The Rise and Fall of Traditional Safelists

Let’s start by answering the question of what exactly is a safelist?
A safelist is a membership site which allows it’s members to exchange email
ads with one another. That means that you would be able to email an
advertisement to the entire membership of a safelist and in exchange you
would agree to receive email ads from other members.
When safelists first appeared online in the late 90’s this concept worked well
enough. You didn’t need to worry about spam complaints when sending out
your ads because everybody on the safelist had already agreed to receive your
emails. There also weren’t as many people marketing online which made it
easier for your emails to get noticed.
As the popularity of safelists grew so did their numbers. By 2001 anybody
could spend a few dollars to buy their own safelist membership site. Soon
there were hundreds and then thousands of safelists operating online. It
became a full-time job just to keep up with joining new safelists, sending
your daily ads, and then sorting through the thousands of emails you received
every day.
It was around this time that services started popping up which were supposed
to make managing multiple safelist memberships easier. These were called
“safelist submitters” or “safelist blasters” and were available as a
membership site or as a piece of software you installed on your computer.
The idea behind a safelist submitter was great. You could join thousands of
safelists with the click of a button and then blast your email ads out to all the
safelists with a second click.
Safelist Marketing Tactics

Along with the safelist submitters came a way for users to manage the
massive amounts of email they were receiving every day. These came in the
form of “mailbox cleaners” which would automatically delete the contents of
your safelist inbox after a certain number of days or if it reached a certain
capacity. This would keep your inbox from overflowing with safelists ads
and keep new emails from bouncing.
This seemed like a perfect solution. Automatically send your email ads to
thousands of safelists every day and automatically delete all the emails you
received for being a member of all those safelists.
So wait, if we could stop reading the ads from other safelist members then
who was reading our ads? The answer… nobody. It was at this time that
safelist advertising started to feel pointless.
This isn’t to say that all old-school safelists are completely dead. There are
still a few out there that can produce decent results however you won’t get
much activity out of them unless you choose to upgrade to a paid
membership. Even then you still need to be able to create subjects and ad
copy good enough to get your emails opened and clicked to bring traffic to
your site which is much easier said than done.

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I have been marketing online for 30 years helping people do it right with education, and list building tools and procedures.