What Reddit can teach brands about creating community via email newsletters

Since the beginning of time, humans have understood the value of community. Whether for literal survival or for comforts slightly higher up on Maslow’s Hierarchy, we self-select into communities that fill our emotional and intellectual needs.

The internet, especially forums like Reddit, makes it easier than ever for people to explore and join like-minded communities. This has, in part, driven a shift in the way we evaluate products and make purchase decisions. 84% of consumers trust online reviews from strangers as much as they trust recommendations from friends or family members. That statistic speaks to the staggering power of community – and the opportunity that exists for brands to be part of them.

LiveIntent CMO, Kerel Cooper, sat down with Reddit’s Chief Marketing Officer, Roxy Young, to talk about how marketers can use the power of community as part of their email strategy. Here are some of the highlights.

Changing Consumer Expectations

Reddit’s Young says that Gen Z’s and Millennial’s expectations have fundamentally changed the way brands interact with customers. Not only do younger shoppers expect a more personalized experience, but they also want to feel connected to the brands they support. However, these expectations aren’t limited to younger generations. A reported 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations and 84% of consumers say the experience brands provide is as important as the products they sell. Today’s stand-out companies know the importance of not only meeting, but exceeding, these expectations.

Reddit is a stellar example. People are drawn to Reddit because the platform connects the globe to like-minded people who care about the same things they do via online communities. Users are drawn to these corners of the web because they’re a place to connect, learn, and explore. As a brand, you can use this strategy to think about consumers in terms of unique communities, each with their own needs and expectations.

How to build connections with your audience

Here’s some cold, hard truth: Content, connectivity, and community are no longer optional components in any advertising strategy. If you aren’t connecting with your audiences, you’re going to lose out to a competitor who is.

Today’s advertisers must find a way to engage audiences and provide them with a sense of community — this means looking outside of “traditional” advertising channels. That’s why Reddit remains such a powerful tool for brands, especially those who are serious about reaching distinct niches. However, advertisers don’t need to look far for an alternative to traditional advertising channels.

More advertisers are harnessing the power of email newsletter communities to leverage existing high-value content. Not only do email newsletters have an engagement rate that’s higher than any other kind of digital marketing, but they’re also a powerful vehicle for promoting your brand.

The same is true for publishers. A media publisher or brand retailer without an email newsletter strategy is missing out on an opportunity to drive added value for their subscribers — not to mention a monetization opportunity, too. There’s growing investment in email newsletter ads from advertisers looking to tap into these existing niches.

Like online communities, newsletters increase brand awareness and build relationships, which translate to higher ROI and sales. As Josh Jaffe of Horoscope.com said, “If you don’t have an email newsletter strategy, to me, that’s publisher malpractice. You’ve got to start to build that direct relationship with your users.”

Building community through email

So how do you use email newsletters to foster community? When it comes to making a real impact with your email newsletters, learn from the pros at Reddit:

Community: Community is at the heart of all relationships. Reddit excels by diving into existing audiences to give them a place to grow. If you’re consistently creating great email newsletter content, your audience will grow. Subscribers will forward messages to their friends and recommend your newsletter to other like-minded people. This organic growth is the first step to creating a community that you can later monetize. And don’t shy away from getting specific with your content. In many instances, the riches are in the niches, especially when it comes to selling programmatic email ad inventory in the cookieless future.

Belonging: There are subReddits for every interest, which means anyone can find a place where they feel like they belong. Ask yourself, Who is the ideal reader or subscriber for my newsletter list? Focus on personalization, customized recommendations, and keeping your language relevant to your reader, and you’ll enjoy organic growth. Don’t be afraid to divide your subscriber lists into audience segments to better serve them. More specific, engaged lists are preferable to larger, more general-interest lists with lower open rates.

Action: On Reddit, users take action to learn and do more. When newsletter subscribers open their email newsletters, they’re in a similar mindset where they’re ready to learn more and take action. Ensure your email CTAs and their landing pages get your readers excited about clicking and engaging with your content.

Data-driven learning: Lastly, with upcoming changes to internet privacy and third-party cookies, now is the time to invest in first-party data. Expand your first-party data footprint by growing your email subscriber list and collecting engagement data for your web properties — key tactics to future-proofing your business in the new cookieless era.

Community is a two-way street

Advertisers and publishers alike can tap into their existing audience base to learn more about customers, understand their interests, and deepen connections by communicating in thoughtful and meaningful ways.

But here’s what really helped Reddit grow into the giant that it is: Knowing that communication and community are a two-way street. If you want subscribers to care about you and your content, you’ve got to care about them. Add real value, and the customers will be there.

To quote Rob Beeler, Founder and CEO of Beeler.tech, “Just asking for emails or information from people to serve better ads is not a real relationship. That’s a one-sided relationship that won’t stand the test of time.” Internet users love Reddit because Reddit loves internet users and has invested heavily in creating – and curating – valuable spaces for their voices to be heard.

Keep the conversation going

By finding ways to bridge the gaps between content and community, you build a future-proof plan for driving engagement, growth, and profit with your email newsletter strategy.

For more insights about community building and customer engagement, check out the entire TrendWatch conversation between Young and LiveIntent’s CMO, Kerel Cooper, from the Brand Innovators Summit.