Unfortunately, they don’t seem to put much effort into verifying the quality of their publishers. They do respond quickly to complaints and are quick to issue refunds, so it balances out and I don’t doubt the honesty and essentially law-abiding nature of Clickbank.com themselves.
What their easy approval process means, though, is that some of what is available through Clickbank.com is of questionable value, and occasionally warrants the label of “scam”. (See “The Dream of Internet Riches – or Welcome to Scam Central“)
The type of scam varies, but usually it’s either a subscription-based site that purports to aggregate information about a subject, or a variation on the old mail-order get-rich-quick manual scam: “do exactly what I’m doing and you’ll find more suckers like yourself”.
These products are actually somewhat useful to the beginning internet marketer, both in terms of information and guidance, and as pointers to what NOT to do, but they’re the kind of thing you’ll outgrow in a week and be embarrassed you paid for. Many of the information products simply re-package and paraphrase stuff that’s available free with a bit of search engine savvy.
The market for internet promotion tools and information is flooded with low-to-medium quality manuals and guides, and most of these tools seem focused on swamping the internet with mail-outs, advertising, spurious blog and message board comments, and tricks to garner high-ranked listings in internet search engines.
What they fail to emphasize is that relevance and quality are the only things that will maintain and improve your site’s position in the long-term. Sure, you have to be aware of all the tricks and tweaks, and use them judiciously, but if your site sucks, increasing traffic isn’t going to have nearly as much impact as creating a site that gives people something they’re looking for.
If you’re looking to create revenue streams, a useful, relevant site with targeted advertising and products related to the content is going to do more for you than all the traffic-getting tricks in all the books. Web site traffic is useless unless people actually want to be on your site and want what you’re promoting.
As far as subscription-based information aggregate or directory sites on Clickbank.com go, they vary in quality and some do provide a decent value, but the bad ones outnumber the good to such a degree that it’s easier just to avoid any you don’t actually use and approve of personally.
Each of these sites or products – of whatever quality – has value in its way, so it isn’t outright illegal, but many of these types of “products” skirt the line and imply a certain moral flexibility on the part of the purveyors.
Unless all you care about is the money and could care less about customer satisfaction or your own reputation, you’ll want to stay away from these kinds of things when deciding on which products to promote. Maintaining high standards is likely to pay off in higher click-through and purchase rates on your site, and will keep people coming back because they realize that you’re the real deal.
Other things to watch out for and avoid:
- subscription-based sites that offer “trial memberships” – many of these offer no way to cancel once the free or discounted trial period is over, and customers have to appeal to Clickbank to get their money refunded.
- products whose sites seem to unfold into an endless hard-sell for multiple other products, where users arrive looking for one thing, and end up being forced to wade through twenty.
- products that seem to consist of a series of videos, each of which is a hard sell
- sites where every sentence ends in an exclamation point! nothing is that exciting.
- products that promise to show you how to tap into untold riches through clickbank (you can, just run the same scam)
- products that seem to highlight some personal insecurity (like baldness or erectile dysfunction or “how to pick up women”) and claim to be able to fix it
- software (vapor ware) products that offer more than 75% commission
I don’t want to end this with the impression that all Clickbank.com products are scams that you shouldn’t promote if you have a conscience. Many are legitimate and worthwhile, so I’ll offer some examples of products that you might want to look out for and/or promote.
Products that are worthwhile promoting and won’t compromise your integrity:
- legitimate e-learning products that provide value for the money (i.e. trainingcenter.com)
- real-world products like books, cds and dvds, clothing, and other things you can actually touch
- e-books by genuine experts (Like this guy, who does exactly what I do, or these guys – creators of “99 designs” and Flippa)
- research tools for specific niches (but beware of “tools” that are actually less useful than Google, and products like credit checkers or background checks which may actually be illegal depending on your jurisdiction)
- recognizable brand name products through reputable dealers (more on this later)
You get the idea. Basically all I’m saying is that because Clickbank.com isn’t all that picky about who they allow to use their affiliate marketing setup, you’ve got to take care picking products, but that there are probably many that match your market that you can profit from with a clear conscience.
Also on the upside, if you’re at a loss as to how to enable credit-card processing on your site without using PayPal, Clickbank.com is a viable option for single-product promotions and can work with multiple products with a bit of tweaking.
If you’re a vendor with a product, Clickbank.com may make sense. Beware, though, because for the reasons I’ve mentioned above, people who’ve had a bad experience with them may be turned off of your product by association.
Conclusion: a mixed bag of products and a good low end solution for independent vendors. Affiliates beware to avoid promoting garbage.
A useful link:
CBENGINE is an incredible site with lots of detail on clickbank vendors and products. The most useful aspect of it is that it lets you check the refund rate on a product, which can give you an idea of whether it’s a scam or not. There’s a 15 day free trial.