Solo ads: How to use them to grow your online business fast (The ultimate guide)
In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about solo ads, what they are, how to use them to scale your online business fast and how to maximize your ROI with them.
Before we delve in, I highly recommend that you bookmark this page.
I plan to continue to update this as I get more tips, tricks, hacks, ideas and even the latest technologies that can help you get the best out of them.
Come on, do it now, it’s only one click. I’ll be waiting right here for you.
Are you done?
Cool, let’s get started.
What are solo ads
Solo ads are ads that are sent as email newsletters to existing subscribers of a business that has significant amount of leads on their lists.
Usually, these ads are sent solo, meaning, one ad per email, hence the name “solo ads”.
The way they work is that you find someone in your niche who has a big list of subscribers, pay them a fee (usually per click), give them your ad copy that has a link to your money/opt-in pages (aka email swipe) and they will send it out for you.
That’s how solo ads started and how they’re supposed to be done.
However, nowadays, solo ads are different, at least for the majority of suppliers in the Make Money Online (MMO) niche.
I will cover that later in the article, but let me first explain why using solo ads can be very effective for your business.
If you’re reading this, there’s a great chance you’re an online marketer.
And as an online marketer, I’m sure you know that money is in the list.
I wrote a guest blog post not long time ago named: “Is The Money Really in The List? The Answer Might Surprise You!” feel free to check it out here.
Since having an email list is one of the most important aspects of an online business, solo ads’ main purpose is (or should always be) to build your own list.
And because of the nature of solo ads being email-based ads sent by whomever built that list and nurtured a relationship with, these leads will be perfect to build your own email list.
Because these leads are accustomed to opening emails, reading them, clicking on links inside them and even taking action, whether that is opting in a newsletter or even buying recommended offers (affiliate marketing).
Also, because of the authority and relationship that the solo ad vendor has developed with the leads, expect to have quality leads that are somewhat warmer than you would get with other forms of paid ads.
To put it in perspective,
Let’s take PPC (Pay Per Click, e.g. AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, etc..) as an example.
The leads you would get from these campaigns are ice cold.
This means that they don’t know you and may not trust you enough to buy from or through you.
Not to mention, your targeting may not always be on point with other forms of advertising so you might end up with lower quality leads.
Which brings me to one of the most important traits of solo ads;
Targeted traffic, on demand!
Where else are you going to find targeted leads that are extremely interested in what you have to offer?
The last, but definitely not least, great benefit to solo ads is that they can be very cost effective, considering all the reasons mentioned above and more.
Here’s the thing
With PPC advertising for instance, in order for you to reach positive ROI on any campaign, you should expect to burn a few hundreds if not thousands of dollars in upfront cost just for the testing and tweaking phase before you’re able to find a winner campaign that converts.
With solo ads, however, you’ll bypass this phase and go straight to where the results are, hence saving you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
In essence, you’re leveraging other traffic expertise instead of you having to do all the hard work of learning the craft, not to mention the time and money wasted on testing and tweaking.
What to look out for when buying solo ads
Alright, so now that we established the importance of solo ads, let’s talk about how solo ads are done today compared to what they used to be back when this form of advertising started.
In the MMO niche, many newcomers came and flooded the market with huge supply, which resulted in lowering the quality of the leads.
If you read the last section, you would have probably realized that it takes time, money and effort to build and nurture a sizable responsive list.
Unfortunately, nowadays most solo ad providers take massive shortcuts.
And these shortcuts usually come at the cost of quality.
Instead of building a highly responsive list of targeted leads and build a relationship with them the way it is supposed to be, many of them do what is known as “Funnel Clicks”.
What the heck is “Funnel Clicks”, you ask?
Funnel clicks are clicks that come from leads who came through a funnel that consists of a squeeze page and a “special kind of” thank you page.
Now at the surface, it might sound like a normal funnel that thousands of marketers use.
However, when you dig deeper, you’ll see that it isn’t.
What they do is that they have a squeeze page, some do it in a very sketchy way that has a PayPal logo or has a headline that tricks people into thinking that they’re going to collect payments on the other side!
Some have a headline that literally says something like: “Verify that you’re a human” then have an email field below.
Naturally, people tend to enter their emails to “verify that they’re humans”, but little do they know they’re actually opting in a solo ad vendor’s list.
I’ll leave it to your imagination to think of how many laws they just violated with that kind of lander.
Now the thank you page of that funnel is basically a page filled with buttons that has the words “Claim Your Gift” or “Claim Your Bonus” on them.
Each one of those links/buttons opens in a new tab (some open 2 or 3 tabs with one click) and are connected to a rotator.
In case you don’t know what a rotator is, it’s a piece of software that has a list of links. When a someone clicks on the rotator’s link the first time, it shows them the first link in the list, if they click again, they see the second one and so on. So clicks get “rotated” through the links hence the name “rotator”.
The rotator itself has a link, everytime the person clicks on it, it redirects them to the next link within the rotator, until it reaches the end, which then takes them to a backup link (otherwise known as a spillover link).
All said buttons are linked to a rotator that has client links listed in it. The spillover link is usually the solo ad vendor’s link to an affiliate or CPA (Cost Per Action) link.
Now, when they have a few solo ad orders in place, they get paid upfront, place all client links in the rotator and they go buy a solo ad from other (usually bigger) vendors.
And now each lead that goes through the funnel will have their click go through multiple client links.
Hope I did a good job explaining it, feel free to ask questions in the comments below if it’s unlcear.
Some even do what is called “Click banking” (not to be confused with ClickBank, which is an affiliate network)
Click banking is where two solo ad vendors agree to exchange solo ads.
One starts by sending the clicks first then the other sends back the same amount of clicks, which helps both solo ad providers grow their lists fast, while also making money from solo ad clients and/or their own CPA/Affiliate links, normally in the spillover section of the rotator.
These kinds of funnels help the solo ad vendor build their lists fast, while delivering clicks to their clients and make money from clients and spillover traffic all at the same time.
Now this model sounds great for the solo ad vendor.
However when you think about it from the perspective of the lead, when they click on that many buttons all at once, what they’re essentially doing is having too many tabs open, which dilutes their attention and focus on the clients’ offers.
It’s even worse when you know that most clicks come from mobile devices, which means there’s a very slim chance that the lead might not even notice the other offers hidden in the other tabs.
Now when the lead starts visiting these open tabs one by one, they will be faced with other squeeze pages, where they also need to enter their emails to check what’s on the other side.
And while they might actually be good quality leads, or even buyer leads, the fact that they had to go through such funnel (or funnels since solo ad vendors buy from each other all the time), they end up being on tens if not hundreds of email lists, each one of them results in a minimum of 1-2 emails a day.
Assuming they even entered their real primary email address in the first place, having hundreds of emails rushing to their inboxes on a daily basis means that chances of actually having your follow up noticed by them are very slim.
This explains why most people get very low open/click rates with their follow up after buying solo ads.
And while funnel clicks are a very common practice among solo ad vendors, the most popular form of solo ads sold on the market today are “Mixed Clicks”.
Which is really a hybrid of solo ads and funnel clicks.
Unethical/blackhat solo ad practices exposed
Other unethical practices I have seen in the solo ad industry involved vendors buying (or worse, scrapping) leads using blackhat methods and even have copies of these lists on multiple autoresponder accounts with multiple names, each sends as many as 2 emails a day.
So the lead who opts in their squeeze page ends up on 3 different lists with 3 different sender names and 3 different sender email addresses, but all belong to the same vendor.
Now if each list sends 2 emails a day, if spaced out correctly, the same leads ends up receiving 6 emails per 24 hours, which means an email every 4 hours.
And that’s just from one vendor!
And while leads think that they’re receiving 6 emails from 3 different people, they’re effectively clicking on the same rotator link resulting in having the same lead click 6 times a day instead of 1 or 2.
All these bad practices resulted in marketers losing faith in the solo ad industry as a whole.
I have seen many marketers saying that solo ads are ineffective and people should avoid them at all costs, and I can’t really blame them.
After all, those unethical solo ad vendors feed on newbies who are added to the market by the thousands on a daily basis.
Notice how so far I didn’t cover bot clicks or scammers who pretend to be solo ad vendors just so they can scam people out of their money and never actually deliver any clicks.
This is what I’m about to cover in the next section.
But before I start talking about that, please know that there are still honest and genuine solo ad vendors out there who deliver real high quality clicks that result in having real responsive leads and buyers.
I will mention those a little further down, but first, let’s cover one of the most important parts of this article, which is…
How to avoid solo ad scams
So far, I covered the practices that significantly lowered the quality of solo ads as a whole.
However, there are real thieves and scammers who do a lot worse.
They look like real solo ad vendors, so most newbies fall victim to them.
Luckily for you though, this article will help you be safe.
Those scammers approach and find their victims on social media, especially people who left testimonials on solo ad testimonial groups on Facebook.
For obvious reasons, they target those by offering them “too-good-to-be-true offers” in the shape of super cheap 100% tier 1 country clicks , sometimes in the neighborhood of $0.20 or $0.15 per click.
In case you don’t know what tier 1 countries are, they’re the top 5 English speaking countries (US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand).
Generally speaking, leads from these countries seem to convert better in terms of sales than other countries.
Once they land a fake deal, they take the money upfront and disappear without delivering a single click.
If found on Facebook for instance, they will block the client’s account after taking their money.
Now that you know this type of scam exists, the question is, how to avoid it.
Always ask for testimonials before making any payments.
Watch out for fake testimonials though.
The best testimonials are found in popular solo ad testimonial Facebook groups.
Join a few of those and search the vendor’s name.
If you found 0-2 testimonials or found older testimonials, in addition to them offering cheap clicks, chances are, they’re not real vendors.
Yes there might be some who are just starting out and trying to build their portfolio and get testimonials, but there are other ways to get them, so for you as a buyer, I would advise you to avoid them all together, just in case.
The other type (vendors who send bot clicks) can be easily avoided by using a software that tracks clicks and shows you how many bot clicks versus how many real human clicks were sent to your link.
My favorite software that does that is ClickMagick. It’s pretty much the standard of the industry as far as trackers are concerned.
It’s my favorite tool that I use on a daily basis because it also comes with a ton of features that you’ll find very useful in your business as you start growing it.
If you plan on buying solo ads, or any ads for the matter, then ClikcMagick is a must. You can get 14 day trial here.
Effective solo ads
So the question is, how do you actually run an effective solo ad that helps you build your list of responsive leads and generate sales?
As is the case with any marketing effort, before you do anything the first thing you need to do is to understand your audience.
When looking and analyzing solo ad leads, we find that they’re total newbies, for the most part.
Needless to say
If your offer is a software that helps marketers drive traffic to their offers, chances are, it won’t convert well.
These leads may or may not understand what traffic even means.
That’s why marketers and solo ad vendors refer to them as “Bizopp/MMO” traffic
Bizopp = Business Opportunity
MMO = Make Money Online
What does that mean?
Well this means that these leads are looking for ways to help them make money online fast and easy….
Preferably for free or cheap!
Having said that, they’re a lot more responsive to flashy sales pages that show big numbers and lavish lifestyle.
Which is why the best offers to promote are CPA offers in the Bizopp/MMO vertical (niche).
Those offers and their sales pages are done by marketers who have been in the industry for a long time and know the exact emotional triggers that would get those leads to take action.
And that’s the beauty of CPA marketing.
You don’t even need to sell anything to be able to make money.
Hence the name Cost Per Action.
The best place to search and look for great CPA offers is a search engine called Offer Vault.
Next step from here is we need to build a high converting funnel
The best funnels are the simplest..
I know it might sound too tempting to build the best looking landing pages, but trust me the simpler ones convert so much better.
I’ve done my fair share of testing with thousands of clicks.
Your squeeze page should only consist of a simple headline and an optin form.
One of the tricks I can teach you to do to avoid having people give you fake or secondary emails is to use a little hidden gem called Boost, which allows you to have people optin using their social media accounts.
Which means that you’ll end up with primary and verified to work emails only.
It also helps conversions because most leads from solo ads are mobile clicks, and it’s much easier to option with a click when you’re on your phone than having to enter an email address
The way I do it is have both options on my squeeze pages.
The reason for that is that many people are either not logged in their social media account or don’t wish to use their social media account to optin.
The headline of your squeeze page should ideally be congruent with the CPA/affiliate offer you’re promoting.
The more congruent your headline is, the higher the conversions are.
Some people, myself included, are too lazy to keep changing the headline because they keep on testing different offers all the time.
In this case, a generic headline that speaks directly to your target audience would be a good alternative.
Your thank you page should be a page that has your name, photo and a short paragraph that tells them to “whitelist” your email and check your welcome email because you sent them a valuable gift in it.
This does two things:
It eliminates those who used fake emails and it gets people used to checking your emails.
Underneath that, have a big button that takes the lead straight to the offer you’re promoting.
This should help you recoup some of the investment you’ve made by buying your solo ad.
Something to keep in mind though
Making sales as soon as you buy the solo ad is an added bonus. The goal of using solo ads should be to build your list first and foremost.
However, what’s even more important is to what you do with them after you have them on your list.
Once they’re on your list, start by building a relationship with them so you turn them from cold leads to warm or even hot leads.
One way of achieving that is by offering them free value.
And by free value, I don’t mean freebies and gifts, because if you do that then you’ll end up with a list that only expects freebies from you.
Instead, what you need to do is send them to your best blog posts or YouTube videos.
Assuming those have some sort of a CTA (call to action), those will convert some of those leads into sales.
Pro Tip: Every single piece of content you put out there should and must have some sort of a CTA.
So your 14-day daily follow up series should be focused around value with CTA’s as much as possible.
Now you could also send them to content that you haven’t created yourself, but the reason you want to only send them to your content is because you’re building your own authority and rapport with them.
So when you eventually promote offers to them, you’ve already helped them that they know, like and trust you enough to take you up on your offers/recommendation.
With that said, try to first exhaust all your own offers before promoting affiliate offers.
Now if you don’t have any content of your own and not sure how to create content, you can always use PLR (Private Label Rights) content.
You can find a ton of both free and paid PLR content here
Also, in your relationship building series, encourage your leads to reply to your emails. This will help build an even stronger relationship with them by engaging in a back and forth conversations.
Don’t worry, you won’t necessarily have that many replies. Most people are too lazy to do it anyway, but it’s a good practice and shows that you care about your leads and not just after their wallets.
Your funnel is what you feed it
Just like our physical bodies, your funnel needs healthy leads. Feed it crappy leads, and it’ll produce poor results.
Most newbies turn for cheap over quality, thinking that they can save.
In reality, they’ll end up paying more in the long run because it costs them money to acquire and store those leads in their autoresponder, only to end up with leads that don’t respond.
So my go to solo ad vendor is Wayne Crowe. I’ve had runs with him where I almost broke even on the front end.
There are other good vendors in the market, but quite honestly, he’s the one I trust the most in this industry.