The TikTok Ban: Influencer Marketing to Invest in Email Lists

There are 1.5 billion active users worldwide on TikTok, with over 100,000 of them being creators and influencers. With its immense growth over the last five years, everybody from micro-influencers to huge corporations has sought a piece of the pie.

The popular video app is the fifth most active social media platform in the world, just behind Facebook with 3 billion users, YouTube with 2.5 billion, and WhatsApp and Instagram with 2 billion, respectively.

number of users on social platforms
Source: Statista

Out of the 5.3 billion internet users, 23.02% use Bytedance’s video-sharing service. So, how can a platform as large as TikTok be at risk of being banned?

As you may be aware, this past February, the U.S. government threatened to ban TikTok across the country if its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, refused to sell. On top of this, President Biden signed a law requiring TikTok to be sold within nine months of the bill being signed. Even with a supplementary extension offered, this ban could happen as soon as January 2025. 

Still, ByteDance has repeatedly insisted it won’t sell and said that TikTok’s key asset, its algorithm, can’t be moved outside of China. Some are convinced that the company will ultimately sell TikTok, and there’s not much to worry about, but the verdict is still ongoing.

What does this mean for the hundreds of thousands of content creators, influencers, and small businesses currently using the app as a source of income?

In this article, we’ll look at what the TikTok ban means for influencer marketing, how creators can weather the storm, and a few suggestions on the channels that are more stable and fully owned by you. 

What happens if TikTok is banned?

If TikTok is banned, Apple and Google’s marketplaces will be forced to remove the TikTok app completely, and providing web-hosting support to TikTok will immediately become illegal. 

James Nord, Chief Executive Officer of Fohr (a marketing agency for creators), said that most big TikTokers don’t have large followings on other platforms like YouTube or Instagram. While some may already be funneling their audiences to these channels, for a lot of creators, this ban could mean going back to square one and building their audience all over again. 

“This will shut tens of thousands of small businesses down. They won’t get unemployment,” Nord said. “There’s no lattice of support for these creators.” Content creators who use the app as their primary social platform and as a means to make a living will see the biggest turbulence.

At the end of the day, your TikTok audience is not truly your own. No matter how many followers you have, they could be gone overnight if the app’s lights turn off. 

What does a TikTok ban mean for creators?

The loss of one of the biggest social media platforms will surely result in big changes for influencer marketing and the creator economy in the United States.

Influencers and small businesses will lose access to their audience if they don’t make an effort to bring them over to other platforms like YouTube or Instagram. Even so, these audiences can still be tricky to keep track of in a concrete way, and in many cases, the actual number of followers doesn’t matter to the brands influencers are doing business with. Engagement metrics like click-through rates, open rates, and sign-ups are where the real money can be made.

According to March 2024 data, more than 7M small US businesses use TikTok, the company reporting $15B of driven revenue in 2023.

TikTok does offer an analytics suite if you have a TikTok Pro account, but if the app suddenly vanishes, there’s no way to keep track of your analytics after the shutdown. 

tiktok analytics
A glance at the TikTok analytics dashboard.

This is why it’s becoming more crucial to diversify the channels you bring your audience to. As the world of social media has changed and will continue to change, it’s in the creator’s best interest to always have a diversification strategy. 

Migrating to other platforms will be the priority

If TikTok were to be banned, it’s likely that the first reaction would be a hoard of influencers and small businesses beginning to pivot and direct their audience to other platforms. Whether they’ve already invested here or not won’t matter. Migrating over will become the most important priority.

This could also include experimenting extensively with their spending and overall marketing strategy. If a ban were imminent, creators would have to diversify their social strategy across other platforms like YouTube, Snap, Twitch, and perhaps most importantly, their owned channels like newsletters, podcasts, and blogs.

Owned channels like these are generally more stable and give you complete control over the audience you build there. But because TikTok is a money maker for a lot of creators who make a living from the app, there’s still no reason to pull back on it completely if it’s still working for you (i.e., high engagement rate, steady traffic, and growing revenue).

In an interview with NPR, Prasuna Cheruku, who runs Diversifi Talent, said, “It could be $1,000 up to $15, $20,000 [per video] depending on the creator. The majority of the creators I work with are very stressed out and anxious it’ll all go away,” she said, if the platform is banned.

“I’ve told my creators from the beginning: Make sure you’re posting on Instagram, make sure you’re posting on YouTube just in case there is a TikTok ban.”

—Prasuna Cheruku
Influencer Marketing at Diversifi Talent

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There’s nothing inherently wrong about spending your effort building a strong audience on TikTok, but there should also be a focus on diversifying where your audience can find you. In fact, many influencers are already beginning to build their following on platforms like YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, Snapchat, and Twitch. Getting ahead of the curve and experimenting with other video channels will make the creator less vulnerable to something like a TikTok ban. 

Just remember that your focus should always follow your audience. If the tides begin to change, you’ll weather it better if you’ve got a plan already in place. Thankfully, there are other ways to build an audience online. 

Taking a multi-channel approach

Let’s be real for a second. Having to rely on one platform for your livelihood doesn’t feel good.

If you’re a creator, odds are you chose to become one so you could work for yourself and own your own fate. Because of this, you’ve probably got a scrappy side that will do you well when planning how you’ll build community in other areas of the internet and wholly own those distribution channels.

The best approach for the always-changing world of social media is to take a multi-channel approach. 

In an interview with MarTech, Susan Ganeschan, CMO of customer experience software company Emplifi, shared, “The brands are mature and know they can’t just be on TikTok. They also have to be on Facebook, Instagram, X, all of the platforms. They’re multichannel and very effectively follow the no-silver-bullet rule. They would experience a little disruption, but they would move on to the other platforms they can work with.”

When it comes down to it, TikTok creators won’t just disappear if the app is banned. They’ll find a way to migrate somewhere else. And if they want to control their destiny, they’ll see the value of owned channels like blogs and newsletters. 

Leaning on email marketing

During a 2020 survey carried out among marketers worldwide, it was found that for every US dollar invested in email marketing, brands earned 36 US dollars in return. Among the presented industries, the ROI was highest in the retail, e-commerce, and consumer goods sectors, with 45 dollars per dollar spent.

roi of email marketing
Source: Statista

Small businesses on TikTok may see the biggest benefit from investing in email marketing versus their lifestyle influencer colleagues. If you’ve got something to offer your audience, like a product, service, digital asset, course, or report, there’s a reason for you to invest in email. If you’re migrating to YouTube or Patreon, email is also a good play for capturing emails by offering your content ahead of your typical posting schedule.

There’s no shortage of techniques for building your email list with your TikTok audience. Our own Mika Morris talks about her thoughts on diversifying your channel mix and honing in on email marketing in the event of a TikTok ban.

“Influencers and creators need to focus on growing their email lists and diversifying their channels. Putting all of their eggs in one basket, no matter the platform is dangerous because they are at the mercy of the platform. If someone is on TikTok, there’s no reason they can’t grow their audience with IG Reels and YouTube Shorts. It can be tempting to go where the money is and focus all your attention there. But with the climate of the creator space, it’d be wise to diversify.”

— Mika Morris
Social Media and Community Manager at ActiveCampaign

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Leaning into email marketing can make the creator/viewer experience more personalized. Sending emails based on the actions your list takes on your email or website can strengthen the bond between you and your audience, building a community of people who truly care about your brand. 

With AI’s growing prevalence, a personalized touch doesn’t go unnoticed. Advanced marketing automation tools like ActiveCampaign can help you deliver stronger, more personal experiences for every customer—whether you have one or one million.

It’s all about getting the right content to the right people at the right time. ActiveCampaign’s personalization tags and dynamic content features make sure you’re always ready to resonate, engage, and convert.

contact tagging in activecampaign
Contact tagging in ActiveCampaign helps you send relevant content to your email list, no matter how big it gets.

Plus, if you’re new to email automation, we’ve got a library of 900+ pre-built automations for every industry, so you can get up and running with powerful automations right away. As a creator, influencer, or small business on TikTok, there’s no real reason not to invest in email marketing. Owning your audience is power. Building an audience around your newsletter, blog, or website is a good bet for long-term business growth.

How to build your email list on TikTok

So, how do you go about building your email list with your TikTok audience if you’re starting from scratch? There are a variety of ways you can begin collecting email addresses and incentivizing your following to subscribe to your newsletter

The core component is value.

Let’s say you’re an e-commerce business that has built a nice following on TikTok. You can offer product discounts if the viewer signs up for your newsletter. Or, maybe you’re an educational content creator. You can offer exclusive monthly content that only your newsletter subscribers will have access to. 

These are modern versions of a lead magnet, something a seasoned marketer has undoubtedly created a time or two. A lead magnet’s main purpose is to offer something valuable in exchange for the audience’s email address. They’re a tried-and-true way to build your audience over time. 

And the good news is that this doesn’t have to be time-consuming. You can tease this content, exclusive content, or newsletter by posting teaser videos to promote them. Let’s look at an example.

Mallory (@thepalatablelife), a TikTok creator and recipe enthusiast with over 1 million followers, started a “cookie club” where users pay just $2 a month for a new cookie recipe every month. She uses a simple CTA at the end of her caption: “The link to sign up is in my bio!” 

newsletter on tiktok

Once you click on the link in her bio, it’s easy to navigate, with her newsletter and website linked right at the top of the page.

tiktok link in bio

This is the perfect new way to bridge modern and traditional marketing while diversifying your channel mix and taking steps to own more of your audience. The TikTok ban doesn’t have to be a scary thing as long as you’re putting in the effort to expand the number of places where your audience can interact with you and your brand. 

Building your email list has a direct correlation to business revenue

TikTok and YouTube creator Mike Yanda shares, “Even as my YouTube and TikTok audiences have grown, it’s been my email list that has produced the vast majority of my business revenue. The great news is that you don’t need a large list to make a ton of money with email.”

Yanda chose ActiveCampaign because of the advanced features and automations that other platforms don’t have. “I made six figures in the first launch I ever did. I only sent eight emails to a list of less than 10,000 people and made over $137,000 in a single weekend.”

His video takes a thorough look at how you can begin building your email list with your TikTok audience. We recommend watching the whole way through.

Email is evergreen

Ready to begin crafting emails that make your audience feel like each email was written just for them?

Sign up for a free trial of ActiveCampaign and lean into email marketing today.