Dear Databox: How to Use TikTok Ads for B2B Demand Generation?

Marketing Aug 17, 2023 18 minutes read

Table of contents

    Cost-per-click (CPC) depends on many factors that are at times beyond your control, like the competition or overall state within the industry. But sometimes—it’s a matter of choosing the right platform to advertise on.

    LinkedIn is the go-to social media for many B2B marketers, but have you tried leveraging TikTik to generate demand for your product or service?

    A Databox user wonders if TikTok Ads can work for B2B businesses as well as they work for the B2C industry.

    “Dear Databox,

    It looks like most companies are able to get a fairly low CPC and CPM on TikTok Ads right now, significantly cheaper than LinkedIn ads. I’m wondering if any B2B leaders are using TikTok ads for demand gen and what insights they can offer.”

    We’re sharing some data-backed insights and TikTok ad types, along with strategies proven to be effective in B2B marketing.

    This article is part of our Dear Databox series, where you can send an anonymous question via your benchmark group and get valuable tips from the industry’s leading experts.

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    TikTok Ads Benchmarks for B2B Companies

    Our Benchmark Groups allow you to cost-free and anonymously measure your performance against your peers and discover new trends or opportunities you can seize.

    Based on the data provided by 25 contributors in TikTok Ads Benchmarks for All Companies, the median value of CPC in July 2023 was $0.39.

    CPC

    Now, compare the median TikTok CPC to LinkedIn or Instagram ads, where you may need to spend $3-5 per click. It’s no wonder that B2B companies are intensively exploring their options on TikTok.

    Let’s dive deeper into how to make sure your TikTok ad campaign is effective.

    What Types of TikTok Ads Work Best for B2B?

    Our team spoke to over 35 B2B marketers to learn more about how they use TikTok ads: 60% of the survey respondents were B2B services or products, and 40% of them were agencies or consultants working for a B2B company.

    Over 70% of participants stated that they have been using TikTok ads for some time now, and about 17% have just started using them. None of the respondents opted for the answer “We are not using them and don’t plan to,” proving that TikTok has a lot of B2B potential and shouldn’t be pigeonholed as a B2C platform.

    Experience with TikTok ads

    When it comes to the effectiveness of different types of TikTok ads for B2B, 80.00% of our respondents marked TikTok Video Ads (not permanent posts) as very effective. Ranked second best are Spark Ads (boosted organic content), which 52% of respondents marked as very effective.

    Another point worth mentioning is that most respondents haven’t tried Shopping Ads, Playable Ads (mini-games), or Pangle ads.

    Types of TikTok Ads

    Related: 12 TikTok Marketing Tips and Best Practices

    Most Engaging Type of Content for a B2B Audience on TikTok

    Creating engaging content for a B2B audience on TikTok requires an approach that balances professionalism with TikTok’s creative and playful nature. While TikTok is primarily associated with consumer content, there are ways to captivate a B2B audience and provide value. 

    We also asked our survey participants about the engagement their content generates on TikTok—which type of content has proven to be the most effective?

    Almost half of the respondents (44%) claimed that user-generated content (UGC) has been the most engaging for their B2B audience. This doesn’t come as a surprise since UGC is typically relatable, authentic, and represents social proof.

    Type of TikTok content

    Most Effective Objectives for B2B TikTok Ad Campaigns

    The effectiveness of a TikTok Ad Campaign also depends on where your TikTok audience is within your marketing funnel. We asked our participants to share which objective they found most effective in their B2B TikTok Ads campaigns.

    More than half of the respondents selected Awareness, while 28% of participants voted for Conversion, and 16% chose Consideration.

    TikTok campaigns Objective

    Biggest TikTok Advertising Challenges for B2B Companies

    Companies from the B2B industry may face some unique challenges when tapping into advertising on TikTok.

    In our survey, 48% of the respondents stated that the biggest TikTok Ads challenge their B2B business faces is “targeting and strategy mismatch.” About one-third of respondents stated their biggest challenge was “budget control and flexibility.”

    TikTok ads challenges

    Our surveyed experts break down these challenges and explain how they overcame them.

    Targeting and Strategy Mismatch

    You may have an audience on TikTok, but it’s not necessarily the same audience or customer segment you target using SEO or email marketing. Tailoring your strategy for each channel is crucial for maximizing engagement, conversion rates, and overall campaign success.

    To ensure alignment between your advertising strategy and TikTok audience, it’s critical to, for example, understand how TikTok users engage with the platform and adapt your content to work well for TikTok’s preferred format, which emphasizes short, engaging, and visually captivating content.

    All strategies, however, start with market research. John Willis of Convertfree explains that he conducted extensive research along with “customer segmentation analysis to address the issue of targeting and strategy mismatch in B2B audiences.”

    This research and analysis allowed Willis to understand “the demands, problems, and preferences of the target audience.” “I coordinated the company’s general strategy with the target market’s particular demands, making sure that our messaging, product/service offerings, and value proposition were personalized to meet their particular needs,” explains Willis.

    By concentrating their resources and efforts on the appropriate target demographic, Willis and the team achieved incredible results: increased client acquisition and retention and higher commercial success.

    Scribe’s Oliver Cornelius-Knudsen’s team optimized TikTok ads for views but faced less engagement and an overall low ROI because “TikTok will sometimes prioritize less effective creative” when pushing for more views.

    “To overcome this challenge, we are intentional about what content is live within our ad groups at any given time. We quickly pause ads that drive less engagement (and fewer conversions) than our top ads but are potentially favored by the delivery algorithm because they drive more views,” shares Cornelius-Knudsen, but highlights creative as the most important factor in successful TikTok ad campaigns.

    “The most important thing any business can do is find compelling creative. Once that’s sorted, the rest will follow. We use a targeting strategy that will deliver to more people overall because we have creative whose effectiveness we’ve validated over and over again.”

    “Success follows great creative and scale follows showing that creative to increasing magnitudes of people. Differences between optimization strategies, budget controls, and other technical settings help to drive increased efficiency. However, at its core, the business-changing impact of effectively running B2B TikTok ads is based only on great creative and showing it to a lot of people.”

    Oliver Cornelius-Knudsen

    Oliver Cornelius-Knudsen

    Head of Digital Advertising at Scribe

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    Budget Control and Flexibility

    Managing budgets effectively while maintaining the flexibility to optimize and adjust campaigns is crucial for achieving desired outcomes on any advertising platform, and TikTok is no different.

    Ensuring proper allocation while maximizing results and trying to predict how well a TikTok campaign will perform can be challenging, especially if you’re just testing the waters without knowing what works for sure.TikTok’s audience, trends, and algorithm evolve rapidly, so a rigid budget might hinder your ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions and optimize campaigns accordingly.

    “Budget control is the most difficult hurdle in TikTok ad creation due to the platform’s extremely high and ever-increasing competition,” adds Daniel Ufland of With Flitch.

    “To combat this issue, we attempt to set a reasonably high budget so that our brand stands out from the crowd. We also make sure there is adequate money in our ad account for this. In addition, we occasionally increase or decrease the budget after closely analyzing ad performance to ensure that our ad campaigns remain competitive with the endless TikTok advertising,” Ufland comments.

    For some companies, TikTok may not be as affordable as others claim, especially if the budget is limited. Fortuna Admissions’ Caroline Diarte Edwards can confirm.

    “I have to spend more on my ad budget as it’s an expensive platform for running an ad,” Edwards says, but there’s a way to optimize the spend. “The minimum budget for one campaign is $50, while for a group, it is reduced to $20. So, I ran a couple of campaigns to reduce my ad budget.”

    Jordan Brannon of Coalition Technologies agrees that the $20 daily minimum can be limiting.

    “Budget control presents a significant challenge due to the minimum required allocation of $20 per ad set per day. This limitation hinders the ability to achieve granular optimization when working with limited budgets,” explains Brannon why flexibility is important:

    “Even smaller budgets could be effectively distributed, allowing for the allocation of smaller portions to underperforming ad sets.”

    Creative is not Compelling

    The TikTok platform is flooded with a constant stream of content. To stand out, your ad creative needs to be unique and attention-grabbing, which can be difficult for B2B businesses, especially since TikTok users often have a short attention span. If your ad’s creative doesn’t immediately capture their interest, they may scroll past it.

    “When everyone is vying for space on the same platform, advertising content is sure to become a little redundant. With thousands of B2B brands attempting to capture audiences, even the most inventive ideas become obsolete. As a result, being creative is no longer just about being compelling,” says Arbtech’s Robert Oates and shares a possible solution:

    “To address this issue, we conduct thorough market research to identify not only potential trends but also what our competitors have already tried. We draw inspiration from their success while avoiding explicitly employing creative cliches that have previously succeeded to develop extremely appealing advertisement concepts.”

    Josh Krakauer of Sculpt recommends creating TikTok-specific content because what’s created for other platforms may not be suitable for this social media channel. “Creative is the variable of success. In this case, native-optimized creative that feel like they belong on the FYP. Your posts and ads made for TikTok may work on other platforms, but the opposite isn’t always true,” Krakauer points out.

    “The solution is to start scripting, filming, and editing creatives with a TikTok-first mindset. Sometimes that requires breaking your established production workflows and having one person own videos from plan to publish. Another shift is finding your on-camera talent. Who is the person, or the people, that will share their POV, connect with the audience, and represent your brand in videos? Eventually, you’ll need to sort that out.”

    Josh Krakauer

    Josh Krakauer

    CEO at Sculpt

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    Even though UGC is, as our survey confirmed, an effective content strategy for platforms like TikTik, this type of content may not always be good enough to use for ads.

    “Although getting our users to create content is a great strategy when the creative is good, it’s difficult to get third parties to create compelling content. We overcome this by asking 5-10 users to do (with incentives for doing so), and we end up boosting 1 or 2 of the best. Unfortunately, there’s wastage, but the ROI is definitely positive,” shares Bloc’s Josh Wood.

    3 Expert Ways for Using TikTok Ads in B2B Marketing

    By understanding user expectations, leveraging trends, and experimenting with different approaches, you can create compelling ad campaigns that capture the attention and engagement of TikTok users, ultimately leading to more successful outcomes.

    We asked successful marketers to share their best tactics for creating effective TikTok ads for B2B brands. Here’s what they said.

    Ads for Raising Awareness

    As platforms like LinkedIn typically require more formal content, TikTok can be ideal for diversifying your marketing plan and testing various formats and ideas that may not work well elsewhere. Even humanizing your brand and embracing humor can help reach different segments of your audience.

    Kurt Uhlir of Kurtuhlir that this diversification can have good results.

    “I concentrated on using additional social media sites to diversify the marketing plan. Although TikTok might not be the best medium for B2B marketing, other sites like LinkedIn and Twitter offer a more formal and business-focused atmosphere,” says Uhlir and elaborates:

    “I carried out in-depth market research to determine the platforms that the target demographic favored, and I then created interesting material that was specifically suited to each platform’s distinctive features. I increased the possibilities of effective lead generation and conversions by extending the marketing efforts across several platforms, ensuring optimum visibility and engagement with the B2B target.”

    Happy Cats Home’s Coral Hale leveraged the power of influencer marketing to build awareness.

    “It isn’t easy to make it on your own on a platform like TikTok. Especially for a B2B business. Hence, we partnered with a TikTok influencer to get the name of our brand out there. Influencers have a huge following. And they can be a boon for brands like ours.”

    Related: LinkedIn Ads Best Practices: 10 Tips for Running Successful Campaigns

    Ads for Optimizing Consideration

    Consideration-focused campaigns are designed to encourage potential customers to engage with your brand, products, or services on a deeper level before making a purchase decision. On TikTok, setting consideration as your campaign goal can have a higher ROI than going immediately for conversions.

    “The consideration optimization goal works well for us because it delivers our creative to more people for the same budget than the conversion optimization goal,” Oliver Cornelius-Knudsen of Scribe told us and proceeded to explain how his team tested consideration as the goal.

    “We ran an experiment comparing the conversion and consideration optimization strategies and found that for the same budget and using the same creative, consideration optimization drove 3x the number of views as the conversion optimization goal. While we do think that targeting is more effective with conversion optimization (we did not see 3x results on our 3x impressions), getting so many more views per dollar means that overall, consideration drove a higher ROAS and is our choice strategy.”

    Related: Using TikTok Ads with Databox

    Ads for Boosting Conversion

    If done right, user-generated content can be used for more conversion-focused ads. Success stories, according to Bloc’s Josh Wood, may perform very well organically on this platform, so you can later boost them to make sure you reach an even wider audience.

    “It’s effective coming from a real user of our platform, and using spark ads on successful videos, in terms of engagement, means we can reach our exact target audience knowing the content should do well based on the first 24 hours organically,” explains Wood and gives an example:

    “One video last month got 100k views organically on TikTok. This gave us the confidence to spend $1000 on it, boosting it to a further 450k people, who were our exact target audience.”

    Pro tip: To promptly understand what’s working and what’s not working for your TikTok audience, it’s key to stay on top of your metrics and monitor your campaign performance at least weekly.

    TikTok’s ad platform provides detailed insights into ad performance, helping you refine your strategy and optimize for better conversions over time. But if you want to have a complete, at-a-glance image of your performance across not only TikTok, but your other channels, including your website, we suggest a more holistic approach.

    Our free dashboard templates are available for different marketing channels, including TikTok.

    The TikTok Ads: Account Overview dashboard lets you monitor every relevant metric when running an ad campaign, from CPC to CTR to CPA. You can access historical data, compare your current performance with past campaigns, and keep track of total campaign costs.

    The TikTok Ads Engagement Overview represents a drill down by campaign, which allows you more insight into the campaigns you’re running.

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    Run Successful TikTok Ads with Databox

    Databox is a full-stack business intelligence solution that allows you to monitor your performance on any device and from any tool, all in one streamlined platform.

    With Databox, you can:

    • Easily connect data from various sources and pull useful information about your performance
    • Access 100+ native integrations and thousands of metrics
    • Build and customize dashboards to fit your needs with no coding or design skills
    • Use our pre-built templates with the most common metrics for various departments
    • Combine and calculate metrics from different sources for new insights
    • Access industry benchmarks to see how you measure against your peers
    • Automatically share progress reports with your team
    • Have a free setup call with our expert team

    Sounds like what you’re looking for? You can get started today by joining our Benchmark Groups. Compare your performance against other companies of your size or from your industry—anonymously! You may discover upcoming trends or understand why your metrics might be underperforming.

    Create a free account or simply log in if you already have a Databox account.

    Article by
    Stefana Zaric

    Stefana Zarić is a freelance writer & content marketer. Other than writing for SaaS and fintech clients, she educates future writers who want to build a career in marketing. When not working, Stefana loves to read books, play with her kid, travel, and dance.

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