Just Say No (to solo ads)

Posted September 10, 2014 by Brett Rutecky in Training Articles

One thing that everyone needs is traffic. The best sales page in  the world and the most amazing free giveway on a squeeze page mean nothing without traffic. Traffic is the life blood of internet marketing. Without it you cant make money. Period. The problem is that a lot of people who are new to the IM world don’t really know how to get traffic. Many times these people fall into using solo ads in order to drive traffic to their squeeze pages with the hopes of build an email list. Well today I want to take a hard look at solo ads.

First lets take a step back and explain exactly what a solo ad is for anyone who does not know. A solo ad is basically where you pay someone else to mail their list about your free giveaway. You normally pay per click.  For example if you have a squeeze page with a free gift in exchange for a signup you can pay a solo ad seller to send a specific number if  ‘clicks’ to your squeeze page. The hope for you is that these people will then signup to get your free gift and thus be on your list. Solo ads promise instant traffic and the possibility to in essence ‘buy’ an email list. For a lot of frustrated, confused or new people in the IM business this seems like the fast track to success.

Personally I think that solo ads are a bad idea for the person buying them and that they should be avoided. Let me explain why.

First we need to understand how much a solo ad is going to cost.


There are several sites and directory’s that list solo ad sellers. Also solo ads can be purchased on places like the Warrior form. Something that you will learn about most solo ad sellers is that they will only send to a free offer. They will say its because they want to ‘take care of’ their list. But I actually have an alternative view on why they have this rule.

There are basically two different kinds of people that can be on an email list. The ‘buyers’ and the ‘freebie seekers’. These are just names and there is nothing derogatory about one or the other. The important difference from the  marketers perspective is that the ‘buyer’ as at some point purchased a digital product. The ‘freebie seeker’ signs up through squeeze pages but never actually buys anything.

So now your wondering. When you buy a solo ad which kind of people do you think will be getting mailed about your free offer? Well consider this. As an affiliate mailing out for product launches you can get $2-$3 EPC easy. EPC is (earning per click) or basically how much your getting paid per click you send the affiliate offer. Also remember that the ‘freebie seekers’ are known to sign up through squeeze pages to get free stuff, even though they never actually buy anything. Now if your a solo ad seller with a nice big list some buyers some freebie seekers who are you going to mail the solo ad to? Would you mail it to your buyers list? No way! It would be silly. Why would you send your buyers a solo ad that pays 60-70 cents per click when you can just as easily mail those people an affiliate offer and earn $2-$3 (or more) per click? The answer is you wouldn’t.

What you would do is mail your ‘freebie seekers’ telling them about the great new free offer you found. These people would click over to your solo ad customers squeeze page and signup to get the free giveaway. You as the solo ad seller can then show your customer that you sent them the number of click they paid for. In fact your customer is likely quite happy since they got a bunch of signups. The problem, for the poor guy who bought the solo ad, is that these people on the list will likely never turn into paying customers since they are not ‘buyers’. What good is build a list of people who only want freebies? None really (unless your planning on selling solo ads that is)

No I cant say that every solo ad seller does this since I dont know every solo ad seller however quite logically mailing only to your non buyers is just good business (at least financially) from the sellers perspective. Its a way to monetize what would be thousands of useless email addresses. Its for this reason I always suggest that people stay away from solo ads.

So now most people are probably wondering “if solo ads are no good, what else is there”. Well there is something that I actually recommend for the new person who is looking for traffic. I suggest Facebook ads. Why? Quite simply because they are highly targeted and they are very low cost. In fact they cost less than solo ads. Here is an image of the stats from the worst performing Facebook ad I ran in the last couple of months.


As I said this was the worst ad I have run recently yet still it cost less than a solo ad. In fact to get 400 clicks with this ad I would have had to spend only $208 instead of the $250 that the seller above was advertising. Most of my ads perform much better and I can often get clicks for considerably less than this even.  Also I would not be getting my offer shown to all non buyers. Sure with Facebook it would be a mix, some buyers and some non buyers. But that’s a lot better than all non buyers.

So to sum up. Solo ads are generally only good for the person selling them. Sure a couple people get lucky and might get a few sales out of them but thats just luck and hoping for luck has no place in business. In general solo ads a just a useful way for people with large lists of non buyers to make money off people who wont click affiliate offers. If your looking to build a list I strongly suggest you forget about solo ads and consider Facebook ads instead. They are much more targeted, cost less, and are not all non buyers. Also Facebook has so many users that they can send you all the traffic you could ever want.

 A quick note about the reviews I do on this site. The product vendors give me access to their products for free in order for me to do my review. However I make no promises to them regarding the results of my tests or what I will write in my review. Should you click a link that takes you to a sales page for a paid product for sale this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to invest in it.

About the Author

Brett Rutecky

Brett Rutecky is a full time online marketer, web developer, and entrepreneur. He has developed scores of Facebook apps, dozens of custom web sites and hundreds of scripts.


    Karen Corey

    As I appreciate the article on solo ads, I realize that you are basically referring to quality traffic rendering results for the Cost/Money paid out. In so much as to say, that solo ads are quite different in execution than FB ads, yes? One is more a form of email advertising, wherein FB ads are social media advertising. So you have chosen to point out that Solo ads do not, in your opinion, render Quality traffic rendering in effective results for the comparable Cost/Money. And that your choice of Social Media paid advertising to render more effective results is Facebook ads. Suppose you can elaborate on the differences in execution? Radio ads are far different than TV commercials – 2 different venues. I would like to know exactly what type of FB ads you are talking about. Knowing basically nothing, I do not advertise this way. I have done solo ads with only one company and thought it did a great job for the $20. Just a suggestion on another article with your expert advice. So enjoy reading.


    Since lazer targetting potential clients using ID scrapping softwares is a no no now (contradicting FB TOS), what other good softwares that replaced ID scrapping are out there you can recommend?


      Honestly you dont really need to scrape ID’s anymore anyway. Im going to write a follow up to this article explaining how to use Facebook ads. Ill probably do a two part. Straight ads and if people need it a tutorial on retargeting as well.


    Looking forward to your article(s) on FB ads


    I’m so glad you’ve written this. I hear more and more marketers saying to stay away from solo ads and I’m one of them. I even recently got ripped off by an established guru who sold me a solo ad and he’s supposedly a hardcore christian. All my experiences with solo ads have been a nightmare so I’m looking forward to your follow up to this. Facebook ads here I come.


    Hi Brett…awesome article. I have only 1 question: how if i use solo ads for building lists and then send to Free Offer (ex: CPA ) instead of affiliate offer?? Thanks


      Most solo ad providers will require you to send to a free offer. A CPA offer really is not a free offer. I doubt you will ROI doing this even if the solo ad providers allowed it (which many wont)

        Jani G

        If they require you to send a free offer then thats a RED FLAG as i’m looking for people who spend money, not freebie seekers.


    Hello Brett, thanks for your insight, I was on the fence about solo ads and FB ads..I have been reading about how great FB ads are and the awesome ROI from several sources and I was asking myself why then would people buy solo ads. Thanks for clearing this up for me. Like always you came through right on time…

    Ronnie Rokk Smith

    I’ve used solo ads before, but to be honest I’ve never gotten any sales, so what you say is true, but not only that…all the list that I’ve created from them never bought anything either since building the list, so you are right again. Some people may get lucky and get a few sales like you said, but the sales you do get is not worth the cost of the solo!

    Jani G

    because most of these ‘solo ad vendors’ have lists that only want free shit as these lists were built by giving away free shit.

    a real solo ad is called an EZINE ad or a mail drop where you actually approah a person who you know has a good list and then ask them to send a mail out to their email list. NOT a list they built specifically for solo ads.

    This new trend of ‘solo ad vendors’ is total BS and the only ones making money are the ones selling the ads

    Mark Wightley

    That’s a real eye opener Brett, Great post man

    Gary Pettit

    Looking forward to facebook ad training… I get confused on this and it’s why I only boost a facebook post at this time…that’s much easier

    Kevin Rutledge

    I totally agree with you Brett, it just doesn’t make sense for the solo ad vendor to send clicks to their buyer’s list. I personally have never had much success with solo ads.


    Hi Brett, when using Facebook ads to laser-target our audience for our Lead Magnet URL, what specific interests do we target using the Audience Insights &/o Power Editor?


      How can I answer that when I know nothing about your target audience, niche or offer? You should use common sense, obviously your not going to target fishing if your trying to offer free tips on improving your Golf game.

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