What Are Solo Ads?
These are ads that are sent out on your behalf by mailing list owners to members of their list. So list owners are middle-men between you and the people who will receive your ad. In the experiment outlined in this post, I wanted to test buy solo ads from Udimi, a site that lists hundreds of ad sellers.
Solo ads are not free but vary in cost depending on where you buy them from and the quality of the list your ad is being sent to.
There are quite a few places where you can buy ads but what I want are responsive solo ads rather than ads that readers have little or no engagement with. So, for this experiment, I settled on buying targeted solo ads from the Udimi service.
What Is Udimi?
Udimi is essentially a warehouse of mailing list owners (sellers). There are several hundred sellers on the site which makes it easy for you to find list owners you can buy solo ads from.
Don’t confuse the site with the very similar sounding Udemy which is a site that sells thousands of e-learning courses on a huge range of topics.
Without a site like Udimi, it would be very time-consuming to find mailing list owners yourself.
The site is free to join; you only pay money when you actually buy a solo ad.
Knowing Who To Buy A Solo Ad From
udimi.com includes a ratings system. People who’ve already bought ads from the mailing list owners will vote on their quality in a thumbs-up, thumbs-down fashion. They can also leave comments about their experiences with solo ad vendors.
This makes it easy to see who’s good and who should be avoided when buying your own ads.
In the image above, you can see the rating numbers to the right of the thumbs-up icon. In Maurizio Pace’s case, the numbers are 1007 / 2, which means he got 1007 up votes and 2 down votes.
The percentage figure beside the $ sign shows how many ad buyers reported getting sales from their ad. The higher the percentage the better. In Maurizio’s case, 49% of people who bought ads from him reported getting sales from their solo ad.
Solo Ad Prices
At the top of each seller listing is the price per click. Maurizio charges $0.58 per click. Other sellers charge different prcies.
It’s important to know that when you buy a solo ad from Udimi that you pay by ad click and not by the number of ad views. This means you only pay for traffic interested in your offer. A solo ad provider may have to send your ad to 300 or 400 people before 100 of them actually click on the link in your ad. You pay only for those clicks.
So when you buy an ad, you select how many people are required to click on your ad. The price of your ad is then that number times the cost per click.
As an example, if you buy 100 clicks from Adrian Costan above, you’d pay 100 x $0.35 = $35.00 for your ad.
There’s an Basic Filter fee of $3.00 added on top by Udimi, so the final fee for your ad would be $38.00. The basic filter scrubs duplicate and useless traffic from seeing your ad so you don’t waste money paying for useless ad clicks.
Your 100 clicks are guaranteed and many sellers will give you some additional free clicks (called Over Delivery). Depending on the seller, they may give you up to 50% extra free clicks.
Creating Solo Ads
Don’t put too much time into crafting your Udimi solo ads. You have the option of just providing your offer link or you can also include some ad text.
Frequently, though, solo ad providers will rewrite ads or create ads from scratch which you have no control over. They know their lists better than you do and will have an appreciation for what gets their subscribers to respond to an ad.
So if you’re a control freak or a perfectionist, this is something you’ll just have to live with.
If you think you’re lousy at writing ad copy, then the sellers will do a better job at it than you can! 🙂
Sellers are in this business to make money. If they do a bad job in getting their subscribers to take action on the ads they’re sent, then their ratings on Udimi will drop and they’ll lose out on ad sales.
So this is a win-win proposition.
Finding A Seller That Meets Your Criteria
Udimi provides a list of filters that let you narrow down the number of solo ad providers who match your criteria. First click the Find Sellers option at the top of the screen. You can filter by a number of criteria as you can see in this screenshot:
The criteria I selected (in the boxes across the top of the screen) are:
- Seller can send out a solo ad within the next 48 hours
- The minimum number of visitors the seller can send me in 100 hours (in this case 100 visitors)
- The ad cost range. Here I selected sellers offering ads at between $0.35 and $0.60 per ad click
- I ignored the Sellers Online/Offline option (the grayed out one)
- I chose sellers who generated at least sales for at least 40% of their customers from their last 100 solo ad runs
- And, finally, I selected sellers who had at least 100 thumbs-up ratings.
That search returned 6 sellers who met those criteria. The cheapest ad clicks were $0.45 each from Kuan Yee. That’s a bit more expensive than I was looking for.
I want ads at $0.35 per click, so I checked out the Solo Deals option instead. And this is what I got:
A lot of the sellers on this page have under 100 orders so I didn’t want to take a chance on them. Unfortunately, Udimi doesn’t provide the same search options on this page as they do on the Find Sellers page. So it’s not easy to narrow down the list.
The seller info on this page also does not include the percentage of sales generated for customers by the sellers.
Udimi sends out a weekly email with solo ad marketing offers – essentially a solo ads sale – to all members (remember, it’s a free-to-join service), so I took a look at that. The list of offers from March 22 looked like this:
In fact, 27 sellers were listed in this particular email. Looking through that list of solo ad sellers, it came down to these two:
The reason I chose Maurizio is because he’s had a huge number of orders and a huge number of thumbs-up. Stefan came in second because his ad clicks where at the price point I was looking for ($0.35 per ad click) and he has a decent number of orders and thumbs-up.
Having reviewed both their seller pages on Udimi, I decided to buy a solo ad with Maurizio Pace. He’s been on Udimi for longer. 80% of his clients have got sales from ads posted to his list and he was ranked the 4th best seller in February 2018.
He also provides 90+% top tier traffic from the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – all English speaking countries that I think would be more receptive to the offer in my solo ad.
Stefan Lindbom couldn’t match these stats and only 25% of his clients got sales from their ads.
So that I don’t blow a load of money on an ad that may not deliver as I hope, I’m only going to order 100 ad clicks from Maurizio. The cost of the ad is $46.00, which includes the mandatory $3.00 Udimi Base Filter fee. This filter saves you money by ignoring junk, useless and duplicate traffic.
The reason I chose this service to promote is that it allows people to create two websites and have them hosted totally for free. While they remain free members, they will receive emails from Wealthy Affiliate incentivizing them to become Premium Members. And, if someone decides to upgrade, I get a commission.
Not every ad will be a good fit for a solo ad provider. The good ones will let you know and refund your order. And, even if your ad is a good fit for a seller’s list, there’s a huge range of variables that can affect how your ad performs.
Some days of the week may be better than others. The ad copy may not appeal to the list subscribers. Maybe what you’re selling is too expensive. And so on.
All you can do is keep trying. Drop the sellers who don’t get you the results you desire and move on to other solo ad providers. Your ad costs are part of your advertising budget but, it things go well, your ad costs should be offset by earnings that come in from your ad.
WidgetsSo with all that in mind, I submitted my page URL to Maurizio and let him write the ad for his list.
…remains to be seen. I’ll post how the ad did here in a couple of days once it’s completed its run.
UPDATE 1 [25 March]: Maurizio got back to me to let me know that my Wealthy Affiliate Bonus page isn’t the type of page that converts well with email lists. This shows that he’s a straight shooter. He could have sent out the email and pocketed the fee, but he’s concerned that his clients get the best results for their ad spend. He says that for solo ads, the best type of page to advertise is an optin / squeeze page that asks readers to sign up to your list.
I sent him links for two different squeeze pages and have asked him to select which one he thinks is the best fit for his list.
UPDATE 2 [25 March]: Maurizio suggested that the second of the two links I sought his opinion on was the better one to use. That link was for the “qualifying” squeeze page for viral traffic training and monthly lead magnets that helps people build their lists faster…
UPDATE 3 [30 March]: My ad started being sent out yesterday. It will be dripped out to Maurizio’s list over the next 2-3 days. So far, 26 emails have been clicked (so 26% of the order has been fulfilled). I’ve got 2 signups from that number but no sales (as yet). Sales may come in the future from the email sequence my subscribers will receive.
UPDATE 4 [2 April]: The ad run has now finished. I ordered 100 clicks and actually received 113, so that’s a 13% over-delivery. From those 113 clicks, I got 15 sign-ups – a conversion rate of 13.27%. Lower than I was hoping for but anything over 10% is still decent.
The ad cost $46.00, so each sign-up cost $3.07. That’s on the high end of what should be paid for leads. $2.00 per lead is a more acceptable figure.
So far, no sales have come in. But those 15 subscribers are now in an email series that, hopefully, will result in a sale or two over the coming weeks. These are the stats for my solo ad:
UPDATE 5 [13 May]: It’s now been several weeks since my solo ad was mailed out and the 15 people who signed up have been through the email series sent out by the list they subscribed to. Unfortunately, I got no sales.
So what does this mean? Was the traffic bad? Was the squeeze page bad? Was the email series sent to subscribers bad? Was the offer a bad fit for Maurizio’s list?
Any one or more of those things could be the case. One way of narrowing things down would be to send the same offer to another vendor and see how their list responds.
I did get subscribers so that shows that there was some interest from Maurizio’s list. But the offer may not have been as appealing as I thought. Subscribers were introduced to several products in the email series but didn’t buy any of them. Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising where 15 people are concerned. A single sale would have meant I had a conversion rate of 6.66% (1/15)which is pretty high. A more normal conversion rate is 1-2%, so with that I’d have needed 50 to 100 subscribers before seeing a sale.
The squeeze page for the offer is also out of my control as it was created by the owners of the program that traffic was sent to. They say that they’re continually spit testing alternatives to get the best performing squeeze page. They also say that their current squeeze page has a 40% signup rate. I didn’t see that. I saw a 13.27% signup rate.
That might be an indication that the offer wasn’t that good a fit for Maurizio’s list. Or that the squeeze page owners are overstating its effectiveness.
As you can see, there are a lot of variables you need to think about if you don’t get as good a response from your solo ad as you might have expected.
However, don’t let one poorly performing ad stop you from sending out further solo ads.
All types of advertising are a gamble. There’s no guarantee that wherever you put your ad, be that in a solo ad, on Facebook, on Adwords, etc., you’ll get a good response. That’s why the best marketers continually test their ads. That’s how you can turn a losing ad campaign into a profitable one.
The duds – and there will be duds – can be deleted. Just move on to the next ad. Don’t dwell on the failures. Learn from them.
So was sending this solo ad worth it? Well, I did get 15 new subscribers. And it’s not the easiest optin form to get visitors to fill in.
This demonstrates a potential problem with promoting other people’s squeeze pages – you have no control over what appears on them.
I’ve been in touch with the product owner about how the page hasn’t been converting very well for me. He’s told me that the squeeze page as been repeatedly split-tested so that it gets the highest conversion rate. He claims it should be getting a 40% conversion rate.
Maybe I’m just not reaching the right prospects for this particular squeeze page. The lowish conversion rate means I end up paying more for actual subscribers than I’d like.
The solo ad provider over delivered on my order and I did get sign-ups so I can’t complain there. I suspect the reason for a low conversion rate is actually the squeeze page itself but I have no way of proving that. I also have no way of changing the page or of using a page of my own design in its place.
The success of an ad depends on price, the quality of a solo ad provider’s list, the quality of your squeeze page or of the squeeze page provided by the product owner and, in the latter case, not having control over the contents of the squeeze page so you can boost its conversion rate.
Other things such as what day(s) your ad is sent out, and at what time, could have some bearing on your success rate as well. Most vendors provide a mix of traffic from around the world, though the largest percentage will be from Tier 1 countries such as the USA, Canada and the UK. But if your solo ad provider is in Europe and your target audience is in the USA, timezone differences could mean that your email ad lands in your prospect’s email box at a bad time for them.
Nevertheless, the provider guarantees to deliver the number of ad clicks you ordered, so they will continue to send out emails until that target is reached.
The experiment shows that there are a lot of variables involved in having a really successful ad. The same factors will apply no matter where you buy your solo ads from. Using the rating system at Udimi at least allows you to pick quality vendors to start out with.
The experiment involved just one ad bought from just one vendor. It was a success but I can’t deny that I hoped it would have converted better.
Udimi is a site I would definitely recommend. Anyone new to buying ads on the platform will have to go through some trial and error to find the best ad and the best solo ad providers for them. If you’re looking at moving from getting free traffic to your squeeze pages to buying targeted traffic, Udimi is a great place to start.
Will I be buying ads there in future? Yes, I will. Buying traffic, budget allowing, is the way to go with list building. It’s like using a sniper rifle instead of a shotgun (the free traffic approach). The faster you can get people onto your list, the faster you’ll start making money from your list. And those commissions should cover the ad costs and provide a good bit of profit for you.
I hope this experiment in how to buy solo ads from Udimi has proved useful to your own ad buying efforts and provided you with some realistic expectations about how your own ads may perform.
If you have any experience of buying sols ads from Udimi yourself or buying ads elsewhere, or you have anything else to say on this topic, why not let us know about that in the comments below…
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