TikTok Ad Mistakes That Are Wasting Money - Campaign Killers Exposed!

Andrew Boardman

At Soar with Us, Our team has audited over 100 TikTok ad accounts throughout 2022 - and we found a chilling truth before we execute complete advertising campaigns. Most TikTok advertising accounts are all constantly making the same mistakes.

woman nervous about her tiktok ad campaigns

When digital advertising starts working, it can be easy to get complacent. No matter how well you think you’re doing, there is always room for improvement. In this article, I will show you the top mistakes you are making with your TikTok ad campaigns and your TikTok ad creative. Audit your account using this article and implement our top creative fixes so you can dominate your niche with TikTok ads in 2023.

Top 3 TikTok Ad Manager Mistakes Killing your Campaign

TikTok has become one of the most popular social media platforms globally, with millions of active users and an increasing number of businesses using the platform for marketing and advertising. Despite its massive potential, many businesses make costly mistakes when managing their TikTok ad campaigns that negatively impact their results and return on investment. So, let's dive into the top 3 TikTok ad manager mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Not Utilizing Ad Creative Metrics

TikTok is a creative-first platform, meaning you should analyze and use your creative metrics in the ad account to make key decisions. They help to paint a picture of how your ads are performing outside of soft metrics like likes, comments, and shares. They also help to identify bottlenecks that could be stopping people from taking action.

TikTok Ad Creative Metrics
TikTok creative metrics in the TikTok ad manager

How to Interpret your TikTok Creative Metrics

  • Poor hook rate? Test new iterations of the 1st 1-3 seconds of your video and home in on what’s stopping the scroll. (Read to the end, and we’ll share some of this month's top-performing hooks)
  • Poor watch time? You’ve hooked them in, but are they staying and watching to the end? Consider how the video is edited. How is the pacing? Are the transitions creative and engaging? Is the actual body of the content good?
  • Poor CTR (Click-Through Rate)? Test call to actions and offers.

2. Not Pushing the Best/Winning Ad Creative

Likes and comments don’t pay the bills. They are a good indicator of what the audience is enjoying, and TikTok will tend to prioritize ads that achieve these results over ads that convert with your customers. 

With this being the case, it is important to ensure you take matters into your own hands when choosing your winning ad creative and making duplicate video clips.

Instead of focusing on the soft metrics, dig into your internal conversion data ad data to find the creatives making your customers not only comment but click through and buy your product, then scale these horizontally. 

3. Too Much Audience Segmentation

If you have done your customer research and crafted the perfect advertising message, You know who the audience is for your product, and that’s great! When building your TikTok advertising campaigns, it can be easy to get carried away with getting very granular with who you are targeting.

In our experience, broader targeting performs better than segmenting your TikTok campaign and advertising media into hyper-targeted segments, especially at the start of a campaign.

Why does Broad-Targeting Work for TikTok Ads?

TikTok has a highly personalized video feed based on user behavior. Broad audiences maximize the ad's potential reach because there’s a larger pool of people to interact and engage with it. TikTok is excellent at finding the right audiences to put your content in front of, meaning in this case, it might be best to let the TikTok algorithm do the targeting for you.

Imagine two people fishing in a lake; we’ll call them Tik and Tok. Tik has a fishing rod, and Tok has a net. Tik casts out their line and catches one fish every 20 minutes. Whereas when Tok throws out their great big net and in the same amount of time has caught 15 fish. Tok’s method is the optimal way to catch a lot of fish. 

How to Target Specific Audiences on TikTok without Platform Segmentation

If you are looking to target specific audiences with our TikTok campaigns but don't want to limit the reach of TikTok's algorithm, consider testing lookalike audiences and cost cap testing. These methods take past data and recognize different types of consumer behavior that have led to previous purchases, TikTok then applies it to new people it thinks will behave similarly. 

Top 4 Mistakes Brands Make with their TikTok Ad Creative

With the blazing-fast attention of the TikTok user base, the days of acquiring users through ad-buying tactics are over - you are paying for a spot in the feed and competing for attention. It is essential to have engaging and effective ad creative. Unfortunately, many brands make costly mistakes that negatively impact the performance of their TikTok ads. From poor storytelling to bland visuals, let's dive into the top 4 mistakes brands make with their TikTok ad creative and how to avoid them.

Example of TikTok Native Content
Example of a native tiktok ad concept

1. Not using TikTok Native Contnet

It might be tempting just to throw some content that’s performed well on Facebook Ads or Instagram Ads on TikTok, but chances are this won't perform as well as you think. This content usually has a different ‘feel’ to the type of content you typically see on TikTok and will likely appear out of place on the feed. 

For instance, something as simple as formatting your video to the 16:9 format used on TikTok results in 9% greater ad recall than an unformatted video as well as 8% purchase intent.

How to make your TikTok Ads Feel Native

  • Utilise TikTok’s native editing features
  • Edit using the native TikTok app or CapCut
  • Use TikTok Native Sounds and Free Music Clips
  • Search for TikTok Trends and Filters
  • Use TikTok Fonts and Colours

2. Not using the right platform, is TikTok right for your brand?

Before going too deep burning money running TikTok ads, you may want to ask yourself "Is TikTok actually the right platform for my product?" Almost any brand can run incredible brand awareness campaigns on TikTok, some notable examples being Ryanair and Lotus. These brands are utilizing what makes TikTok unique as a platform and catering to its audience. But are they driving sales directly from TikTok? Probably not.

TikTok won't return in direct ROI for all brands, and it’s important if your overall goal is direct sales to utilize the platforms where your target audience is most likely to be found. Yes, the demographics on TikTok are changing, but around half of the users on the platform are between the ages of 18 and 34. Generally speaking, if you are selling a high-ticket item, you might have more luck with other digital advertising platforms.

TikTok Advertising Alternatives

  • Meta Advertising
  • Google Search Ads
  • Display Advertising
  • Snapchat Advertising

3. No Post-Click Analysis of the TikTok Journey

If you are trying to operate at the peak of modern advertising, you’ve dedicated time, effort, and money. You’ve crafted the perfect ad, testing everything from your own original videos to fun videos submitted by UGC creators, and people are clicking through! But are they actually buying your product? This is a bottleneck that we see time and time again.

The key to eliminating this bottleneck and getting more out of your advertising campaigns than just a tap of the like button is to create a frictionless journey for your customer, ensuring there is a synergy from touchpoint to touchpoint with the least amount of barriers for your potential customer to buy.

Ways to Optimize your eCommerce Checkout for Conversions from TikTok Ads

  • Add customer reviews to the buying journey
  • Include trust badges throughout your site
  • Ensure there are multiple payment badges on your checkout page
  • Include strong and clear call-to-actions at multiple stages.

4. Not Refreshing Creative Enough

Unlike other platforms such as Meta or Google, it can be difficult to achieve prolonged high performance on TikTok with the same ad creative or video clips. Creatives fatigue faster than you might be used to and generally are much more hands-on than the Meta platforms. 

To combat creative fatigue, identify 1-3 winning video ad concepts and then iterate on them with small changes to optimize them further and keep your content fresh using new content creators.

Here are some elements you or your advertising agency should constantly be testing.

  • Hooks - Experiment with the 1st 1-3 seconds of the same video concept.
  • Pacing - Try faster transitions to keep the content engaging.
  • Sounds - Change up the voice-over and music that you are using.
  • Text styles - Change up the font style and size, and experiment with emojis.

Having a bank of creative iterations of top-performing TikTok ads lined up in case performance starts to drop is crucial to continued success on the platform. 

It will make your budget for content go further and allow you to spend more money across your accounts due to hooking more people into your ads and getting them to take action.

How to create High-Converting Content on TikTok?

Now that we have gone through common mistakes inside and outside of the ad account, you are probably asking yourself the most crucial question "how do I make TikTok content that converts to customers?"

Like anything, this is a creative process that will evolve alongside your eCommerce brand or within the advertising agencies you work with. Here are the core steps that we utilize to set up our own videos for success.

Research Your Competitor's

This is often overlooked but do your research on your competitors or brands that you know are scaling their brand with TikTok advertising. One tool we use to help spy on our competitor's TikTok ads and organize our competitor research is Foreplay to identify trends and take inspiration for your content. Don’t just copy. Make something unique, so you are the brand that stands out when it comes to the purchase decision. 

Screenshot of the Foreplay platform
Example of finding winning TikTok ad concepts in Foreplay

How to Find Your Winning TikTok Hook

As mentioned earlier, this is the first vital 1-3 seconds of the ad. This is going to make or break it for you in terms of your ads performance. 63% of videos with the highest click-through rate display the critical message of the ad or the product in the 1st 3 seconds. This is their hook. 

We’ve personally found that hooks that generate intrigue and are controversial or relatable have been working this month. Here are the best TikTok Hooks working for us

12 Best eCommerce Hooks for Your TikTok Ads

  • "Styling the..."
  • "Date night outfits ideas"
  • "3 of the best fits from..."
  • “Are you the person who...?”
  • “Tricking my friends/strangers…”
  • "My BF/GF made the biggest mistake"
  • "Do (any product) really make a difference"
  • "Where to get affordable date night outfits?"
  • "POV: You never know what to buy your (gift angle)”
  • "Can't trust anyone who doesn't think these are cute"
  • "These are the (product) everyone will ask you about"
  • "My GF/BF was having X problem" (agitate pain points + introduce solution)

Improve your Ads Pacing with Editing

Short, fast-paced videos keep people interested and make them watch to the end, a key metric when trying to make a video that caters to TikTok’s algorithm. When you are wondering if your TikTok ad is ready to go live, think through this checklist.

  • Intriguing hook
  • No video pause or boring moments
  • Using most viral original sounds

Make use of native transitions in-app or by using CapCut

Build Authentic Personalities and Stories

If you have a TikTok creator onboard, make sure that they align with your brand and audience, even if they have incredible skills. Audiences respond and over-index their actions to authenticity. 82% of people trust opinions and recommendations from real people when used in advertising.

Leave your Ego at the Door and Run Tests on your Ad Campaigns

Best practices are a great place to get started with TikTok advertising but testing is crucial for high-converting campaigns and finding what works specifically for your brand.

By failing to test, you forfeit success. Test the individual variants on ads, find out what works, and then optimize with small iterations until you have a high-converting goliath that you can scale to the moon.  

Push Strong Call-To-Actions in your Ad

The call to action is not just the icing on the cake; it is the cake itself; without clearly telling the audience what you want from them, they will likely keep scrolling through their personalized video feed.  You’ve got them to watch to the end now; tell them what to do.

That psychological push can be all that is needed to give the customer a nudge in the right direction and have them go to buy your product. 

With the optimized ad creative and an A-player behind the wheel of the ad account, we have no doubt that your brand can find success with TikTok ads in 2023. 

If your brand has taken the plunge into the exciting world of TikTok advertising and you need a helping hand with creative strategy or general ad account management, we're here to help. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you with our bespoke multichannel marketing solutions.

Andrew Boardman
Marketing Content Manager at Soar With Us
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