequently, what should be done differently. Analyzing is an investment in future success, and with the number of available analytics tools there is really no excuse not to do it. 

As for TikTok, the Ad Manager doesn’t lack in features for creating strong, data-driven campaigns. There are three distinct places where you can monitor your ad performance: 

  • Dashboard
  • Campaign page
  • Reporting page

The dashboard provides quick and basic insights such as fresh metrics, ad spends and active  status of the ads. 

The Reporting page is the place you can set, customize and schedule your reports, which get delivered to your inbox and to the teammates that you want to include in the process. 

On the Campaign page, you can get deeper insights pertaining to potential anomalies you noticed in the Dashboard, and also use filters to get more details on your individual ads, ad groups and campaigns. 

You can also use Google Analytics to track your ad performance by adding dynamic UTMs. In addition, you can install TikTok Pixel to your website, which will allow you to monitor traffic and conversions coming from TikTok specifically.

How to make the most of your investment?

Mastering all of these steps is a skill that requires careful planning, but if you have the time and energy for it, you will learn it as you go. It’s often a hit-or-miss type of deal as well, and you can work around it by testing many different direct response approaches to see which one works the best for your brand on TikTok.If you need quick results and a team of dedicated TikTok direct response experts on your side to speed up that journey, make sure to get in touch with us today. We will create a specific plan of action to maximize every available opportunity to make sure you get the best result on TikTok advertising budget.

GrowMojo Corp
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