Safelist Advertising

I’d heard the term “safelist” used in conjunction with email advertisements, and finally had time to hunt up a couple of safelist sites to see what it was all about.

A safelist is basically where you send email out to a list of people. But unlike typical lists of email addresses you might buy, where the email has been harvested from web pages and newsgroups, and the people probably don’t want to receive your email, a safelist is an opt-in list. This means that every member of the list has agreed to receive emails from the list.

So it’s safe to email to the list, and won’t be considered spamming.

As part of my research, I ran across people saying that safelists don’t work. Never one to take someone else’s word for anything, I joined up with Herculist to see how it all worked. I created a new gmail address to put onto the list, since I expected I’d be receiving a lot of emails (I was right).

And then I sent out an ad myself.

Over the next day or so, I received dozens of ads to my Herculist specific email address. The first few I read, then I got into the habit of simply deleting them as they came in. And when I received no hits on my ad, I realized that everyone else was doing the same. There was simply no motivation for me to pay any attention to the ads.

I began to see why people say safelist advertising doesn’t work.

Over at, someone referred me to, and seemed to be genuinely enthusiastic about it. So I went to check it out, and signed up for their free level of service. Again I created a new gmail address for the safelist. Upon confirming both my safelist email and my main contact email, I was given 5,000 credits for signing up. A credit is basically an email sent to a single person.

So I could send an email to 5,000 people on the list (there were just over 5,000 on the list). There was also something called a hotlink site I could setup. Meanwhile, the ads started arriving in my inbox.

Again, I read the first couple. At the bottom of each there was a link to earn credits from having read the email. So I clicked on the link, figuring that earning credits was a good thing. The website specified by the person who sent the ad (their hotlink site) was shown in my web browser and I had to leave it there for 10 seconds to get the credits. So I looked at the site. At the end of 10 seconds I closed the browser, having earned a few credits.

The next ad earned me cash when I clicked the link ($0.0001). Turns out that GotSafeList can give you credits or cash when you click on the link, more or less randomly. The cash won’t make you rich, but if you accumulate enough of it you can turn it in for extra features at GotSafeList.

I began to see why the person who referred me was so enthusiastic about GotSafeList. Unlike the other safelist site I’d tried, here members had an incentive to click through to your site, and to look at it for at least 10 seconds. And it was kind of fun to wait and see if I’d get credits or cash (once I got banner credits…I’m not sure what they’re used for, but I’ll have to find out).

It’s too early for me to know if GotSafeList is more effective than other safelists, but I at least feel like my ad and website is going to be seen, and that’s far better than having the ad deleted with a dozen others.

I’d love to hear your experiences with safelists!

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