Solo Ads – The Definitive Guide

When it comes to traffic, you need THREE things: Quality, Quantity, and Targeted. Amazingly, traffic from solo ads checks out on all three parameters.

I’ve dabbled around with hundreds of traffic sources, which include but are not limited to Social Media, SEO, FB Ads, Adwords, BuySellAds, 7Search, PPV, CPA, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Solo Ads… you get the point.

Not all traffic is equal. I have had hundreds of failed campaigns, hundreds of successful campaigns, and I’ve come to realize that some traffic sources are just not worth it.

Of course, it’s not just about the traffic. Your landing page matters. Your offer matters. Copywriting, trust, and proof matter.

But what happened is, over time, I’ve developed a taste of knowing what traffic source to use in which funnel.

As you might know, I’m big on email marketing and I truly believe it’s the one thing that ties up your marketing because it’s still got the highest ROI compared with every other marketing strategy.

Email ROI

So much so, that I created a full blown training course on how to build your list using solo ads a couple of months ago called Email Instruments.

Even on this blog, you’ll observe I have optin forms set up wherever possible without ruining the user experience. I have an optin form on the top, right sidebar, and below each post.

It’s extremely important to associate list building with every other digital marketing activity.

For me, Solo Ads have outperformed every other traffic source especially when I wanted to drive traffic to my optin/squeeze pages to build my list.

In this detailed guide, I hope to cover all your questions related to solo ads and give you enough knowledge to start buying and selling solo ads right away.

What Are Solo Ads

Solo Ads or Email Media or Solo Advertising is a way of driving traffic to your landing pages by buying clicks from people with email lists.

There are three roles in a solo ad transaction:

  • Buyer: When you’re buying clicks
  • Seller: When you’re selling clicks
  • Network: A Marketplace/Network for solo ad transactions

Here’s how the solo ad process works:

The Solo Ad Process

Let’s say I’m a solo ad seller and you want to buy traffic from me. I have a responsive list, with several buyers, and I can send hundreds of clicks with a promo to a portion of my list.

So you will get in touch with me and if I’m interesting in selling solo ad traffic (which BTW, I’m not currently), then I will let you know the number of clicks I can send your way and the CPC.

I will then look at your landing page and the offer you’re promoting in the backend. Once I’m happy that it’s something my list would like hearing about, I’ll ask you to make the payment upfront and give you a tracking link to track how many clicks you received.

I might also go in and recommend some suggestions for improving conversions on your optin page.

I will then ask for an email swipe from you (explained below), and then fine-tune the swipe to the conversational tone I use with my email list.

I will then schedule an email for you. Now see, my subscribers like to read my emails. So when they see an email from me recommending a giveaway, they click the link in the email and go through the tracking link to your optin page.

Whoever opts in, becomes a part of your email list and then its your time to build a relationship with them.

While most of this report has been written to guide buyers, solo ad sellers can also get a few ideas by reading it.

When solo ads started gaining traction a few years ago, some sellers got into the act of scamming other people because there was no buyer security. They would take money from the buyer and run away or arbitrage with cheap traffic from other sources netting a profit.

So buyers were pretty much screwed.

But then many big marketers started talking about solo ads, and slowly it became a mainstream way of driving traffic to your optin pages.

Hence, the advent of marketplaces and directories (I’ve covered all of that below), and now is the golden time to get into the solo ad game.

Step Zero: Get Everything Ready

There are a few things you need before you can start buying solo ads.

First, an optin page.

If you don’t know the conversion rates on your optin page, then setup split testing. I recommend Leadpages for setting up your optin pages because they have built-in click tracking, A-B split testing, and they let you drive unlimited traffic. Of course, they have some beautiful optin page templates that you can edit very easily using their click-click interface.

Optin page templates in Leadpages

Second, you need click tracking.

There are several tools out there that let you track clicks. You may use Bitly, or goo.gl or tinyurl or even install a plugin like Pretty Link inside WordPress for tracking your clicks.

If you are interested in a premium service, there’s a kick-ass tool called ClickMagick which is used by a lot of people who are into solo ads. It’s not that expensive and they have a lot of cool features like cloaking, rotating etc.

clickmagick

It’s important to use click tracking, because if you give a naked link to the solo ad seller, then you’re relying on their click tracking service to determine how many clicks they actually sent.

Third, set up your funnel.

I’ve covered some types of funnels that work great with solo ads later in this report. But the bare minimum funnel includes an optin page and a POP (Post Optin Page, also called a Thank You Page).

The POP is your most valuable page because a subscriber has just taken action and opted in to your list. They are ready to give you their attention and want to learn more about you.

It’s like meeting a stranger on the street. They say ‘Hi’, and shake your hand. Wouldn’t it be rude if you just nodded and went on your way? You need to SELL something on that POP.

It can either be an affiliate offer that’s converting well for you. It can be your own product. It can also be the actual giveaway for which they opted in.

Here’s an example of a POP that I used for my own launch funnel. This is what peeps saw after they opted in:

In the latter case, you have to make sure you have some CTA in the giveaway that helps you sell something.

The solo ad game is about ROI and how quickly you recuperate your initial investment will determine how successful you will be in this game.

Of course you will be sending promotional emails to your list later, but if you spend like $500 in acquiring 500 leads and make $0 upfront, then you will take at least a few days/weeks to recover the initial investment. Which makes it all the more difficult to scale.

Fourth, pre-schedule autoresponder emails.

The content of the autoresponder emails will vary with the funnel that you’ve built up. If you’re promoting an affiliate product, then the first email will have the giveaway and the next 2-3 emails scheduled to go out once a day will promote that affiliate product.

If you’re promoting your own product in the backend, then you can set up autoresponders that entice your subscribers to check out what you have to offer.

Here’s an example of an autoresponder series that I’ve set up for my ‘Email Instruments’ funnel:

EI Getresponse autoresponders

I recommend at least a week’s worth of autoresponders and a consistent mailing schedule of sending out email blasts at least 5 times a week.

Fifth, you need an email swipe.

An email swipe is a sample email that you will give to the solo ad seller. They may or may not edit it because they have to send it to their list after all.

The swipe should have information about the giveaway and what they can expect to get after they click the link in that email along with a strong call to action.

Here’s a sample email swipe I sent to solo ad sellers to drive traffic to my ‘Email Lifestyle‘ optin page.

Steps To Buy A Solo Ad

Steps to buy a solo ad

1) First off, make sure you have everything that I’ve mentioned earlier. There’s no point hunting for solo ad sellers if you don’t have your funnel ready.

2) Once you have everything ready, it’s time to find solo ad sellers in your niche.

3) You get in touch with a solo ad seller who is willing to send you clicks within an allotted timeframe. Most sellers will require a payment upfront, mostly via Paypal.

Let’s say you want to buy 1000 clicks. The seller has several click packages, one of them being 1000 clicks at 45 cents a click. So the amount you have to pay is $450.

4) Most sellers will also ask for the optin page URL so that they can have a look at it before they take a payment from you. Maybe they don’t like it and don’t want to email their list about it? It’s better to be safe than sorry.

In fact, some sellers will also critique your optin page for free and give you suggestions for improvement. There are a lot of factors that determine conversion rate of an optin page like headline, CTA, colors, background, etc. You should always strive to improve your conversion rate.

5) After you’ve completed the payment, you will send the email swipe to the seller and start a conversation with them. It’s always good to talk to sellers. They are experienced and have been in the email marketing game for a while. Maybe you hit it off with a few of them and that could lead to other opportunities.

6) Most of them will give you a tracking URL to check the results in real time. That page will contain the stats of your solo ad.

Attributes Of The Best Solo Ad Providers

It would become a weird game indeed if everyone with an email list started selling clicks. And while there are quite a lot of solo ad sellers especially in the internet marketing niche, I want to make sure you have the knowledge necessary to weed out the cream.

Tier-I Traffic

This is one of the most important factors while buying a solo ad. You need sellers with at least 80% Tier-I clicks. The reason for that is simple: People in Tier-I countries are better qualified to buy your products and services.

Tier-I countries include these five countries: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Of course, this doesn’t matter if your target market is a different country altogether.

Delivery Time

You want your clicks delivered on time. Period. If you’re promoting a product launch that’s running from August 3rd to August 10th and you place an order for clicks on say, August 1st.

If the seller delivers clicks on August 12th, then it won’t do you any good, will it?

Sellers are human. Many of them maintain a strict mailing calendar and they will let you know if they can send you traffic in the requested timeframe or not.

Response Time

Let’s say you find a great solo ad provider on FB. You’re excited, running around the room, and then send them a FB message telling them you want to buy traffic.

And you get a reply in 10 days. What does that tell you?

Don’t buy from them. Solo ad providers who are serious about this business will be prompt in replying to questions and requests. That being said, a good time-frame to wait for a reply is 24 business hours.

If you get a reply within that time-frame, you can be sure that they are serious about their business.

Good Reviews

With the introduction of marketplaces and networks in the solo ad industry, I’ve noticed a spurt of verified customer reviews.

Reviews matter.

Most of the marketplaces will have reviews of solo ad sellers from several buyers. And it’s very important to skim through the reviews before placing an order.

If you’re visiting a website of an individual seller, then read through the testimonials. If they don’t have testimonials, close the page.

If you’re buying solo ads through FB groups, then look out for sellers who have multiple testimonials from buyers. Many buyers will also mention whether their ad purchase resulted in actual sales or not. You want sellers who can drive sales.

When Should You Use Solo Ads

Solo ads should only be used to drive traffic to optin pages. I’ve tried using it for my sales pages and blog posts etc, but the results weren’t the same.

In fact, I have bought solo ads from vendors asking them to promote a sales page of an affiliate offer and also to my own product’s sales page – but they refused.

rejected-solo-order

Their reason was clear – Solo ads only work with optin pages.

The subscribers on the seller’s email list are used to receiving freebies and they don’t mind entering their email address for something they might value.

That results in a higher conversion rate for you and the recommendation from the seller himself in the email also helps.

Why Should You Bother With Solo Ads

Conversions matter. You need the best bang for your buck every single time. Rather than running around and experimenting with a bunch of traffic sources – stick to one source that works for you.

There are several reasons why Solo Ads convert better than every other traffic source

Recommendation from the seller

Email lists are like your inner circle of people. You have a relationship with them.

Your subscribers get excited when they receive an email from you. They know who you are and they are on your list for a reason.

They like you. They have give you their stamp of approval. If they wouldn’t have, they would have unsubscribed already.

When you send an email recommending an optin page to your list, your peeps get excited and when they click the link, they are already expecting to see an optin form on the other side.

Pre-Sold

The email swipe that you send to the seller will have some information about you and your offer. So the people reading that email will be pre-sold and ready to take action when they click the link in that email.

That’s why email swipes are very important. Of course, it’s at the discretion of the seller to modify the swipe because they have to blast it out to their list. If you wanted to buy a solo ad from me, I would check the messaging of the swipe, edit it because I have my own way of conversing with my list, and then send it out.

In any case, the email pre-sells your optin page to a crowd of hungry info seekers. Which brings me to the next point…

Take my email. I don’t mind.

Since the seller is used to sending out solo ad emails to his list and each solo ad email contains a giveaway, the seller’s email list is already accustomed to what they are going into.

Which means, when they visit your optin page, they will be more than happy to give you their email address. They have been doing so for a long time and they don’t mind.

Funnels That Work Great With Solo Ads

Solo Ad Funnels

Solo ads only work well with specific types of funnels. And since there’s money involved, it’s important to get the basics right.

Even though I’ve played around with solo ads for about a year or so, I’ve realized that there are four types of funnels that work best with solo ads

  1. Clicks to optin page -> POP with giveaway and pre-selling an affiliate offer -> Giveaway delivery in the first autoresponder and promoting the affiliate offer future autoresponders.
  2. Clicks to optin page -> Direct through affiliate link to affiliate offer -> Giveaway delivery in the first autoresponder and promoting affiliate offer in future autoresponders.
  3. Clicks to optin page -> Branding on POP with video and Giveaway delivery. The POP will only promote your own product/affiliate product via the Giveaway. -> Giveaway delivery in the first autoresponder and warming up to buy your own product in future autoresponder emails.
  4. Clicks to optin page -> Your own product’s sales page -> Giveaway delivery in the first autoresponder and warming up to buy your own product in future autoresponder emails.

I always make sure I have an exit popup on my optin pages because this little trick helps add about 10% more leads to my list with no extra expense. Best bang for your buck, right?

The image above is from my Unlock Mind funnel in the personal development space. This landing page consistently converted over 50% with solo ad traffic. The exit popup helped take the conversion rate to 60%.

If a visitor clicked the ‘Stay on this Page’ button, they were shown another optin page. And that page converted at over 50% too.

The Unlock Mind funnel uses the first funnel that I’ve described above.

Solo Ad Directories and Marketplaces

The #1 question I get from my students and other marketers is where they can buy and sell solo ads. In the olden days, you had just one optin: Google search.

Fortunately, things have improved and there are hundreds of solo ads sellers in many niches out there. All you need to do, is find out where they hang out.

You can either visit a marketplace, or a FB group, or find out solo ad sellers individually. Below, I’ve mentioned of my favourite places to buy and sell solo ads.

All these marketplaces are really easy to get started with. You simply create an account and then browse the listings for solo ad sellers, and place your order. If you’re a seller, then signup and create your listing.

Clickonomy

This is my baby. Anik and I launched the alpha version of Clickonomy in July 2014.  In a little over a year, we have 8000+ active users with hundreds of sellers and almost 800,000 clicks sold. That’s quite a lot considering we’re still in beta.

Clickonomy Numbers

I’m still working daily on this marketplace and making it a whole lot better. We have some pretty neat features planned out for this year including solo ad swaps, a better calendar, and much much more security.

I’m currently working on a much better seller profile, and marketplace UI. We will be showing some neat stats like: Tier-I clicks, Response Time, Click Map, and Orders in Queue.

There will be a lot more filtering and sorting features in the revamped UI for the marketplace.

We wanted to embrace buyer and seller security with Clickonomy. Hence, we have a lot of cool features that make us one of the most secure traffic marketplaces out there.

You have genuine seller reviews from actual buyers, a secure wallet for storing funds, click fraud detection, and seller verifications. Both parties are completely protected and we are continually working on making it an even better marketplace.

Our goal with Clickonomy was to create a community of like minded people helping each other grow and facilitate list building. And boy, have we done well. Yes, I’m proud of what we’ve done with Clickonomy.

Udimi

I’ve used Udimi in the past, but the traffic quality wasn’t on par with Clickonomy. 80% of their network consists of sellers dealing in bizopp clicks.

While they do have a few good sellers in there, and I do like their interface a lot, they still need to work on getting a more variety of sellers in the network.

I especially like the amount of data they give you with each seller, like: Tier-I traffic, buyer reviews, Spam/Bot clicks, Verification status, and response time.

Buying clicks on Udimi is a breeze. You fund your account via Paypal, place an order with a seller, and then watch the cool click stats as the traffic rolls in.

During the buying process you also get to see the seller’s availability calendar which highlights the # of clicks available each day.

If you want bizopp leads, then definitely give Udimi a try because their click prices are quite low.

Safe Swaps

This network is great for solo ad swaps. If you don’t have a list already, then skip this. But if you’re interested in building your email list even further, then ad swaps might be your solution.

While we’re still working on building an ad swap feature in Clickonomy, you can get started with Safe Swaps right now.

Safe Swaps lets you connect with other people with email lists and you swap a promo. You send them clicks, and they send you clicks.

TrafficForMe

This network was created by Harris Fellman and they have the ability to deliver around 100,000 clicks per day.

They have an algorithm that checks optin rates, sales conversions, and delivery times – and on the basis of these criteria, they resell clicks to you.

I like their interface and they’ve done a great job with streamlining the buying process.

TheTrafficSource

This marketplace has quickly established itself to be one of the top dogs in the industry and they are also big on bizopp clicks like Udimi.

They also have a partner program that pays out 5% of the deposits made by your referrals. You can use those credits to buy clicks on their platform.

Again, I recommend this source if you want to buy bizopp clicks.

SoloAdsX

This network was created by Prashant Sharma – a fellow Indian who has made it big in the solo ads space. I really like the way they are transparent about the sellers on the network along with actual data like optin rate, sales, cost per click, cost per subscriber, and the contact information of each seller.

They also have some cool tools like deals and an email swipe tool.

I’ve been watching this network since its inception and it’s grown like crazy over the past few months. There’s no signup required. Either place an order directly, or contact a seller and place an order with them individually.

DedicatedEmails

DedicatedEmails

This is yet another interesting network. They don’t have a proper listing of sellers in their marketplace and most of the dealings are done with the network owners themselves.

They have access to players in the bizopp, self help, political, and health niches. This is one of the very few networks that has access to clicks in other niches apart from bizopp.

The way it works is: You give them your ad. They mix and match with available inventory. Finally, they send you traffic, leads, and sales.

To be honest, I haven’t played around in their system much but if you have more information about them then I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

Igor Kheifets

I came across Igor while browsing the Warrior Forum and even though I was skeptical at first, I noticed he had made quite a big name for himself in the solo ad space.

He has built several pages on his website where you can go and buy traffic, or enter your information in a lead form and one of his executives will talk to you individually.

I took him up on one of his ‘guaranteed’ deals and had a word with his peeps. They are well informed and answer your questions well. Even though the price was a little too much for me at the time because I offer I had in a backend was low-ticket.

Buy/Sell Solo Ads via Facebook Groups

There are several solo ads Facebook groups out there. I’ve mentioned the two major ones below.

The cool part is that you can check out testimonials from real people with detailed stats like # of clicks bought, conversion rate, sales or not, Tier-I traffic percentage etc.

Resource #1: Testimonials FB Group

Resource #2: Sales Testimonials FB group

I’ve found out a few great sellers from these groups and bought clicks from them. The process is real easy.

Step 1: Join the FB group

Step 2: Browse through the testimonial posts and keep a close watch on the numbers.

Step 3: If you like a seller’s performance, then there will either be their website link posted there or the FB profile of the seller.

Step 4: Place an order on their website or send them a FB message telling them that you’re interested in buying clicks from them. Something like this:

Solo Ads FB Message

Solo Ads on the Warrior Forum

I got into internet marketing with Warrior Forum way back in 2007. It’s a great resource for pretty much everything related to internet marketing – including solo ads.

If you’re a buyer, looking to build your email list, then you can browse the WSO section and the Classifieds for the latest solo ad deals.

Solo Ads on the Warrior Forum

Step 1: Create a Warrior Forum account if you haven’t already and log in.

Step 2: Go to ‘Search’ and then ‘Advanced Search’

Step 3: Enter ‘solo ads’ in the search box and select the WSO category and the Classifieds category. Hit search.

Step 4: Look through the results. Check out what the sellers have to offer and read reviews from people who have actually ordered from them.

If you’re a seller, looking to sell clicks, then create your own listing on WF in the WSO section and skyrocket your results.

People like Igor have built quite a name for themselves on the Warrior Forum by educating others about solo ads, releasing free training on list building, and also by releasing their latest solo ad deals time and again.

How To Get Free Solo Ads

Ad Swaps or Solo ad swap is a concept that’s gaining quite a lot of attention from email marketers. Here’s the thing though: it’s still in a nascent stage.

Although I’ve mentioned a swap network above, it’s still the only popular network that does ad swaps.

My hunch is that we will be ready to roll out ad swaps in Clickonomy sometime around August 2015. We already have the basics planned out. The rest of it will fall in place soon. I’ve already started working on the UI.

Anyways, here’s how an ad swap works:

Step 1: You get in touch with someone who’s willing to swap clicks. Of course, you want to make sure that the person you’re swapping with has a history of sending good clicks. Otherwise you’re just adding useless leads to your list.

Step 2: You get an agreement with the other party with the following things sorted out: # of clicks, delivery date, and tracking URL.

Step 3: Both of you start sending clicks based on the agreed upon delivery date and nobody pays any actual money.

Ad swaps are recommended with only trusted sellers with whom you have a personal relationship otherwise you might end up sending a bunch of quality traffic from your list and not get any leads from their traffic. Or worse, not get any traffic at all.

Conclusion

I hope this report will help you get started with solo ads. I’ve outlined the basics of the entire process here and even though some topics like optin page conversion rates, funnel optimization, and copywriting were not explained in great detail – it was done for a reason. I will cover these topics in detail in later posts.

I want to know what YOU thought about this and if you have had experience with solo ads, I want to hear from you. Also, if you feel I’ve missed out on some topics (I’m human after all), then please let me know in the comments section below.

Solo ads is the best way I know to built an email list quickly and even though it was a risky game, marketplaces like Clickonomy have started to even out the playing field and make it a much more viable source of traffic and leads. All the best 🙂

2 Comments

  1. Julia June 10, 2017
    • Ritoban Chakrabarti June 18, 2017

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