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A Top to Tail Clickbank Review

A Top to Tail Clickbank Review

It’s probably fair to say that the vast majority of newbies to the internet marketing arena, will have heard of the Clickbank affiliate network.

It’s claimed to be one of the largest networks around, and one of the easiest networks to get started with.

Or so the claims say anyway. We’ll let you decide, but we’ll also give you a thorough understanding of the network, so you know if this is the right platform for you.

You can find that out one of two ways. The first is to sign up and get started going through the Q &A’s, or the second is to sit back, chill for a bit, and let us give you the full scoop by reading through our top to tail Clickbank Review.

Starting out where they started, with…

The history of the Clickbank network

Once upon a time, away back in 1998, Tim and Eileen Barber, alongside Geoff Hoyl founded Clickbank. It started from ground zero with one focus. To become the largest “digital” marketplace,” online.

Just as Amazon begun with the concept of having the largest tangible product database, Tim and Eileen Barber have done the same with the digital world.

They weren’t able to get their on their own though. No.

They become part of the Keynetics™ group, which also has connection to Klout®. Keynetics™ are innovators in technology, with Klout® being the innovative solution to cyber security.

The combination of Keynetics Inc™, for their technological expertise, combined with the security specialism of Kount®, which is widely recognised for their ability to monitor, track, identify and defeat fraudulent activity across the net, is part of the reason for Tim and Eileen Barber, and Geoff Hoyl have seen huge success with Clickbank.

Some 13 years later, in 2011, according to a revenue magazine report, it was claimed that the Clickbank affiliate network had attracted over 1.5 million affiliates, promoting digital products online. Of the 1.5m affiliate marketers on the network, it’s estimated that an average of 100 thousand affiliates have “active” status at any given time.

That would indicate that there are a number of inactive accounts. Or in other words, 1.4 million unsuccessful affiliates, or those who only make the odd sale every few months.

 

To explain a bit about the active and inactive status of affiliates…

 

For an affiliate on the Clickbank network to be considered active, they must be active in the promotion of vendor products.

Accounts that are deemed inactive are from affiliates who aren’t earning commissions from Clickbank. This could be for any number of reasons. You could be actively promoting vendors, and earning nothing if you’re doing affiliate marketing wrongly. i.e. spamming the life out of people, throwing links here there and everywhere and pretty much taking the mental approach of throw enough cr*p at the wall and something will stick.

Wrong!

It’ll be refunded… More on that in a bit.

Another major pain as well is in terms of meeting the payment criteria. After 90 days of no sales activity, any previous sales that have your account sit with a positive balance can become subject to a $1 a day dormant account charge.

Considering one of the many goals of affiliate marketers is to generate a dollar a day, it’ll be frustrating if you get a $7 commission on a sale to lose it 90 days later, when you don’t meet the $10 payment threshold.

That’s covered later, along with much more about payments.  

However, what the important thing is that the Clickbank marketplace is renowned for their “timely payments,” when their criteria is met. That’s regarding when you start to generate regular payments, continually above $10 per pay cycle.

Provided you meet the terms of the payment policies on the network, Clickbank do uphold their payment policy to get your payment to you.

They have an established reputation behind them for paying their affiliates on time.

That’s part of the reason why they’ve made it among some of the top affiliate networks online.

 

So what exactly is Clickbank?

 

In a nutshell, Clickbank started out as a digital store for self-publishing authors. Anyone with information to share was able to create their own digital products, submit it to the Clickbank marketplace, and make that product available for instant download direct to consumers.

The problem facing self-publishing authors was reaching their target audience.

That’s where Clickbank really set the benchmark high.

The strategy they took was just to charge a fee to the merchant for listing. In return for that fee, Clickbank provided the ability to recruit independent sales representatives, in the form of affiliate marketers.

An advertising business model that’s brought advertising fees for the smallest of businesses, to an affordable level.

The reason for that is that it’s strictly pay per performance. If an affiliate sells nothing for a merchant, there’s no commissions to pay. Thus, you as the affiliate, make zilch!

For the affiliate marketers who do shift units for merchants, Clickbank pays out among the highest commission fees attainable from any affiliate network. Sometimes as high as 75% of the purchase price.

Now…

You may be wondering at this point, why the huge commission percentage to the affiliate.

That’s a good question, and it’s not something that everyone considers when promoting something. Clickbank doesn’t determine the commission structure. It’s the choice of the seller, (merchant, sometimes referred to as the vendor) to set the commission rates they want Clickbank to pay their affiliates.

The higher percentage rates are a strategic business decision on the part of the vendor. Affiliates are more likely to promote higher paying products, for a higher pay per sale, than they would if they would if they weren’t earning much for each sale.

The choice is down to the vendor to decide how much their comfortable paying their affiliates. The higher the split, the more affiliates are likely to promote. In some circumstances, it makes good business sense for a product owner to lower their split and earn more by having more affiliates increase the unit sales.

Although, that can be detrimental in some instances, where unethical affiliates contribute to a higher than average refund rate, by using obscene marketing tactics.

That’s all good, but what about me selling stuff…will it work?

Yes and no on this one. From an affiliate perspective, it depends on your knowledge on affiliate marketing.

There’s a big difference from selling digital products to selling tangible products. It’s all about information. Often information that’s obtainable free on the internet.

What’s to stop people carrying on searching, rather than paying the price for a digital download?

 

Nothing at all, unless…

 

You know the emotional triggers of the target audience. The key to banking on Clickbank is connecting with people on an emotional level. The more emotional hot buttons you can use to trigger an emotional response on your audience, the higher your chances of converting a prospect to a customer, and making bank in the process. It’s much more strategic promoting digital than it is tangible. There isn’t anything cosy going to come through the post that your customers can see, touch, listen to, smell, or taste.

In most cases anyway there isn’t. There is an option for audio files, and video downloads to be sold through the platform, which is a given due to being a digital content marketplace. It used to be a marketplace only on digital eBooks and audio downloads, made instantly available to consumers. Now, there’s an ability to add shipping to orders and send out CDs and DVDs, although there aren’t many programs taking full advantage of this feature.

It’s certainly worth looking out for as it could make your conversions easier, and/or higher. The key points that the Clickbank marketplace focuses on infopreneurs are what Clickbank is all about. In the offline publishing world, it’s difficult for people to spread their knowledge.

Publishing is challenging, not to mention expensive. Due to the expense of offline publishing, there are a number of authors with expertise on subjects, who use self-publishing as a means to reach the people searching for information online, as they aren’t able to find specialised knowledge in bookstores. That’s where online publishing comes into the equation. It offers the unique ability to share specialist knowledge with the most minute of audiences, needing specialised information.

That information can be in the form of a digital download, (PDF report), a paid membership site, video downloads, audio downloads...any information that can be downloaded or accessed online is what Clickbank specialise in. It’s made self-publishers able to become Infopreneurs, as well as affiliates to do the same, by marketing the products on behalf of the owners, for a share in the sale. The niches cover nearly every single specialist field and obscure niches you could imagine. Where people have knowledge, Clickbank lets them share it and thousands have made businesses out of that powerful business model.

From train model enthusiasts, hobby cooks creating recipe books, to people with the skills to make their own beauty products, sharing the “how to” on how it’s done… are all just some of the informational subjects you can find in the Clickbank marketplace.

How you can become a part of the Infopreneurs world that Clickbank can create

It all starts with the account, and getting one couldn’t be simpler. Simply go to the website at Clickbank.com, and click on the signup button on the top right. Once there, you’ll be taken to a sign up page, where you just fill the form out. This is a great upside to Clickbank in comparison to other affiliate networks. They don’t ask for technical details about your website analytics, URL, promotional methods, and all that malarkey.

The only things that are asked are necessary information.

Your language, (yeah, they’re international) name, address, contact details, a nickname for your account, and a unique password to access your account. Of course, there is an client contract that you should familiarise yourself with, as if you do breach the terms of service laid out there, your account will be suspended, or closed and payments withheld. That’s the same with any affiliate network. As long as you remember the “no spam” rule, you should be all good. And obviously, don’t breach trademarked terms in your marketing.

As a rule of thumb, stick within the legal boundaries, FTC compliant, and your account will be good.

Once you confirm your welcome email sent to your email used in registration, you’ll be able to log into your new account.

  • No awaiting for approval

That’s one of the nifty features of Clickbank.  Just give them the information they need to get your account open, and then you can head into the marketplace. Once there, you have instructions right there on the screen.

You can select whatever you need from here. Either browse their learning centre or go straight to the categories, or use the search feature.

The search feature isn’t really all that great on CB though. It has been improved as it used to be if you were to search for basketball, it’d show results for weight loss. That appears to be fixed.

Only under keyword relevance search though. →

Popularity, gravity, % rebill are other search options are available, but they don’t always bring up the most relevant products for what you’re looking for.

Provided you have an idea of what you’re looking for that is. If you haven’t a clue what niche you want to go into, then the left hand category listing is nifty for brainstorming ideas for your next affiliate campaign.

Here’s an example:

 

Clicking on the “parenting and families” drops down with some narrower more obscure niches within that category. Just on that screenshot above, you can see that there’s a product there about “Talking to Toddlers: Dealing with the Terrible Twos and Beyond.”

You can click on that link to have a look at the landing page and see if it’s something that you’d be interested in promoting.

If you are, you just select the “promote” button.

Click that and you’ll see this…

Insert the nickname in the account nickname field, (the nickname you pick when you set your account up.) You can also use additional tracking when you create this.

The tracking ID lets you add a unique ID to your affiliate link so you know which links are driving traffic to the offer.

If you’re using banners on the top right of your site, you can name that something to monitor it. B1, for example could represent a banner on the top right of your web page.

What you can do then is create a spreadsheet of where each link is, and when you look at your Clickbank Analytics reporting, you’ll be able to refer to your unique tracking IDs attached to your affiliate links, and know which ones are performing.

It’s also handy if you’re using places like Yola, Weebly, or Blogspot etc. for your affiliate marketing. It’ll let you know which platforms are performing better, and you’ll know where to focus your efforts to ramp up your campaigns.

You don’t have to create a tracking ID though. It’s there if you want to though.

Once you fill out your account nickname, you’re then presented with a new window.

You can simply copy and paste the links you’re given into notepad, and they’re ready for you to use to refer people over to the offer with your affiliate ID.

Another good thing with the affiliate tracking is that it’s easy for you to test yourself. You simply use the link yourself, click through to the order page of the offer, and down the bottom of the page, you’ll see your account nickname at the very bottom of the page.

In the example above, you can see straight away that there’s no affiliate link been used. In that instance, the product owner retains 100% of the sale purchase, as it’s a direct order, with no affiliate referral link used.

Where it says none, or if it isn’t your account nickname, then it’s not recognising your affiliate link. In which case, you’d need to generate a new link, by repeating the process, checking it again to ensure your affiliate account nickname does appear on that order page.

That’s a good feature for affiliate marketers as you can instantly tell with that quick check that your affiliate link is working and being tracked. Without knowing that, you could be losing out on vital commissions, essentially throwing money down the drain.

As you can see from the above, the Clickbank network is easy to use and get started, but what about performance?

The upside of Clickbank

  • Super simple to use

  • Sign up is fast and simple

  • Massive inventory of products to promote

  • Unlimited earnings potential

  • Category listings are good for research

  • Analytics and tracking IDs let you see which links are working

  • It’s easy to check your affiliate link is working

  • They have excellent customer support for affiliates

  • 30 day cookie tracking

  • Weekly payments

  • High commission rates

  • Minimum threshold of $10 - obtainable

It’s not all great though….

The risk tier in Clickbank will affect your account performance. The risk tier of your account is color coded as follows.

Violet: This indicates the highest level of performance. An account in violet represents the highest standing, indicating high quality, great performance, and exceptional customer satisfaction

Blue tier: This is indicative on a strong and quality account, performs great and delivers great customer satisfaction

Green tier: All new accounts start in the green tier. If you've had the account open a while and find yourself in the green tier, then there's performance improvements represented here. It's not to say you are doing anything wrong. It represents good quality and good customer satisfaction.

Yellow tier: Now you're into the territory of having quality issues. These should be identified and rectified to improve your account performance.

Orange tier: You're into hot water as this represents to Clickbank that you have major quality issues that must be improved.

Or…

Into the red tier you go: At this stage, no improvements have been made to rectify and improve account performance. At this point, you're into the "out of compliance" territory, when you've fell below the acceptable quality standards. Issues must be rectified at this stage, to avoid further action, which could see your account terminated.

Looking at the above, you'd think that would only apply to vendors on Clickbank. Truth is that it doesn't. It affects the account performance of every vendor, JV partner, and affiliate marketer. The tiers are assigned using internal algorithms, assessed on a daily basis using past account history to assess the risk of chargebacks and refunds. What this is doing is taking the responsibility from solely the concern of the product owner, and splitting that between the vendor and affiliate. Both parties are responsible for maintaining their account in good standing.

However, for the inexperienced affiliate, just picking a product and running with it, only to find that you experience a high refund rate, you could find your account in hot water. Through no fault of your own. The debate with the Clickbank marketplace has been similar for years now. They are digital, and there's no way to have digital products returned. They actively enforce a 60-day, no quibble money back guarantee. That policy has led to a significant amount of serial refunders. Customers who know they can get anything on Clickbank free of charge. All they have to do is contact Clickbank customer services and instruct them to refund their money.

That's it, and that's a refund that will affect your accounts risk status. Clickbank built their reputation on selling a flawed money back guarantee, making it a free for all marketplace, by just requesting a refund. Some might say that they've bit the hand that feeds them, and now they’re trying to remedy the situation as best they can, and it's coming up short.

Affiliates, vendors, JV partnerships are all being judged based on how consumers react to products. Yet they don't have the ability for customers to leave feedback?  Given that Clickbank has been in the business since 1998, they've had plenty of time to clean house. Only now that there are far superior payment processing systems, combined with the affiliate reporting tool kits, are Clickbank acting as though their looking to improve the quality of their products in the marketplace.

On the other hand, what they seem to be doing instead, is passing their flawed money back guarantee, onto the expense of their clients. The merchants you promote to earn commission. There are quality merchants around on Clickbank, but recent times has seen many abort the platform for a more sophisticated and better managed affiliate networks, which allows more control over serial refunders and works to help businesses retain profits, and cut losses.

That's where Clickbank falls short.

Over the years, there’s been a number of MMO courses teaching people how to get published on Clickbank for recurring income, without lifting their fingers. That has led to many of the products on Clickbank to be fairly static. Also a lot of rehashed noise has been released about how to make money online. Most of which have turned out to be pretty ridiculous courses.

There are some gems to be found but they’re few and far between. Most reputable vendors are using different affiliate networks that offer more control, rather than be held at the mercy of the Clickbank no questions 60-day money back guarantee.

You have to be careful with the product selection and ensure that the products you select to promote are active for customer support. If someone is selling a weight loss guide, and a customer sends them a question, you had better make sure the owner is there to answer the query.

If it’s a static product, with no support, the customer is going to claim a refund. That will result in a point deduction on your account, putting you in a higher risk category. Obviously, you lose the commission too. It’s also going to damage your reputation with that customer, and if you have a list, you could lose subscribers.

On top of that, refunds and chargebacks are monitored on affiliate accounts now, due to the high amount of unethical marketers sending unqualified traffic, or making misleading representations on products.

For a while, Clickbank was bombarded with MMO products. (MMO is short of “make money online btw.) Many of which were ineffective at teaching anything and served no purpose to the customer, and only served to make profit for the owners. That earned the network a reputation for shady practices.

That resulted in a shakeup of the Clickbank marketplace and it has become less frequent to find poor performing products.

The monitoring of your affiliate account though, will need to stand in good stead to avoid any hassles of having your account suspended. The shakeup has shifted from solely focusing on merchants to holding affiliates accountable for their marketing practices, and contribution to refund rates. Regardless if there’s no misrepresentation taking place, on either part of vendor or affiliate, and it’s due to a serial refunder. The network doesn’t have security measures in place to protect commissions. They’re solely focused on customer satisfaction, even it comes at a cost to their own customers. (Vendors, affiliates, and Joint Venture Partnerships)

A few more negatives on the Clickbank affiliate network

  • Static products remain listed with no support behind them

  • Affiliates are held accountable for the promotion of unethical products

  • You’re best to research the products prior to promoting and not every vendor is happy to do that free. Research could cost you money

  • The search functions to find something you’re looking for isn’t always effective

  • The affiliate links are notoriously ugly, deter customers from clicking through, and require a bit of coding, or redirect using a link cloaker or similar to pretty the links up.

  • Mostly digital products only which can be more difficult to sell – although there are a few merchants taking advantage of the CD and DVD shipping features.

  • Getting started and paid is the most difficult part, as you need to meet the customer distribution requirement. That is five sales made with two different payment methods. If five sales are made, and all paid using Paypal, you won’t meet the requirements of the accounting policy in place to prevent fraudulent activity. After that has been met, you then receive your regular payments.

  • When you haven’t reached the payment threshold, and perhaps sitting with $9, you have 90 days to make another sale. Otherwise, the account is classed as dormant, and subject to a $1 per day charge. After 180 days, it deducts $5 per day from your funds. That can increase to $50 per pay period after a year of no earnings, but if you don’t make the second sale within 6 months, the fees will have whittled your positive balance down to zero anyway.

  •  

Overall verdict on Clickbank

It is a reputable network and they do their best at paying affiliates on time. In all the years they’ve been in business, affiliates have never experienced a late or defaulted payment. They do have quite a few negatives going for them, but they also have some really great positives. New products are reviewed prior to listing in the marketplace for you to promote, so the only real caution is concerning older products in the inventory. To keep on top of that, you have options of looking at the most recently listed, or you can use other directories such as CB engine to find the latest releases and be sure the owner is active.

You can do that by establishing a working relationship, prior to running any affiliate campaigns. It’s the safest way to protect your account. Just simply get in touch with the product owner and establish if they really are on top of customer support, or if they lack in that department. For the commission rates you earn as an affiliate, it’s the highest in the industry. However, you have to consider that it’s unlikely you’ll make volume sales fast. If you have an established website, or web pages where you have instant access to traffic, then by all means, go sign up and be sure to test, and refine your campaigns.

The commissions are obtainable, but you are going to need to put in the work to get the conversions and make bank on the Clickbank marketplace. Also monitoring your account for refunds on the products you’re promoting. As with any affiliate network, there’s work involved. The only real concern here is that through Clickbank, you have to be concerned more about the product support that customers receive from the merchants. The merchants are independent publishers and there are a few shady characters around. Customers do have the customer support of Clickbank if the seller fails to deliver on quality, and obviously, that results in refunds.

In terms of customer support, that’s up to the product owner, so choose carefully. If Clickbank customer support is contacted, the refund is initiated. They’re a third party payment processor and not there to support customers. The refund is instant, and results in less money for you.

Select the wrong product to promote and you will cost yourself dearly. Get it right though, and you could be making major cash using the top “digital marketplace” to rake it in.

One more thing for you to know…

  • Default payment threshold setting is $100, so be sure to change that in your account settings, to the minimum of $10 payout. Otherwise, you may be losing out on dormant account charges should your sales drop off.

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A Top to Tail Clickbank Review - Overview

A Top to Tail Clickbank Review

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Price: $100

 

Overall verdict on Clickbank

It is a reputable network and they do their best at paying affiliates on time. In all the years they’ve been in business, affiliates have never experienced a late or defaulted payment.

They do have quite a few negatives going for them, but they also have some really great positives.

New products are reviewed prior to listing in the marketplace for you to promote, so the only real caution is concerning older products in the inventory.

To keep on top of that, you have options of looking at the most recently listed, or you can use other directories such as CB engine to find the latest releases and be sure the owner is active.

You can do that by establishing a working relationship, prior to running any affiliate campaigns. It’s the safest way to protect your account. Just simply get in touch with the product owner and establish if they really are on top of customer support, or if they lack in that department.

For the commission rates you earn as an affiliate, it’s the highest in the industry. However, you have to consider that it’s unlikely you’ll make volume sales fast.

If you have an established website, or web pages where you have instant access to traffic, then by all means, go sign up and be sure to test, and refine your campaigns.

The commissions are obtainable, but you are going to need to put in the work to get the conversions and make bank on the Clickbank marketplace. Also monitoring your account for refunds on the products you’re promoting.

As with any affiliate network, there’s work involved. The only real concern here is that through Clickbank, you have to be concerned more about the product support that customers receive from the merchants.

The merchants are independent publishers and there are a few shady characters around. Customers do have the customer support of Clickbank if the seller fails to deliver on quality, and obviously, that results in refunds.

In terms of customer support, that’s up to the product owner, so choose carefully. If Clickbank customer support is contacted, the refund is initiated. They’re a third party payment processor and not there to support customers.

The refund is instant, and results in less money for you.

Select the wrong product to promote and you will cost yourself dearly. Get it right though, and you could be making major cash using the top “digital marketplace” to rake it in.

One more thing for you to know…

 

  • Default payment threshold setting is $100, so be sure to change that in your account settings, to the minimum of $10 payout. Otherwise, you may be losing out on dormant account charges should your sales drop off.

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