3 Sins of the Highest Order of Magnitude, Most People Commit with Their Safelist Ads


I’m sure most of you have heard about the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, where kids were given a choice: one marshmallow now, or two if they held off eating the one in front of them for fifteen minutes. Here’s a link to the article if you want to read more about this: http://nicholasgrimshawe.com/marsh

The test studied delayed gratification so you may wonder what all this must do with safelist.

99% or higher, of people clicking on your safelist ad are looking for the first marshmallow. The marshmallow in this case is the credit link to your website where they can collect their credit reward the moment the timer runs out. They really don’t care much about what you’ve crafted to get them to click to see your ad, they just want the link.

This fact brings up the first mistake that people make with their safelist ad.

Making Your Ad Too Long

This is a sin of the highest order of magnitude.

You are wasting valuable time and energy, let alone the accumulated frustration of crafting beautiful designed letters or graphics ahead of that all-important click on the credit link.

I advertise on at least 50 safelists. That means I need to feed this credit monster. I don’t have time to read these long, lovely, thought out, and detailed letters. I’m just scanning for the link.  If you are honest, that’s exactly what you are doing to.

The biggest sin, is making me search for that link. With the use of Gmail, you can cruise through 50 links in no time at all. (In another article, I will show you how I do this.) If I have to scroll, I delete the ad instead, and I never go to your web-page, and you wonder why you don’t get much traffic.

Keep it short, and make sure the link doesn’t drop below the fold of the page causing the reader to have to scroll down.

I agree you have an amazing talent to craft beautiful SEO’ed ads. Use this talent wisely by spending that time on web-page content or content for your blog.

Remember you’re not Stanford doing research. You want the kid to get the marshmallow (the credit link) fast before they go charging off after your competitor’s marshmallow.

Keep it short, give them the link as soon as possible.

The second mistake people make with their Safelist ads.

Not sending your audience to a personalized landing page with a lead magnet

If you are doing anything else but sending people to a personalized landing page with an attractive lead magnet, you are committing a sin or the highest order of magnitude.

You do safelist marketing for one reason and one reason only: To build your list.

Sending people to a traffic exchange, another safelist, or other type of program, is building a list for someone else. What they can leverage from that name is 100 times more than the meager access most sites give you to your referral.

There are exceptions, but not many. Click here to get my short list of recommended programs that give you full access to your referrals. Once again do not use that list as sites to advertise on safelist or traffic exchanges.

Back to the Stanford Experiment.

Some kids could delay instant gratification and hold out for the two marshmallows. Here’s where you need to resist the first marshmallow offered, those made for you, stunning looking, splash pages that are easy to put into a rotator and use for your safelist marketing.

Don’t yield to temptation; resist. Learn how to build your list and create personalized landing pages that capture a name and email into your own list. That way you get to eat a whole bag of marshmallows down the road.

The third mistake safelist marketers make.

Not using your photo, name and contact info.

This is a sin …you got it…of the highest order of magnitude.

Now let me clarify. Some safelists don’t allow HTML ads, and that means using your photo isn’t possible.

That’s why I create two versions of any ad I’m creating for safelists. The HTML ad includes my picture. It’s usually the first thing you see. My name is there as prominently as I can make it, and finally a “Skype me at nicknick90” sometimes I include my Twitter @ngrimshawe.

The non-HTML ad has all the same elements except my picture.

Why? People are scanning your ad for the credit link. Not much will register about the ad, but the picture and name, the more it’s seen the more it sticks. Then when they click the link and they again see your face (Hint…your photo and name should be on your landing page), when they click through to your website, or landing page that image and name are subconsciously reinforced.

Soon they can’t help but notice your picture and your name more and more often.

That’s the start of branding.

When that happens, watch out Stanford. You get bags of marshmallows with your own photo and name on them.

Dream Big Live Inspired




Leave a comment
  • Amazing stuff Nick!

    I always wondered about the logic behind writing long safelist ads.
    As you said, most folks are just scanning for the credit link.
    I usually try to keep mine short and simple.

    Something I must get better at is using pages that build my list.

    Thanks for such a great blog post!

  • Great post, Nick! I bet I have written about #1 at least two dozen times over the last seven years myself… usually after a night of having flipped thru & trashed hundreds or even thousands of too-long ad mails. My rule of thumb has always been if I have to page down in Gmail to get to the link, it goes in the trash unclicked automatically. I’ve got too many safelist mails to go thru to spend the extra time paging down, which would add on countless minutes (even hours) to my mail-going-thru time. Keep hoping one of these days “everyone” will get it, tho I know that’s a pipe dream, we should keep spreading the word on the issue tho & maybe “most” will, if not “everyone”!

  • Thanks Lynn, great to hear from you. What I hope is that some people will get it and stop wasting their time on those long fancy emails that I’m sure are really wonderful, but never really get read.


  • Adrian, thanks for stopping by. Well I’ve sin too, and had to go to confession. Safelist are a steady source of new sign ups for me so they are worth the time and effort. I just want to save some people that extra time and effort.


  • Hi John, I think the logic of long safelist ads is what we talked about yesterday…incorrect information. The part that is important is the page that comes up after the click. That’s where effort and attention should go. I do occasionally advertise “event” like programs such as the Learning Strategies mindfest, but the bulk of what I do now is to encourage people to get on my list and then promote to them from there.


  • Of course, it’s positive. 🙂

    I liked the article.I think we need to teach others that long or Very long posts are no good. Like why does anyone want to read for 30 minutes before going to the website?

    Keep up the good work.

  • There are two sides:
    The one with the ad. I agree, it’s a good idea to point the traffic to a capture page.
    The one that surfs the ads: I agree, lenghty ads won’t get read. Question: do you really put your real name and email address into those forms, or at all? Do you care? You clicked the link and got your credit.
    The one with the ad gets maybe a few sign ups but will those autoresponder and broadcasts ever reach somebody, and if, will they ever get opened?

  • First off Xarah, thanks for commenting on my blog post. I believe this is the first time you commented so I want to welcome you to these pages. I always use my real name, and photo where ever I can. I use my real name and email address if I am signing up under someones form to get a product or blog notification, or what ever. So yes I care for two reasons. 1. I’m sending out ads too, I want people to fill out my form, so when I see something I like, I fill out the form. Most offers I’m not interested in, the get rich quick and all the other hyped products, but just a few days ago, I put my name onto a form to get a product about content creation, because it’s a big area of interest for me. Second reason I care: I love people and want to connect to a real person in a real situation.
    As far as open rates, for a safelist ad they are low, but you play a numbers game here. Push through volume and you pick up a subscriber here and there. Over time that adds up big time.

    Here is what Robin Sharma says: “Small daily – seemingly insignificant – improvements and innovations lead to staggering achievements over time.”

    I believe him unconditionally.

    I hope I answered your question, but if not please comment back or reach out to me.


  • Thanks for your replay Nick. I didn’t mean your personally, hope you did not feel offended. I meant in general. Do surfers actually put in their real name and Email address when all they want is click the link for the credit? They don’t want to buy other products, they want to sell theirs.
    And yes, this is a first time for me here. John Brewer put your link in our blog share Skype group 🙂
    Xarah Dax recently posted…You’ve NEVER seen a TESLA like this!!My Profile

  • No I am not offended at all. So yes surfers do put in their real name and emails, because I’ve talked to some of the people who joined my list either on Skype or twitter. Now, not many people do that. Here is where I don’t care. I am just looking for the one person today who will give me their name and email address so I can start to build a relationship with them.

    I don’t think I’ve joined that Skype group yet. I guess I’d better get that done.



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