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10 Learnings To Run Effective TikTok Ads

First off, this is what's working for me.

It's not universal.

But there is a lot here that will help you get a grasp of TikTok and gain traction.

1. Spark Ads

Spark Ads are when you run an ad from your brand, personal, or influencers account.

They’re effective because they’re raw, authentic, and blend in organically on the “for you page.”

As I’ve said before — the best ads blend in.

So, two takeaways here:

1. First, run it as a Spark Ad when a piece of content performs well organically.

2. When you garner UGC via TikTok or work with influencers, negotiate to run that content as Spark Ads.

Lastly, use your organic content as the testing ground for paid content.

If the engagement rate is high organically, running it as a paid ad is like adding gasoline to the fire.

Here's an article that will show you how to run a spark ad step by step.

2. Micro-Influencers Are Underpriced

Because the chances of going viral on TikTok are higher than any other platform right now — micro-influencers are the way to go.

For me, that’s been working with creators whose audience ranges from 5k to 50k.

I search by hashtags on TikTok and curate from there to find them.

Because TikTok doesn’t let you message creators directly on the platform, I find their Instagram or Email and message them directly.

I’ve collected over 5000+ emails using micro-influencers on TikTok and spent just over $1000.

Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the audiences overlap
  • Make sure they understand your product
  • Give them a value proposition to push in their videos
  • Let the creator be a creator
  • Have retargeting ads ready to go
  • Create landing pages specific to the value proposition you’re pushing (will increase CVR)

3. Organic Success = Paid Success

I touched on this prior...

But if a piece of content performs well organically, it will perform well via paid.

Plus, you can use that organic piece of content as a formula for your paid content.

Meaning, you can re-film it and test different hooks, value props, and CTAs.

4. Effective Targeting

I have found a few ways to target effectively on TikTok.

1. Interest-Based

I don’t go crazy here.

I pick one interest and skin it as much as possible.

For example: Marketing

I’ll select people who are interested in:

  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Digital Marketing
  • Business Marketing

I keep the interests between 3-5 and never add different interests that don’t overlap with marketing.

For TikTok, I want to keep “Available Audience” large and let TikTok optimize based on data.

2. Hashtag Based

The second ad group I have success with is hashtag-based.

This takes people who engage, search, or interact with content that uses specific hashtags.

For example: Marketing

I can target people who engage with content that uses the hashtags:




And like interest-based, I want to make sure the “Available Audience” is large.

3. Look-A-Like

Lastly, I take the conversions from both interest-based and hashtag-based targeting and create look-a-like audiences.

Currently working wonders.

5. Increasing Your Creatives' Shelf Life

I’ve noticed with TikTok that a creatives’ shelf life isn’t too long.

So, I wanted to find out how to preserve it.

Here’s what I’ve done:

  • I’ll switch ad groups for each creative (start with interest, then go hashtag based, then LLA)
  • I’ll film 3-5 hooks for every video
  • When the CAC starts to rise for one video, I’ll replace the current hook with a new one

This helped me drop by CAC back down to the target cost and continue running my ad for another month.

6. Test Campaigns and Scale Campaigns

I’m always running two different campaigns.

A test campaign and a scale campaign.

In the test campaign I’m doing a few things:

  • Always testing new creative (10+ at any time)
  • Testing different messaging, headlines, and landing pages
  • Testing different value propositions

For an ad to transition from the test campaign to the scale campaign, it must stay under a target CAC for one week.

When it does, it transitions to the scale campaign where I ramp up budget.

7. Optimal TikTok Ad Length

For me, the optimal TikTok video length is 22-30 seconds.

I use a video formula that Campbell Barron taught me:

  1. Hook
  2. Body
  3. Hook
  4. Body
  5. CTA

And squeezing that within the optimal ad length.

Here’s an article that discusses it.

8. Your Hook

On TikTok, your hook is everything.

And you have three seconds max to hook the viewer.

Here's how to find hooks proven to work:

  • Search a hashtag relevant to your niche
  • Curate hooks based on the top-performing videos
  • Alter the hooks to match your value proposition

Simple and effective.

9. Headline Length

Anything over 44 characters gets cut off.

Keep your headline shorter than 44 characters.

For me, when I A/B tested headlines under 44 characters and headlines over 44 characters — the average CTR was 1.1% higher for headlines under 44 characters.

That’s significant.

10. Match Messaging

This is something a lot of people don’t do but makes a significant difference in your conversion rate.

It’s Match Messaging.

Meaning, based on the messaging in your ad (creative and copy) — the landing page should match the messaging.

This way, the scent trail for the customer is the same.

Let’s run through an example for Marketing Examined:

  1. I’m targeting founders
  2. In my video, the value prop would be that I write case studies that help founders scale their startup
  3. The headline would say something along the lines like “A Founders Library To Growth Marketing”
  4. Then the headline on my landing page would say, “5-Minute Case Studies To Help Founders Scale Their Startup.”

And like that, the messaging is the same across the boards and cements the value proposition.

The key to doing this at scale is having a landing page template that you can duplicate and then plug and play.


1. Test running ads via Spark Ads.

2. Leverage micro-influencers.

3. Use organic content to influence your paid content.

4. Start with interest-based and hashtag based targeting then use the data to create look-a-like audiences.

5. Increase your creatives' shelf life by switching ad groups and using different hooks.

6. Use a test campaign to test 10+ different creatives, copy, hooks, and when it hits your target CAC transition it into your scale campaign.

7. Keep your ads between 22-30 seconds.

8. Use TikTok's search engine to find hooks that are proven to work.

9. Keep your headlines under 44 characters.

10. Keep the scent trail the same.

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Hey! I’m Alex, the Founder of Marketing Examined. I send these case studies to over 200k founders, marketers, and creators every week, straight to their inboxes. And if you want, I’ll send it your way too :)

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