The Reddit Effect: What One Popular Post Can Do For Your Website Traffic
Reddit, the front page of the internet, and a great way to get lost in pointless articles and cat videos, is also a powerful tool for internet marketers when utilized properly.
For those unfamiliar with Reddit, it is a website that curates article links and text posts into various categories and then allows its users to upvote or downvote these posts. The more a post is upvoted, the closer to the front page it goes, and the more popular it becomes. Get a post to the front page and you’re in for a serious traffic boost.
Personally I have never had a post reach the front page of Reddit, but reaching the front page should always be the goal when creating content that you plan to share on the site. Not every piece of content you create will necessarily fit well with the Reddit community, so be sure to get to know your audience and tailor your content specifically to what has worked in the past.
So even though I have never had a post reach the front page of Reddit, I recently had a post do pretty well in a pretty popular sub-reddit (category), which lead to a pretty large boost in traffic, which in turn lead to a large boost in conversions.
Unfortunately, at this time, I’m not going to disclose the real-life site and Reddit post that caused this spike, but I will give you the real-life numbers and percentages to show you just how powerful Reddit can be.
Without giving away the name or URL of the site we’re going to start with a bit of basic information about the site.
The site topic pertains to a very popular niche today, so the market is extremely competitive. I knew that promoting and growing the site would be difficult, so I tried to put a slight twist on it, compared to what everyone else was doing.
The site was created originally in 2011, but there weren’t regular posts being published until a couple years later. The site was all over the place for a while, no regular updates, just random posts here and there, but it still managed to pull in a fair amount of traffic.
In 2016, from January through the end of June, the site received 12,765 visits and 18,308 pageviews. For the month of June received 1,947 visits and 2,362 pageviews. The goal for the rest of the year was to try and double those numbers by publishing more posts and promoting them in different/better ways. Most of the previous promotion was done strictly through social media, which would do well for some posts, but it wasn’t consistent.
In an effort to make money off of the site, things like Google Adsense, Amazon Associates, and some other affiliate programs were implemented throughout the site. Unfortunately, the niche that the site resides in doesn’t bode well for Amazon sales and Google Adsense isn’t very lucrative these days. The other affiliate ads we’ve been running on the site have garnered a lot of clicks, but not very many conversions at this time.
In order to try and get more conversions, we needed to try and get more traffic. It doesn’t matter if that’s instant traffic, or more organic traffic, we just needed more traffic, so we turned to Reddit.
Picking a Topic
Since the niche of this site is based around something that everyone does every single day, I figured there had to something in my life, related to this niche, that other people would be interested in as well, and it had to be something unique.
As I said, there are millions of sites in this niche, so what could I write about that most people haven’t written about yet. So I grabbed a beer from the fridge and sat down to think.
It didn’t take long for ideas to start coming to mind, but I knew that most of them would gain zero traction on a site like Reddit, and would most likely be completely bashed and downvoted into oblivious. That’s not what I needed.
After beer number two it hit me. I had a great idea for a compare and contrast article about a few products that were starting to gain some foothold in the market. They were similar products, but carried a much different price tag, so the idea was to write an article about why someone should/would pay extra for product X when they could just purchase product Y instead. It’s a simple concept that has been around since the dawn of journalism, but by jumping on these products during their climb to popularity, maybe I could be ahead of the curve.
Planning the Content
Once I was set on the idea, and had done a bit of research as to whether or not there were a lot of articles out there already, I started planning my attack.
I knew this article needed specific statistics and real-world data to support my claim that X is better than Y, so I had to devise a way to test both products in real-world situations. This did entail me purchasing a few things in order to make sure I could be as thorough as possible when it came to the article, but my hope was that I could boost affiliate sales enough to at least cover the costs of the material.
So with everything in hand, I ran the tests that I needed to do, recorded all of the data and got ready to write.
The data was the most crucial part of the article as it supports everything else within the copy. Without the data I’m just another person claiming that X is better than Y simply because of my opinion. I knew people would respond better to the article if I just laid the facts out in front of them and let them form their own conclusions.
It took about a full day, off and on, to get everything tested and written, and then it was ready to start promoting.
Promoting the Content
From the moment I started writing the article, I knew I wanted to promote it on Reddit. I knew that this was the type of content that Redditors would eat up and upvote, but I wanted to see if I could build up some traction without Reddit first.
I was naive in thinking that just posting on Twitter and Facebook would get me any significant traffic gains, so I was pretty disappointed when the site didn’t really get much more traffic than normal.
The article published on July 14th and the post only brought in an extra 16 pageviews that day. The post I had written the day before brought in 17, and posts from years ago brought in even more than that.
On July 15th, the post received 34 pageviews, but then on the 16th it dropped back down to 12 pageviews. Definitely not what I was hoping for.
In total, from July 14th, when the article was posted, through July 20th, the post received 132 pageviews. There was no way I was going to get more Amazon conversions on this post in order to pay off the supplies I needed to purchase, so that’s when I decided it was time to post to Reddit.
Promoting on Reddit
As I said above, Redditors can be brutal when it comes to bad content. They will rip it apart in the comments and downvote it into oblivion before anyone even has a chance to see it, so I had to make sure that this post appealed to them.
I knew that the content of the article would appeal to Redditors, but I had to make sure that I came up with a creative enough title that would entice them to actually click through to the article.
This is a huge part of being successful on Reddit. Sometimes you have to venture a bit into the clickbait title realm in order to get those first handful of upvotes. Once people see that an article has some upvotes, they are more likely to click through it themselves, and in turn upvote it even higher. So don’t be afraid to be a little clickbaity with your titles… just don’t be too misleading, you need to find the balance.
With my title worked out, it was time to post. But what sub-reddit should I post to?
The sub-reddit you post to is just as important as the title. Post it to a sub-reddit that doesn’t fit your niche and nobody will think twice about it. Post it to a sub-reddit that has very few subscribers and you won’t get it in front of enough eyes. Do yourself a favor and spend some time researching various sub-reddits related to your topics and keep a list of them. This way you can resort back to that list when you need to publish something.
In my case I already had an idea of where I was going to post the article. Since it’s a very popular niche in general, there are quite a few sub-reddits that fit my needs, but I decided that one in particular would be best.
The sub-reddit I chose has an active participant base, there are never any super old articles on the front page, people are always commenting on things, and it has over 150,000 subscribers.
It was exactly what I wanted.
So with the article completed, the title figured out, and the sub-reddit determined, I was ready to post.
The Reddit Effect
As soon as I posted the article I fired up Google Analytics’ Real-Time viewer and prepared for the worst.
Right when I posted it I could see that a few people had clicked through and were reading the article, which was awesome. After about 10 more minutes I saw the numbers continue to climb. After about 15 minutes the numbers were fluctuating between 20-40 people on the article at a time… and it remained this way for the next 12 hours or so.
It had worked, I was getting upvoted and pulling in a ton of traffic to the site.
I checked the comment section on Reddit to see if there were any negative comments about the article, maybe things I could fix, but people genuinely seemed happy that I posted the article. I was thrilled.
But how would it perform overall in terms of traffic numbers and Amazon conversions?
When I woke up the next morning I was still seeing a few people lingering on the post. Traffic had dropped off significantly from the 20-40 people at a time I was seeing the day before, but that is to be expected when it comes to Reddit. It’s going to be a source of quick traffic spikes. It’s not sustainable. The only thing you can hope for is that someone saw the article on Reddit, liked it a lot, and decided to share it social media or post a link to the article on one of their sites.
So 24-hours after the initial post was made on Reddit, here is how things performed.
The actual post on Reddit has 153 upvotes and 136 comments, mostly positive. The post still resides on the first page of it’s specific sub-reddit.
Pageviews on that single post for July 21st were 2,900, which is 193% better than all of the previous days this post was active combined, and only 300 pageviews shy of what the entire site brought in for the month of June. And the average time on page for this one article for July 21st was 3:10.
In terms of Amazon conversions, we saw a huge spike in orders on the 21st. The site normally averages between 1-5 orders per day from between 10-30 clicks, but on this particular day the site received 17 orders from 317 clicks. After two full days, we received 378 clicks to Amazon and 27 orders. So while the clicks and orders did fall off after the first day, we were still receiving orders.
Since Amazon doesn’t actually give you the commission until the order has shipped, we didn’t start to see the actual revenue until a few days later. On most days we were averaging between $1 and $3 worth of sales. Like I said, this isn’t a super popular site at the moment. Once the Amazon Prime orders started shipping related to this post (2-days later) we had $24.07 worth of sales in one day, followed by two more days over $10 each, and then the commissions tapered back off towards what we were averaging before.
So as you can see, if you promote properly on Reddit, you can boost your traffic and conversions pretty significantly without ever reaching the front page. And if these increases were only from getting 150+ upvotes, imagine what your numbers would look like if you hit the front page, which usually averages in the couple thousands of upvotes.
There is a lot of potential for marketing on Reddit as long as it’s done correctly. Do not come across as spammy. Make sure to interact with other areas of Reddit on a regular basis. Do not constantly post links from the same websites in the same sub-Reddits, or anywhere on Reddit. You want to be seen as an active, contributing member of the community, not a marketer just looking for traffic. Redditors aren’t stupid and you will be report and banned if you press too hard with your agenda.