How to Generate Leads on TikTok, According to TikTok's Global Head of Product Partnerships

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Caroline Forsey
Caroline Forsey

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Welcome to HubSpot's Expert Edge Series, where we interview top execs at major brands to explore their perspectives on the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities shaping the industry.

A woman happily browses TikTok; TikTok leads

Ahh – TikTok. It's like the cool younger cousin you desperately want approval from.

In 2024, almost a quarter of marketers (24%) say TikTok yields the highest ROI, placing it right behind YouTube. Which makes sense: With over one billion users, TikTok is a viable platform for increasing brand awareness and reaching new audiences.

Free Ebook: The Marketer's Guide to TikTok for Business [Download Now]

Plus, HubSpot Blog Research found 14% of businesses rank TikTok as the platform with the highest ROI — and we'll likely see this number grow in the year ahead.

But the million-dollar question remains: Sure, TikTok is fantastic at showcasing entertaining videos, but can you really generate strong leads from the platform?

The short answer? Yes. If you want the longer answer — including how to generate leads — keep reading for expert tips from Lorry Destainville, TikTok's Global Head of Product Partnerships.

The Marketer's Guide to TikTok for Business

Learn how to make and promote content for your business on TikTok.

  • An intro to TikTok.
  • How to use TikTok.
  • Advertising on TikTok
  • Examples of TikTok for business.
Learn more

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    You're all set!

    Click this link to access this resource at any time.

    TikTok Can Do More Than Drive Brand Awareness 

    For starters, I wanted to know whether Destainville truly believes TikTok is a viable platform for generating leads. Because plenty of platforms are fantastic for brand awareness, but less powerful for lead-generation.

    Fortunately, Destainville told me plenty of TikTok's audience currently uses the platform to connect with new businesses and discover new products. In fact, Millennial TikTok users are 1.7X more likely to discover/shop products from creators they follow (vs. non-TikTok users).

    As he puts it, “Generating leads on Tiktok is an opportunity for businesses to drive that interaction with their new customers in a way that's really getting to the point where they can create that conversation, synchronize contacts and information from the user, and then engage in that conversation and drive to the sale.”

    I‘ll admit — I've seen the power of B2C advertising on TikTok: Just last week I purchased a much-raved about face sunscreen after seeing videos about it popping up all over TikTok.

    Ultimately, TikTok is a full-funnel advertising platform with built-in analytics tools to enable marketers to observe metrics like views, likes, comments, unique visitors, engagement, and reach.

    Plus, TikTok integrates with HubSpot, so if you're a HubSpot customer, you're in luck: You can now sync the leads you've gained via TikTok with your HubSpot CRM in real-time.

    Destainville also believes TikTok is viable for both B2B and B2C brands: "There's space for everyone. We have consumers, but we also have business owners on the platform, too. 69% of TikTok Monthly Active Users actually followed through with what they signed-up for on a lead generation ad — and within one billion active users, that's a very large portion of our user base. So there are absolutely B2B decision-makers within that audience."

    6 Tips for Generating Leads on TikTok, According to TikTok's Global Head of Product Partnerships

    1. Combine Your Organic and Paid Strategies

    At HubSpot, we‘ve found that polished, high-quality content oftentimes doesn't perform as well as more authentic, natural iPhone content on social platforms.

    Destainville says the same is true of TikTok, and he encourages businesses to lean into their organic content when they're looking to generate leads.

    HubSpot Video

    As he puts it, “What's interesting is that for lead generation, organic and paid work smarter together. Having some great organic content that can be useful in generating ads can be very empowering for brands.”

    He adds, “The ability to combine or optimize creative along with a lead gen call-to-action will drive to a much higher brand purchase. Put another way: It really is about the amplification of organic content through paid, which will then drive to earned media.”

    This is fantastic news for SMBs with minimal advertising budgets: It means an organic-first strategy will actually yield stronger returns than creating a brand-new, flashy advertising campaign for TikTok.

    2. When In Doubt – Go Natural, Not Polished

    As Destainville told me, “There's a desire or an ambition from businesses who are advertising with TikTok for the first time to have the most polished content, but that's not necessarily the priority, nor is it the ultimate best practice.”

    He continues, "We have some tips and tricks when it comes to creative, but we don't have the perfect formula to succeed on the platform. What I can tell you is that the number one priority is to be authentic. That's the true nature of the connection between any creator and TikTok's user base. Authenticity is the name of the game, particularly because it leads to a great deal of trust."

    Destainville believes a 20-second video created in the back of a car will likely work better than an ad that was shot in a studio. And that's great news for all of us: Less time spent producing and editing means more time to experiment on the platform.

    TikTok quote on how to generate leads

    3. Be a User First, and a Marketer Second

    Destainville acknowledges that it can be daunting when you begin creating content on TikTok, particularly when you acknowledge some of the more viral, engaging, creative content you can find on the platform. TikTok creators' are formidable: How can businesses compete?

    To get started on the platform, Destainville encourages business owners to watch TikTok content before they begin creating their own.

    He says, “If I'm a business owner and I'm going on TikTok for the first time, I'm going to want to pay attention to what the conversation in my industry is about. What do my competitors' post about? What are the ways they engage with the community?”

    I see his point: Last week, I tried creating my own TikTok account. And I watched exactly zero TikTok videos before creating my own. How did it pay off?

    11 views to-date.

    In other words: You want to see what resonates most with TikTok's audience, as well as the type of content that goes viral, before creating your own.

    The Marketer's Guide to TikTok for Business

    Learn how to make and promote content for your business on TikTok.

    • An intro to TikTok.
    • How to use TikTok.
    • Advertising on TikTok
    • Examples of TikTok for business.
    Learn more

      Download Free

      All fields are required.

      You're all set!

      Click this link to access this resource at any time.

      As Destainville puts it, “As a marketer, it's hard to fail – you want to go for metrics and demonstrate the impact of your decisions when it comes to creative direction … But I think keeping some room for innovation pays off, and it's okay to fail because it's a learning opportunity. And you want to learn these platforms as a user first – and a marketer second.”

      You want to see what resonates most with TikTok's audience, as well as the type of content that goes viral, before creating your own. At the same time, your content comes down to authenticity: If it's not authentic for your brand to be a part of a certain conversation or trend, don't force it. Rather than posting one-off videos with the hopes of going viral, consistently post content on a weekly basis to cultivate a sense of community.

      Destainville says, "The one thing I think businesses tend to get wrong is to try to create a viral moment or expect that it is going to happen as a primary KPI. I would much rather consider a steady volume of engagement with content on the platform to be a success, rather than a one-off moment."

      TikTok quote on generating leads

      4. Don't Just Copy-Paste from Another Platform – Lean Into TikTok's Uniqueness

      Finally, Destainville encourages marketers to ensure they're making content for TikTok's audience, first.

      As he told me, "When approaching a new platform — whether it's TikTok or something else — I think having an open mind to learning what's going to be unique on that platform and really leaning into that is going to be key. So don't just copy-paste an ad campaign that's been created for different platforms and carry it over to TikTok. Focus on TikTok's audience first."

      This makes sense: A TikTok user's expectations vary significantly compared to what they might expect to see on LinkedIn or even Instagram. Before considering how you can turn your audience into customers, you want to engage with them and entertain them — and that can only happen if you take the time to truly learn the platform.

      When asked what sets TikTok apart, Destainville had one word: Creativity.

      He says, “TikTok is the best platform to demonstrate creativity, and it only takes opening up the app to see what I mean. One example that comes to mind is how a subset of creators review certain songs produced in the past and add their own two cents – the creativity that comes out of that is absolutely mind-blowing.”

      To succeed on the platform, you‘ll want to lean into creativity, novelty, and playfulness. And, like any platform, the more you test, the better you'll get at understanding what works best for your audience.

      5. Focus on Your Form

      Beyond high-level strategy, Destainville has a few tactical tips for generating leads through TikTok. 

      His suggestions include: 

      • Visuals help. In your profile, make sure you create customized logos, as well as header and footer images.
      • In your lead forms, be conscious of the number of questions – set a maximum of six questions.
      • Use logic settings and custom questions with the advanced form to switch up questions based on how someone responded to your first question.
      • Leverage strong lead qualifying questions to quickly discern between qualified and unqualified leads.  
      • Link to your privacy policy to guarantee any personal information is secure in accordance to local regulations.
      • Include a review screen to ensure all information is correct.
      • Don't forget to say thank you!

      6. Set Up Your Campaign for Success

      As you’re getting started with your Lead Gen campaigns, set your daily budget at 10x your expected CPA. Use the dayparting feature if you want to launch on a specific schedule (i.e. Not weekends).

      When getting started, you'll want to use broad targeting to understand who your audience is on TikTok; broad targeting also helps you gain the volume needed to build retargeting lists based on interactions with your form during peak seasonal moments, which contributes to higher conversion rates.

      Additionally, consider leveraging spark ads to turn high-performing organic content into ads in an instant. And finally, integrate your CRM with TikTok to seamlessly and efficiently prospect and manage leads.

      As a Marketer, Get Good at Embracing Change

      “Over the past few years I've spoken to business leaders and marketers about the opportunity to be successful on TikTok, and you'd be surprised by the amount of people who respond, 'Oh, I'll ask my daughter to show me'”, Destainville told me.

      He adds, “I always think … Well, would you ask your daughter to show you how to spend multi-million dollar budgets on social media?”

      Ultimately, he encourages marketers and business owners to get comfortable with stepping outside the comfort zone and giving yourself the grace and patience to truly learn the platform and test different types of content.

      “Embrace the change,” Destainville says. “The brands who are the most successful on TikTok are the ones who take a leap of faith.”

      Ready to get started? Click here to start running lead-gen ads on TikTok and boost your content to new, high-intent audiences immediately. 

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