Getting Started with Solo Ads


When it comes to marketing, strength nearly always lies in numbers.  While the term “Solo Ads”, may sound like something a business owner does on his or her own, the term actually refers to creating a partnership within a specific niche to expand marketing reach.

What Is a Solo Ad?

Solo Ads start as a partnership between a merchant (the buyer) and a person engaged as the solo marketer (the seller).  As in previous partnership examples, this person could be another merchant in a specific niche, a social media influencer, a blogger, etc.  The important factor is that the person who sells, has their own audience and their own email list

This solo marketer will send an email to their dedicated email list, advertising the buyer’s product or service, and ONLY that buyer’s product or service.  That’s where the “Solo” part comes in.  The audience receives an email dedicated to the merchant’s product, and if they’re interested, they click to reach their squeeze page, sales page, funnel, or more.

Typically, the solo ad leads to a squeeze page, which encourages the prospective customer to enter their email address to learn more about the merchant’s products or services. 

This allows the merchant to grow their audience to directly market to this potential consumer in the future. Capturing email addresses allows a merchant to remarket and sell to that individual in the future, rather than trying to make a frantic sale based on a curious click.

How Does It Work?

Before engaging with a potential solo ad owner, it’s best to do research. First, take a look at forums, friends, and additional resources online.  Do a web search for “email lists in (market)” to ensure this is a practice that is relevant to a specific niche.

Search for that owner’s name and website, and any related social media.  Determine if this resource is credible.  Some solo ad list owners acquire their email lists by “scraping,” or using software to gather any email address it can find.  A more credible list owners will have gained traffic organically, through a specific niche, and captured through the owner’s own squeeze page.

The difference between the two is conversions:  an individual who receives an email about a product that is relevant to other products in which they are interested is more likely to click through a solo ad than someone who is randomly receiving an email for no particular reason. 

Make sure the list owner stands behind traffic, is engaged with and responsive to their audience, and trustworthy.  Going forward, the buyer and the list owner will need to communicate continuously to effectively launch the solo ad, so it is extremely important that the buyer and list owner feel they can trust each other to create a successful partnership.

Solo Ads Content

Next, determine who is writing the solo ad content.  This is one of the many online marketing scenarios in which content is key.

Without good copywriting, a solo ad will simply sift through spam filters and disappear without any clicks.  Sometimes the list owner will write the copy.  Other times, the buyer will provide the content. 

Occasionally, a third party copywriter will be hired to create the content.  It is important that all parties agree on the content, because at the end of the day, this content reflects on the list owner to their audience, and on the merchant regarding their product or services.

How Does Payment Work?

There are two methods in which payment can be agreed upon between the merchant and the list owner.

The first is CPM, or “Cost Per Thousand Impressions.”  An impression is how many times an ad is viewed by unique individual customers, which can be tracked by individual opens of an email.

The other method is CPC, or “Cost Per Click.”  In this method, the number of clicks on an ad are tracked, allowing the list owner credit for each time the solo ad generates a click.

To calculate the overall conversion rate of a solo ad, take the number of sales or signups for a product, and divide it by the number of visitors during a solo ad’s run time.  This will require both the list owner and the merchant to track traffic, both of the email itself, and from the website to which it is directed.

Techniques to Improve Conversion Rates from Solo Ads

Many solo ads offer a “tripwire.”  A tripwire is a low priced item with a high interest value that can be given away as a free incentive for signing up for a list.

For example, a potential customer receives a solo ad from a blogger they already follow. If they click, they are directed to a squeeze page, where they are told that, by entering their email address below, they will receive a PDF that will provide more detailed information on the topic in which they are interested.

This is a relatively low-risk procedure that will help both the list owner and the merchant gain attention.  The customer will then look forward to more information, and place additional trust in both sources.

They may continue clicking on the merchant’s website to view all of their products, thus increasing the likelihood that the merchant will have a sale.

Video Sales Letters, or VSLs, are another method of gaining conversions.  Customers love watching things in action, so a short, intimate video from the merchant, explaining a product or showing it in action, will help them gain emotional attachment to the object for sale.

Make sure this video is also available on the website to ensure potential customers return to the site for more information, or even allow them to link to it to share with others. 

What Is The Risk of Solo Ads?

Solo ads are equal parts risk to investment, so it’s important to start small.  Do not purchase a $1000 list on the first try, because it’s impossible to predict how many clicks an initial campaign will generate.

Make smaller investments, and work with list owners who are willing to participate in smaller solo ad launches to make sure the niche is right for everyone. 

A growing number of buyers and solo ads marketers use dedicated marketplaces, such as Udimi.

Udimi is one of the most trusted marketplaces for solo ads, because they have implemented a click filter algorithm, which makes sure merchants don’t pay for junk traffic generated by bots or traffic exchange programs.

Fake clicks are a real thing, and Udimi has the ability to track which clicks are fraudulent.

This filter searches bot traffic, as well as useless human traffic, such as click rings, traffic exchanges, and more.  This is a great fail safe to ensure that the clicks generated by a solo ad are from actual interested humans, and not from fake users or people who engage in back-and-forth clicking for the sake of driving up numbers.

Merchants do not want to pay for fake traffic, as this will never lead to conversions.

When sellers are caught doing this kind of untrustworthy practices, they are banned form the marketplace. At Udimi they have also recently implemented a verification procedure for marketers who want to start selling solo ads.

Wrapping Up

Solo ads can be a vital part of expanding market and reaching more customers.  By marketing a product to a new audience, it is possible for a merchant to gain a new foothold in a niche.

Using stellar copywriting, offering a tripwire, or sending a potentially viral video letter will engage these new customers and lead to a new level of conversions.  Just be careful that the investment and the partnership are equally beneficial!


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

What are your thoughts?