Best Three Tactics to Advertise on Twitter

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A Twitter post has a relatively short shelf-life, commonly referred to as its decay rate. In our experience, Twitter Ads decay to less than half of their effectiveness within the first few days after publishing, some even within 24 hours. In this article, we will give you three tactics that you can use to maximize the effectiveness of your Twitter campaigns.

Most Twitter Ads Do Not Impress For Long

Twiter Ad Decay Graphs

Here are two charts from a Twitter website card ad we recently promoted. As you can see, the engagement rate dropped sharply between Tuesday & Wednesday, and the conversions steadily decreased over the week. Moreover, by Saturday, the ad had lived out its usefulness. At that time, we changed the targeting parameters, and the ad received a little bump in engagements and conversions. However, the engagement was nowhere near the metrics seen when it was fresh.

Tactic 1: Create Hyper-Relevant Ad Copy

Hyper-relevance is certainly the industry buzzword of the year, but it rings true in so many ways. To give you some background on why relevance is more important today than ever before let us visit a term called “banner blindness.”

“Banner blindness” is a well researched and documented behavior where internet users completely ignore areas of websites where they expect there to be advertisements. You do not need a research study to tell you that internet users will ignore parts of a site (top & right) where ads are most likely to appear.

However, if you are inclined, “The Impact of Advertising Location and User Task on the Emergence of Banner Ad Blindness: An Eye-Tracking Study,” by Marc Resnick and William Albert is a good place to start. Their research concludes that banner blindness is in full effect when a user is actively participating in a task (reading friends posts), and an ad appears in the most common locations. Out of the 18 websites tested, the average attention time on the banner ads was approximately 0.36 seconds. That is just long enough to recognize an ad, and ignore it.

Social networks are trying to balance an experience between content created by a user’s network and inline native advertising.  The goal is to work around the issue of low engagement of banner ads. Twitter has built innovative formats that seamlessly integrate into the user’s content stream. The challenge for advertisers is to create content that is less of an ad, and more of an experience.

It is somewhat difficult to write about what type of content is key to your specific business, but I am sure you are already producing great content for your customers in the form of blog posts, brochures, customer guides, or product videos. Take some of that great content, chop it into smaller easy to digest formats and promote it through your paid channels.

Engaging Promoted Tweet

It is safe to say that low-value ads are dead, and we should be running our paid ads to promote well-written, relevant content that provides value & possibly even solves a customer pain point. I think that we should all aim for that goal. Moreover, when enough advertisers reach that point, ads will be less annoying and possibly even welcomed.  Take the promoted tweet by Marketing.AI pictured above. This is a great example of providing a useful resource for content marketers.

The key is to determine what type of content is most relevant to your audience at their current stage in your buying cycle. Once you’ve decided on what type of content to promote, let’s find out how to display it to that audience.


Tactic 2: Pinpoint Targeting

There is a public archery course located in the East Bay hills where anyone can practice his or her best Katniss Everdeen technique. When you first start sending arrows downrange at a target, you are not very accurate or consistent. However, over time you learn from your experience, take notes, and develop the necessary skills to perfect the craft. It is the same with paid advertising: research, test, analyze, and repeat. Remember, a strategy that performs well for one company may not work for you, so test as much as possible.

There are two methods to targeting, demographic and psychographic. Demographic targeting is relatively straightforward, with options for location, gender, language, device, and mobile carriers as parameters. You can gather insights from your marketing analytics report to determine your variables. In this post, we’ll look closer into the psychographic targeting options that allow you to be much more precise.

Available psychographic targeting options within Twitter:

1) Event Targeting
Twitter makes it easy to identify significant events through your Ads account. Navigate to Analytics > Events to see a calendar of upcoming events that you can target. If you are targeting a more specific customer, more than likely there are professional conferences, product releases, and other industry specific events that you can schedule your targeted ads around. You can search for these within the Event Targeting option.

2) Follower Targeting
Your fans have already demonstrated intent by following you, so why not leverage Twitter’s follower targeting option to find more people with similar interests. You can upload up to 100 Twitter handles to use as your target audience sample. Tip: Use your existing customers as your sample list, and uncheck the box for “Also target your follower” to exclude them from seeing your ads.

3) Tailored Audiences
There are two ways to use tailored audiences (TA). You can either choose to upload your lists or collect website visitors through a code snippet.

Lists allow you to upload your collected emails, Twitter IDs, or mobile IDs. Although Twitter states you only need 500 entries, we’ve found that a list of 600+ contacts will have a better acceptance rate. We have seen smaller lists be approved, then changed to “Audience Too Small.” You may have a different experience, but we recommend having an extensive list to be safe.

Tip: Plan well in advance and upload your list at least 48 hours before you want to launch your campaign just to be sure your list will be ready to target.

The second method of building lists is through installing a code snippet on your site. This approach allows you to create a visitor list, then remarket to people that have taken a specific action on your site. Your list will be ready to once it reaches a certain threshold.

You can build your lists from five different conversion types:

  • Site visit (e.g. visit a particular page such as your pricing page)
  • Purchase (e.g. hits shopping thank you page after checkout)
  • Download (e.g. downloads a white paper)
  • Sign up (e.g. subscribes to your mailing list)
  • Custom (e.g. any action that doesn’t fall into the previous four categories)

This is an easy way segment your visitors based on their behavior and helps ensure that your remarketing ads help move your customers to the next stage in the buying cycle.

4) Interest Targeting
Twitter allows you to target by interest based on 25 categories and 350 sub-topics within those categories. This is an excellent high-level targeting parameter to build upon with additional keyword targeting.  Remember that this is a very broad targeting method and should most likely be combined with one or more other methods.

5) Keyword Targeting
If you are familiar with Google AdWords, keyword targeting works in a similar manner. There are four match types that you can choose from, Broad, Phrase, Negative unordered, and Negative phrase.

Your campaign objective will determine which match type(s) you will use for your keywords. For example, you may want to use phrase match (matches keywords in exact order) when you are promoting a particular product you know people will be searching for (e.g. Nexus 5X).

A recent #PPCPodcast guest, JD Prater, wrote a fantastic article on Twitter keyword research. This is a great place to get started.

6) TV Targeting
Twitter’s TV targeting option allows you to target by network and genre. If you market your product or service towards viewers of specific TV programs, or genres such as sports, this is an excellent targeting option to use for real-time engagement. Make sure to schedule your posts around the TV shows you want to target since Twitter will only make that audience available at that time.

Tactic 3: Timing is Everything on Twitter

Circling back to how we started talking about ad decay, it’s important to serve your ad content to viewers at the exact time they are engaged with similar content. With search marketing, you know the intent of search through the keywords used, but with Twitter that is not always the case. Someone may click on a hashtag because they are following an interesting topic, but that action may not be indicative of their normal usage behavior.

When setting up your campaign, Twitter allows you to easily choose the date and time you would like your ads to begin and end. This helps you target your audience when they are most active, and not waste your budget on low-quality engagements.

To target the right audience, additional usage research may be required to understand their behavior in detail. Does your audience use Twitter for business during business hours? Or do they post casual tweets while out with friends after work and on weekends?

If you are not certain, or couldn’t gather enough conclusive data through other research, we recommend running tests to determine what time periods your ads receive the most engagement. Then from the insights gathered, you can schedule your ads to optimize your spend.


We covered three key tactics when creating your Twitter ad campaigns:

1) Create very relevant content that provides added value.

2) Choose the best targeting method that matches your intended behavior.

3) Make sure to research the best timing for your ads to run and engage your audience when they are most active.


I started my first web marketing campaign in 1997 and continue harvesting this fruitful field until today. I helped many startup and well-established companies to grow by applying innovative inbound marketing strategies. In 2001 I designed and managed development of the first automated Search Marketing Management System that opened a whole new era in web marketing automation. For the past 8 years I have been a Head of Marketing for a digital advertising agency, based in Canada. There, I founded the new Search Marketing Department which served over a hundred clients worldwide and tripled the Company revenue in the last 4 years. Currently, I live in Montreal, Canada. With the accumulated 24-year experience in all aspects of digital marketing and communications, I am ready to contribute all that powerful mix of skills and knowledge to your Business now - without a delay!

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