How to Use TikTok to Drive Traffic to Your Ecommerce Store

April 20, 2020 - Holly Cardewtiktok-for-ecommerce

TikTok is the platform where you can find the latest dance crazes that young people – and their uncoordinated parents – are desperate to learn. Or find funny cat videos.

More recently, TikTok has become shoppable.

From branded hashtag challenges to influencer marketing and shoppable links, TikTok is now open for ecommerce business. But how can you use these tools to effectively drive traffic to your ecommerce store?

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media app that lets users watch, create and share videos. The videos are typically between 15-60 seconds long. The app has a wide range of video filters and effects, and a large musical library – including many top hits. The video often has a musical overlay of top hits.

It is like a bitesize YouTube but really easy to use and really addictive!

TikTok has been downloaded over 1.65 billion times,  making it the sixth-largest social media platform in the world. It had 738 million downloads in 2019 alone and was the second most downloaded app last year.

It is so popular that the Washington Post has hired a TikTok expert – who produces very funny content – and Buzzfeed recruited teenagers to cover the US election on the platform. Kylie Jenner, Reese Witherspoon, and Snoop Dogg all have accounts.

@washingtonpostSomeone check on Dave ##lifeathome ##newspaper♬ original sound – wookybee_official

@washingtonpost😦 ##happyathome♬ Muhammad – nofiljutt53

@washingtonpostWe got some great footage of George Kittle though @49ers ##somethingamazing♬ original sound – landon.rowles

Create unique content

At its core, TikTok is about fun and visually appealing content. When you scroll down TikTok’s Discover (AKA For You) feed, you will find a wide variety of videos, from incredible yoga moves to original stand up comedy and cooking tutorials.

Creating your own content is an easy and inexpensive way to promote your business on TikTok – all you need is a smartphone.

TikTok is a place for authentic engagement. So unlike Instagram or YouTube, you don’t need to create highly-polished videos. Instead, you should focus on originality.

Take the NFL, for example. They have gained a huge following on TikTok by sharing funny candid moments and amazing behind-the-scenes content.

@nfl########♬ original sound – nfl

Lush uses its TikTok account to show customers how to use their products set to popular music clips.

@lushDid you know we do makeup? @lushmakeupteam ##lushcommunity ##lushmakeup ##fyp ##foryoupage ##grwm ##crueltyfree ##beauty♬ original sound – lush

Top tip: Keep it simple. Don’t try to create a viral meme, especially if that is not your business style. Sharing a light-hearted ‘how-to’ video that shows off your products will seem more authentic and engaging.

Don’t dance if you don’t want to

You may have heard about the dance challenges taking over TikTok – with the Corona dance, Guac dance and #rightfootleftfoot dance among some of the most recognizable dance crazes at the moment.

TikTok is a place that encourages creativity – no matter how silly or ridiculous you think that it is. Lip syncing, dancing comedy sketches; there is no ‘typical’ type of content on TikTok.

For example, NGOs and international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) are using the platform to share important information about Coronavirus in a fun and engaging way.

@whoThese are 7 simple steps to protect yourself and others from ##COVID19. ##coronavirus♬ original sound – who

GymShark shares cool – and sometimes unbelievable – workout routines with their global audience. It also invites audience engagement as people want to try their own routine and share it with them!

Whatever you try, there is bound to be an audience out there.

Top tip: Keep testing. TikTok is still relatively new, so now is the best time to try different engagement strategies and campaigns. Let user reactions guide you on the best ways to engage prospective customers.

Add a link in bio

Just like on most social media platforms, there is a space underneath your username and handle for a short bio. This is prime space for you to link your website, special landing page or shopping site.

TikTok began testing ‘link in bio’ in November last year.  Larger brands like Ralph Lauren, Puma and Mercedes-Benz already have the feature on their TikTok sites, as well as some of the newer accounts, if you recently signed up.

The link appears between the “Follow” button and the grid of TikTok videos.

tiktok for ecommerce | link in bio

Now, it is slowly being rolled out across the platform. As of March this year, the function is being rolled out to all accounts.

Here is how to add your bio link:

  1. Click the “Edit profile” button on your TikTok profile page.
  2. Under “Bio,” you’ll see a field to “Add a website to your profile.” Insert the URL that you want to show on your profile.

As a result of this new ‘link in bio’  feature, it is likely that we will see more affiliate links and referrals on the platform in the future.

But users can’t see links on TikTok via web. GymShark has a link in their bio on the app, but you can’t see it on the GymShark TikTok via the URL (not yet anyway).

tiktok for ecommerce | website vs app
Website vs. app

A good way to get around this issue is to physically write your website in the bio – just like Britney Spears does!

tiktok for ecommerce | Britney Spears tiktok

Work with influencers

Working with influencers can be a great way to drive traffic to your ecommerce store. Not only have they already built up a loyal fanbase on the platform, but they can help you make a connection with the platform’s Gen Z users who are typically averse to anything that looks like traditional advertising.

A lot of brands have already teamed up with TikTok influencers to promote hashtag challenges or promote products.

Chipotle is probably the most prolific and successful example of the power of influencer partnerships.

They partnered with David Dobrik, an influencer with nearly 14 million followers, for the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge in May 2019. The challenge subsequently had over 100,000 submissions and 230 million views.

@daviddobrik##ChipotleLidFlip @chipotle ##ad♬ Flip – Future

Then in August 2019, Chipotle partnered with popular YouTubers Brent Rivera and Loren Gray to promote the #GuacDance dance-off challenge. It quickly became TikTok’s highest-performing branded challenge in the U.S.

It is pretty common for brands to partner with influencers – and TikTok makes it super easy through the TikTok Creator Marketplace. You can find the best collaborators for your brand based on data such as audience demos, growth trends and best-performing videos. After you have chosen the influencers you would like to work with, TikTok even helps with the necessary introductions.

Another example is Amazon’s #FoundItOnAmazon partnership with @glitterandlazers. In the video she showed off several different outfits and included a call to action for her followers to “shop these looks” via the link in her bio.

@glitterandlazers##FoundItOnAmazon. U can find everything there! Shop these looks with the link in my bio! ##sponsored♬ original sound – glitterandlazers

Top tip: Make sure that any influencer you want to approach has an audience that matches your campaign’s target audience.

Shoppable TikTok Ads

Last year, TikTok started rolling out in-feed shoppable ads on the platform. Advertisers can direct users to an external landing page or an in-app music page or brand account page.

In-app purchases help people shop quickly and easily, while also giving retailers – and TikTok – some valuable shopping data about their consumers.

Consumers are impatient – in-feed shoppable ads helps consumers complete the entire transaction process without ever leaving the app. It creates fewer steps to closing the sale, reducing the risk of people falling out. Consumers are used to making in-app purchases – Instagram and other social media platforms already offer this closed ecosystem shipping experience. Having a similar option on TikTok gives the user an efficient shopping experience.

But the success of shoppable ads depends on how intrusive they are to a user’s TikTok experience.

Add a shoppable feed directly to your ecommerce store

The next evolution of this is shoppable TikTok feeds. The latest TikTok Shopping Feed app on Shopify lets users shop your TikTok feed directly on your store and product pages. It also allows you to pull videos from hashtags and influencers who are using or wearing your product.

So if someone really likes a jacket in your feed, the app helps them find it – and add it to their cart!

Why should jump on TikTok now

TikTok was the second most downloaded social media platform in 2019 – and it doesn’t look like it is stopping!

In fact, two-thirds of its users are under 30, giving brands an opportunity to connect with younger shoppers more easily than on any other social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Even though there have been 1.65 billion downloads, the platform is still relatively new so it is a great time to experiment with your content.

One of the biggest reasons to jump on TikTok now is branding: some brands’ usernames have already been taken!


Although TikTok does not currently have ecommerce capability in its app and transactions are made off-platform, there are different ways that ecommerce retailers can add a shoppable component to their feed. We would love to hear in the comments below how you are using TikTok for your ecommerce store.


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