Everything Our Paid Team Learned From Attempting a Reddit Advertising Strategy

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With a ranking as one of the top ten most popular sites on the internet, Reddit is undoubtedly an intriguing channel for advertising purposes.

However, the site can often seem intimidating, and perhaps even too random to create a cohesive advertising strategy. Plus, since its primary purpose is to expose viewers to the top-trending content of the moment, Reddit users are notoriously anti-marketing.

Regardless of its challenges, its potential advantages proved too good an opportunity to pass up. At HubSpot, we decided to implement a strategy to see for ourselves whether Reddit can serve as a promising channel for the future.

Here, learn what our team figured out about advertising on Reddit, and whether it’s worth the attempt for your own company. Plus, we’ve provided a step-by-step tutorial on how you can advertise on Reddit if you determine it’s a valuable option for your own company. 

The Strategy Behind Reddit Advertising

1. Identify subreddit topics which are well-aligned with your target audience.

To investigate the benefits of advertising on Reddit, I first spoke with Josh Chang, a Senior Marketing Manager at HubSpot. He told me HubSpot’s initial strategy on Reddit involved highly targeted campaigns on specific subreddits, including r/entrepreneur and r/sales.

“The goal of the campaign,” Chang explained, “was to drive awareness and conversion for our products. In terms of results, we saw cost-per-acquisition similar to what we’ve achieved on Facebook in North America, although we did notice a lower activation rate from Reddit — suggesting lower-quality conversions.”

If you’re interested in testing out a campaign for yourself, then, you’ll want to start by identifying subreddits which can likely help foster genuine connections between your brand and your ideal audience. Consider topics your target audience is most interested in, and make a list. Then, narrow your list by investigating how many subscribers each subreddit topic has, whether it’s relatively active, and whether self-promotion or sharing content is allowed on the subreddit topic.

Chang told me, “One of the main things we learned was targeting subreddits specifically was much more effective than broader interest targeting. However, this strategy requires a lot of research, and getting to know which subreddits are most relevant to your audience.”

Additionally, Chang said, “We noticed tailoring our ad creative for individual subreddits helped improve our conversion rates.”

2. Begin engaging with your subreddit communities.

Once you’ve cultivated a list of subreddits that are likely of interest to your target audience, it’s time to start engaging with those subreddit communities.

However, it’s critical you don’t begin by promoting your own content.

To build a level of trust and authentic connection, begin by upvoting other submissions you find interesting and that align well with your brand. Next, share valuable content — but not your own. Instead, post interesting content produced by other media outlets or blogs that you believe will be useful to your subreddit community.

It’s vital you genuinely use the Reddit platform as an opportunity to get to know your target audience before you offer them your own content. Not only will this show your community you’re not simply joining the site to self-promote, but it will also help you tailor your content more accurately down-the-road.

3. Begin promoting your own content, paid or otherwise, on the subreddit platforms.

At this point, you might consider simply posting valuable content from your company that you feel will benefit your community — for free.

However, you might alternatively try spending money on a paid sponsored post, which essentially guarantees your post will be pinned to the top of the subreddit. Here’s what a sponsored post looks like, for context:

In many ways, this post looks similar to all other Reddit content. However, there’s a blue “Promoted” tag in the top left, signifying it’s a paid ad.

In HubSpot’s case, we decided to test out the power of paid advertising on the site. However, it’s still critical you follow the steps listed above to cultivate authentic relationships with your subreddit communities.

Think of it this way — if I begin engaging with a brand on one of the subreddit groups I’ve joined, and notice they typically post helpful content (including content from other publications), then I’m much more likely to take notice when they pay for a sponsored post. If they appear out of nowhere, I have no sense of brand awareness and probably won’t trust the advertisement.

Reddit Advertising Cost

As of right now, the minimum daily spend for an ad on Reddit is $5.

Additionally, Reddit FAQ states, “The Reddit Ads platform uses a second price auction based system, which means you pay a cent higher than the next highest bidder. Because we are using an auction based system, there is a risk of 20% over-delivery when setting up an individual campaign.”

However, as of January 2019, Reddit changed their pricing model from CPM (cost-per-impression) bidding to CPC (cost-per-click). The CPC model will likely make it easier for brands to track conversion or traffic goals, and could result in changes in prices over time.

Advertising on Reddit: Worth it?

When I asked Chang whether he felt advertising on Reddit is a worthwhile investment, he offered a candid response, admitting HubSpot has temporarily halted its efforts on Reddit.

“We saw promising results,” Chang told me, “But because we were targeting specific subreddits, it wasn’t crazy volume that could really move the needle. However, we have on our docket to re-test Reddit to see if we can improve performance and scalability in the future.”

It’s important to note, there have been success stories — Findlay Hats, for instance, drove $28,000 in sales from one viral Reddit post.

However, most brands see better results simply by relying on Reddit for community engagement and brand awareness. Alex Berman found one of his free, unpromoted videos got 25,000 views when it hit the top of a subreddit — but, when he put $250 behind his Reddit posts, he acquired zero leads.

1. Make a company profile.

You’ll want to ensure you’re running advertising campaigns on your company profile, not your personal Reddit account.

Along with evoking a sense of professionalism, a company Reddit profile is necessary since users can click on your account and see other content you’ve viewed and upvoted — so you want to ensure that content aligns well with your brand. Additionally, when responding to comments on your ad, you’ll want to be able to respond from a company profile, not a personal one.

To set up a profile, go to https://ssl.reddit.com/login and fill out the Sign Up form, shown below:

advertise-on-reddit-step-one

2. Set up an advertising account.

To start advertising on Reddit, you’ll need to set up an advertising account. To do this, go to ads.reddit.com and fill out the necessary fields:

advertise-on-reddit-step-two

Once you’ve inputted your information and selected “Sign Up”, you’ll see an advertising dashboard, as shown below:

advertise-on-reddit-step-three

Before you can begin advertising on Reddit, you’ll want to add your billing information by clicking the drop-down menu on your username and selecting “Billing”:

advertise-on-reddit-step-four

Additionally, if multiple people on your team will be involved in advertising on Reddit, ensure you add users by clicking “Manage permissions” underneath your username, and then adding their emails and permission level (including “Analyst”, “Creator”, and “Administrator”):

advertise-on-reddit-step-five

Once you’ve clicked the blue “Invite” button, your colleagues should receive an email with next steps.

3. Find your audience on subreddits.

It’s important to note, you don’t want to spend money advertising on the homepage of Reddit. Reddit users visit the homepage to browse popular posts and trending news, so it’s too big of an audience for you to target your ideal persona.

Instead, you’ll want to explore subreddits to find your ideal Reddit audience. For instance, let’s say you sell e-commerce software. To find an interested audience, then, you’ll want to explore retail-related subreddits, such as r/retail (8.2K members), r/AskRetail (4.5K members), or even r/retailmemes (733 members).

Make a list of subreddits that might fit your audience, and then spend some time perusing the content that already exists on that subreddit. Does it seem to match content your customer would be interested in? Additionally, does it look like the subreddit community could be filled with high-intent prospects (like a retail advice subreddit), or is it too superficial for your needs (like retail memes)?

To help you find your audience, try a tool like RedditList to sort through various reddit communities and find the ones of highest value for you.

4. Ensure the subreddit(s) you find have enough page views.

This is important enough to warrant its own section: you can’t necessarily advertise on any subreddit you want. Once you make your list of potential subreddits, you’ll need to ensure it has enough page views to be eligible for advertising.

To figure out whether a subreddit has enough page views, consider that one Reddit advertising campaign has a minimum spend of $5, and it costs $0.75 per thousand page views. Additionally, you can purchase up to three months out.

With those requirements, you’ll need roughly 6,700 page views over three months to achieve the $5 minimum spend.

To figure out how many page views you’re likely to receive on a subreddit, take a look at how many users are currently on the subreddit. For instance, you can see at 2 p.m. on a Monday, there are roughly 2K users on the r/marketing subreddit:

advertise-on-reddit-step-six

Dividing 6,700 by 90, you’ll note you need roughly 74 viewers per day on a subreddit to reach the minimum requirement — r/marketing, then, is way over the daily required page views, but there are other smaller subreddits with only 5-10 users per day, which could make it more difficult for you to reach minimum spend. Plus, you want to choose subreddits that enable you to have the highest reach possible.

5. Set up your campaign.

Once you’ve chosen your subreddits, it’s now time to set up your campaign. In your account, start by clicking on “Dashboard” in the top left of your screen, and then select “Create Campaign”.

advertise-on-reddit-step-seven

Next, you’ll need to create a name for your campaign, a funding instrument, and a campaign objective:

advertise-on-reddit-step-eight

After you click “Continue”, you’ll need to narrow down your audience — including interests, communities, and device type — your budget, and your bid (the maximum price you’re willing to pay per 1,000 impressions). Additionally, you’ll need to figure out a schedule for your ad, including what time(s) of day you want it to appear, and when you want your campaign to end.

advertise-on-reddit-step-nine

Once you click “Continue” again, you’ll be able to add third-party trackers to distinguish how many unique web page visits or social media viewers you’ve gained from your Reddit advertisement.

Here, you’ll also either create a new post or upload an existing advertisement that you might’ve designed for another platform. Feel free to take a look at Reddit’s internal advertising resources — including Reddit’s Advertising Help page — to learn best practices when designing an ad for Reddit.

Once you’re happy with the creative assets, click “Review”:

advertise-on-reddit-step-ten

Once you’ve reviewed all the information regarding your campaign and have determined it’s accurate, click the blue “Submit” button to submit your advertisement for consideration. You’ll get an email once your ad is live.

6. Analyze your campaign performance to improve over time.

Once your campaign is up-and-running, you’ll want to track its performance. You can monitor within the Reddit advertising dashboard itself, as well as through third-party tools like Google Analytics. Additionally, ensure you’re taking the time to respond to any comments left on your ad.

As with any advertising campaign you run, you’ll want to use analytics on this campaign to iterate and improve for the next one.

Ultimately, it’s worth considering using Reddit as a platform for sharing content for the sake of helpfulness and audience engagement, rather than as a cost-effective advertising strategy.

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