After reading this post on Indie Hackers about how a Chrome extension for speech to text transcription managed to gain 150K users through a dozen TikTok campaigns, we decided to give it a go.
Two things really amazed me about this post. First, the cost per TikTok video: ~$80, according to the author, and the total number of views across all videos: 7 millions.
TikTok also seems like one of those new social networks that aren't popular yet among marketers, which might explain the low cost. Anyway, we decided to give it a go and spend $500.
In this post I'll share the steps we went through and our learnings. Spoiler: we did not achieve the same results.
Reaching out to TikTok influencers
The first step is to find a few influencers that fit your niche. The best idea is to search through hashtags. In our case, as an app that makes it simple to send voice and video messages per email, we searched for the following keywords: #gmail, #productivity, #design, #email, ...
After finding a few influencers that we believed to be in our budget range (around 10K views per video on average - don't consider followers, they don't mean much), we reached out. Most influencers's emails are easy to find at that stage as they're eager to work with brands to cash-in on their hard content creation labor.
I sent out emails to 7 influencers that we found and scheduled a few automatic follow-up emails in case they didn't respond immediately.
Getting a deal
4 responded very rapidly and we got prices per posts between $200 and $300.
The cost was much higher than what we had read in the IH post. In most case, we negotiated the price down (or added more benefits for the same price) but in retrospect, we should have negotiated more.
What is important to realise is that TikTok views mean very little and that you need an easy way to convert those views into sign-ups. This means making sure the influencer tags your profile page on the post and adds a link to your website in their bio.
As a benchmark, here are the deals we agreed upon with the two influencers we worked with:
- $300 for one TikTok video, a link to our website in the bio for a month and a repost guarantee if the post does not reach 10K views.
- $250 for two TikTok videos (product review + giveaway) and a link in the bio
And here was our range of expected results:
- Worst case: 20K views across both videos, 0.1% conversion rate from view to sign-up.
- Best case: video goes viral and 0.5% conversion rate from view to sign-up.
Based on our estimates, we would be paying between $25 and $1 per sign-up.
Setting up the campaign
In our case, our app is mainly used on Desktop, but most TikTok users are on mobile, so we made sure to add a nice mobile friendly onboarding on mobile.
We also gave our partners specific links and special offers to give to their community. This would ensure maximum conversion during the campaign.
Running the campaign
The campaigns were ran on schedule and the content had been sent to us for approval.
Here are the videos:
Campaign #1 (focused on our voice mail product)
This was obviously a massive failure and is the end of our paid acquisition efforts for the time being.
Views mean very little
In total, our videos got around 20k views, which seemed like a lot but on TikTok, most content is being viewed without any expectation to act upon it. This was very visible in our case: more than a thousand people liked our videos, but none of them actually signed-up.
TikTok makes it hard to convert people
In order to sign up for our product, users had to:
- Click on our account username in the video description
- Click on our website link in the bio (Important: you now need at least 1K followers to add a link!)
- Click the sign-up button on our website
The first steps would have been avoided with regular Google search ads for example.
Depending on how much those affect conversion, Google search ads can become cheaper.
Our strategy to grow
As a company, we won't spend any more ressources and time on paid acquisition as we simply don't have the budget (we're at $140 MRR) and instead keep focusing on content creation (both text and videos) to be as easy to find for anyone who might be looking for our product.
Please do share your thoughts and experience with TikTok ads with us at firstname.lastname@example.org :)