Every. Single. Week.
I hear the same nonsensical statements…
“You can’t market a business on Reddit.”
“Reddit traffic doesn’t convert.”
“You can’t *sell* on Reddit.”
It’s absolutely ludicrous.
Almost always, it comes down to a lack of understanding how the community works.
Today I want to clear up some of the confusion:

Marketing On Reddit, Surprisingly Straightforward?

First, let’s deal with the common misconceptions:

My target audience doesn’t use Reddit.
Reddit is one of the largest, most diverse online communities. The site is filled with millions of people that have separated themselves into individual subreddits based on interest. Quite literally, there is a subreddit that applies to any and every possible business demographic. Unless you sell products to people without access to the internet… you need to consider joining the discussion with your target audience.

Reddit traffic is low-quality and won’t convert.
It’s true — if you don’t understand how to effectively use the site, you will end up with a lot of — or very little — traffic that doesn’t convert. Normally, this is because you are posting the wrong type of content, or posting to the wrong places. Later in this post I’ll prove the above statement false with hard evidence. (Hint: The first four-figures of revenue for ViralBlogContent came from posting non-promotional content on Reddit.)

Reddit Marketing (Or Was That Advertising?) Best Practices

There are a few key points to remember when marketing on Reddit:
  • It’s all about value.
Just like any other channel, effective marketing happens when you provide serious value to the readers. Think of the people behind the *click.* If you were hoping to just post a link to your landing page, and have it upvoted to the frontpage… you are extremely mistaken.
  • It’s also about relevancy.
The subreddit’s audience defines what is or isn’t acceptable to post. This happens directly through subreddit-specific rules, but also indirectly through voting. (Hint: Research the subreddit you are targeting thoroughly, and figure out what works and what doesn’t.) It’s best to just observe for a few days — without posting — to understand the “personality” of each subreddit. You’ll notice they are all vastly different beasts.
  • No gimmicks. No tricks. No underhanded tactics.
Remember, Reddit isn’t your average social media site. Once you delve deeper into the community (into the less-popular, but more niched subreddits) you’ll need to drop the clickbait titles and low-quality content. Viral marketing on Reddit is a VERY different process than that of Facebook or Twitter.
Do you follow?
The foundation of successful Reddit marketing, in a nutshell, is producing and promoting awesome content. Awesome being defined as content that your audience will gladly consume, share, and enjoy. If you’re getting tons of negative comments on your posts, you’re doing something wrong.
Keep in mind: There are two different marketing options on Reddit. One is promoting your own content, adding your unique point of view to the discussion, and generating traffic through free content marketing. The other option is “pay to play,” where you can pick a targeted subreddit and have your advertisement (which looks just like a regular submission) appear right at the top of the forum.
There are pros and cons to both…
The Free “Adding To The Discussion” Angle
  • Doesn’t cost any money. This gives you ample time to test methods, see what works and what doesn’t… and therefore becomes more effective overtime.
  • Can help build your online authority… if you do it right.
  • Could potentially lead to a bad reputation for your company. But only if you break the tenets above, and use deceitful tactics.
  • Allows you to engage with your audience, through the comment section.
  • In my opinion: Establishes a more personal — and therefore valuable — connection with any new traffic. (Compared to an advertisement.)
The Paid Advertisement Route
  • More measurable, more repeatable, more scalable.
  • No chance of getting called-out for marketing on Reddit and earning a bad reputation with users.
  • Requires an upfront investment. (CPM bidding at a cost of $1 per thousand impressions currently.)
  • I’ve noticed less engagement through the comments on sponsored posts.
  • Has a much more *advertisement-y* feel to the traffic. No data to support this, but I believe this causes lower-conversions when compared to an equal amount of free exposure.
For most cases, your best bet is to start with the free angle, and then shift into paid promotion when you get the hang of things. Pro-Tip: The most effective paid campaigns on Reddit are those which would have succeeded as normal submissions.

Finding The Right Community

First off, you need to know which subreddit(s) to target.
This is pretty simple… I would start by coming up with a few generic keywords or topics that fit into your niche, and then see if there’s a relevant subreddit. The site is setup like so: www.reddit.com/r/__________ (fill in the blank with a subreddit name).
For example, if your website is based around eating healthy, I would see if there are any communities like /r/healthy, /r/paleo, etc. If you run a cloud computing service, you might have more luck at /r/android, or /r/technology… etc.
Now, you really want to niche down into a small but relevant community. It takes some experience to pick out the best ones… but for the most part you want a community with around 10,000 to 100,000 subscribers. The idea here is that you’re trying to balance the size of the community with your ability to get content on the front-page.
Larger communities have more traffic, but it’s harder to garner the upvotes necessary to hit the front-page, while it is very easy to promote content on smaller communities but there might not be any readers to see and click on your post. Don’t worry if your specific niche only has smaller or larger communities, it just means you’ll need to put in a bit more work.
If you’re having a hard time with this process it’s worth trying the official Reddit subreddit search engine… but I haven’t had great luck with it.
Another thing to keep in mind: Sometimes a subreddit will have a weird and uncommon name (even if it’s very popular), which will make it even harder to find. In this case, you may only find out about it when it is linked in the comment section of a different subreddit. (Key example: /r/loseit, a weight-loss subreddit with over 200k subs). Another good way to find relevant but smaller and more niched communities is by going to the sidebar on a more broad subreddit, and following the “link trail.”

Produce The *Right* Content & Share It

Now we’re getting into the more variable part of content marketing. What is considered unbelievable content in one community, may be down-voted into oblivion in another. This is where your deep market and subreddit research comes into play.
You need to have a first-hand understanding of your target audience:
  • What type of content do they tend to upvote (comedy blog posts, informative Youtube videos, self-posts…?)
  • What content topics are well received… which ones cause controversy?
  • What kind of post would work for YOUR desired result.
It really depends on your end goal. Are you trying to drive traffic to your blog? Subscriptions to your newsletter? Social media connections and shares?
A couple things to keep in mind when putting together a post:
  • Headline needs to invoke curiosity, or convey some benefit for clicking. Normally you should stay away from “Buzzfeed” type titles. They are often seen as annoying and will cause people to downvote or report you as blog spam.
  • The content needs to fulfill whatever “hook” you used in the title.
  • Don’t ever ask for upvotes.
  • Don’t offend people with your content or title. (Hint: Controversy = upvotes. Offensive = downvotes.) The key is treading the fine-line between the two.
If you’re interested in trying the Reddit paid advertisements, I’ve noticed that my most normal-looking links and titles received the best CTR, CPC, and conversion rate. Your best bet is to put together a killer piece of content, test it out with a few different titles by posting it to a bunch of different subreddits and see what garners the most engagement. Then, after you know what works, use the post that performed best as your starting advertisement creative. That way, you’ll at least be starting off on the right foot with sponsored posts.

My Experience With These Strategies & Data To Back It Up

Example #1) The Self-Post
How to use Reddit to market your business
I noticed the huge potential in Reddit marketing by chance. It all started when I posted a thread to /r/entrepreneur asking for advice, offering some insider-info on ViralBlogContent, and just generally seeing how the community responds to these type of posts.
The best part of this strategy is that you don’t need to directly promote anything. I posted a piece of relevant content (again, not magic, just contribute like any other member of the community), included a link to my site because it made sense. The post generated a few hundred clicks, a bunch of new leads, and two paying clients for the VBC monthly blog writing service.
I’ll admit — there was probably a bit of luck involved in getting that much ROI from one quick Reddit post. Normally, the results are not as large, you’ll generate a few hundred (or thousand) click and those will convert into a bunch of email subscribers (or some other micro-conversion).
I’ve been using this overall strategy for over a year now. And it continues to work to this day — because it’s not “marketing” it’s not “advertising” and I’m not “promoting” anything. I’m being an active member of the community.
Example #2) The Repurposed Blog Post
Self-posts on Reddits done right can bring in traffic
Worried about spending too much time creating content for yet another social media marketing channel? Don’t be.
There’s a quick and easy way to generate killer content for Reddit post… just look at your company’s blog. Find the posts that would work perfect for a Reddit audience. (Look for valuable posts that are short and sweet, you don’t want any fluff.)
Similarly, this is perfect for when a subreddit doesn’t allow link posts.
Just copy and paste the “meat” of your article into a new self-post… right an engaging intro paragraph or two and follow-up statement at the end to make sure it follows the community standards we talked about earlier. Then at the end of the post, leave a personal signature (that could be your name, website, or other identifying symbol… and link it to your site).
Think of this as putting the link for any interested parties to click and learn more about you and your business… NOT as an advertisement intended to garner as many clicks as possible. Remember, you only want interested people (these are going to be the most targeted and valuable clicks) to come to your site. That’s how you can balance the promotional side of your posts against being a valuable contributor to the community.
As long as your link, or call-to-action, isn’t too obtrusive… you shouldn’t have any issues.
(You’ll notice, I broke a bunch of the ‘rules to reddit marketing’ in this example. That’s because these first three examples are from when I was figuring out — through trial and error — what worked and what didn’t. I caught a bit of flak for it in the comments, but it still turned into a worthwhile post.)
Example #3) The “Parasite” Link Post
Another way to generate traffic from Reddit is to post content on sites other than your own (which promote your site). A good example of this is image round-up posts.
I used to grab a bunch of cool images from the older “top” posts on a subreddit, and aggregate them into a new album on Imgur (although you could use any image host, Imgur is the most common one on Reddit). Finally, just add a link + call to action in the image album that leads to your site.
That way, people who enjoy your post will upvote (without being bothered by the minor link) and the people who are interested in your site will click through. You’d be surprised how large of a percentage of people will notice even the smallest call to action.
The key here, once again, is balancing promoting with the value of your content.
Example #4) The Promoted Link Post
Finally, once you get the hang of Reddit content marketing through free avenues… now it’s time to step your game up and enter the paid promotion arena.
Note: If you’re able to generate adequate profitable traffic through the free strategies, you don’t necessarily need to start paying for your traffic. But it’s an option for additional exposure to the larger and tougher moderated subreddits.
I’ve been taking a slightly different approach to my paid posts. Because each click is essentially costing me money, and I have the ability to laser target the traffic to a specific subreddit, I’ve focused on converting as many people as possible into email subscribers. The reason why this works for paid posts is that they show up regardless of upvotes/downvotes, and you can control 100% of the experience following the ad click.
Keep in mind, you could just promote regular content through the paid channels, but unless you have a site optimized for massive social shares (and other conversions)… it may prove to be unprofitable.
I’ve been testing two different methods: sending traffic to a landing page to drive email opt-ins, and a long-form sales letter that educates and moves the visitor to sign up for a free consultation about content marketing.
If I had to guess, the optimal paid link method for Reddit will end up being a mixture between content + conversion. I think a page that offers insane value while also optimized for email opt-ins will lead the the best long-term ROI. (I’m working on that for my next campaign.)

Conclusion

To summarize effective Reddit marketing:
  1. Focus on adding value.
  2. Be relevant.
  3. Don’t use gimmicks.
  4. “Produce and promote awesome content.”
  5. Find the *right* community — it makes all the difference.
  6. Test, test, test… with the free approach, then try sponsored posts.
Hopefully you’ve gained some valuable insight from this post. At the very least, take this as an example that there is a *goldmine* of potential traffic over at Reddit waiting to be discovered. And trust me, there are plenty of smart marketers already taking advantage as you read this… in fact, the best ones are going unnoticed (ironic much?).
If you enjoyed this post, please share it because it helps me figure out what kind of content to produce in the future.