Solo ads are a fast and easy way to get visitors to your website — especially to your squeeze/sign-up pages. If you can’t wait for SEO, or you don’t want to learn the ropes of PPC or Facebook advertising, this might be just what you're looking for.
Of course, like any fast track option, there's a cost involved. But the good thing with solo ads is that — while there’s a fair bit of trial and error involved — there isn’t a particularly steep learning curve, and it’s really easy to wrap your head around.
In this lesson you'll learn how to approach this strategy, as well as how to measure the success as you go to ensure that you'll be getting a worthwhile return for your investment.
So how do you get the most out of solo ads? Let's plunge in.
Solo ads involve paying another website to send an email to their mailing list, promoting your website. Think of it as getting someone else to invite their friends to your party. You can get a lot more people that way than you can on your own!
Solo ads are particularly useful for sending people to an opt-in page for your own mailing list. You can grab these people and add them to your own mailing list, so you can promote affiliate products to them in your newsletter sequence. The visitors you get from solo ads are pretty good for building your own newsletter list because…
Finding a list of potential solo ad providers doesn't take long. Just follow through these motions:
Your solo ad provider doesn’t need to be in exactly the same niche as you. It’s good if they are, but sometimes you might be in a niche where there aren’t many good solo ad providers. In which case you just need to find sites that are targeting a similar demographic.
By “demographic” I mean “the same kinds of people”. For instance, “women over 35 years old”, or “men interested in making money”.
If your website targets the weight loss niche for example, you could be looking for any website with a large audience of women over 35. (This is a good demographic to target for weight loss, since pretty much every woman over 35 wants to lose weight at some point!)
So have a think about your demographic: What do women over 35 like? What sort of sites are they likely to visit? Or to approach it from another angle: What kind of sites are likely to have a lot of women over 35 visiting them?
This can be a bit tricky to wrap your head around. One way to get those brain juices going might be to look at your Facebook feed, and see what kinds of sites your female friends in that age group tend to post on Facebook. On my news feed I get a lot of baking, crafts, relationship advice, self improvement, and personality quizzes. These would be good places to start looking. We know Affilorama members who have had success promoting a dating tips for women newsletter to a horoscope mailing list, for example.
For the purpose of this example though I'll target the niche topic "Dating Tips for Women" head on. Here’s how I go about searching for a solo ad provider using our old friend, Google.
The first thing I’ll do is start with the obvious: I’ll search for “Dating tips for women”. (Later I might try repeating this whole process with another search term related to my niche to find other related websites; the search term “Dating tips for women” is just a starting point.)
Unless you've changed your Google search settings previously, you'll only see ten results per page. For the purposes of this activity, you want to look at the first hundred results. The easiest way to view all these is to go to the settings cog in the top right hand corner of your search, and select "Search settings".
You'll then want to look under "Google Instant Predictions" and tick "Never show instant search results" so that you can move the slider under "Results per page" to 100.
Don't worry, if you prefer ten results per page generally you can easily change it back after you're done with this search. Now when I click "Save" at the bottom and return to my search, I'll have one hundred results on the page to scan through.
Start looking through the list. Open results in new tabs and look to see if they have a similar audience to your own. Then, look for something on their site that indicates they might have a mailing list.
The second option under the search for "Dating Tips for Women" at the time of this particular search was the "Women's Health Magazine" website. From a quick look over this site I can see that they definitely have a mailing list. Within seconds I've located three different ways this site is collecting email addresses, which you can keep an eye out for in your own search:
The "give us your email before you're able to post a comment" method:
Which as you can see, still requires your email, even if you're posting as a guest.
Then there's the "give us your email so we can send you 'free' newsletters" signup in the right-hand side-bar menu:
And, before too long, a big ol' pop up saying, "give us your email to win free stuff":
The websites you look at may not have all of these. They may just have one of them, or even another type of opt-in somewhere else.
You can easily just jot down notes in a document on your computer, but I'd say the easiest way to record your options would be to make a spreadsheet like this:
Some lists are built through funnels that you can't even see on the surface of the website, so if you find a site that looks to fit your niche and is of good quality, it pays to note them down anyway. Contact them to check that they don't have a list before giving up on them.
Once you have a list of potential websites, a couple of notes about them, and a way to contact them from the website "contact us" page, you'll want to start approaching them about solo ads.
Firstly, you'll just want to send a quick email asking whether or not they have promotional email spots. Initially you want to ask:
It could look something like this:
I'm the webmaster for [domain name], and I'm wishing to promote my [exciting content here].
I've had a look around [their domain name] and I think there's a good possibility that your audience would be interested in my [content].
Do you by any chance sell advertising spots in your mailing list? (If not, would this be something you'd consider doing?)
You can have a look at my signup and download page here: [squeeze page URL]
Let me know if you think this is something your audience would be interested in."
Then you simply need to sign off politely.
It's unlikely that they'll ask you much that you won't know how to answer. If you didn't tell them in your initial email what your website or niche is, then they might ask you that.
If they do ask you something that you don't understand, you have three main options:
But don’t worry, more often than not you'll be asking more questions than they will as you're the one paying out for the spot.
If they say that they do sell solo ads, or that they would, you can start asking more questions before you get started. These would likely include:
This will give you an idea of how much exposure you could expect to get from their list, and also a rough idea of how much you'd pay for that amount.
If they have a massive responsive list, then that is great! But it also might be somewhat costly for someone just starting out. On the other hand, if they have a very small list or a low open rate, the cost could be lower but also not worth your time.
Like anything in life, you'll have to weigh up the pros and cons of cost vs. reward of each mailing list, while keeping your budget and goals in mind.
The best price to pay for a solo ad is less money than you'll earn from it; more return than investment. As you can't figure this out for sure before you've gone through the motions, you'll need to make a rough guess at the minimum it would make you, and set that as your absolute top amount.
The elements you should consider when coming up with a price that you're willing to pay are:
A rough formula to use to find out what you DON'T want to go over is:
(Their average click through number) x (the % of visitors to your page who sign up and confirm their email address) x ($1 - $2 depending on how daring you want to be) = The MAXIMUM you would pay initially as a trial for a list.
If you haven’t had many visitors to your page and you don’t know what proportion normally sign up and confirm their email address, then use 25% as a very rough guide. (It assumes that 50% of visitors to your page will sign up, and that 50% of those will actually confirm their email address.)
So if they normally send 300 clicks, and your confirmed opt-in rate is 25%, then consider budgeting a maximum amount that lies between $75 and $150.
Remember, this is only a rough guide and there are a lot of variables to consider, so you will have to decide what you personally are willing to pay.
Solo-ads are only something to try when you have the money spare for the trial-and-error nature of the process. Hopefully this at least gives you some idea of the kind of thinking you'll need to do around the process.
The main thing is just to ask yourself after trying any list out is, "Am I making money from this after 30 days?" And adjust your strategy accordingly.
Basically, it's quite similar to writing a hard sell newsletter, but with the goal of getting them to your opt-in page rather than a merchant. You have a very short space of time to entice them to your page, so you must be quick and compelling.
The 2 main elements to consider are:
This is more important than ever, because you've only got one chance to get this email opened. You're paying for it, and it will cost you to try again, so you need to get it right.
You can find more information on these subject line elements here. Include these elements as much as possible, while keeping in mind what you actually have to offer. Don't make false promises just to get them to open.
Once again, snag their attention. Do you have an opt-in bribe on the page you're trying to send them to? Something like a free eBook or mp3 guide to something they'd be interested in? If you don't have one, you should really get one.
Then, in your content, tell them why they need it. There's a rough example below, but remember that you need to use your common sense as much as possible to cater to your audience and your offer.
Once again, you will need to make sure you cater your own ad around what you have to offer and what you're audience wants, but this should give you an idea.
Good results basically involve making more money than you burn, and that's something you'll learn with trial and error. Give it 30 days after your solo ad has gone out to see how much you've made from new opt-ins to your own newsletter series.
Then, basically, if you've made more in that 30 days than you paid, that's a success.
Here are some things to consider for next time:
On the other hand, if you've made significantly more than you paid, then you've got a really good thing going with that provider, and you might want to consider trying for a semi-regular campaign. Would they give you a slot once a month? Or once a week? It depends on your budget and your success rate with their list.
It might seem a little strange to keep emailing the same list again and again, but you’ll find that you keep getting subscribers for a number of reasons:
Promoting your content through solo ads is trial and error, it does cost money and you can be left out of pocket — BUT — once you find a good match, it can be an amazingly effective and fast way of building your list. If you have the money to give solo ads a go, it's definitely worth thinking about.