TJ73 – Email: Solo Ads Buyers Guide: The Business Of Brokering High Converting Email Offers with Brian Litman

14/7/2015 with

Brian Litman with James Reynolds on Traffic JamEmail has been here since the start of the internet age, and is one form of digital communication that remains relatively unchanged.

For most it is the preferred tool to reach new audiences, grow a subscriber base and build relationships on a large scale.

But how do we do email marketing right? How do we market to new audiences, in a highly targeted (spam free) way that’s cost effective and drives results.

On this episode of Traffic Jam, Brian Litman talks us through the business of email solo ads and explains why you need more than just a marketing mindset to get email right. Email marketing is as much about business as it is about marketing.

SPECIAL BONUS: Download the Solo Ads Buyer’s Guide and get started with email marketing. Includes MP3 and word-for-word transcript.


Brian Litman is an Email Advertising specialist with 15 years of experience in digital marketing. He was the VP at for ten years before he co-founded where he is also the current VP. He invested his own money with, a company knowing that his years of experience has taught him a lot about what works and what does not. works with companies in the political, health, financial, survival, self help and relationship niches and helps these companies grow their online business through high quality opt in newsletters. They have worked with brands such as Agora, Digital Marketer, Barton Publishing, Stansberry, Crisis Education, EOK Marketing, Sold Out After Crisis and Birch Gold.


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Here are some of the highlights from episode 73 of the Traffic Jam Podcast…

  • Defining Email Drops.
  • Who Sends the Emails?
  • Email as a Traffic Source.
  • Business Models that Work with Email.
  • Great Target Markets.
  • The Checklist to Complete.
  • Email Solo Ads Statistics.
  • Email Drop Costs.
  • Testing for Effectivity.
  • Email Funnels.
  • How to Track Campaign Success.
  • Common Email Marketing Mistakes.
  • The Important First Steps.


If you enjoy this episode of Traffic Jam, please share it using the social media buttons you see on this page, or click to tweet this Brian Litman quote from the show:

You can also get Brian’s quote as exclusive illustrated artwork along with more special episode bonuses: Click Here To Download.

To see the full transcript of this episode in-page click show/hide transcript:

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Hey what’s up this is Traffic Jam episode#73. Thanks for tuning in and joining me for yet another episode of the Traffic Jam podcast. The show that teaches you get traffic to your website and build a profitable audience online. I am your host James Reynolds and our guest today is Brian Litman who’s got the email marketing agency called dedicated emails.

So it will be no surprise too that we are talking today about dedicated emails, the description giving to renting an email marketing list, also referred to as solo emails, list rentals and a bunch of other terminology too! This episode goes in to the fundamentals of email marketing – where to find the email marketing list, what you should be looking for in that list, how much you should pay a whole lot else.

But this episode goes in to the fundamentals of email marketing, where to find an email marketing list, what you should be looking for in that list, how much you should pay, and a whole lot else. But this episode is more than just the marketing aspect, it goes in to the business of marketing too! What offer and what business you need. The financials will make email marketing successful for you and a whole lot more than that as well.

The business component is really where our guest Brian Litman excels. He’s worked with numerous $3million to $50million dollar businesses making email marketing super profitable for them and in this episode you’ll learn how to do the same for you too.

So I guess without any further ado, let’s talk about the business of dedicated emails with Brian Litman.

James: So welcome back listeners! You’re tuned in to Traffic Jam episode#73 and today we are joined by Brian Litman from Brian, how are you doing?

Brian: I am doing great! How are you James?

James: I am doing awesome! Today we are going to be talking about email drops. And I guess before we get started, we should get to grips with some of the terminology, Brian. Often referred to as dedicated email, email buys, email drops – what do all that mean? What are we actually talking about today? Lay it down for us.

Brian: Okay, cool! In the more professional, corporate world it is called dedicated email. In the more home-based business it is called the solo email. Basically they mean the same thing. What the dedicated email is basically you are going to a trusted third party who currently has a relationship with a list or someone who is a broker to a list. For the people you are offering you are leveraging the credibility that they have already established to get access to their email database generally for a one-time fee and a one-time email where you are getting full access to their audience and able to collect leads, make sales, whatever it is that you do, you are getting access to pretty powerful marketing opportunity.

James: Do you ever send an email blast? Gosh, I hate that word.

Brian: Yeah I hate that word, it doesn’t make sense. Dedicated email is the term for it, solo email is fine but I noticed that email blast is kind of the lower word.

James: Yeah, it is hardly appealing to the user to be blasted with email so I guess let us cover off some of the basics. Who would be sending these emails typically? Is it you? Or is it the person that you’ve got the relationship with or who you’re buying the list from?

Brian: Most important thing is you are renting somebody’s list so I call it buying a list also but I don’t want people to get confused. When we say buying or renting a list, you’re renting it. The publisher would be the person sending the email. You would send them over there your email subject line and copy. Generally there is a tiny approval process just to make sure that person believes that it can work to their audience. In our company we like to really dig deep and make sure that the creative is really filtered to the person that we know we hit but if ever you are in a situation where somebody is like, hey, here is the database, you go send it, you are in the wrong place and you are throwing money out so generally the publisher is going to be the one sending it out, you should be getting a test, and then go on from there.

James: You are obviously a big fan of this, you have been doing this a fair number of years, and you’ve got an agency built around doing email buys. Why do you like it as a traffic source? Particularly, what hits the spot for you?

Brian: Email to me is like the never-changing part of the internet. No one is going to do this, what is this called? Assuming someone is doing the right thing, they are not spamming in a buying list, it is like the grandmother that is always there. It never changes for the most part. Google comes in and they create some new filter. Nothing has changed and if anything it has only gotten better. Email is kind of the most steady thing. Facebook can shut you down, Google can shut you off. You do the right thing on email, you kind of run in to problems, but it doesn’t mean it is the end of the world. You can get in to black lists but you can still get off them by doing the right thing. It is very important to be working with the right email service provider but generally all we choose to know is email and we believe that while it isn’t the most scalable, it is safe, you are in control and if you do the right thing, especially from a writing list perspective, there is more than enough to grow to a nice company. Now if you say to me, hey, you know I’m a hundred million dollar company and I can’t depend on email, I get it. It’s still one marketing channel, it’s still not going to work for everybody because their offer might not be prepared for but generally I really believe that is it the easiest one to get started with and the one that will give you the most likelihood success without big brother coming in and slapping you too hard.

James: Yeah, I would imagine that now it has become harder to get inside in to someone’s inbox. There probably is more opportunity there now with the right list. Would you say that is the case?

Brian: Yeah, I believe email is never going anywhere. Everyone is knocking on wood when we say that. Inboxing is not being difficult, or promotions tab, whatever Google is calling it but promotions now has worked well as it ever were in my opinion from working with my clients and from the list that we own, I really think that in order to succeed at email, it is really like anything else, you have to have a good offer, and most importantly, your business has to be lined up with giving you a real chance to succeed and then I can go deeper in to that or we can save that for another time but a lot of the success that is going to happen with any media buying or any traffic buying is going to come down to your business, your offer and kind of what is your model.

James: Yeah, I would certainly like to dig deep in to the business model and we are going to do that in just a moment but I guess to continue on for now, let’s build up the foundations. Someone who is getting started, they are doing email buys for the first time, where would they go to buy a list? What would you suggest that they search down?

Brian: There are a few worlds that you can find people in- the health world, the conservative politics world, things like, my whole business we really focus on men, 55+, conservative slanting in terms of government, our market is 99% United States, it is  conservative American politics, but let’s just say you are not in that market, what I would say is I would do, let’s say I was in gardening, I would go on Google and I would search gardening advertising, gardening solo ads, gardening websites, gardening e-sites, and I would start to see stuff coming up and  I would dig deeper and just start to see tons of businesses there where people might have smaller businesses, hey I’d love to work your list, I’d love to work out a deal with you and then there’s going to be some other real companies, but then here is the real key, you don’t need to find the exact niche that you are in to advertising. So my biggest clients are financial clients and health supplements but they are advertising to a conservative political list. You’re more looking for where your market hangs out than a specific list that has a specific niche. Now if you are like into underwater basket weaving it might be a little bit more difficult, but generally, you should be able to find things. Again, if college kids is your niche, it is going to be a little bit more difficult but the professional area is more of a 35+ market, people who have credit cards have a little bit more expendable income but then again you do not need to find the exact list which matches your exact offer. Who is my ideal person and where else are they hanging out is going to give you your biggest scalable opportunities.

James: And why is the youth market so difficult? Is it because they are now communicating on Facebook chat, and Snapchat and all these other platforms and they’re not using email so much?

Brian: Everything that I am saying is only based on my experience in my own market so there is probably a bunch of people who are out there saying he is wrong and that is cool because I am just going with what I have and what I have is in my market is still have 50% – 60% opening up on their desktop, if not even more than that. The younger ones, I am not sure if they have been trained over the years where email is their most trusted source of opportunities, then I kind of take a step back from that statement and it still goes back to like the niche that you are involved in. If you have like a MMA type of thing, if you have a protein body building muscle and fitness thing, I am probably a bit wrong, but overall for people and in the businesses that I worked with, the older demographic is probably more of where the opportunity email in the direct response base to which we know. I am assuming that a high end or even a middle of the line make up company probably can find that list that are more geared to that 25 year old person, maybe it is People Magazine or Us Weekly type stuff that is out there but generally the direct response market that most of the people probably listen to are probably going to jive with what I am saying.

James: Certainly if you’re in the employment market and you are a business owner your primary mode of communication is email so I would expect that that would be perhaps one of the best places that you can reach people for sure but I can see that yeah, maybe the youth market, with them not having these tools necessary their primary method of communication might be a bit different.

Brian: Everything also comes a little back to expendable income, but that being said again, MMA stuff and all that, you can go on Twitter, you can go on Instagram, those guys are making sales on free social media way more than a lot of the 62 year old type male market.

James: Yeah, so we have done our research, we have found some opportunities, do you have a checklist to sort of walk through that might allow you to filter a good list from a bad list in understanding which might be suitable for you or not?

Brian: Again, speaking from my world, there are some trusted resources that are in my world so in my business, I am a publisher, we publish 20+ of our own, I am also a broker for a similar list, I think finding a broker that works in your niche is a good thing, in my niche, like my company is dedicated emails, another one is called You want to find people that you can trust that your competitors is already working with. What makes my job easy is I can say XYZ is working with me, they are in the same niche with you so when you are looking for these things and if you don’t find the broker you can say hey Joe, can you tell me a little bit of who some of your other advertisers are and see what creatives they have used, I’d love to see what’s working for your list. In this way, you can really find out the opportunity. Depending on your market, you might just have to roll the dice, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that but if you are going to roll the dice, just stay on the safer side of the money side meaning stay small. It doesn’t mean being silly and say alright, I will spend $20 but so your best to win it out. You will, rule #1 you will get beat up early on. Be prepared for it, stay in the game, email is a lot of people and a lot of money but if you are in there you are like hey I got a dollar to spend but I need to see that I make two dollars back  and if I don’t, forget it, I make a dollar, you are going to be out of it, you are giving up a tremendous source of opportunity so stay in it, do the right thing and know that email works and that as far as I know it is not going anywhere.

James: Okay, so it sounds like a possible good question to ask is who else is using this list or what other product similar to my own have been sold through this or promoted to this? What about list size, open rate, click through rate and these sort of statistical information? Any benchmarks to look for there?

Brian: Well it’s interesting. Everyone is like, what is your open rate? And I am like, we do our best to be at 10% above, we’re always cleaning a list, I have one list that is a million people, it gets 20-40 thousand opens but it kills it and it is more of a higher priced list. A lot of people have different cleaning policies, different agent policies, I think again, in the health, political and financial markets, you are going to be able to get the right information, you are going to hear the right names from people. You are going to find it. In some of the smaller markets, I think you are going to have to roll the dice a little bit but overall, it is very easy to say I have 80% open rate and all of the sudden they send your email out and you’re like oh, I got six. Well your subject line it doesn’t go. So all of these games that get played, just protect yourself but don’t overly protect. Just know that there is going to be a margin of error until you dial it in for yourself and the long term opportunity of it. So I think that is the most important part of it.

James: What should we be looking to pay for an email buy and I guess my sort of follow up to that which you will probably include in your answer is what the metric of sale is? How are we buying this – based on a per thousand send or how is the metric worked out?

Brian: Okay, I have lists that are $3 CPMs, I have lists that are at a $100 CPMs. There is no set number, what we focus on is that our lists are priced correctly based on the success of other people. I think that CPM is an outdated model for email. That being said, people still use it, I am more in to the flat rate pricing which is like hey this list actually costs as you could back it out for yourself if you want to. If you are in the financial niche, be prepared to 20-30-40 plus CPM, you can find some opportunities to pay per click that are out there. There is a great company for pay per click company called Traffic for Me, they are good on the ppc side, there is no one true answer to the question but I guess what I would say is based on my own interest, you are getting started, let the person know, beat them up a little bit over price, say look, if it works I will come back. A real businessman will take you on that. They still want to make money that day but if everyone is planning to do the right thing then I believe that you don’t just give in. If they say that it is 20, you can say hey look it is my first run, I would gladly pay 17 if it comes back and I want to buy more, we’ll talk about it then. So there is always room, just be smart and don’t be cheap.

James: So I am guessing that you would recommend doing a test send to a part of a list or a small segment before rolling out a larger campaign?

Brian: Yes and no. It depends really where you are in your business. If you are sitting there right now and you have a $700,000 to a million business, even two million you’re going to say, alright, I am getting in to this first test, I am going to take 2,3, or five a grand and I am going to sprinkle it all over and I can go slow or I can create all these other things but I can’t be like hey Bob you have a list of a hundred I want to send to 10,000. No one is going to do that. You have to jump in. When people work with us, I always tell people I have your back and we do and we will make sure that they don’t get their ass handed to them for lack of a better word, I am not saying that everyone else are going to do that, but very few people are going to be like put 10,000 on my list, it is not worth a lot of time for a lot of people. So overall, find a number that is comfortable for you. Don’t force it but also don’t be overly patient. Speak to the right people, find out who else has been advertising there, get them to send some emails, and make them know look, if this works my goal is to come back to you X amount of times a month, a year or whatever it is so it really has to be a team game and whenever there is selfishness on either side, it probably is not going to work.

James: Okay, so at this point we might have done a deal, I guess we should probably discuss the execution, the actual marketing aspect of it and the business side of things associated with that. What type of offer works best typically or what should we looking to promote? Let’s talk about the funnel and the sales side.

Brian: Okay, so there is two different sides of it. The lead gen guys often would say opt in, thank you page offer, and then there is the straight offer guy. To me, I have always been an email opt in type guy, other people who can move bigger volume are straight to sales guys. It really depends on your model so what I would really say to kind of step back in that question is you have to have your model fine tune to make anything work on the traffic side. If you are a guy listening to this right now, you’re like, I have no choice, if I spend a dollar on this, I need to make back a dollar twenty that day or it didn’t work. Your offer is going to get old really fast, it is going to have fatigue, and you are going to be reinventing yourself every 3,6,9 months and that is not fine unless again if you are going to make 10 million dollars on it on that time period I guess it is fun but if you are on point, my recommendation is everyone needs to think for the long haul in the business, now I have a hundred million clients who they pump out winning creatives all the time and they are going straight to get a sell but they have their back in place and then moving in large amounts so without having to tell anybody how to run their business, don’t be copying other people, don’t think just because X is doing it that it is right for you. Get your model fine-tuned but know that if you need to make money on Day one that’s your only option, in my opinion, based on the people I work with, it is going to get over all fast so I definitely would shy away from that. That being said, we have some supplement guys who get 200-300 card values on day 1, with the back end in place, with the ability to lose a dollar on day 1 because they had the back end in place and they had tremendous business so I think to encompass what I had just said in to one sentence is to make sure your model is fine-tuned and dialed in. I think it was Dan Kennedy or somebody else who said that the person who can lose the most money up front has the biggest business, and if you look at any true business out there in the world it is a very true statement. But that being said, it doesn’t have to be true for you. You might not be able to it, you might not believe it, and you have to figure it out on your own. But at the end of the day, that is kind of a winning formula.

James: I guess just like any form of paid traffic the guy that’s got the greatest lifetime customer value is the one that is able to do this the best and outspend and outperform everyone else because they know in the long run they are going to win, right?

Brian: I always say, an offer isn’t a business, a business has an offer. So when people say I have an offer, start first with I have a business that likes to help XYZ persons solve XYZ problems and the way I do that is to go out there is yeah, I have an offer, No! you have to have a business and a passion to help those people. Usually the guys with the offers, they may be able to make some money on the short term, they probably don’t feel that great about what they are doing. Have a business that has an offer, don’t be an offer to start a business because an offer alone is not a business.

James: So this sounds like it might work for the business that you typically wouldn’t associate with email, a service type business that’s got a strong residual service that is perhaps high priced could do really well with this if they just put the right offer on the front end to acquire the subscriber, right?

Brian: Let me say this thing, at the end of the day, straight to the sales letter works great for some of my biggest clients. That’s the way they do it! I’m 50/50 on which side people should be working on. It doesn’t matter to be but going back to like the beginner or the intermediate person, it is a lot less painful doing an email drop knowing that in worse case scenarios I’ll get names to follow up with than going straight. And here is the number one key and I will stop talking, split test. That’s it.

James: Well, let us talk about tracking. It certainly is on my agenda to ask you about. How do you recommend we track the campaigns and then we’ll talk about how we might go about split testing and what’s in fact in this channel and if it’s the headline, the copy, the landing that we should be testing? So first of all, tracking –

Brian: If you are spending money on traffic and if you don’t you’re not able to get a specific tracking tool for every campaign. If you don’t have it, don’t do it. What you really should be doing to combine the two questions is you want to know the open rate so you want to be split testing your subject line. The story of a successful campaign is subject line, email creative/ click through rate and then your landing page and then each one of them for each different type of offer. Each different creatives has metrics that make it work. I ask some guys to put those letter in the email with a hundred clicks with clicks to buy. I know some guys who put some thirty words in there, they’ll get a bunch of clicks but they can be a little more generic. There is no right or wrong, your model, your author will dictate what is needed. But you should be split testing each and every part of it to see what is right for you. I generally like more action on my page. I think EPC is not the correct metric in this, in this it is ROI and what did it cost for you to buy a lead and a buyer.

James: I guess it is tracking layers deep, right? It is tracking all the way through a sale and then the residual sales and then the result from it and if you are only tracking top line metrics like opt in and click through rate percentage and stuff like that, right?

Brian: You have to look back – 0 day, 7 days, 18 days, you might be a guy who says hey I need to make money from day one but you might wake up from holy crap, 60 days later I’m 200% ROI. So don’t be so short sided in your understanding of your own metrics and really follow them out. In a business that I had 10 years ago in email marketing base, our best clients are the people who lists longest. They brought highest ticket stuff but it might have been two years down the line. So don’t forget that there is long tail value of a consumer that has been with you. The longer they have been with you the more valuable they are to you.

James: Let us discuss some mistakes, what are the top one, two, three mistakes that you see people make most commonly with email?

Brian: It’s a good question. The most common mistakes people make, first not split testing. Second is taking a copy that worked for an affiliate and just thinking that you can plug it in to a different type of campaign. You have to respect the relationship of every part of it with your publisher that you are buying from and an affiliate for. In an affiliate relationship you probably have to respect more meaning that they guy should make you respect him more. In the third party part, you still need to respect and we get to see stuff turned down all the time but you can kind of lower the barrier a little bit on the amount of information given. Here’s what I would say is I think over bullet pointing is a negative. With the caveat being if you are going with the long form email and you just accept what it’s going to be, I had offers for some big companies where I rewrote it for them. We removed the bullet points because it was too much information, and don’t provide too much information. Each level of the campaign from subject line to email to each level itself, you have 18 bullet points or five bullet points you’re just talking them out via your reader sales which is going to generate the same thing. So don’t overly give too much information on each step. That is a major no-no. That being said, test it and the opposite might be give all your information up front, get 300 clicks but make that 300 clicks worth $7 to you. So this needs to be tested, hopefully that makes sense.

James: Absolutely! Well let us get close to wrapping things up. I tend to like to get these sessions to one key point and one key action step, what should our listeners do as a result of listening in to today’s podcast? The first step that they should take after putting down their headphones and listening to us today?

Brian: Okay, number one step I’d take is go on Google, find opportunities, find websites, and find advertising opportunities that exist in your niche. Open up a notepad, send yourself an email with ten or twenty of them, it doesn’t mean you are going to be buying them today. Then I’d start with that time today to put together an email to that publisher, find the phone number. I think the secret to the internet is the phone number so someone gives you the opportunity to call them, call them. Your negotiation stance are going to be a lot easier, they are going to feel your money is more real, so I would go. If I am in the gardening niche right now, I’d go and find 20 sites that are advertising if they are offering email. If they do not offer email and that I think is the first actionable step. The second one which is really the no brainer one, make sure your model is in line with spending money and being able to scale your business. That is going to be the number one block to it, because if you are not spending money I don’t necessarily think you’re in business at the level that you want to be. And don’t be scared if you lose. You’ve got to get beat up a few times before you start making it.

James: Awesome! Well Brian I think we should end things there. Where should someone go to find out more about you and connect with you online?

Brian: The easiest thing, first thing is to spell my last name correctly, it’s LITMAN. You can email me at You can go to our website, we need to update that but there is some information on there and a form that you can fill out and then we can contact you and I think that anyone who is listening to this who wants to spend 10 – 15 minutes for any niche. I’d gladly talk on the phone with you, just email with with the subject line with the name of the podcast I’ll jump on the phone with you guys or go back on the phone with email or skype, whatever it is and help you. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me again,

James: Perfect! Well that is a fantastic offer, to you the listener, Brian’s website and his email address will be included in the show notes for this episode so to find that easily go to Awesome! I appreciate that Brian and thanks so much for coming on the show.

Brian: Alright! Thanks man, have a good day James!

So that is pretty much it for episode#73 of Traffic Jam. We’ll be back real soon with another episode. Remember to subscribe via iTunes by going to or subscribe on Stitcher by going to For a direct link to all of the bonuses that come with this episode including downloadable MP3 and full transcript of today’s session, go to where you can also comment and join in on the discussion for this episode.

We end this week’s show with a traffic Jam chosen by our guest, Brian Litman and he has gone for the track Right Now by Band Haven. So, enjoy the traffic jam and I will see back here for another episode real soon!



The Traffic Jam is a musical Jam chosen by our guest, and Brian Litman has chosen the track Right Now by the band Van Halen,

Right Now is a rock song written by the group Van Halen for their album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. The song reflects on living for the moment and not being afraid of making a change.

It won Video of the Year at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, and served as the basis for a soda commercial.


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About James Reynolds

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