April 14

Renting Email Lists & Ad Sources…my journey (not yet complete)…ever :)


Rent email listSo I’ve been doing some ad buys for clients, myself, testing,
etc etc, and I’ve learned a LOT! I can’t share everything I’ve
learned…but I’ll share some good stuff 😉

First of all there are a TON of email lists to rent! Over the past
several months I’ve compiled a huge list on rented/rentable
email lists. There are lists in across a wide range from newsletters,
to list brokers, small blogs, to big blogs. It’s quite a list.

It’s a shame it took me this long to build this list, but frankly
…I like affiliates better 🙂

But it’s still pretty interesting to take a look at my google doc
and scroll through all the lists that people are renting…a whole
new world…

Second, most of the lists have owners/brokers that are pretty
easy to work with. They get back to you quickly, they give you
their ‘expected’ stats, and (of course) are nice because they’re
trying to get a sale 🙂

I’ve contacted some that don’t reply to emails or calls. That’s
odd to me, but hey it happens. If they don’t get back to me
I mark it down on my list as ‘people who clearly hate money’ 🙂

OK, now let’s get to the ‘usable’ info…

I’ve spent a LOT of my own money testing several of
these lists and display brokers….

Like a lot of money 🙂

So what have I learned from testing a lot of lists and
ad sources?

First, only TWO sources (so far) have delivered on claims
and delivered good results…


That’s sad.

See, they’re representing a list/source that they CLAIM
is full of buyers and traffic and roses and unicorns and
blah blah…

But when it’s time to deliver…a big ol turd comes instead.

I’ve spent a lot of money on lists that didn’t get anywhere
NEAR their claims…and it’s shameful.

If you have a good list…then back it up.

What irks me the most is the fact that ALL of these sources
(other then the two good ones) play something that I teach
my children NOT to play…

“The Blame Game”

Now, first I know that the offers convert…at LEAST on the
front end. If it’s an email, I KNOW what the subject line
averages on the open rate and once opened,I know about
how many clicks turn into leads.

I’m no dummy…this isn’t my first rodeo and I don’t blindly
spend money on promos that I have NO baseline of results
on…come on.

But what’s crazy is when, instead of admitting awful list
management or ad source, they blame the offer, copy,
time of the year, economy, the smells from the tulips, etc.


So as much as it drives me crazy…I mark it down, and
move on…but BOY does it burn me up sometimes 🙂

But you know what…

If I didn’t TEST these sources…I WOULD HAVE NEVER KNOWN!

So what’s the takeaway for YOU…

1. If you want an intro to the two good sources I’ve been using,
just email me (brad@bradstafford.com). I’ve tested a bunch and
these two are the best…email AND display/social media.

2. TEST!! Sometimes you’ve gotta put your money where your…
marketing funnel is :). Do I hate not getting a great ROI on
everything I do…sure. Is it a fact of life that not everything
works as well as you hope/people claim…yes.

So deal with it…if you test on a list or source that doesn’t
do well…chalk it up to experience and move on.

Talk soon,

P.S. I’m NOT done buying and testing by a long shot! I’ve
got new offers, new lists, new sources that all need testing.

P.P.S. I forgot to mention something about the ad buys I’m

I want ALL these advertisers to become affiliates of my clients.

(I’ll stop here and maybe do an article on how to convince
these people to do affiliate model instead of ad model later)



ad sources, Brad Stafford, renting email lists

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  • Brad, this is an ear full…

    As you know, I’ve been doing a few buys myself lately 😉 And I’ve learned a few things I’d like to share…

    First, ROI is not always immediate on many products (especially higher priced products)… there’s needs to be a proven sales funnel when buying any type of media. There’s a few reasons for this I won’t get into… But we’re used to immediate returns in the affiliate model, and it won’t always happen when buying traffic, and it’s not necessarily something we should be looking for in gauging our ROI on many types of paid traffic.
    Second, I’m learning things about the affiliate/ad model(s) – each have their own edge, and it’s all a matter of risk. The problem with the media/ad side is there’s no upside potential, but the good part is risk can be controlled/monitored/measured, revenue is somewhat predictable, and cash flow is good.
    What’s wrong with the affiliate model is a few things. Bluntly, it’s rife with fraud… just is (but easily fixed by working with you). That aside it has other structural problems for media/ad buyers:
    1. Only good for email list owners, not for media/ad buyers
    2. Risk balance heavily in the favor of the product owner.
    3. Payout delay can create cash flow problems for ad buyers
    Affiliate marketing is great if you have an active email list, and you want to generate a little extra revenue from your list. You have virtually no risk, but your revenue is capped by your list size. If you’re a media buyer, there’s no cap, and your main concern is ROI. And if you can turn $100 into $200, why not turn $100K into $200K. And that’s what most media buyers look to do.
    Another problem with the aff model is the payout delay. If you’re spending $25K on media, now that $25K+commission is tied up in “escrow” for 90 days. Maybe you only have a $25K/mth budget to spend on media, so now that means you have wait 90 days before you can spend another $25K to bring more customers to the product and make more money – that’s bad for you, and it’s bad for the product owner.
    Those are some pretty big problems with the affiliate model… and they’re not only bad for the affiliate, they’re really bad for the product owner b/c it stifles sales.

    The proper balance would be a combination of the two, and you’re seeing that in a lot of CPA models. Where say a $99 product pays a $200 weekly/monthly commission. I find this to be the perfect blend of the affiliate/ad models. Both the affiliate and the product owner share the risk, and risk is well defined, measureable, and most of all this can be scaled quickly!
    Affiliates know they can earn $X per sale, and product owners familiar with their sales funnel know they can earn $X on every customer they acquire. As long as those number work, you have a proven formula for successful 3rd party ad campaigns.
    It’s a win/win, and nobody is standing in the dark wondering how much money they have risked/lost/made etc. After upsells/downsells/refunds/etc… nobody has answers to any of those questions until 90 days down the road. It’s TOO LONG!!! If you’re an affiliate you know exactly what I’m talking about – you made $100K in commissions, but 90 days later and after 50% refunds, you only made $10K. What if you spent $25K to generate those sales? You won’t know you lost money until 3 months later.

    If you really want your product to rock it in the ad space, share some of the risk – maybe with a select few proven affiliates. Figure out the lifetime value of your customer, offer a low priced product, and set a CPA payout high enough to attract attention, but low enough so that you earn a sizeable return on each new customer you acquire.
    The paid CPA model solves a lot of issues for both sides. The media buyer is ready to spend, spend, spend, without delay, and this is great for the product owner, b/c it means more sales. And the product owner isn’t paying for something that isn’t delivery results.
    I could go on and on… but I won’t.

  • Hey Brad,

    I am glad you commented following Brian’s post so I didn’t have to be right after it.

    This was definitely a good article and I think supplemented well by Brian’s comment to it. Last year I built up my list significantly through a large amount of media buying and you are exactly right in the sense that you have to always test and then once you find something that works hit it hard.

    The advantage to the media buy side is once you have a funnel that works there is almost unlimited scale on how much you can ramp it up (the hard part is getting that funnel down). I think when you go into a media buy you almost have to think about it in saying you will have more than one round. A lot of people don’t really test out a funnel, try one round of buying and then just say, “oh well it didn’t work” as opposed to making tweaks and then coming back or starting out with some type of a/b test. That might be an interesting post in the future for you to share how some of the testing stages work for you.

  • Brad,

    I know you work hard and I am sure you have spent good money “testing” list. I want to thank you for that. I know you know your business (marketing) as does Morgan but I think I know the the trading business bettet.

    The 2007 Credit Crisis was a game changer, hundreds of thousands of people lost jobs on Wall St and acrss the trading and financial sector as a whole. New regulation have almost shut down every bank prop trading deak and algorithmic trading continues to eat away at the retail traders account. Not to mention what MF Global and Russ Wassendorf from PFG did to the industry. I say if there were 3 million futures and options accounts in 2007 in the US there are only 300,000 today and not everyone trades everyday. There used to be over 500 clearing firms between the CBOT and the CME and today there are 40 and a retail account can only open with about 6 to 8 of the 40 firms.

    Most list are trash. If they are 8 months or older they are no good. The big firms that boast a list of 100,000 to 150,000 are full of it. They are what I call “dead list” They say they are blasting for a webianr , we let them blast first and get 40 sign ups then we blast and get 400.

    The big question for companies like mine is where are the “new” leads coming from when almost every IB and brokerage frims are going out of business? Its a simple question, if you cant pay your electric bill how can you trader futures?

    When the big clearing firms and IBs cant open accounts and the business is at the lowest its been since the 70s its hard to belive any of this list buying / sharing works for anyone other than the seller of the list. That just my opnion and not a swip at you but I like I said you know marketing better than I am I know the markets and the market place better than you…

    Danny Riley

    President of MrTopStep.com

  • Good post Brad!

    And Brian, your best line was, “If you really want your product to rock it in the ad space, share some of the risk.”

    That’s inherently the problem with most affiliate offers. You as the affiliate take on 100% of the risk and the offer owner zero.

    Although we’re not a true affiliate model, we pay earlier than most and sometimes get burned when our advertisers don’t pay or pay months late.

    I consider it just a part of the business and our contribution to the “risk bucket.”

  • Good points from all. One reason I’ve held off on affiliate marketing in general, other than close jvs w/trusted colleagues, is all the fraud; delayed payouts and checking ip’s/other countermeasures can help, though it’s time consuming. As always the answer is to a/b split test and develop lead-gen funnels that convert at better than breakeven. Would be interested in thoughts re avoiding aff fraud (payout commisshes then get cbs since nonvalid orders). Good dialogue.


  • Brad,

    The quality of this post and the responses are top notch…If you keep providing this type of material, you can start charging money and start calling it financial media buy forum…really good stuff.

    One thing that I find interesting is how creative marketing can make big difference. I’ve never seen anyone get good financial leads from social media till now…I always thought it was possible but figured since the pro’s don’t do it who am I to try and now I feel like there’s an opportunity there as well.

    Brad, please continue going down this road and possibly post a few hypothetical or actual case studies without providing the exact numbers…I think most guys who you work with would really appreciate it tremendously.

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