The marketing domain is competitive in 2018. As more and more content gets uploaded every
single day, it’s becoming harder and harder to market your business through your content and
rank on the SERPs.
For this reason, many internet marketers are turning towards less-competitive alternative
methods of drawing traffic, one of which is solo ads. The problem is that solo ads have
traditionally been viewed with distrust by the marketing community – the huge number of
scammers masquerading as solo ad vendors have given solo ads a bad name.
Despite this, competition in SEO and content marketing means that a lot of marketers are now
beginning to consider them, and many are now curious to find out how solo ads work – or if, in
fact, they do work.
In this article, we’re going to explain exactly how solo ads work. Hopefully, that will help to
debunk some of the myths around solo ads and prove that they are indeed a great way of
getting traffic. Once you understand how they work and why, you might be a little more willing to
give them a shot.
Before we explain how they work though, it’s important that you understand what they are and
what they’re used for.
With that in mind, let’s jump into the basics.
What Solo Ads Are
A solo ad is a standalone email advertisement that allows marketers to reach a huge number of
targeted prospects with very little investment. The solo ad email is sent out to a list of
subscribers who have previously expressed an interest in your specific niche.
The aforementioned list doesn’t belong to you though, it belongs to someone else. You pay the
list owner to send your advertisement to their targeted email list and generate targeted traffic.
If you’re already familiar with the concept of email swaps, then solo ads should be easy to
understand as they’re pretty much the same thing. The only difference is that with solo ads, you
pay someone to send your promotion to their list (sort of life a list rental), whereas with email
swaps, you just offer up your own list in exchange.
They sound more complicated than they are, so I’ll summarize all that again in one sentence to
simplify things: solo ads are targeted email advertisements that you pay to be sent to
someone else’s email list.
Solo Ad Prices
The way you pay depends on the solo ad vendors pricing model. There are three different
pricing models typically used in solo ads. These are:
– Cost per click (CPC)e
– Cost per open (CPO)
– Cost per conversion/action (CPA)
In CPC models, you pay the vendor to guarantee you a certain amount of clicks. A click is
defined as when a recipient opens the email and clicks the link within. A click doesn’t account
for anything that happens once the recipient has clicked the link.
In CPO models, the vendor will guarantee you a certain amount of email opens. Unlike CPC,
CPO doesn’t guarantee that they will click anything, which means how much traffic you really
get depends on how well you craft the email and make you readers want to click that link.
In CPA models, the solo ad vendor guarantees you that a certain number of recipients will not
only click and open the email, they’ll also take a specific action on your landing page. This might
mean that they sign up to your own subscriber list, buy a product, or whatever else you’re trying
to get them to do.
The majority of solo ads are priced using the CPC models. The reason the vendors can
guarantee clicks is because ultimately, it’s a numbers game. Even if your solo ad has a low
click-through rate, they can send it out to more people until the click count is reached.
So for example, let’s imagine there are two separate people who have each paid a solo ad
vendor $50 for 100 clicks. One of them might send an email which gets a 2% click-through rate,
and the other might get a 1% click-through rate.
The first email will have to be sent to 5,000 people whereas the second email will have to be
sent to 10,000 people. Both have, however, generated the same number of clicks and paid the
In this sense, you could say that the first buyer had got the raw end of the deal, as his email has
converted better and should have got more clicks, would it have been sent to the same number
of recipients. It might have been better, then, for him to pay for a vendor using a CPO model.
How Solo Ads Work
Ok, now we know what solo ads are and how you pay for them, let’s get into the nitty-gritty stuff
and answer the question ‘how do solo ads work?’.
It goes like this:
A solo ads seller/vendor creates a list and builds a relationship with a demographic of
consumers interested in a specific niche. For example, the solo ad seller might be a blogger
who writes about topics related to health and fitness. The readership of the blog is, therefore,
obviously interested in the health and fitness niche. They’ve willingly subscribed to the email list
because they have build a relationship with the blogger and want email communications from
That solo ad seller can then offer the opportunity to marketers to leverage the trust they’ve build
with their audience for their promotional needs. The audience in this is example is obviously
interested in health and fitness, so appropriate solo ads would be those promoting some sort of
health and fitness product. This could be an ebook, diet plan, or anything similar.
The marketer would then create and write up an email ad that promotes their product/service;
aiming to make sure the ad is as appealing and likely to get clicked as possible, pay the list
owner to send it out to their targeted list, and wait for the traffic to come in to the landing page.
In theory, in simple – but there’s a little more to it than that so let’s break the solo ad process
down into different steps and talk about how each of them works in more detail.
Step 1: You Create a Landing Page
Your landing page is the page where those who click the link in your solo ads will end up, so it’s
vital to get it right. There’s no point in getting all that traffic through the door if they just walk
straight back out of them.
There are all sorts of different landing pages, and devising the right strategy for your landing
page is too broad of a topic to cover in this article, but the landing page will often be a lead
capture page, rather than the homepage of a website.
This is because the lead capture page is right at the top of your sales funnel. It allows you to
capture the information you need from those that click the link in order to keep communicating
and get them further down your sales funnel. You might ask them to fill in a form here to get
their email addresses so you can build your own list for future communications, for example.
Step 2: You Write the Email
Now comes the important part: writing the solo ads email. The first thing to remember here is
that the purpose of the email is to get the reader to click the link. It’s not there to sell your
product or service – leave that up to your landing page and sales funnel.
A solo ads email consists of four main parts:
– A subject line
– Email body
– CTA (call-to-action)
– Link to your landing page
The subject line is there to get the recipient to actually open the email. It’s probably the most
important sentence you’ll write. If you don’t do it well, it’s much less likely that the recipient will
open the email to begin with.
To devise a good subject line, try to get in the head of your target market. What do they want to
know? And what do they hate?
A good format to follow is this:
“How to (something they want) for people that (something they hate)”
For example, sticking with our example health and fitness niche, it could be:
“How to lose weight for people that hate counting calories”
The email body should be well written by someone with a good knowledge of how to write email
copy that sells. The CTA should direct the reader to click the link, and the link itself should be
clearly visible as soon as the email is opened.
Step 3: Find a List Vendor
This is the part where many marketers fall down. Your solo ad is only as valuable to you as the
list it’s sent to. You need to make sure you choose a solo ad vendor who has a list that is
relevant to your niche, and that the list itself has been built organically and provides high-quality
There are a lot of sellers out there who offer fake lists, ‘bot’ clicks (meaning the clicks are
generated by computer software, not actual people), third-tier traffic from countries outside of
your primary target market, or who just send so much spam to their list that their readers are
disillusioned and will be less likely to engage with your promotion.
It’s important that you do all you can to avoid these and choose only those solo ad vendors you
trust and who have a proven track record of delivering high quality traffic that is worth your time
and your money.
It might sound bias, but we’d really like to throw our own hat in here. Results Inspired never
offer phony bot clicks and 80-90% of our traffic is tier-one traffic. Check our homepage out to
find out more if you’re interested.
Step 4: Purchase Your Solo Ads and Track Your Results
It’s best to start small and purchase just a few clicks to begin with. You can then track your
results to see how many of those clicks are converting to sales/actions.
If you’re happy with your results, you can put in a bigger purchase the second time and enjoy
the results and ROI that you’ve worked hard for.
They Really Can Work
That’s all there is to it. We hope we’ve answered the question ‘how do solo ads work?’ for you,
and hopefully, it’s now clear that solo ads really can work if used correctly.
It’s all about taking the time to set up your landing page, write the best email you can, and find
the right seller.
Check out our blogs page for answers to more of your solo ad questions.