This is a guest post by Ryan Luedecke.
My name is Ryan Luedecke and I’m the CEO of a subscription service for jerky lovers called Sumo Jerky. As sole proprietor of a small bootstrapped business, I’m constantly looking for affordable opportunities to grow sales. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to learn I could run ads on Reddit for as little as $5.
Reddit is a gigantic online forum with over 5 BILLION pageviews a month. It’s divided into smaller forums, called subreddits, where people with shared interests can post questions, vote on topics, submit cool pictures, etc.
I use Reddit, for example, to participate in the Entrepreneur forum, the Paleo forum, and the Austin forum because those are topics that are of interest to me.
To date I’ve run about 30 ads on Reddit, spending about $400 and making over $2,200 in sales. About 15% of my monthly subscriber base is from Reddit ads.
I could’ve waited to share this information until I’d spent thousands of dollars and run hundreds of ad tests, but pay-per-click strategies change fast so I wanted to share a technique that’s working for me RIGHT NOW.
If you’re wondering Why you should run ads on Reddit, here’s a few reasons:
- Simple interface. Easy to get started.
- Low spending minimums. Start w/ as little as $5.
- Low priced vs other ad options like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
- You get to interact with potential customers in the comment sections of your ads.
- Don’t need a designer or developer. Just short text ads w/ one small thumbnail image.
Here’s the blueprint of how I made my first $1,000 on Reddit using what I call the “PIMP” method:
Plan for profit by finding your target subreddits.
Implement quickly by running $5-$10 ads in targeted subreddit.
Measure the ROI of each ad.
Plus up sales by investing more dollars in high ROI ads.
Plan for Profit
Invest a little upfront planning time to reap huge profits at the end.
Jot down 5 keywords related to your service. Example terms I used for Sumo Jerky - “jerky”, “beef jerky”, “office snacks”, “subscription box”, “paleo.” Enter one keyword at a time into the search bar and it will give you a list of subreddits where your keyword is mentioned.
Identify 15+ subreddits with people interested in buying your product. Typically the search results will show up to 20 subreddits where your keyword was used.
Read posts within each subreddit to see if people who read that subreddit might buy your service.
If a subreddit has potential buyers, then put the subreddit link AND subscriber total in your ad planner.
Subreddit links can be found in your web browser bar and look like this:
The subscriber count is listed on the right hand side of each subreddit. You should focus on subreddits with atleast 10,000 subscribers (also called “readers”).
Once all your subreddits and subscriber counts are added to the ad planner, sort your list of subreddits based on the Subreddit Score it calculates for you.
You will use this list of subreddits later to create VERY profitable ads. Now it's time to create the photo for your ad...so...
Take 1 selfie photo with your cell phone. Yes, I said selfie. Crop it or resize it to 70x70 pixels --the same size it'll be when displayed in your ad. Save it as PNG or JPEG format.
Guidelines for the photo:
- Use a decent cell phone camera.
- Take the photo from the bottom of the neck, up.
- Make sure the room is well lit or take it outdoors during the day.
- Make eye contact with your camera and smile.
- Use the camera flash to make it look more real / candid.
- Three rules: no blurry photos, no red-eye, and you have to smile :).
Once you’ve got your selfie, you should be ready to start running some ads.
Test $5-$10 ads to figure out which should be continued, reworked, or killed.
With your planning completed, it’s time to start your ads. First you’ll need to go to the Reddit ad page and click “Create an Ad.”
You'll start with the ad title which is the most important part of the ad. Study the advice here carefully and make sure you’ve written a bad ass title before you start ad testing.
Create an amazing ad title
Draft your title in Microsoft Word or Google Docs so you know the exact character count and can spell check it before copy-pasting into the Reddit title field.
Use as close to 300 characters as possible, spaces included - that's Reddit's character limit for self-serve ads. Longer titles are better, statistically, because more words are usually more persuasive. Plus, longer titles cover more visual space at the top of the subreddit and more likely to be clicked.
Introduce yourself and use your real name to personalize the ad -- people buy from people. Describe why your service is interesting, relevant, and adds value.
Write casually, like it’s an email to a friend.
Customize your title for each subreddit. Make it appeal to their interests. Use their slang if possible.
Include a special offer for Redditors. I’ve had a lot of success with “50% Off Trial” offers.
PRO TIP - Include a unique coupon code or tracking URL for each ad so you can track exactly where your sales are coming from.
Here's what a good title looks like:
Once your title is ready, you'll need to determine the type of ad you're going to run: text or link.
Determine the ad type
You'll need to choose whether you want to run a link ad or a text ad.
I’ve had success with both.
Link ads works like normal PPC ads where someone clicks the ad and is sent to your website.
Text ads click through to sales copy that you write and display underneath the title like this:
Advertisers with good websites should select the ‘link’ option, enter their website URL, click ‘next,’ and skip to the 'Upload your image' section of this article.
Advertisers with no website or with a poorly converting website should select the 'text' option and read the next section about how to sales copy for a text ad.
Write your sales copy
You've gotten their attention with your title, now it's time to make the sale. If there was something important that wouldn't fit in your title, this is where it goes. There's not a character restriction on your sales copy, so be as thorough as you need to be.
Be specific about what the buyer gets. Tell them how your service works and anticipate their questions.
Give some background about yourself and why you’ve created the service.
Include a price and a money-back guarantee.
Include a way for Redditors to pay or provide a link to a checkout page where they can pay. For simplicity, I recommend setting up a Paypal email and have buyers send money to it.
Share your contact info for follow up questions.
Here’s an example of good sales copy for a text ad.
PRO TIP - Click the ‘formatting help’ link to see how to format the text in your ad. For example, putting double asterisks around a word will make it bold.
Once you’ve finished drafting the sales copy , click the ‘next’ button. It's time to add your image.
Upload your image
Click ‘edit creative.’ Select the correct image type: ‘jpeg’ or ‘png.’ Click the ‘Upload’ button to add your selfie image -- important -- I tend to forget this step.
Here's what this looks like inside the Reddit creative dashboard:
He's a handsome devil isn't he...moving along...
Leave comments enabled
Comments are enabled by default so that Redditors can leave questions and feedback on your ad. This is a good thing as it lets you interact with potential customers, field questions, and eliminate barriers to buying that you might not have thought of when you created the ad.
I highly recommend enabling comments.
If you’re unsure about enabling comments, here’s a checklist that can help with the decision:
Again, I recommend that most advertisers leave comments on. I’ve gotten more sales when comments are enabled.
Once your image is uploaded and comments are enabled, click save. Now it’s time to set your target subreddit for this ad.
Choose your target subreddit
In the targeting section of the campaign dashboard, select ‘subreddits.'
Now review your subreddit list in your ad planner (supplied at the start of this article).
Start with your highest scoring subreddit and type its name into the dropdown menu. Select the correct subreddit from the auto-fill drop down menu.
Now it's time to set the ad timing and budget.
Set the ad timing and budget
I recommend that you start ads on Thursday with a 1 day duration because that’s when I’ve made the most sales. If you think your service would sell better on another day, feel free to try it out.
Once the ad timing is locked in, set your ad budget to $10.
Some subreddits won’t have enough impressions for you to run a Thursday ad and you’ll get a message from Reddit that says “insufficient impressions.” If that happens, you’ll need to pick a different day, extend the duration of the ad, or reduce your ad budget to $5.
You might have to play with the timing and budget a little to find a combination where Reddit has enough impressions available to serve your ad.
Here's what it looks like when you're ad timing and budget are completed properly:
Once you have your timing and budget set, click ‘create’ and then pay for the ad by clicking the little blue “pay” button in the campaign dashboard. I recommend doing this immediately because I’ve had some ads delayed because I forgot to pay.
Create ads for 10 different subreddits
Simply repeat the steps in this implementation section until you have an ad running in ten different subreddits. I recommend a budget of $5-$10 per ad for a total spend of $100 or less.
When your ads go live, Reddit will send you a link to the review ad and respond to comments.
Answer questions in the comment thread
Be polite and have a sense of humor. Some of the commenters might make critical remarks. Don’t take it personal. Answer all the reasonable questions & comments and ignore the others.
Keep track of frequently asked questions
Track common questions or concerns come up with potential solutions and note them in your ad planner. This will help you improve your ads and your website later on.
Once you're ads have finished running, it's time to measure their performance and find the winners.
Measure the Impact
Track key metrics to find your highest ROI ads
Once your ads are complete, you’ll want to review their effectiveness. This will help you determine which ads you should continue, which you should re-work, and which ads you should no longer pursue.
Add key metrics to your ad planner
You're going to want to track some key metrics so that you can quickly make decisions on what to do with each ad. Here are the metrics I recommend you track:
Spend: how much you spent in total on the ad.
Clicks: number of people who clicked your ad.
CPC (Cost Per Click): what you spent for each click you received.
Sales: how much revenue, profit, etc you made from the ad. Tracked by you, not Reddit.
CTR (Click Through Rate): % who clicked your ad. Measure of your title’s effectiveness and your service’s fit for the subreddit. Your target CTR is 0.50 or higher.
Sales Multiple: sales divided by spending. Not true ROI, but a good proxy. Your target sales multiple is 2x or more.
Each of these data points is available in your Reddit ad dashboard.
Click the advertising tab in Reddit and you’ll be shown all your ads. Then click the ‘traffic’ link on each ad to get its statistics. Here's what that looks like:
You can export the data as a CSV and copy-paste to your ad planner or input the data manually. I personally find it faster to just do it manually.
Review data for big picture learnings
Which subreddits have the highest CTRs? The lowest CPC? The most sales? Which ad titles had the highest CTR? Which discount codes worked the best?
Here are some examples of what I’ve learned during a big picture data review:
- Big trial discounts work: “50% off 1st month” converts 3x better than “20% Off for Life”.
- Images are important: Not including a selfie on one ad cut my CTR by 2/3.
- Targeting learning: Paleo, Keto, BuildaPC, and NoFap love jerky. Crossfit & Golf do not.
Add your big picture notes to your ad planner.
Once you have a grasp of the big picture, it’s time to drilldown to each individual ad and decide if you need to plus it up (replicate & increase the spend to $50+), rework the title (retest for $10), rework the offer (retest for $10), or kill it (stop running the ad).
Plus up the winners
Increase spending on your top performing ads and kill the others.
Now it’s time to make some real money. The formula is simple: find the most profitable ads, duplicate them, and increase the ad budget.
I'll give you my decision making framework, but you'll also need to use some judgement as the profit margin for your product may be different from mine.
When the CTR is >0.50 and Sales Multiple is >2x you know that Redditors are clicking the ad and buying the offer - this is a winning ad.
You just need to re-run these same ads, target the same subreddits, and increase the spend. Here’s how to do it:
- Find the winning ad in your advertising dashboard.
- Click ‘edit’
- Click ‘new campaign’
- Pick same subreddit and day of week as winning ad.
- Increase the budget to $50+
Here’s the decision matrix I use to sort through my ads:
After you’ve plussed up winning ads, you might want to take a look at some of your other ads and see if you can optimize them into winners.
Rework the ad title
If your CTR is <0.50 and the Sales Multiple >2x it’s worth the effort to try and rework the title.
Redditors are buying once they see your website or sales copy but the title isn’t getting enough clicks.
Try a new photo or use some slang in the title that’s specific to that subreddit.
Run another $10 test to see if you can bump CTR to 0.50 or more before plussing up the ad.
Rework the sales copy
A CTR >0.50 and a Sales Multiple <2x suggests you need to rework the offer. Redditors are clicking the ad but the offer isn’t compelling them to buy.
Reply to Redditors who commented on the ad and ask them why they didn’t buy immediately.
Consider adding different benefits to the offer or changing your discount to be more motivating. Run another $10 test to see if you can achieve a sales multiple of 2x or more.
Kill the ad
Seeing a CTR <0.50 and Sales Multiple <2x means it’s time to kill the ad. Don’t invest further time or money.
Instead of wasting time on underperforming ads, revisit your list of keywords and go through the process again: identify new subreddits, create new ads, measure results, and plus up winners.
In my experience, you only need to find 1 interested subreddit and write 1 great ad to make your first $1,000. I'm convinced you can do it.
Follow the steps closely and iterate until you nail it.
This post originally appeared on Ryan Leudecke's blog.
About the Author: Ryan Luedecke is the CEO of a subscription box service called Sumo Jerky. He also writes in-depth emails that help introverts like himself start their own $10,000 month online businesses.To get useful ideas for starting and growing an online business, join his free newsletter.