This is the second article of the make-money-online scam series focused on guiding online entrepreneurs to choose the right paths and also to help consumers to be on the lookout. MLM was the first article if you missed it.
This article will cover affiliate marketing and focus on Clickbank. So, what’s wrong with Clickbank and online affiliate marketing?
Have you seen one of these screenshots before?
If you are interested in internet affiliate marketing and have been searching online for various opportunities, you should recognize that screenshot. You are bound to have clicked on one of the ads that promise hundreds or thousands of dollars a day.
It’s the earnings report of someone’s Clickbank account (likely Photoshopped). As you will see time and time again, when someone promises to make you a rich affiliate marketer, they are all talking about Clickbank.
What is Clickbank?
So what is Clickbank? It is an affiliate network – or you can say it’s a marketplace – where vendors and affiliates meet. Vendors put out their products for sale and affiliates choose which products they want to promote. After that, affiliates can promote their chosen products via affiliate links in this form: http://xxxxxxxxxxx.hop.clickbank.net/, where xxxxxxxxxxx incorporates the affiliate’s ID as well as the vendor and product information. It is a tracking code.
What’s Wrong with Clickbank?
Most products you see on Clickbank are scams and rip-offs. Let me show you. I’ll click on a random category in Clickbank marketplace. I clicked on the ‘Fun & Entertainment’ category. Honestly, it really was random. Below is the screenshot of the first page with default sorting (by popularity).
See those three satellite / internet TV products? I wrote an article on satellite tv for pc scams, and I can say for certain that every TV on PC product you see on Clickbank is a scam. Read the satellite tv on pc article for more information.
And those DIY solar and wind generators? I did a quick research on this, and it seems like nothing you can’t learn for free. Head over to Youtube and search for “DIY solar panel”; it’s all there. Some of Youtube videos are from the same sellers so don’t believe everything you see.
They emphasize how much money you can save by following the $50 guide. Of course, you will save money by doing it yourself, but building a wind generator is not as easy as putting together an IKEA furniture. The solar panel, though, looks like a neat little project if you want to do it on a small scale. Anyhow, DIY guides listed on Clickbank all look like rip-offs to me.
Tattoo Me Now seems to be the most legitimate product there. ^^
As you can see, Clickbank is littered with worthless crap.
Clickbank specializes in downloadable digital products, and top products are satellite TV software, registry cleaners, and of course ebooks – especially on how to make money.
I am sure there are good products on Clickbank, though I haven’t seen any. The legitimate ones are probably buried below all the scams that actually have better sale conversion rates.
Types of Marketing Used
So, why are all the scam eBooks and software taking top spots on Clickbank? It’s simple. Vendors and affiliates lie and trick customers. No legitimate, image-conscious business is going to use false advertising to the extent you see with scammers.
- Registry cleaners – The very first article on this blog was about registry cleaner scams. Affiliates and vendors use fake review pages and fake endorsements (i.e. 5 star Tucows rating) and scare tactics to make people buy their utilities.
- Satellite TV for PC – As described in the aforementioned article, channels aren’t satellite and you are not going to get HD movies and sports for a onetime fee. What they sell is free anyways. Huge exaggerations and lies in their ad pages lure people in.
- How to make money eBooks – We’ve all seen the false testimonials and fake cheques and earning reports.
First time newbies will easily get swindled. Customers need to educate themselves on all the lies internet marketers use.
Ignorant Affiliates and Marketing Tactics
Most affiliates will sell anything as long as there’s money to be made. They don’t care what they are promoting. Only thing they pay attention to is, “what’s selling right now?”
If you take a look at the Clickbank’s own recommendation, article marketing, niche sites and blogs, social media marketing, and search engine marketing are recommended as common ways to promote products.
You definitely see a lot of article marketing. Places like Ezine Articles and ArticleBase are full of promotional articles advertising their websites which advertise their affiliate links or websites that advertise another website that advertises the Clickbank link.
This kind of article spamming not only lowers the level of quality of “internet information,” it confuses and manipulates information-seekers using search engines.
Niche Sites and Blogs
All the marketing tactics are often combined. Because places like Ezine Articles and Article Base forbid the use of affiliate links, affiliates usually have their own domains. The majority of affiliate marketing focused blogs don’t have any valuable content. It just clutters the web space with more junk.
Social Media Marketing
Social media spamming is constantly reaching its new peak. It’s very annoying to see affiliate link spamming in Facebook, Twitter, message boards and forums.
Search Engine Marketing
This includes search engine advertising. There are so many affiliates advertising same things, often you click on two different addresses and you’ll end up at two identical looking pages.
You combine all the garbage created by the above marketing methods, and you have an epidemic of internet garbage. It’s hard to search for genuine information to find out whether something is a scam or not because when you search, “Is X a scam?” you end up with Ezine articles asking that question in the title and then endorsing it.
Netizens try to investigate the validity of a product or service by searching the product / company name + “scam”, and this trend is being exploited by affiliate marketers. Even though Clickbank recommends against such a tactic, affiliates still use it due to its high success in getting visitors.
Quote from Clickbank’s Dos and Don’ts page:
Don’t use “negative” advertising campaigns. While some affiliates think it’s a good idea to create ads like “Is Product X a scam?” and then link to the product, we strongly recommend that you not use this method of advertising. Many vendors are opposed to people associating their product with being a scam, and can request that ClickBank ban particular affiliates from promoting their product if they catch them doing this. This means that your advertising efforts go to waste and you won’t be able to promote that vendor’s product in the future. In addition, it makes ClickBank products in general look bad, and can make customers hesitant to buy the product since you’ve introduced doubt in their mind. It’s better to highlight the benefits of a product right off the bat, instead of introducing fear about a product and then trying to sell a customer on the product anyway.
Then, What Am I to Do? I Still Want to be an Affiliate Marketer
Clickbank is probably the easiest to join and get started as an affiliate. I don’t blame people for starting out with Clickbank. I did, too. But once you realize the nature of businesses that dominate Clickbank’s marketplace, you should not want to limit your business to Clickbank.
Yes, Clickbank does offer some of the highest commissions among affiliate networks, but it’s meaningless as most stuff you see is overpriced worthless crap anyways.
There are better affiliate networks out there. Affiliate networks that don’t focus on downloadable goods tend to attract more legitimate businesses.
To list some, there’s Commission Junction, Amazon, Digital River OneNetworkDirect, LinkSare, and Google Affiliate Network to name a few.
If you want to promote downloadable software, OneNetworkDirect is one affiliate network where many big name software companies like Symantec list their products.
What I hope that people would do is not to focus on which affiliate network to join, but rather which products to promote. Once you find a product you really like and want to promote, go to their website and look for affiliate information. Most companies do use affiliate marketing.
You will find that many companies use multiple networks. I personally have affiliate connections with many companies via Commission Junction.
What I think is important is that affiliates research, trust and believe in products they are promoting, and consult your conscience before promoting that best seller on Clickbank.
Let’s help create a cleaner internet filled with genuine and valuable content.