Winning in customer moments: why email and lifecycle marketing go hand in hand

Today’s hyper-connected consumers are creatures of habit: they journey through lifecycles on the premise of conformity and uniformity, yet they’re also impulsive. They want to do what everyone else is doing; and most of all, they don’t want to feel left out. Marketers can leverage these shared human instincts with the data they hold on their customers; not necessarily in a big brother-esque ‘freaky’ kind of way, but rather in a soft approach that taps into our human nature. Lifecycle marketing messages should be emotive, precisely because their intention is to encourage an emotional response.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘lifecycle marketing’, Smart Insights defines it nicely as a “Contact strategy to prioritise and integrate the full range of marketing communications and experiences to support customers on their path to purchase.” And we know that adding an emotive and personalized layer to the messaging that’s sent to customers during their journey can really pack a punch.

We have all experienced this personal touch from an email marketing perspective – that birthday email from ASK Italian that made me book a table, for instance; the one-year anniversary email of my India trip which made me book a trip to Russia with the same company! Many brands are effectively using their customer data to drive brand loyalty and ROI. Nevertheless, there was one particular example I wanted to share because I consider it to be an exemplar of using email to enhance your lifecycle marketing.

In 2013, Mothercare had 280,000 names in their database, but now they have around 11 million in total – 3 million of which are active. According to Marketing Director Gary Kibble, the “richness” is in understanding the value of customers. For instance, a pre-natal customer is worth three times as much as a customer that shops after birth. This level of understanding comes from looking specifically at what, when and why customers purchase. Subsequently, Mothercare has built a “rich, visual picture” of customers based on information on the stage of their pregnancy.

Leveraging the above, Mothercare has created no less than 200 triggered emails to inform parents about what’s happening in their pregnancy, what they need to be thinking about, and what/when/why they need to purchase. Knowing the due-date means that this close, emotional relationship can continue after the baby is born and, importantly, remain relevant to the customer. This ties closely to the idea that humans (generally) conform, are uniform, and are impulsive. Here’s a typical example:

“Hmm, yeah, we need a baby rocking chair. It would be weird if we didn’t have a rocking chair, right? I mean, most people probably get one.

“Oooh, I really like that one; shall we buy that one?”  

In conclusion, Mothercare has effectively absorbed their customers’ insight, matched it with their product knowledge and, as a result, produced a great relationship with customers. Any retailer can digitally enhance their email marketing lifecycle with the end goal of driving customer value and increasing ROI. Core belief: the devil is in the data!

If you’d like to delve deeper into the world of lifecycle marketing, get a free copy of our guide that outlines why email is your lifeline when making customers for life.

The post Winning in customer moments: why email and lifecycle marketing go hand in hand appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 2 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Is Australia the land of opportunity for your retail brand?

Australia has a resident population of more than 24 million and, according to eMarketer, the country’s ecommerce sales are predicted to reach A$32.56 billion by 2017. The country’s remote location in the APAC region means that unlike European countries or the USA, traditionally there have been a lack of global brands sold locally.

Of course, we also know that many expatriates, particularly from inside the Commonwealth, have made Australia their home and are keen to buy products they know and love from their country of origin.

All of these factors present a huge and potentially lucrative opportunity for non-Australian brands wanting to open up their new and innovative products to a fresh market, or compete for market share.

But it’s not just non-Australian retailers who are at an advantage here: Australia was late to the ecommerce party because native, established brands were trading well without it. Subsequently, Australian retailers’ ecommerce technology stacks are much more recent and not burdened by legacy systems. This makes it much easier to extend, or get started with, best-of-breed technologies and cash in on a market that’s booming. To put some of this into perspective, Magento’s innovative ecommerce platform currently takes 42% of Australia’s market share and the world’s first adopter of Magento 2.0 was an Australian brand.

The GST loophole

At the moment, local retailers are campaigning against a rule that exempts foreign websites from being charged a 10% general sales tax (GST) on purchases under A$1,000. And in 2013, Australian consumers made $3.11 billion worth of purchases under A$1,000.[1]

While the current GST break appears to put non-Australian retailers at an advantage, Australian-based brands such as Harvey Norman are using it to their advantage by setting up ecommerce operations in Asia to enjoy the GST benefit.

Australian consumers have also countered the argument by saying that price isn’t always the motivator when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

It’s not a place where no man has gone before

Often, concerns around meeting local compliance and lack of overseas business knowledge prevent outsiders from taking the leap into cross-border trade. However, this ecommerce passport, created by Ecommerce Worldwide and NORA, is designed to support those considering selling in Australia. The guide provides a comprehensive look into everything from the country’s economy and trade status, to logistics and dealing with international payments.

Global expansion success stories are also invaluable sources of information. For instance, it’s not just lower-end retailers that are fitting the bill, with brands like online luxury fashion retailer Net-a-Porter naming Australia as one of its biggest markets.

How tech-savvy are the Aussies?

One of the concerns you might have as a new entrant into the market is how you’ll reach and sell to your new audience, particularly without having a physical presence. The good news is that more than 80% of the country is digitally enabled and 60% of mobile phone users own a smartphone – so online is deeply rooted into the majority of Australians’ lives. [2]

Marketing your brand

Heard the saying “Fire bullets then fire cannonballs”? In any case, you’ll want to test the waters and gauge people’s reactions to your product or service.

It all starts with the website because, without it, you’re not discoverable or searchable, and you’ve nowhere to drive people to when running campaigns. SEO and SEM should definitely be a priority, and an online store that can handle multiple regions and storefronts, like Magento, will make your life easier. A mobile-first mentality and well thought-out UX will also place you in a good position.

Once your new web store is set up, you should be making every effort to collect visitors’ email addresses, perhaps via a popover. Why? Firstly, email is one of the top three priority areas for Australian retailers, because it’s a cost-effective, scalable marketing channel that enables true personalization.

Secondly, email marketing automation empowers you to deliver the customer experience today’s consumer expects, as well as enabling you to communicate with them throughout the lifecycle. Check out our ‘Do customer experience masters really exist?’ whitepaper for some real-life success stories.

Like the Magento platform, dotmailer is set up to handle multiple languages, regions and accounts, and is designed to grow with you.

In summary, there’s great scope for ecommerce success in Australia, whether you’re a native bricks-and-mortar retailer, a start-up or a non-Australian merchant. The barriers to cross-border trade are falling and Australia is one of APAC’s most developed regions in terms of purchasing power and tech savviness.

We recently worked with ecommerce expert Chloe Thomas to produce a whitepaper on cross-border trade, which goes into much more detail on how to market and sell successfully in new territories. You can download a free copy here.

[1] Australian Passport 2015: Cross-Border Trading Report

[2] Australian Passport 2015: Cross-Border Trading Report

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

How To Tap Into Social Norms to Build a Strong Brand

Posted by bridget.randolph

In recent years there has been a necessary shift in the way businesses advertise themselves to consumers, thanks to the increasingly common information overload experienced by the average person.

In 1945, just after WWII, the
annual total ad spend in the United States was about $2.8 billion (that’s around $36.8 million before the adjustment for inflation). In 2013, it was around $140 billion.

Don’t forget that this is just paid media advertising; it doesn’t include the many types of earned coverage like search, social, email, supermarket displays, direct mail and so on. Alongside the growth in media spends is a growth in the sheer volume of products available, which is made possible by increasingly sophisticated technologies for sales, inventory, delivery and so on.

What does this mean? Well, simply that the strategy of ‘just buy some ads and sell the benefits’ isn’t enough anymore: you’ll be lost in the noise. How can a brand retain customers and create loyalty in an atmosphere where everyone else has a better offer? Through tapping into the psychology of social relationships.


Imagine that you are at home for Thanksgiving, and your mother has pulled out all the stops to lovingly craft the most delicious, intricate dinner ever known to man. You and your family have enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of socializing and snacking on leftovers and watching football, and now it’s time to leave. As you hug your parents goodbye, you take out your wallet. “How much do I owe you for all the love and time you put into this wonderful afternoon?” you ask. “$100 for the food? here, have $50 more as a thank you for the great hospitality!” How would your mother respond to such an offer? I don’t know about your mother, but my mom would be deeply offended.

New scenario: You’ve gone to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s the most delicious dinner you’ve ever had, the atmosphere is great with the football playing in the background, and best of all, your server is attentive, warm, and maternal. You feel right at home. At the end of the meal, you give her a hug and thank her for the delicious meal before leaving. She calls the cops and has you arrested for a dine-and-dash.

And herein lies the difference between social norms and market norms.

Social norms vs. market norms

The Thanksgiving dinner example is one which I’ve borrowed from a book by Dan Ariely,
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions. Ariely discusses two ways in which humans interact: social norms and market norms.


Social norms
, as Ariely explains, “are wrapped up in our social nature and our need for community. They are usually warm and fuzzy. Instant paybacks are not required.” Examples would be: helping a friend move house, babysitting your grandchild, having your parents over for dinner. There is an implied reciprocity on some level but it is not instantaneous nor is it expected that the action will be repaid on a financial level. These are the sort of relationships and interactions we expect to have with friends and family.


Market norms
, on the other hand, are about the exchange of resources and in particular, money. Examples of this type of interaction would be any type of business transaction where goods or services are exchanged for money: wages, prices, rents, interest, and cost-and-benefit. These are the sort of relationships and interactions we expect to have with businesses.

I’ve drawn you a very rough illustration – it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing visual, but it gets the point across:

Market norms come into play any time money enters into the equation, sometimes counter-intuitively! Ariely gives the example of a group of lawyers who were approached by the AARP and asked whether they would provide legal services to needy retirees at a drastically discounted rate of $30/hour. The lawyers said no. From a market norms perspective, the exchange didn’t make sense. Later the same lawyers were asked whether they would consider donating their time free of charge to needy retirees. The vast majority of the lawyers said yes. The difference is that, when no money changes hands, the exchange shifts from a poor-value market exchange to an altruistic and therefore high-value social exchange. It is a strange psychological quirk that ‘once market norms enter our considerations, the social norms depart.’

Mixed signals: when social and market norms collide

In a book called
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout (originally published in 1981), the authors describe the 1950s as the ‘product era’ of advertising, when ‘advertising people focused their attention on product features and customer benefits.’ It was all about the unique selling proposition (USP).


In this case, the USP is mildness: “not one single case of throat irritation!” (image source)

However, as the sheer volume of products on the market increased, it became more difficult to sell a product simply by pointing out the benefits. As Ries and Trout put it, ‘Your “better mousetrap” was quickly followed by two more just like it. Both claiming to be better than the first one.’

They describe the next phase of advertising (which hit its peak in the 1960s and 70s and which we can probably all relate to if we watch Mad Men) as the ‘image era’, pioneered by David Ogilvy. In this period, successful campaigns sold the reputation, or ‘image’ of a brand and a product rather than its features. Ries and Trout quote Ogilvy as saying that ‘Every advertisement is a long-term investment in the image of a brand’. Examples include Hathaway shirts and Rolls-Royce.

Rather than the product benefits, this ad focuses on the ‘image’ of the man who smokes Viceroys: “Viceroy has a thinking man’s filter and a smoking man’s taste. (image source)

But yet again, as more and more brands imitate the strategy of these successful campaigns, the space gets more crowded and the consumer becomes more jaded and these techniques become less effective.

According to Ries and Trout, this brought the world of advertising into the ‘positioning era’ of the 80s, which is where they positioned (hehe) themselves. As they described this, “To succeed in our overcommunicated society, a company must create a position in the prospect’s mind, a position that takes into consideration not only a company’s own strengths and weaknesses, but those of its competitors as well.”

This one’s all about positioning Winston’s in opposition to competitors: as the brand with real taste, as opposed to other brands which ‘promise taste’ but fail to deliver. (image source)

And yet, despite this evolution of advertising strategy over the course of the 20th century, all of these different approaches are ultimately based on market norms. The ‘product era’ sells you features and benefits in exchange for money; the ‘image era’ sells you on an image and a lifestyle in exchange for money, and the ‘positioning era’ sells you on why a particular company is the right one to supply your needs in exchange for money.

Social norms and loyalty


When does cheap not win?
When it comes to social norms. Social norms are about relationships, community and loyalty. If your sister is getting married, you don’t do a cost benefit analysis to decide whether or not you should go to her wedding or whether the food will be better and the travel cheaper if you go to your next door neighbor’s BBQ instead. If anything, it’s the opposite: some people take it to such an extreme that they will go into massive debt to attend friends’ weddings and bring lavish gifts. That is certainly not a decision based on monetary considerations.

Therefore, if the average brand wants to get out of the vicious cycle of undercutting competitors in order to gain business, they need to start focusing on relationships and community building instead of ‘SUPER CHEAP BEST LOW LOW PRICES!!®’ and sneaky upsells at the point of sale. This is something my colleague
Tim Allen spoke about in a presentation called “Make Me Love Your Brand, Not Just Tolerate It”. And this is what a large number of recent ‘advertising success stories’ are based on and it’s the whole premise behind many of the more recent trends in marketing: email marketing, personalization, SMS marketing, good social media marketing, and so on.

Some of the most popular brands are the ones which are able to find the perfect balance between:

  • a friendly, warm relationship with customers and potential customers, which also often includes a fun, personal tone of voice (the ‘brand personality’) – in these interactions there is often an offering of something to the customer without an expectation of instant payback, and
  • a strong product which they offer at a good price with good ‘market’ benefits like free returns and so on.

One example of this is John Lewis, who have good customer service policies around returns etc but also offer free perks to their shoppers, like the maternity room where breastfeeding mothers can relax. One of my colleagues mentioned that, as a new mother, his girlfriend always prefers to shop at John Lewis over other competitor stores for that very reason. Now if this is purely a convenience factor for her, and after her child is older she stops shopping at John Lewis in favor of a cheaper option, you could argue that this is less of a social interaction and more market influenced (in some sense it serves as a service differentiator between JL and their customers). However, if after she no longer requires the service, she continues to shop there because she wants to reciprocate their past support of her as a breastfeeding mother, that pushes it more firmly into the realm of the social.

Another thing John Lewis do for their fans is the annual Christmas ad, which (much like the 
Coca-Cola Santa truck in the UK) has become something which people look forward to each year because it’s a heartwarming little story more than just an ad for a home and garden store. Their 2012 ad was my favorite (and a lot of other people’s too, with over 4.5 million Youtube views).

But usually anytime a brand ‘do something nice’ for no immediate monetary benefit, it counts as a ‘social’ interaction – a classic example is
Sainsbury’s response to the little girl who wrote to them about ‘tiger bread’.

Some of my other favorite examples of social norm interactions by brands are:

The catch is, you have to be careful and keep the ‘mix’ of social and market norms consistent.

Ariely uses the example of a bank when describing the danger of bringing social norms into a business relationship:

“What happens if a customer’s check bounces? If the relationship is based on market norms, the bank charges a fee, and the customer shakes it off. Business is business. While the fee is annoying, it’s nonetheless acceptable. In a social relationship, however, a hefty late fee–rather than a friendly call from the manager or an automatic fee waiver–is not only a relationship-killer; it’s a stab in the back. Consumers will take personal offense. They’ll leave the bank angry and spend hours complaining to their friends about this awful bank.”

Richard Fergie also summed this issue up nicely in this G+ post about the recent outrage over Facebook manipulating users’ emotions; in this case, the back-stab effect was due to the fact that the implicit agreement between the users and the company about what was being ‘sold’ and therefore ‘valued’ in the exchange changed without warning.


The basic rule of thumb is that whether you choose to emphasize market norms or social norms, you can’t arbitrarily change the rules.

A side note about social media and brands: Act like a normal person

In a time when
the average American aged 18-64 spends 2-3 hours a day on social media, it is only logical that we would start to see brands and the advertising industry follow suit. But if this is your only strategy for building relationships and interacting with your customers socially, it’s not good enough. Instead, in this new ‘relationship era’ of advertising (as I’ve just pretentiously dubbed it, in true Ries-and-Trout fashion), the brands who will successfully merge market and social norms in their advertising will be the brands which are able to develop the sort of reciprocal relationships that we see with our friends and family. I wrote a post over on the Distilled blog about what social media marketers can learn from weddings. That was just one example, but the TL;DR is: as a brand, you still need to use social media the way that normal people do. Otherwise you risk becoming a Condescending Corporate Brand on Facebook. On Twitter too.

Social norms and authenticity: Why you actually do need to care

Another way in which brands tap into social norms are through their brand values. My colleague
Hannah Smith talked about this in her post on The Future of Marketing. Moz themselves are a great example of a brand with strong values: for them it’s TAGFEE. Hannah also gives the examples of Innocent Drinks (sustainability), Patagonia (environmentalism) and Nike (whose strapline ‘Find Your Greatness’ is about their brand values of everyone being able to ‘achieve their own defining moment of greatness’).

Havas Media have been doing some interesting work around trying to ‘measure’ brand sentiment with something call the
‘Meaningful Brands Index’ (MBi), based on how much a brand is perceived as making a meaningful difference in people’s lives, both for personal wellbeing and collective wellbeing. Whether or not you like their approach, they have some interesting stats: apparently only 20% of brands worldwide are seen to ‘meaningfully positively impact peoples’ lives’, but the brands that rank high on the MBi also tend to outperform other brands significantly (120%).

Now there may be a ‘correlation vs causation’ argument here, and I don’t have space to explore it. But regardless of whether you like the MBi as a metric or not, countless case studies demonstrate that it’s valuable for a brand to have strong brand values.

There are two basic rules of thumb when it comes to choosing brand values:

1) I
t has to be relevant to what you do. If a bingo site is running an environmentalism campaign, it might seem a bit weird and it won’t resonate well with your audience. You also need to watch out for accidental irony. For example, McDonalds and Coca-Cola came in for some flak when they sponsored the Olympics, due to their reputation as purveyors of unhealthy food/drink products.

Nike’s #FindYourGreatness campaign, on the other hand, is a great example of how to tie in your values with your product. Another example is one of our clients at Distilled, SimplyBusiness, a business insurance company whose brand values include being ‘the small business champion’. This has informed their content strategy, leading them to develop in-depth resources for small businesses, and it has served them very well.

2) I
t can’t be so closely connected to what you do that it comes across as self-serving. For example, NatWest’s NatYes campaign claims to be about enabling people to become homeowners, but ultimately (in no small part thanks to the scary legal compliance small print about foreclosure) the authenticity of the message is undermined.

The most important thing when it comes to brand values: it’s very easy for people to be cynical about brands and whether they ‘care’. Havas did a survey that found that
only 32% of people feel that brands communicate honestly about commitments and promises. So choose values that you do feel strongly about and follow through even if it means potentially alienating some people. The recent OKCupid vs Mozilla Firefox episode is an illustration of standing up for brand values (regardless of where you stand on this particular example, it got them a lot of positive publicity).

Key takeaways

So what can we take away from these basic principles of social norms and market norms? If you want to build a brand based on social relationships, here’s 3 things to remember.

1)
Your brand needs to provide something besides just a low price. In order to have a social relationship with your customers, your brand needs a personality, a tone of voice, and you need to do nice things for your customers without the expectation of immediate payback.

2)
You need to keep your mix of social and market norms consistent at every stage of the customer lifecycle. Don’t pull the rug out from under your loyal fans by hitting them with surprise costs after they checkout or other tricks. And don’t give new customers significantly better benefits. What you gain in the short term you will lose in the long term resentment they will feel about having been fooled. Instead, treat them with transparency and fairness and be responsive to customer service issues.

3)
You need brand values that make sense for your brand and that you (personally and as a company) really believe in. Don’t have values that don’t relate to your core business. Don’t have values which are obviously self-serving. Don’t be accidentally ironic like McDonalds.

Have you seen examples of brands building customer relationships based on social norms? Did it work? Do you do this type of relationship-building for your brand?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Reblogged 3 years ago from feedproxy.google.com

The Advertiser’s Guide To Surviving Reddit

Posted by anthonycoraggio

If you’ve so far neglected the advertising and marketing opportunities on Reddit, you’re not alone. Historically, the relationship between Redditors and those who market to them has been contentious—Reddit is a cohesive community in a way that social platforms like Facebook or Twitter are not, and Redditors will fight to protect its integrity from spammers and lazy attempts at commercial gain. Done well, however, advertising on Reddit represents a tremendous opportunity. The site is one of the fundamental drivers of internet culture, and boasts roughly 115 million monthly unique visitors, low ad costs, and high potential for engagement and virality. Even better, Reddit is finally getting serious about monetizing the business and attaining profitability, rolling out new features for advertisers and even offering free campaigns for international advertisers to get started. Reddit can be a tough nut to crack, but handled correctly it can become your secret weapon—and I’m here to show you how.

There are three main things you need to know to successfully brave the brash, quick-witted, and anonymous crowds of Reddit as a paid advertiser.

  • The raw materials: What kind of inventory is there to work with?
  • The culture: What makes Reddit tick?
  • How to execute: Bringing it all together without ticking Reddit off.

Alright, pencils ready? Let’s get rolling!

First things first: Advertising options on Reddit

Before I delve into working with and advertising to the Reddit community, let’s get familiar with the tools at your disposal. Reddit offers a number of options you can mix and match as appropriate in the lifecycle of a campaign or larger marketing strategy – here’s a quick rundown of what they are and where they fit into the Reddit ecosystem.

Self-serve advertising: sponsored links

Reddit’s self-serve advertising is the best place to start for the novice Reddit advertiser. Cheap, easy, and surprisingly flexible, they are the “promoted post” of the Reddit world. 

A sponsored link, as seen live on Reddit

As you would in typical Reddit use, you have the option of submitting either an external link or an internal link to a text post, which users may then upvote/downvote or comment on. Your money buys you the top-of-page spot for your link in the feed of either Reddit’s front page or a topic-specific subreddit of your choice.

Cost

Reddit is currently offering a flat $0.75 CPM for self-serve advertising—you’ll get the same price regardless of the choices you make in targeting or content. There is a minimum buy of $5 for any individual sponsored link (which you’ll also have to pay for individually). This isn’t a big hurdle budget-wise, but can be problematic when there isn’t $5 worth of impressions left to buy in your chosen timeframe. Smaller, niche subreddits are particularly vulnerable to this issue, and it’s not yet possible to make multiple-subreddit buys through the interface. Plan early and don’t wait until the last minute to make your buys, or you might get shut out entirely!

Inventory is limited; act fast!

Content

You’ll be given space for a title and either an external URL or a text post. There are no hard limits here in character length like you’ll find on AdWords, Bing, or Twitter, but don’t get caught up writing a novel. Your title should be punchy and engaging to draw interest, and if you use a text post be clear and concise in communicating your message and actions for the reader. You’ll also note that you have an option to allow or disallow user comments. I strongly recommend you allow them to get the most bang for your buck—I’ll circle back to that here in a minute.

Performance data

Reddit’s traffic data isn’t the prettiest, but you’ll get a solid picture of spend, impressions, and clicks down to the hour. In general, you can expect clickthrough rates similar to most display advertising (0.10-0.20%), but exceptionally well done campaigns can reach far higher. Remember, you’ll need to manually tag your links before you submit your ad so you can track your campaign performance properly in analytics!

Restrictions

One more caveat—you can’t launch your ads near-instantaneously as you might on a platform like Facebook or Twitter. It can take up to 2 days for your ads to be reviewed and set live, and the interface will typically not allow you to choose same or even next day start dates.

Display ads

Display advertising on Reddit runs on the AdZerk engine, and is much closer to what you might find on a standard network, with a couple of twists. Users can upvote and downvote banner ads (the latter will block the ad for that user in the future), and while banner ads don’t quite fit into the normal discussion thread flow, each is linked to a unique comment thread on a subreddit designated for discussion of banner ads on the site.

Reddit sidebar banner, with downvoting options selected

To buy these ads you’ll need to get in touch with Reddit’s ads team directly—you can choose from homepage or subreddit roadblocks, individual banners, or the design and creation of cobranded ad units with the Reddit team.

Sponsored Q&As

Sponsored Q&A’s are similar to Reddit’s popular “Ask Me Anything” threads, but are set up directly with Reddit and targeted for promotion across select subreddits. These can run over the course of a few hours or a few days, with specified times set for your Q&A experts to interact with the Reddit community. You can check out an example here, a Q&A with the physicists behind the Higgs Boson discover for Particle Fever.

Right then! Now that we know what we have to work with, let’s learn how to be good citizens of Reddit.

Reddiquette for advertisers

I am writing this article both as a Redditor and a professional in advertising – I believe good advertising should bring value to the audience as well as the advertiser, and nowhere is that principle better enforced than on Reddit. Reddiquette is Reddit’s informal code of conduct—a codification of the values that have grown organically within the community. Taken as a whole, it creates an environment that demands five key things of marketers who want to participate in this community. Defy these at your own peril!

1. Bring something of value to the table

This is possibly the most important and fundamental law of advertising on Reddit. If you’re not contributing, you’re wasting your time. The essence of being successful in Reddit advertising is the same principle common to social media and content marketing in general: Contribute value to the community. As an advertiser you’ve already been marked “sponsored”—a potential invader to be scrutinized—and have to meet a high bar to prove you’re not a faceless corporate con man come to poison the well or game the system. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t sell a product; you just have to deliver it the right way, to the people who are going to smile when they see what it can do. For example:

The above image is an ad run on
/r/showerthoughts, “a subreddit for you to share all those thoughts, ideas, or philosophical questions that race through your head when in the shower.” Note the 323 upvotes, and the subsequent comments:

2. Be transparent

Don’t try to game the system or trick users into clicking to your over-optimized conversion page. Redditors live the internet, are thus experts at spotting cheap online marketing tactic, and you will get mauled if you contaminate their precious community with scams or clickbait. Instead, be honest, straightforward, and prepared to communicate. Who are you? Why are you here? If you are questioned in the comments, respond as a real person. This alone won’t guarantee you success, but it will earn you sorely needed respect.

3. Have a sense of humor

Redditors are for the most part here for entertainment, socializing, discovering new things, and generally just to waste time. If you get in the way of that or take yourself too seriously, they will take corrective action and you’ll likely wind up skewered in the comments. Take Woody Harrelson’s calamitous attempt to hawk the movie Rampart in an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA, in Reddit lingo) thread as a cautionary tale.

4. Speak the language

Know your subreddit’s culture—any specific rules, language used, common posts, themes, or memes. If you haven’t spent at least a half hour on that subreddit reading comments and following links, you’re not ready to run an ad there.

5. Roll with the punches

Get comfortable with anonymity and brutal honesty. If you screw up, Redditors will let you know about it. Sure, you could disable comments, but this is merely avoidance, and tosses out the baby with the bathwater. Think of this as the most honest focus group in the world—if Redditors think it, they’ll probably post it. Respond (again, with good humor), validate any concerns, and use the feedback to juice up your next run.

These rules can be a little tough to process if you’re not a Redditor yourself, so before we move on I’m about to give you the best assignment of your working life. Just use reddit. Find fun topics. Comment, post, and find part of the community that speaks to you. Native advertising works a lot better if you’re a native yourself!

Bringing it all together

Pick your audience and stay with them

Of course, to run an engaging promotion on Reddit, you need to start by talking to the right people and hold up your end of the conversation. You might be surprised at the breadth and depth of audience you can find on Reddit—yes, you will find a lot of geeky males aged 18-29, but the user base and the interests represented on the site go far beyond that stereotype. You can find subreddits dedicated to everything from ethnomusicology to baking. Take the time to do your research and find the parts of the community that will really care about what you have to say.

Once you find the right spot for your promotion, don’t simply fire and forget or use the same subreddits every time. Check back every time you launch a new campaign and stay up to date on the doings of your target subreddits—moderation controversies can lead to the breakout, similar subreddits with different standards of conduct that may be better or worse for your purposes as a marketer. 

For example, a banner ad for the film
Under The Skin featuring an underwear clad Scarlett Johansson was recently placed on the /r/gentlemanboners subreddit, which I expect the advertiser (not unreasonably) assumed would appreciate the ad. No dice—the subreddit is strictly PG-13 and doesn’t permit images without full clothing. The community and moderators responded harshly, and the ad was actually taken down.

Use Reddit as Reddit, not just another line of ad inventory

You can run basic, conversion focused ads pushed to a PPC style landing page, like the Audible and Aquanotes examples above. But don’t think of Reddit as just a set of ad inventory. Rather, consider it as a social ecosystem, enhanced with the power of paid promotions tools. You can still ultimately point users to a conversion, but don’t waste the opportunity to do more. Ask questions, share opinions, and start a conversation. You can also offer incentives unique to Redditors to make your message that much more special—this recent ad by Vodo created in partnership with Reddit is an excellent example:

There’s also a lot of value to be had in launching your content marketing into the Reddit universe to be shared, talked about, and built upon. It can be challenging to get off the ground at times, but that’s where the paid advertising comes in—point a few thousand users at your piece, hit critical mass, and the ball rolls from there.

You can also find success by intertwining organic and paid activity, for example, using a sponsored Q&A or paid promotions to redirect people to visit an AMA so others can tweet it, share it on social media, and multiply your impact. Degree antiperspirant’s clever use of an AMA with Bear Grylls is a classic example, sending Twitter traffic to the thread and creating storm of reciprocal visits and coverage across various channels. 

In a more recent example, Ethan Hawke’s AMA gathered 9.6 million unique viewers in 24 hours and generated press coverage that brought in 15 million more. Not a bad bit of marketing!

Parting words

Social media outlets like Reddit have done nothing more than they have scaled word of mouth marketing – to succeed in Reddit advertising, you need to understand the community and participate in it honestly. Don’t abuse the privilege of running ads here by spamming users with a hard or gimmicky sell—you’ll burn away any trust and goodwill might have quickly.To paraphrase Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, honest conversations from honest people about quality, relevant products and services are what shape opinions and produce results on Reddit. Go forth and be good!
Have a question or experience advertising on Reddit? Share it in the comments!

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