Marketing on Reddit is a famously tough nut for Entrepreneurs – but with the right strategy, you can crack it. Join us as we show you how Jon Buchan, a copywriter who used colourful storytelling, subtle conversion strategy and trust-building tactics to do exactly that.
What’s best of all: you can use the same tactics and become one of the many marketing success stories to come out of Reddit. There’s no reason you should become one of the many who failed. We also wrote about marketing on Reddit previously.
Thanks to its actively anti-corporate audience, Reddit is deemed a no-go area by many marketers. However, the opportunity it represents is huge.
Consider this. Reddit has 234 million monthly users worldwide, who electively channel themselves into interest groups – i.e. reddits and sub-reddits – of varying specificity. It has a global Alexa ranking of #8. For the right marketer, this infamously anti-marketing platform is a potential goldmine.
Jon’s post wasn’t just a hit on Reddit – it also helped him score 653 new B2B sign-ups to his email list, and a similar number of requests to join the Charm Offensive Facebook group.
All this, through a channel that’s supposed to be kryptonite to marketers! Let’s talk through the tactics that helped his post win redditors’ hearts and – more remarkably – their email addresses.
Find the right subreddit
Jon’s target market is Entrepreneurs like you and I, so he promoted his posts across…
That being said, Reddit is full of 1,000s of niche communities, and it’s arguably easier to target other niches which are less saturated with posts by digital marketing folk.
Literally head to Google now and type ‘Subreddit [your niche keyword]’. Some will pop up.
It all starts with a compelling story
From the title alone – “The Drunk Cold Email that Changed My Life” – the reader knows there’s a compelling story here.
When Maître asked Jon about his approach to writing his post, he told us he’d accidentally used a tried-and-tested story arc formula: Identity, Struggle, Discovery, Surprise.
It’s easy to pick out these four elements in Jon’s story:
- Identity – “Cold Email” – Jon is an marketer/copywriter.
- Struggle – “I was desperate for sales after my word of mouth work dried up.”
- Discovery – “I was still tipsy the next morning and decided it was still a good idea to send it[…]”
- Surprise – “To my astonishment, it worked.”
Identity, Struggle, Discovery, Surprise makes for a fantastic story structure – but you’ll need to go further than that to write a smash hit.
Keep it Personal, Genuine & Honest
Above all, you need a story that’s unusual and interesting. If you can write a title that sounds completely unlike anything you’ve read before, you’ll be onto something. How often have you read about someone writing a cold email while under the influence?
Second, you need to write about true, personal experiences. Redditors have an infamous knack for ripping apart false claims. Aim, like Jon Buchan, to choose a story that shows you progressing from your most vulnerable to your most successful. Larger brands should note that personal stories from founders or senior staff are far better suited to Reddit than content relating to the brand as a whole.
Readers don’t just want to know what you’ve done – they want to know how it affected your life. This is why Jon mentions some of the major clients he’s bagged thanks to his copywriting tactics. A copywriting strategy is so much more interesting when the reader knows it earned the author an audience with Pepsi.
Jon tells us he adds regular splashes of humour to charm his readers – “I try to make them laugh within ten seconds.” He also notes that accidental is always more interesting than deliberate, especially when the results are life-changing.
Now you’ve got to win Reddit’s trust
However sensational your story, if it comes across as excessively self-serving or promotional, it won’t go down well on Reddit.
Jon Buchan has skillfully navigated this potential minefield by employing tactics to earn the reader’s favour.
Above all, he’s generous. Notice how he openly offers help to anyone who requests it. “If you […] have any questions, do comment below.”
We can also see an appealing openness in Jon’s willingness to share his intellectual property.
For example, the post includes a link to one of Jon’s cold letters, thus providing real value for the reader. Jon says he believes his generosity in showing and explaining his intellectual property is what convinced Redditors to “allow” him to include a link to his Facebook group, later in the article.
— Sally BridgesWickham (@SallyB_W) June 7, 2016
We can see another trust-building strategy within this very link. Notice how the letter template is shown via an impressed recipient’s Twitter-feed, rather than on Jon’s website. This provides evidence to back up Jon’s claims.
That Jon felt the need to use this tactic thrice in this single post (see the bottom of post) will give you some measure of the scepticism you’ll find on Reddit. The more evidence you can use to support your story, the better.
Engaging with the community
Achieving visibility isn’t just about getting upvotes – post comments count for just as much.
This is one of the reasons why Jon says he responds to all comments, good and bad. Every comment boosts his posts higher up the rankings, and this helps build momentum.
Engaging with the community in this way is also a facet of trust-building. It allows the poster to offer counter-arguments to negative comments, and it signals a genuine, ongoing interest in the conversation.
Perhaps most crucially of all, commenting back encourages more people to comment, as it shows they’ll get a response.
Conversions come last
Until you reach the very end of Jon’s story, you could be forgiven for assuming it has no conversion goals built into it whatsoever. This is no accident – the author wants to do everything he can to build trust before asking for anything in return.
As a matter of fact, the post caters for three conversion goals, executed via two links at the foot of the article:
We can consider the second link as relatively safe to include – really, it’s just asking Redditors to continue browsing Reddit.
The first link (to the Facebook group) requires greater delicacy, as it involves a jump from the relatively anti-corporate Reddit to Facebook, the ninth most valuable brand in the world.
The fact that Jon gets away with this can be put down to a combination of his trust-building work from earlier in the article, and the delicate way in which he presents the link. Note how he mentions the group is free in the preamble to the link.
That’s two conversions – but where’s the third? You’ll find it included ever-so-subtly, just after the jump to Jon’s Facebook group.
A few weeks back, Facebook released a new feature that allows group owners to make it a requirement for people to answer three questions when they request to join.
One of the questions people have to answer when they request to join John’s group is: “Would you like a magic email cheat sheet? If so put your email here, if not I won’t be too offended. ;)”
Those who say yes are sent the email cheat sheet, and that puts them on Jon’s email list. This setup allows Jon to build up his email list and Facebook group at the same time.
Not only is Jon’s Reddit directly earning him two valuable types of conversion: subreddit and Facebook group joins; it’s also providing an even more valuable conversion type in the shape of email list sign-ups.
The really artful thing about this conversion is its subtlety. It’s an optional email signup question, a few steps away from the Reddit post. It seems distant from the Reddit post, and yet it has encouraged 653 email list signups and counting, via Reddit.
Jon’s story shows how you achieve success on Reddit, through storytelling, trust-building and sensitive conversion tactics. The end result: conversions, leads and sales. Who says the world’s eight most popular website isn’t for marketers?
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I am going to tell you how Flixwatcher used an iPad, popcorn and Maître to build their mailing list from 0 to just under 5,000 in 6 weeks (including the prep)
Kobi and Helen were ready to launch Flixwatcher, a podcast for reviewing films on UK Netflix. Kobi had the idea to run a competition, except he wanted a competition which had a viral mechanism to it (More on this later).
I am also going to show how they managed to this with zero budget and they drove nearly 12,000 visitors to their competition page.
If you want to run viral contest on a low budget, this is the guide for you.
In the post, I will detail exactly how Kobi and his team leveraged free online communities to drive traffic to his page.
How Does a Viral Contest Work First?
It’s quite simple really. Competition entrants are incentivized to refer their friends in the hope of increasing their chance of winning the prize.
Think of it like a raffle on steroids, the more referrals (tickets) you get, the higher the chance of winning.
All this would have amounted for nothing had it not been for 4 weeks of preperation before the contest started.
Here is how it looked
Lets do a quick fire run down of what they did well
- Clear Call to Action
- Clear incentive/prize
- Appealing prize to their audience, remember they are targetting netflix fans
- Highlighting words for skim readers
- The competition was centre stage on this landing page
If you follow these steps on your competition landing page you’re starting off on the right foot.
Now let’s get to the nitty gritty of the marketing, arguably the most important part.
Choosing the right prize (Super important)
It’s true Kobi and his team did choose an iPad which is fairly broad in its appeal but to be fair, it was shortly after Netflix released their download for later series, so it was in the interest of super fans to join the contest. And they did also offer a year’s free subscription to Netflix. The key takeaway is…
Make it relevant – avoid the free loaders
The issue with choosing a prize which is not relevant is you will attract free loaders who are only interested in the prize and not your company’s value proposition. Not good when the aim of the game is to pick up potential leads.
Use Audiense to build a Twitter hit-list of influencers
Audiense is a powerful social profile research and automation tool.
Kobi had the idea to build a hit list of Twitter micro influencers who fit his target market.
These were people who contained ‘Podcast’ as a keyword in their bio, had more than 1,000 followers and tweeted in the last 30 days (kills the dead profiles)
We’ll show you how he did this in Audiense.
Head to ‘Search all Twitter’ in the Audiense menu item
Go to the advanced search on the left-hand side of the next page.
Select your search params, in our case we want…
Number of Followers: 1,000 +
Time since the last tweet: 30 days or less (So their still active)
Entity type: Person (So we don’t target companies)
Bingo. This returned for Kobi a hit list of 7,960 Twitter users who were likely to be active, influential and interested in podcasts. You can download this into a CSV, and then the fun starts.
OK – now what?
Good question. It leads us onto our next task which Flixwatcher nailed.
Before the contest started, Kobi and his team made sure they followed the influencers – of which there were a few hundred.
Over the course of 4 weeks, they personally engaged with many of their posts, liking, retweeting, replying those they liked. This meant, because of the genuine engagement, over the course of the pre-launch of the contest they began to accrue influential followers (those with +1,000 followers).
It’s a fairly laborious process but makes sense if you think about it.
Remember: On Twitter, only ‘followers’ will see posts on their newsfeed, not ‘followings’.
This by definition means you should spend the most time on those with the most followers.
Thanks to the personalised engagement. At launch, they had just over 400 followers.
Quick one – the principles of automating tasks
For every 1,000 people, you follow you can get between 1 – 10% to follow you depending on how targetted these people are, how good your profile looks and how many followers you have already.
Some of the tools we have used ourselves at Maître are MassPlanner, Tweetfavy, FollowLiker, Tweepie.
Be careful as Twitter doesn’t like it and monitors for aggressive following and unfollowing, especially on new profiles.
When starting, keep the stats low, 100 – 150 follows & unfollows / day. Slowly build it up over time.
During the preparation phase leave this automation running.
Yes but it doesn’t scale
Without forgetting Paul Graham’s famous quote on running a Startup in its early days.
This does actually scale…How?
On the day of launching they set up a Direct Messaging campaign with Audiense – another great feature of the tool.
It’s an automated direct messaging tool – I know it sounds a little spammy, and most people abuse tools like these.
But you have to think, prior to this campaign Kobi and his team had been carrying out genuine and personalised engagement with a real Twitter account.
This meant, on the day of launching he had a great response and conversion rate.
Here is an example of a twitter user with 6,000 followers who tweeted about their competition.
A tweet from this Twitter user has the potential reach of nearly 6,180 followers. Much higher than a regular twitter user. So it’s worth treating these guys with special attention.
Engagement drives referrals
Flixwatcher ran textbook engagement game. Within Maître, we have a set of automated emails which are triggered when someone signs up. This is the opportune moment to drive further referrals and remind people why, and how they should refer people. Let’s check out their email…
What they did right & the 3 things to remind people of…
- What the prize is
- How they win the prize
- Tell people how best they can get referrals (**Big bonus points for this**)
If you search on Twitter for your contest you will find a host of people sharing. Reply to these people. Thank them, tag other followers in the post. This all helps build the buzz.
As with all of the social networks, the more engagement a post receives the higher it appears in users timelines, especially within the first half hour. Do anything to drive referrals.
Submit to Giveaway Directories
That’s right. One thing Flixwatcher nailed again.
There are directories of live giveaways happening every day.
This is where you will find hungry giveaway junkies ready to share your product across the web.
- Free Giveaway Directory
- Slickdeals Contests & Sweepstakes
- Sweeties Sweeps
- Contest Canada
- Totally Free Stuff
- Contest Listing
- Giveaway Scoop
- Hyper Sweep
- BigSweeps.com – Sweepstakes & Contests
- Win Prizes Online
- Giveaway Cube
- Infinite Sweepstakes
- Giveaway Promote
- Just Sweep
- Contest Linkies
- Big List of Giveaways
- Contest & Sweepstakes
- Sweepstakes App
- VS Test GA Referrer
It’s fairly laborious but you will be surprised at the uplift in traffic. Another way it to use a virtual assistant to do this for around $5 / hour. You can find VA’s on websites like…
Is this achievable? Viral contests aren’t for every product, but one thing for sure is that the Flixwatcher’s tactics netted them 12,000 visits to their landing page with a 37% sign up rate. This is a great achievement and goes someway to helping validate their product and they now have an audience from which to promote any further product news.
If you liked this post you can subscribe to our newsletter and receive regular updates (don’t worry 1/week max. We are not THAT productive…)
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