The Beginner’s Guide to Solo Ads (Solo Ads 101 is now in session!)


by  Jordan Silver IN  the online marketing world, it seems like there are endless opportunities to market you or your business. Mark...


IN the online marketing world, it seems like there are endless opportunities to market you or your business.
Marketing opportunities like pay-per-click (PPC), native advertising, search engine optimization or display advertising are among the most common.

But have you heard about solo email ads?
Solo email ads can be a great addition to your advertising portfolio.
Not sure what solo email ads are?
No worries, we’ll cover some of the important basics for you.

What Are Solo Email Ads?

A quick list or solo email ad is a one-time email blast sent on behalf of another party to their own email list, typically for a fee. Typically this is a flat-fee or performance based.
The ‘quick list’ component actually refers to a list that has already been built, but by someone else. This is not the same as purchasing an email list where you do get the email and contact information of people.
The list being emailed to is created, owned and maintained by the person or company you are paying. You do not have access to their list as the email is sent by the person or company who owns it.
You will typically provide the sender with the copy you want to appear in the email. In some cases, the sender may choose to edit your copy or write their own.
Now that we are on the same page of what solo ads are, let’s dive into some details.

Should You Buy Solo Ads?

The first thing you need to do is ask yourself, “Should I buy solo ads?”
While emailing thousands and thousands of people might sound good on the surface, there are some key questions you need to ask yourself.
Questions like:
  • How responsive is the list? Has the list owner blasted it too many times and now it has dismal open rates?
  • Does the list contain prospects of your ideal target audience? If the list is not targeted or related to your audience, chances are they won’t be interested in what your email has to say.
  • Do you have proper tracking in place? You need to be setup to track these initiatives to know if you are getting what you are paying.
  • What does my return on investment need to be in order to make this worth it? You’ll need to know what goals need to be met in order to make sure you are not going to lose more than you invest.
While there are certainly additional questions that might be specific to your situation, I’ve found that these are among the most critical that must always be answered.

Solo Ad List Responsiveness

Let’s dig a bit deeper into the importance of the solo ad list and their engagement.
Most solo ads will just tell you how many people are in their list in that they like to “wow” you with the potential to reach such a large audience.
While size of the list is important to an extent, what’s more important is how active the list is with the emails they get.
If you are purchasing solo ads from a person who blasts emails every day for anything and everything, chances are there will be a low engagement within that list.
So out of the thousands of people in that list, only a small percentage will be paying attention to any email coming from that sender. In reality, you aren’t going to be reaching thousands of people – just a fraction of what was promised.
If possible, ask the sender about their typical open rates.
Of course, it is not always the responsibility of the sender to generate opens since subject lines play a huge role in this. In fact, 33% of people say that subject lines determine whether or not they will open an email.

Finding the Right Audience For Solo Ads

While it is definitely important to find solo ads with an engaging audience, it’s more important to make sure you are messaging the right audience.
Think about this, would you talk about the top backyard landscaping tips to people who are apartment owners?
Probably not since they won’t have much use for this information since they don’t have a yard.
So with solo ads, you need to know not only your target audience but the audience of the list you will be emailing.
Most reputable solo ad providers can give you a good idea of the demographics of their list.
If a provider can’t give you these details, I recommend finding someone else to buy solo ads from.
Once you have identified a list that has your ideal audience on it, you need to evaluate if it will be worth your time and money.

Setting Up Your Solo Ads For Success

In the digital marketing world, everything needs to be tracked. This includes your solo ads.
Some solo ad providers will supply you with their own data, but it is important for you to track the data yourself.
This can easily be done with Google Analytics.
The ideal way to do this is by using UTM parameters in your URLs of the solo ads. UTM parameters work in Google Analytics and are essentially tags that can get passed to your analytics account with some detailed information.
For example, your URL might look something like this:
There are 3 required fields when using UTM parameters:
  • utm_source – this is used to identify the source of the traffic
  • utm_medium – this is the medium that the link was on (email, CPC, etc.)
  • utm_campaign – this is used to label the campaign the link was marketed in (in this case, it could be the website you purchased the solo ad from)
When using UTM parameters, keep in mind they are case sensitive – so be sure to be consistent with your naming conventions.
You’ll want to use these URLs in your solo ad campaigns and then be able to tie your initiatives back to sales. Of course, you will want to be sure to have goal tracking setup as well in Google Analytics.
Having proper tracking installed will help you know if solo ads are worth it for your business.
It’s important to stay on top of your metrics, especially after you participate in a solo email.

Know Your Break-even Point With Solo Ads

With any investment you make with your business, you should always know what your expected return on investment is. You probably don’t want to spend more money than you will make – that’s typically not the best way to run a business.
Let’s say you found a solo ad with 1,000 emails and it is going to cost you $1,000.
This means that you will be spending $1 for every email that goes out.
Now, take the low-end worst case scenario expected conversion rate of 1/2%. So this means you would expect 5 sales from this list of 1,000 emails.
With your $1000 investment, this would lead to a cost of $200 per sale. Therefore, at a minimum you would need to have a product or service that will bring in at least $200 per sale to break-even.
If your typical sale is $500, then this particular list would be worth a potential investment.
However, if your typical sale is $50 then this would not be a good list in that you will be losing money.
But if you are confident that you can write a compelling email subject line and engaging content that will drive people to your website in order to purchase you can increase your expected conversion rate and re-run the numbers.
Over time, you will be able to have a good idea of what your typical conversion rate is and make more educated decisions when exploring solo ad opportunities.
You may find that your solo ads initiatives are driving a 2% conversion rate which would mean you would only need to make a minimum of $50 per sale to break even. But if you are selling a $200 offering, with a 2% conversion rate you could net $4000 in sales. Subtract out your $1000 investment and you would be left with a $3000 profit.
When you can get efficient with solo ads, it’s like printing money. Just be sure you have a tool in place to evaluate the return on your investment.

Knowing Solo Ad Basics Can Go A Long Way

Understanding the core basics of solo ads can help you be smarter to your approach. When you know what to look for, how to track it, and how to evaluate your return you can make smart business decisions.
Look, there are many shady providers of solo ads out there – but there are some really great ones.
Knowing the basics can help you weed through the garbage and find the right provider for your solo ads.
While there are not any guarantees around using solo ads, by asking the right questions and implementing proper tracking you can put yourself in a better position to make the right decisions.
Interested in using solo ads? Great!
Looking for a way to track their effectiveness before you get started? Well, kudos for you for being so business savvy.
Knowing how well solo ads perform financially is important and ClickPerfect provides the insight you’ll need to evaluate your success. This simple tool will help you learn more about the benefit of sending to a solo ad list as well as overall customer responsiveness.
Happy sending!



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#DIGITAL: The Beginner’s Guide to Solo Ads (Solo Ads 101 is now in session!)
The Beginner’s Guide to Solo Ads (Solo Ads 101 is now in session!)
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