When I searched for what is a solo ad on Google, I was provided with this instant answer:
A solo ad is a one time email blast you buy from a vendor that has created a “list” of people they have collected.
Put simply, some internet marketers will accept payment in exchange for sending an email you have written to their mailing list.
To be clear, this is not the same thing as buying the mailing list itself. A solo ad does not grant you access to email addresses. Rather, you are allowed to compose a message – better known as a swipe email – that the list owner will send to his or her subscribers on your behalf.
In so doing, you have to trust that the list owner is in fact sending your message to his or her list, and to the number of recipients he or she promised. You are further trusting that the seller has a responsive, engaged list of subscribers with an interest in your niche.
For these reasons and several more, many newcomers to internet marketing are duped by less scrupulous solo ad sellers. Before you spend a dime, please carefully review this complete guide to buying your first solo ad.
Are Solo Ads Right for My Business?
Before buying a solo ad, you need to know some basic metrics about the offer you are promoting. In short, this is the same as calculating your cost of acquisition to make a sale. How much is traffic really worth to you?
To begin, you need to have three pieces of information:
- What goal completion do you want to occur?
- How much is that goal completion worth to you?
- At what rate does that goal completion occur?
For instance, let’s suppose you are promoting an affiliate offer. Each time you sell that $79 offer, you earn a commission of $39.50. For every 1000 targeted visitors you get to your offer page, 47 will purchase the offer, giving you an effective conversion rate of 4.7%.
You now know that every 1000 targeted visitors you get to your offer page is worth $1856.50. To put it simply, so long as you can buy targeted traffic at less than $1.85 per visitor, you will be profitable. Similarly, you will be profitable so long as you keep your marketing spend under $39.50 for every 21.3 targeted visitors.
It is important to note that not all goal completions have to involve making a sale.
In some instances, the goal may be to gain a new subscriber to your own mailing list. If this is the case, you need to know how much a new email subscriber is worth to your business. Those who cannot calculate the value of an email subscriber with absolute certainty should avoid using solo ads to build their mailing list.
How Much Should I Pay for a Solo Ad?
Solo ads are generally sold using one of two pricing models:
- Fixed Price
A fixed price solo ad means that you pay a set price in exchange for a specific number of emails to be sent out. Although many reputable sellers offer fixed prices, this is the most common way that new internet marketers get scammed. They focus on the number of emails being sent, rather than the volume of opens, click-thrus, and conversions.
If you are new to internet marketing, I recommend you only purchase solo ads available on a performance-based pricing model. These solo ads are priced based upon the number of:
Yes, you will certainly pay more for a solo ad priced on a performance-based model, but you are also guaranteeing your results.
Using the example above, if you could guarantee 1000 targeted click-thrus to your offer page for an investment of less than $1856.50, you would find yourself making a profit.
Above all else, if you do not know your conversion rate, or do not have enough historical data to calculate it with accuracy, please do not purchase solo ads. In all probability, you will lose money. Exhaust all other marketing avenues first, especially free methods, to measure and repeatedly improve your conversion rate.
Where Can I Buy Solo Ads?
Although internet marketers seem to have mixed reviews, Udimi remains a popular choice for purchasing solo ads. This platform is similar to a social network in that you can browse profiles created by solo advertising sellers, connect with them, or become a seller yourself.
[My Update of Dec 1, 2016 / I personally have bought nearly a dozen solo ads through Clickomony, Udimi, Clickdrop and I have had a positive experience and solid results on each transaction. Of course, you can always check out my solo ads website here. Solo Ads Testimonials has its own a website and a Facebook group promoting numerous reputable solo ad sellers.]
Finally, you could consider browsing through some email marketing threads on Warrior Forum to connect with other internet marketers selling solo advertising.
There are thousands, if not millions of places to source solo advertising online. The better question is…
How Do I Know If the Seller Is Reputable?
As with most things, an offer that sounds too good to be true usually is. If you find a seller promising 1000 click-thrus to your page for $19.95, chances are you will be disappointed with the results. In such instances, your own best judgment is your best defense against fraud.
As a rule of thumb, try to stick with popular platforms, such as Udimi and Solo Ads Testimonials. This is especially true if you are new to buying solo ads. Both of these platforms offer a sort of user ranking system that will give you a sense of how trustworthy a seller is.
If you decide to buy a solo ad privately by credit card or PayPal, you are doing so at your own risk. Also, if you are unable to directly speak with the seller prior to buying, that is a major cause for concern.
Finally, a quick Google search can help you locate resources for internet marketers, such as Solo Ads Blacklist, that takes a community-based approach to identifying less reputable sellers.
How Do I Write an Effective Swipe Email?
There are numerous resources online that can help you to write more effective marketing emails, including both the copy in the body of the email and the subject line. You will see that all swipe emails, often referred to simply as swipes, fit one of two general descriptions:
- Long Copy
- Short Copy
As you guessed, this simply refers to the length of the swipe. A short copy swipe usually contains less than 100 words.
Although the emails I send personally are notoriously long, I prefer short copy when possible. Since the recipient of your swipe has no personal relationship with you, it is best to keep the copy short and to the point. Ask yourself, in how few words can I cover who, what, where, when, why, and how?
As a best practice, a swipe should have a strong call to action. It should link to just one page, and the entire purpose of the copy should be to encourage a click on that link. In short copy, that link should be included twice – once towards the middle and once at the end. In long copy, include that link in three places – at the beginning, middle, and end.
If possible, use a tracking link in your swipe. Do this to keep your seller honest. If he or she sells you a set number of clicks, you should have the ability to verify that those clicks were accurately delivered. This can be as simple as adding a UTM tracking code to the URL you want clicked.
As with just about everything in marketing, A/B test your results. If possible, have the seller segment his or her list in two halves. Using two different tracking links, determine which swipe generates a stronger response. If necessary, purchase two different solo ads for two different lists or list segments so that you can test each swipe independently.
With time, you should be able to develop 2-3 highly effective long and short copy swipes for your offer, each with its own powerful call to action.
How Do I Measure If My Solo Ad Was Successful?
Assuming you have a method for tracking the source of goal completions, such as Google Analytics, compare the results of your solo ad to your typical conversion rate. If your typical conversion rate is 4.7%, and you generated 1000 click-thrus, you should expect to see 47 or more sales resulting from your solo ad.
If your solo ad resulted in a conversion rate below normal, it may be due to a number of factors:
- Did the seller provide authentic click-thrus, or were they generated through bots?
- Was your solo ad delivered to a targeted list who would have interest in your offer?
- Was the content of your swipe consistent with what the user found after clicking your link?
These, along with numerous other factors, could contribute to a lower conversion rate than you would have expected.
Nonetheless, the ultimate measure of your success is by looking at your return on investment. If you earned more on the click-thrus received than it cost to generate them, your solo advertising campaign was a success. For instance, if you spent $500 on your solo ad, resulting in $790 in affiliate commissions, you were profitable.
Now would be a good time to review your swipes, the list and seller you chose, and the results of your A/B test. Effectively marketing through solo ads takes time, patience, and a budget that can be somewhat forgiving of an experimental mindset.
Some Final Thoughts on Solo Ads
Solo ads can be a highly effective way to almost instantly generate traffic. Further, they are a common means of promoting a short-term offer, including many affiliate programs. And once you have found a seller that can deliver a consistent and profitable number of click-thrus to your page, you can scale your solo advertising efforts to the extent of your available cash flow.
On the other hand, if you are working with a limited budget, you may find that solo advertising done on a smaller scale will not garner a large enough response to fairly measure its efficiency or efficacy. Additionally, because not all internet users are thrilled to receive sales offers by email, you may find that extensive solo advertising can cast your brand in a negative light.
Although buying solo ads may be faster than building an organic following, it certainly will be more expensive. Give careful consideration to your budget prior to buying a solo ad. In many situations, you will find that you can get a better return on investment from Facebook ads or Google AdWords.