One of the best things about marketing on the web is that there are so many different strategies and techniques you can employ to get the word out about your company or organization. There are options at nearly all price levels and plenty of variety when it comes to whether your ads are written, graphical, recorded video or some combination of these basic types. If you want to excel at Internet marketing then it definitely makes sense to learn about as many different kinds of advertising as you can because that gives you not just more knowledge, but a better ability to choose what will work best for whatever it is that you want to advertise.
Solo ads are one choice you have and this is the type of ad we want to look at today. We are going to learn what they are, how they work, a bit of their history and why they are a common choice for a lot of marketers today. We will also take a look at how they are created and talk about how you can benefit from running solo ads if you happen to have a mailing list of your own. You’ll discover that this is an advertising opportunity that’s often overlooked and you’ll be better prepared to determine whether or not it might be a good choice for you in your own endeavors.
The Definition of Solo Ads & the History Behind Them
Understanding what a solo ad is will be simple because, as its name suggest, it is a stand alone ad. It is one which is sent to subscribers of a mailing list (such as an ezine) and is distinct from other ads that the list owner may run because it is not embedded in with the content of other mailings. In other words, it is an email that is just to advertise a specific brand, product, service or organization and was not created for any other purpose. This helps it to stand apart from the rest of the mail the subscribers receive and is designed to focus their attention on what the solo ad has to offer.
These ads work because generally a mailing list will be focused around a demographic or particular topic and that means the subscribers are a focused group of individuals who share common traits. This is ideal for advertisers because it means their message is getting in front of a defined audience. That’s key in any kind of advertising and the fact that the solo ad is going directly into the subscriber’s email inbox is important because it means they are more likely to see it in most cases. Additionally, these mailing lists are opt in so that means the person has agreed up front to see ads like this when they signed up. That kind of inbound marketing is definitely more to most marketers’ liking today and when done well it can produce very strong results.
Purchasing solo ads costs more
It should be noted that purchasing solo ads costs more than purchasing ads that are worked into the middle of a mailing. This is because not only is it an extra email that the list owner pays for, it is something that can not be done too often because otherwise the subscribers might get upset about seeing too many solo ads. List owners have to carefully nurture their subscriber bases to make sure that people are happy with the service and content they provide because that is how they keep a large enough audience that selling ads can generate revenue for them.
The history of solo ads goes back a long way and is most likely tied to the rise of the ezine or email magazine. These were very popular in the days where most people’s primary means of communicating with others was via email rather than via social networks. Many of those ezines still do operate today, but the massive increase in spam that was experienced around the turn of the millennium made it more difficult to convince people to sign up for mailing lists. That is not to say that mailing lists are no longer popular, but the average size of a mailing list is now significantly less than it would have been years ago.
What publishers noticed was that they could charge small amounts for these ads to their subscribers, generally with the CPM model meaning Cost Per Mil (a mil meaning one thousand). So if the CPM was $2 then a mailing list with 4,000 subscribers would be able to charge $8 for a single ad. The larger the list, the higher the profits. That example price is not intended to reflect real pricing used today, but to establish how list owners would earn money from their lists other than advertising sites, products or services that they had to list. What advertisers are paying for when they purchase a solo ad is access to a select audience and that does remain true today.
The Advantages That Solo Ads Offer Marketers
As simple as the concept of solo ads is to understand, they definitely do offer some real advantages to those who are trying to market something effectively, be it a commercial product or service or an organization trying to reach out to a wider audience. One of the key advantages is that solo ads arrive in a consumer’s private email inbox yet this is something the consumer has agreed to in advance. That means a solo ad is not likely to be seen as offensive and stands a good chance of being read and responded to, obviously depending upon how skillfully it was created, the quality of the list itself and other factors.
Generally speaking, the CPM model used by list owners who sell solo ad space makes them a truly low cost advertising option. While a marketer may not be able to run a large number of solo ads with one list or run them over and over since they don’t want to fatigue or annoy their subscriber base, a marketer can certainly purchase solo ads across a variety of different lists. Depending upon the niche and how well that niche is served by currently active mailing lists, there is the potential that solo ads could be used to reach out to hundreds of thousands or even millions of individuals who might not have been reached with your marketing message any other way.
If an advertiser tried to reach the same niche audience that they could reach with just one solo ad through a fine tuned mailing list, the costs would be far, far higher. Acquiring focused and dedicated members of a niche is what solo ads are best at helping marketers to do. Usually, those who have been subscribed to a niche ezine or other mailing service are going to be the kind of customers marketers want for what they have to sell. Finding these type of individuals is not easy and mailing lists simplify the process for you which is why they can be such a powerful resource.
The benefits of solo ads
The benefits of solo ads to solo entrepreneurs are many and tied closely to the two factors of low-cost and also that the ads will be exposed to a tightly focused list of consumers. Most solo entrepreneurs are working on a shoestring budget and they can leverage solo ads to bring them traffic. For those involved in affiliate marketing, this can be a great way to go, as well, because the low costs to obtain visitors to a medium to high commission product or service could really pay off. Additionally, solo entrepreneurs may not have highly developed websites that will be approved by pay-per-click (PPC) ad networks and those sites may not be particularly suited to obtaining organic search traffic from search engines, either. With solo ads, none of this is a concern because it is up to the list owner to decide whether or not they are willing to place an ad. Fewer rules and policies often mean it is easier for entry-level entrepreneurs to get a foothold, grow their list, and hopefully make some sales and keep on building their business.
For companies, solo ads offer a chance to get their message out and expose their brand to niche audiences. Some companies serve more than one niche and solo ads can be a low-cost way for them to reach more people. Because companies normally have larger budgets, they may be able to run solo ads in a variety of different ezines or publications and through that net quite a bit of traffic.
Even organizations that aren’t about profits can benefit from solo ads and their ability to tap into niche markets. In some instances, a list owner may be willing to offer reduced fees or even no fee at all for certain charitable organizations. This can be an excellent way to connect with consumers that might otherwise have been incredibly difficult to reach. Organizations can usually always use one more way to do that which does not cost them a fortune.
Before You Buy Solo Ads Carefully Evaluate the Publisher
One thing that certainly has to be said about deciding when and where to run solo ads is that you need to make sure you have thoroughly investigated any publisher you are planning to work with. Not all mailing lists are created equal and neither are those who own and operate them. Mailing lists vary not just in the niches they serve, but how well they serve their subscribers. Simply having a huge mailing list does not indicate whether or not that mailing list is well served nor whether or not its subscribers actually read and respond to what they are sent. This is why you need to make sure you look carefully at the mailing lists you are considering running solo ads on.
The first step is to make sure that the mailing list is opt in only. You do not want to be running a solo ad on a mailing list which is not opt in only, no matter how cheap the ads may be, because this runs the risk of associating your business or organization with spamming practices. The United States, United Kingdom and most European nations all have regulations that prohibit the use of email addresses without explicit permission given from the email address owner. Violating those regulations can result in fines and even prison time in some instances. Always verify that the list is opt in first.
Your next step should be to verify that the list does indeed send good content in its mailings. Verifying this should be as simple as signing up for the list yourself or speaking with the list owner to see examples of the kind of content that gets sent to subscribers. It would be helpful to know, as well, what kinds of solo ads have been sent to subscribers in the past. If you can get statistics for how many clicks those ads generated then that is even better, but bear in mind that not all list owners are going to be willing to divulge that information. Still, if they are willing to speak with you and give you tips or advice as to how to make your solo ad more appealing to their subscriber base then that is information that is going to be well worth taking into consideration when you are designing your perfect solo ad.
If you are not sure about a mailing list and can get very little information, even after you have contacted the list owner directly, then it might be a wise idea to avoid the list. Your solo ad should speak well of your business or organization and mailing a list that is filled with people who rarely respond to any ad is going to be a waste of your time, energy and money. Try your best to find the most relevant, most popular and dynamic lists that you can – those are where you want your solo ads featured. Just because a solo ad costs very little does not mean it is worth the hassle if you aren’t going to get results or you have to deal with a difficult list owner. Think of the audience first, especially those subscribers who might actually end up becoming some of your best customers. You want them to have a positive association with what you have to offer and your brand, too.
Metrics Are Crucial in Determining the Effectiveness of Solo Ads
Those who get good at running effective solo ads are able to do so because they spend a lot of time and effort on designing the best ads possible and selecting the right lists to have those ads displayed on. Another thing they do is spend time tracking the results of those ads. Generally, you can use a link that will track those who click on your ad so that you can find out where they are coming from. This is important because if your products or services are geared to those in the US and all of the clicks are coming from far-flung foreign nations then you may have a problem. If no one is even bothering to click your links then you have another problem altogether. There are many potential issues you will want to watch for with solo ads just as you would with any other kind of ads.
There are a lot of different ways that you can track visitors to your site or track those who follow links in your solo ads. You will want to research to learn what those are and also to find the most effective ones for your purposes. Those who have run solo ads in the past may know of techniques for measuring results, as well, and often Internet marketing forums and the comments section of blogs geared to that topic are where these people hang out. Their advice could be invaluable to you and it is worth seeking out. Mainly, though, make sure that any advice you take is up to date and works with today’s technologies and current consumer behaviors. Taking outdated information is not going to assist you in perfecting the right marketing strategies.
What you begin to learn as you track and measure the results of running solo ads is what works and what does not. You will find differences exist in different niches, in different mailing lists, with different kinds of ad design and different offers you make, as well. Learning from the results you get is very important because you want to learn how to craft the best solo ads you can and run campaigns that bring you the best results possible. This is a process and it does take time, not to mention constant learning, but with the data you get through metrics you will become much more savvy with solo ads.
Solo Ads Offer Income Opportunity to Those with a Sizable List
Those who have a list of their own may want to investigate the possibility of running solo ads. This can be an excellent way to bring in some extra income, though unless your list is truly enormous, it is unlikely to become a sole source of income for you. That said, this can be an excellent idea which helps you make the most of your subscribers while, so long as you carefully curate which solo ads you take, still gives that valued subscriber base something they can benefit from.
As a mailing list owner, your first duty is to take good care of your subscribers and always do things that further their best interest. They can unsubscribe at any time which is certainly nothing that any list owner wants them to do. That’s why you need to carefully go over solo ads and make sure they are not obnoxious, offensive or offering something that is a bad value. You also want to make sure that you are only taking solo ads from companies that actually serve your niche. Your reputation rests on what you show your subscribers so do not waste their time and attention giving them garbage ads.
Before taking on a solo ad client, you need to investigate their business to some degree. You want to make sure they are legitimate and that they will deliver on the offer they are making. This usually means doing some research to see what their reputation is online and possibly even checking to see if they have any complaints with the Better Business Bureau or a similar body. The goal here is to make sure you do not violate the trust your subscribers place in you when they sign up. If you make a mistake and send out a solo ad that people complain about, do not hesitate to address that and try to repair the damage by explaining your mistake. You have to nurture your own business and when accidents happen, you need to do what you can to make things right. That’s how you develop a large, stable and valuable mailing list that you can charge a lot to run a solo ad on.
Hiring Professionals to Design Your Solo Ads
There are generally two key components to a successful solo ad: the graphical design and the sales copy. If you are not an expert in both of these fields then it might be very wise to hire a firm or freelancer who has experience in creating copy. As far as creating killer squeeze pages, we recommend using OptimizePress , it works easily and creates beautiful pages.
Writing sales copy is something that takes a significant amount of training, especially sales copy persuasive enough to generate clicks from solo ads. Not all mailing lists send out graphics in their emails and you need to be aware that people sometimes check their email from their mobile phone or have configured their web browser or email program to not display graphics. In the best case scenario, the list owner you are working with will have advice regarding the best way to design your solo ads for maximum effectiveness, but this is not always going to happen. This is where experimentation comes into play, but if you are working with professional solo ad designers then you stand a better chance of getting the kind of results you want from your ads.
Learning to Design Solo Ads Yourself
It is possible to learn to design your own solo ads and a lot of solo entrepreneurs will end up going this route because it can help them save money at the beginning of their enterprise. There is information available online regarding the design of solo ads, but you need to make sure whatever you come across in your research is recent so that you know you are learning strategies which are still effective in today’s markets. You will also want to consider asking those with experience if you have come across anyone that has successfully used solo ads in their marketing efforts.
If you are not finding much success in your research then you might want to think about looking for a course that teaches either how to design and use solo ads or perhaps how to write sales copy. This will get you closer to the goal and may be able to give you skills you can use in other marketing efforts, as well. Writing effective copy is always a good skill to have because you can also use it for website design and other marketing endeavors. The graphical design of solo ads is usually of lesser importance, but if you can find courses to help with this then it will certainly get you closer to your goal.
One final consideration for learning how to make solo ads is to find a coach or mentor who can work directly with you to teach you more about making and using this type of ad. Often this kind of training does not come cheap, but given what you stand to learn through one on one interactions with someone who’s been successful at designing and employing solo ads it could really pay off for you. Just make sure you verify the person’s reputation and ensure that they are respected in the Internet marketing world before you hand over any money. As long as you do that, this could very well be the most effective route to go.
Careful Planning & Focused Strategy Can Make Solo Ads Successful
As a final note, we do need to say that if you are planning to make heavy use of solo ads to try to get the most possible out of them, you need to be focused on planning and strategy. All solo ad campaigns should be well thought out because if you use them the right way, you can do wonders for your brand. You will want to know as many potential places to run solo ads as you can – for those mailing lists in your niche, that is – and you will also want to know about the type of consumers you are trying to reach. The best solo ad marketers know what time of the week or month is going to be most effective for the ads they run and they also know how the seasons affect their marketing. You want to be in that position, as well, and the only way you can be sure you will be is to do your research and learn from the best pros you can find.
Your solo ad strategy may start out producing little results, but if you keep improving, tracking your progress and making changes when changes need to be made then you will find success with solo ads. Considering just how much marketers are able to earn with mailing lists, it is certainly worth your time to put this kind of effort and time into getting good with solo ads if you believe they are a format that would help you promote what you have to offer. You get in what you put in with solo ads, just like any other form of advertising, so make sure that you are giving it your best effort if you intend to utilize these ads as a core part of your marketing strategy.