Safelists have always got a bad press from some marketers that didn't really understand them,
but until recently I wasn't one of them as they were an effective way of promoting your products and sites
by, sending solo ads to a captured audience (members of the
Oddly, there's never really been a lot of
information out there, let alone quality products, concerning
safelists. It's an area that's sort of been overlooked by
many marketers, although they were a great way of getting
results, especially when you were just starting out in
When I first began marketing
in 2006, if it wasn't for safelists I'm not sure
how long it would have been before I got disillusioned and
gave up, because I started earning money very early on.
Not great amounts I admit, but without safelists I wouldn't
have earned anything of note. Most of my first $1,000 of
sales came from safelist marketing using Clickbank products,
so they definitely had something going for them.
Sadly, that's not quite the case these days.
What Is A Safelist?
Simply put, a safelist is a
list of people that it's 'safe' to send emails to, because
they have all joined that site and given permission for
other members to send them promotional emails in the form
of solo ads.
Text Ad Exchanges have sort
of taken over the niche that safelists once occupied, pushing
safelists a little out of the public eye, but the basic
concept is almost the same.
Basically, when you join a
safelist you'll need two email addresses, a list address
where the bulk of the emails are sent, and a contact address
for admin messages, solo ads and messages that the member
has paid for and so go to that contact address, which is
usually your main email account, or at least one that you
check often. Once you join you'll need to confirm both email
You'll then start receiving
emails from other members, and there are two main types
of safelists, the credit based safelist and non-credit based.
Credit based means each email you receive will have
a credit link at the bottom that you click in order to go
to the site that's being promoted. Each click will earn
you points that, when you've accumulated enough, you can
use to send your own ads to the membership.
Non credit based safelists
are less effective, because there's no real incentive
to click the links and go to the site, but some of the largest
safelists around are of this type, so there's a trade off
between the number of members you can send to against how
many of them will click your link.
What Email Address Should You Use?
If you're going to join and
use safelists, then as a general rule don't use certain
types of free email accounts, like Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Hotmail
etc... Seriously, these are NOT good email addresses for
marketers to use, because the spam filtering is particularly
tough and so many emails you actually want to receive won't
even arrive in your spam folder. A major problem with these
addresses is what's known as 'bouncing'. Bounced emails are
ones that get reurned to the originator because the receiving
account has rejected it, and nothing annoys site owners
and hosts more than bounced emails. They take up server resources and space, sometimes quite alarmingly so.
As a result, most safelist
and text ad exchange owners have banned these addresses,
so you won't be able to join with them, or at least won't
last long once the bouncing starts. So what email accounts
should you use?
Easy, open a free Googlemail
(gmail) account, which at the time of writing is easily the best
free email account for using as your safelist list address
(and contact address). The beauty of a gmail account is
that it's not only big enough to cater for tens of thousands
of emails without even getting close to being full, but
you can use its superb filter feature to set up groups of
emails from one source, known as labels. For instance, if
you are a member of Adtactics you can set up a filter to
show only messages from that safelist without having to
trawl through your inbox to find them. They'll still be
in there, but also in their own label.
Safelist Email Marketing Basics
As with standard email marketing,
when you post your message at the safelist, the subject
line is all important, and is the first thing a potential
customer will see. It will determine whether or not the
recipient will even bother opening it, let alone read it,
and as everyone in this business receives and sends so many
emails, it might seem an impossible task to be totally
original. If you've seen one subject line you've seen them
all, so what
chance have you got?
Actually quite good, because the majority
of people who send out emails are failing in their business,
and the reason they’re failing is because they aren't using
the right techniques, and that includes subject lines. That
gives anybody who learns how to do it properly a BIG advantage.
You can learn a lot from reading
other people's subject lines and content. Any emails that
got you to open them must have something going for them,
so save them and make a note of what they said to pique
your interest. Similarly, any that just made you yawn and
right-click are to be avoided. Spend time thinking up different
subject lines and split test them by producing two headings
for the same ad and track which one gets the best response.
You can determine which ones work best this way, and using
safelists is a good way of doing this.
There is one thing you can do to improve
your chances of someone looking at your email in safelists
though, and that's put [Credits] at the beginning of the
subject line. The most powerful feature of any safelist
is the credit mailer, where you can send an email to a certain
number of members (depending on your membership level),
that will have a credit link in the body. When a member
clicks this they will earn credits to send their own messages.
Most safelists also have a standard mailer, which can be
used when you haven't got any credits left or want to send
a second message. No credits are earned for looking at these,
so putting [Credits] or something similar at the beginning
of the credit message it lets the member know they'll get
credits for viewing it. Just remember to leave this out
when you use the standard mailer as it's misleading and
can annoy someone who opens it to get the credits.
It's easy to forget though
and I've done it myself more times than I care to remember,
because most safelists allow you to save your messages so
you don't have to type the same message out each time, and
selecting one with [Credits] at the beginning when sending
a standard email is easy to overlook, so be careful. When
you send a message you have the option of saving it, but
most safelists set that to 'Yes' by default, so you can
end up with a lot of identical saved messages. Keep an eye
on that too.
Everyone Likes A Good Body!
Safelist members receive so
many emails that it's almost impossible to open and read
them all, so the subject line is THE most important part
of the message. However, once someone has opened your message
you need to grab their attention and get them interested
before they make for the credit link, so remember the principle
of AIDA when writing the body of the message.
AIDA stands for: Attention
(the subject line), Interest
(pique your subject’s interest in the first paragraph),
Desire (make them want what
you’re offering) and Action
(get them to do whatever it is you want them to do). Curiosity
and emotion are powerful forces in humans, so use them in
your ad copy to give yourself the best possible chance.
However, there's one thing you can
do that will increase your chances of halting that cursor
on its inevitable journey towards the credit link, and that
is to create your message body in HTML. You get the option
of sending your message in HTML in the mailer, and this
is under-used by most members, yet is the one thing that
can make all the difference. In most safelists you'll need
to be upgraded to pro to get this feature, but that's the
big advantage of being a paying member.
You can design a small web
page or splash page as the body of your message in your
HTML editor, then select the entire code, copy it and then
paste it into notepad. From there you can save the message
as a .html file and test it
to see what it will look like. Once everything is okay you
need to select 'Click here to send the message in TEXT mode'
and copy and paste it into the box in the mailer.
Most important of all, check
the box next to where it says 'To send your ad in HTML format,
please check this box', or similar, depending on the safelist.
If you don't it will get sent as plain text and look awful
(I've done that a few times too!).
As a free member you may not
be able to send HTML ads, so make the text short enough
to stay on the page without having to scroll down, because
a short novel will invariably get ignored. Most of us simply
don't have the time to read reams of text before getting
to the credit link, so keeping it short has the best chance
of getting your body text actually read, so be concise and
to the point, laying out the main points in an easy to read
Your Destination Is As Important As The Journey
Now for the credit link.
The subject line gets the
email opened (hopefully), the body text gets the reader
interested enough to do more than just get the credits (maybe),
and the credit link is the final point of call in the reader's
Where you send the reader
to is every bit as important in the process as anything
else, possibly more important as it can make or break your
chances of making a sale or signup, so careful thought has
to be given as to what they see once they've achieved their
main goal of getting those credits.
Just like at traffic exchanges,
sending your potential customer or referral to a text laden
affiliate page could spell the end of the journey. Traffic
exchange users don't choose what web page is displayed them
them, so they're not targetted viewers. Similarly, safelist
users, while at least having an idea of what's coming because
they've already seen your subject line and
body text, are still more than likely just there to get
the points, so again, they're not targetted like a search
engine or PPC customer is.
To that end it's still best
to point to a splash page, lead capture page, landing page
etc... just like you were using a traffic exchange. They
have more impact, don't take an afternoon to read and can
grab the viewer's attention better than a page full of hype.
Save those pages for the targetted viewers and you'll give
yourself the best possible chance of succeeding.
Now For The Bad News
If there's bad new, why go to all the effort of reading the above advice? Well, it's not just relevant to safelists, but every kind of solo email, so it's good advice for Ad Exchanges and other sites that allow you to send solo ads. However, I am now of the opinion that the vast majority of safelists are just too ineffective to use these days.
Here's the problem. Too many people are sending too many emails to too many dead email addresses! More people than ever are using the internet to try and make money, and so many of those people use throw-away email addresses for their LIST address. The disadvantage with safelists is that you need two addresses, and the one where most of the emails go to is hardly ever used by those members. It means nobody is getting to see those emails you send, unlike at Ad Exchanges, where only one email address is used, so there's more chance that address will be a better one, so important admin emails aren't lost, as you can get a lot of good stuff from them.
Spam is another major problem, because there's just so much of it, and people are so busy, that they just assume most of the emails they receive are spam. The spammers, and there are far too many of them around these days, are being given bad advice by so called 'gurus', or just don't know that what they're doing is wrong. That means that, once again, so many emails are not being read, especially those going to the 'list' address.
I used to get decent results from safelists. Now, I don't, it's as simple as that, so I've dumped almost every safelist I was a member of, only keeping the ones that I think are worth being a member of, either because they are still a bit effective, or have other features worth having.
Is There Any Good News?
Luckily, yes! As I said earlier, there are two email addresses you need. One, the 'list' address, is generally useless, which means the list solos and credit mails aren't going anywhere to be seen by the recipient. The contact address, however, can be a better one that is at least given some attention by the member, and some safelists give you options to send to those addresses as well.
Some you have to pay for 'contact solos', but others give you the chance to get those types of solos for free, which makes them well worth having.
Another advantage of safelists
is that you don't have to worry so much about spam filters
as the emails are coming from a legitimate source and have
to get through in order for the recipient's account to stay
active. You also don't have to worry about being reported
for spamming, because the recipient has agreed to receive
them (okay, as an owner I know all too well that agreeing
to receive emails [twice because members need to double
opt-in] doesn't stop the complaints about receiving too
many emails, but those members that do forget what the site
is all about have no grounds for complaint, because it's
in the TOS :-)
The panel on the left lists those safelists I still think are worth being in, because they offer more than just basic list solos, or have good resources that you can use.
Any More Advice About Safelist Marketing?
If you send out loads of ads
that take hours to devise, write subject lines and post
to loads of safelists and Ad Exchanges, you've simply got to track them so
that you know which ones are being clicked. You can save
so much time, effort and money by doing the simple task
of knowing which links are being clicked and which ones
are just doing nothing.
On top of that, many people
simply don’t like clicking on a naked affiliate link like
I don’t know why because what do they think they’re clicking
on if not a personal affiliate link to whatever program
they’re interested in, especially as they almost certainly
have their own links, but there you go. There’s also the problem of link
hijacking, where someone changes your affiliate ID for their
own and takes the commission (you can become an affiliate
for something without actually buying the product, and then
get the product cheaper by using someone else’s affiliate
link and adding your ID, or something like that).
This is more of a problem
on non-credit safelists, because you have to put the affiliate
link in the body of the email as there's no credit link
to click, so to solve
these problems you need to cloak and track your link, and
one of the best programs for doing this is TrackThatAd,
which is free to join and will also build you a list as
you recruit others into it.
Instead of the above affiliate link
you’ll get one like this instead:
The ‘trackthatad’ on the end is a custom identifier (if
any) that you choose as your way of knowing what the link
is for and where it’s being displayed. It can be anything
you want, and there are ten different links to choose from.
Of course that looks better, but it
could still do with improving, and if you join TrackThatAd
as a pro member one of the many benefits you can get are
links that look like this:
Which one do you think looks best?
Oh, one last thing, don’t
put your email address on safelist ads. Why? Well, no email
address, no reverse marketing (which IS spamming, whatever anyone tells you). Reverse marketing is where you send a legitimate email from a site to other members, and they take your email address and add it to their list without permission, or reply to it with a promotion of their own. Sneaky and unethical, yes, spam, yes, against the TOS of safelists and other site, YES.
While we're on the subject of ethics, please don't use subject lines like 'You've made a commission' or 'You've got a referral' or 'Notification of payment' etc... Imagine how many people are really struggling, and are desperate to see some good news in their inbox, and they see that subject. They click it, only to find it was simply done to fool them into reading your email. One, it's crushing and two, it's a great way of getting reported for spam, or getting yourself a bad reputation. Don't do it|!.
One more 'one last thing',
to get the absolute most out of safelists you really do
need to upgrade. Lifetime upgrades are the very best, and
then you're done paying for them, have always got an advertising
resource and have tons of credits to use on the banner and
text rotators. This is a great way of not only getting more
advertising from them, but also to have your domain name
plastered across multiple high traffic and page rank domains.
They get picked up by the search engines, and as long as
you keep them fed with credits it'll be permanent free advertising.
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