Nobody likes burning cash: especially on advertising. In this article, we’re going to look at the fundamental issues that are common to most self-serving ads that fail on Reddit. We’re going to look at the reasons why they have no chance of being successful, and what can be done to potentially improve their performance.
Here’s an example of a typical Reddit self-serving ad that contains many of the pitfalls that is common with poor performing Reddit ads. It is a classic example of what to avoid if you choose to setup an advertising campaign on Reddit.
This ad, known as a self-serving ad, can be featured anywhere on the page: top, middle or the bottom. Self-serving ads will always have the icon of a bullhorn, and will always include the word “promoted.” Other than that, they look just like any other post.
So let’s take a look at this ad in detail.
As you can see, it has zero engagement. Redditors are able to upvote and downvote ads just like regular posts.
So, what are the good things about this ad?
Well, it has something that may be considered to be social proof, which is really important. The statement “Trusted by 100+ agencies” is a powerful form of social proof that will resonate heavily with prospective clients.
Unfortunately, that appears to be the only good attribute of the ad as far as the Reddit platform is concerned. The ad could potentially do well on sites like LinkedIn or Facebook if the advertiser targets the right audience. But on Reddit, it has zero chance of being successful (in terms of clickthrough rate and conversion rate).
Let’s review this ad to see how it could have been successful in the context of a Reddit advertising campaign.
1. The headline lacks personality.
The language used in the ad is out of place on Reddit, and doesn’t blend in with the other posts. The average Reddit post tends to be personal, engaging and conversational. Posts from small, unknown businesses that read like a traditional ad typically fail on Reddit.
2. Cold advertising campaigns don’t work on Reddit, espeically if you’re a small, unknown business.
If the first time that redditors have ever heard of your small, unknown business is through a Reddit ad, they are not likely to trust you or engage with your ad, other than to downvote it.
Before setting up an advertising campaign on Reddit, it is critically important to first of all build trust and authority in your target community for at least 30 to 60 days. Reddit is a tight-knit community, and your audience needs to be familiar with who you are and what you do. In other words, you must be part of the community.
Now, these advertisers are a link building company. They should have taken the time to post quality SEO and linkbuilding-related content for a certain period of time. Linkbuilding is the toughest and most time consuming activity in SEO, and people spend a fortune on it. It is also highly controversial and people ask tons of questions about linkbuilding in dedicated SEO subreddits.
This company should have spent time demystifying SEO and link building in SEO-related subreddits. They should have taken part in discussions about linkbuilding, and answer questions from their audience about the importance of getting links from websites with high Domain Authority.
Now, domain authority is not common knowledge, and it is not completely trusted by SEO professionals because it has been manipulated in the past, and high domain authority doesn’t often correspond with high search rankings. This company could have also taken the time to properly educate their audience on domain authority and the role it plays in link building.
They should have also discussed the potential impact of getting links from DA30 to DA80 sites, and how it has boosted the organic search ranking of client websites.
It is only after building up a high level of trust and authority in their target subreddit should they have considered setting up an advertising campaign on Reddit. That campaign should have been focused on offering redditors a free PDF report about link building that includes actual case studies of websites that have increased their organic search ranking with links from DA30 to DA80 sites.
They could have done so in exchange for an email address which would have allowed them to build relationships with potential clients. Trying to sell from a cold ad on Reddit when redditors have never heard from you is going to be a complete waste of time and money.
3. The ad would never have succeeded as an organic post.
Openly self-promotional posts, whether organic or paid, never do well on Reddit. Redditors do not take well to any type of obvious marketing or self-promotional content. If you’re a household brand, you can get away with cold advertising because you’ve spent billions over the years building your brand, and every body knows who you are.
On the other hand, as a small, unknown business, you need a completely different advertising strategy. The fact of the matter is, if the ad had been submitted as an organic post, it would have been downvoted into oblivion and deleted by the moderators. So, if a post has zero chance of being successful as an organic post, there’s no point paying for the post to be visible because it is always going to fail whether it is an organic post or a paid post.
And that is the most fundamental reason why many self serving ads fail on Reddit: they have zero chance of doing well as an organic post.
4. There is no comment thread
One of the biggest flaws in the ad is the fact that there is no comment thread. Reddit is very much conversation-driven, and Reddit ads that have been successful don’t simply have a great headline. They also have an interactive comments thread just like an organic post.
When you encourage discussion in your comments thread, you are letting the Reddit community know that you’re willing to have a conversation with them to answer questions about what you’re selling.
Comments in your ad are powerful social proof. As other potential customers begin to see the number of comments increase in your ad, they’re going to click through to read the comments for answers to their questions..
You must allow for conversation. It is only people that are potentially interested in your ad that will post a comment, and other potential clients will see those conversations as social proof.
It is important to understand that if you’re selling anything on Reddit, redditors will want to ask questions about your product or service. They will have objections that you will need to overcome. They will want to hear from other redditors who are familiar with the product or service, because those people will naturally add their experience of that company to the conversation. They will want to see positive conversations about your product or service. That is essential social proof that will build confidence in your business.
If you want to sell on Reddit, you need to be ready to connect with your target audience and answer questions. The nature of the Reddit community is curious, opinionated, and vocal. It is conversation-driven. Redditors like having their voices heard. As a whole, Reddit is not simply about posting quality content, it is also about convesations.
Your ad needs to be conversational rather than promotional. As a small business, any ad you post that doesn’t allow conversation is going to fail in all likelihood.
5. The advertiser has no Reddit karma.
The advertiser appears to be one of those individuals that approach Reddit advertising in the same way that they approach Facebook advertising. That is a fundamental mistake. In all likelihood, they found out how cheap Reddit ads are, and wanted to use the opportunity to get some quick sales. This is just not how it works in the world of Reddit.
If you’re offering any type of service on the platform, redditors will click through to your profile to check you out. They will click through to find out more about you and what type of value you’ve been adding to the site. If all you have in your history are promotional posts, then it will be clear that you are not interested in providing any type of value on the platform.
Karma is like a recommendation from other Redditors that you have been contributing real value to Reddit. More than anything, it means you are a part of the tight-knit Reddit community.
6. The image is wrong.
Unless you’re a popular, household brand, using your logo in your ad is a risk, unless you’ve been running a very successful organic marketing campaign with that same logo.
If you’re Apple, Nike, Chanel or Amazon, you can get away with using your logo because they are massive brands and most people already have an emotional connection with those companies. This allows those big brands to use their logo on any social media site and they will get maximum engagement.
However, as a small unknown business, you need to have an image that people in your subreddit are already familiar with. So, if you’re using a logo in your ad, it has to be the same logo that you’ve used to build your brand in your subreddit.
Now, a smiling, engaging face is far more likely to get you better results, but if that is not possible, then you need to use that logo to build trust and authority in your target subreddit before you start advertising in your chosen subreddit so that users are at least familiar with who you are.
If you’re considering advertising on Reddit, it is really important to understand what you are required to do if you want to have a successful advertising campaign. Many self-serving ads that have failed on Reddit have done so because of the format and content of the ads, and the overall strategy of the users who posted the ads. They did not fail because Reddit advertising cannot be successful.