When choosing an affiliate network or product to promote, there are many things that you should take into consideration. I have been in the affiliate marketing space for many years now and over the years one of the affiliate networks with staying power has been Clickbank. But there have been underlying problems and issues with Clickbank, therefor I am going to uncover whether Clickbank is a scam or whether or it is still a legitimate network.
I am also going to share some insightful stories and experiences I have had with Clickbank over the years to help you decide on whether this network is right for you.
My Personal Introduction to Clickbank.
I started marketing online back in 2002. Clickbank was absolutely the top digital product network then, and I would argue that it still is today.
During the next 5-7 years, information marketing products became more and more popular. The idea that someone was paying for information was typically left to our Universities and Colleges, but when the layman person like you or I realized they could package information up and sell it for a good deal of money, popularity of Clickbank truly started to explode.
You saw dieting products, software programs, and then around 2005 you saw a big surge in make money products teaching people how to make money online for sale on the Clickbank network.
A merchant, someone that owns the digital product, could amplify their sales through Clickbank’s large network of affiliates. Instead of trying to promote their information on their own, they could literally have 1,000’s of affiliates promoting.
One of the biggest successes in the make money space back then was The Rich Jerk, written by Kellly Felix.
This was an innovative product, had some really great ideas (like arbitrage) and although it didn’t cover anything I was doing at the time, I would say for many people this book within the online world and for affiliate/internet marketers had the same sort of impact that the “4 Hour Work Week” book had by Timothy Ferris.
I think Kelly was able to generate a $1,000,000 dollars or so in sales within his first week, which a big deal at the time.
I digress. Over the years I promoted MANY products and services on Clickbank. Ranging from dieting products, to people finder/lookup, to internet TV, to make money guides. I promoted them as an affiliate.
Through 2005 – 2008, I also launched 3 Clickbank products as a merchant (Beating Adwords, Inside the List, Who Loves Money). These were digital info products, helping people within three completely different categories relating to online business and they were all very well-received (and had incredibly low refund rates, which at the time was very unusual for Clickbank).
They were very successful and people still buy these products to this very day. So I come qualified with a great deal of experience with Clickbank and before I move on to some unraveling that has taken place within this particular affiliate network over recent years, I wanted to share a pretty cool success story.
A Story About Clickbank Success.
In 2008, there was a huge event. In fact, the biggest even every four years worldwide is not the Olympics, rather world cup. At the time there wasn’t an efficient way to watch TV on the internet and Facebook Live simply wasn’t a thing. But there were millions of people worldwide trying to find a way to watch the World Cup online, while they were at work.
We took advantage of this opportunity. We set-up a paid advertising campaign in Google targeting search terms like “watch world cup online” or “watch USA versus Germany online” while the games were playing (which were usually during the working hours of those in the US).
Anyways, we set up this campaign and we ended up pulling in around $60 per minute in affiliate revenue (yes, PER MINUTE) as the result of this promotion. It was definitely short-lived as the World Cup doesn’t last forever, but there was a huge demand for a product of this nature and we filled the void.
Anyways, that is just one of many success stories I could share about my last 16 years online, but this is one that is certainly the result of having access to a wide array of products like are available on Clickbank.
And One About Frustration.
OK, so not all is good with Clickbank. Yes, they have an easy to use network. You don’t have to be approved for every single affiliate program, and the commission rates are typically very high because it is a digital product network.
So what are the downfalls of Clickbank?
The first one happened a few years back. Refund rates started to spin out of control on Clickbank because they were allowing (knowingly or unknowingly I am not sure) some biggest shiesters online to churn out digital e-books and sell them on their network.
They were supporting their sales schemes by allowing them to offer all sorts of OTO (one time offers) in their sales processes, so people were buying a relatively low ticket item ($17-$47) and then getting sucked in and pressured in spending much more within the up sell process, often times $100’s. This lead to unhappy and disgruntled customers, which lead to people contacting Clickbank and demanding refunds.
Clickbank was good about refunds, almost too good. Some products ended up getting 10-30% in refunds, and for an affiliate that is potentially paying or traffic to promote a product, that is unacceptable. As a result, many affiliates ended up frustrated, losing money, and leaving Clickbank for other sources.
Clickbank started booting low performing and high refund products from their network, which was a great move, but it also alienated all the “gurus” pushing their crap and they have since moved onto other networks that have looser rules and policies about product quality like Clicksure and JVZoo.
Clickbank has definitely recovered from this and has started to obtain and maintain a higher quality on their network since, but there is one significant problem with how they are operating as a business. I will explain.
Is Clickbank Leveraging Its Merchants Traffic?
A great portion of Clickbank’s early success came from a certain segment of products.
The make money online and online business crowd. Whether it was a drop shipping program like SaleHoo, a keyword research platform like Long Tail Pro, or a make money book like the Rich Jerk, the Internet Marketing crowd and product categories were driving a good deal of business to Clickbank.
Also, people that wrote about affiliate marketing had the tendency to recommend Clickbank as one of the top networks out there, myself included. However, a few years back Clickbank came out with a program called Clickbank University, and although I am not a member, I know the devastating impact this can have on someone trying to co-exist in the make money world.
Why would you send your traffic to Clickbank when they have created a component product that they will then promote to the VERY people that you have referred to their network? It doesn’t make lot of sense.
Because of this, the internet marketing crowd, those running legitimate businesses in this space (such as myself and my company, Wealthy Affiliate), refrain from pushing Clickbank as a network. They simply cannot afford to give over traffic to a company that is creating a competing product. It is not the job of an affiliate network to create a paid “membership” on how to promote their very network, in my opinion.
No sane marketer would drive traffic to Clickbank, nor would ethically recommend them under this premise.
Clickbank is Legit, With a Few Complaints.
So this leads me to the pros and cons of Clickbank, as a network. I actually have a lot of nice things to say about Clickbank. I also have some things that I can efficiently summarize about what I do not like about Clickbank.
Pros of Clickbank
- They have great affiliate technology
- They pay on time (and offer many types of payment)
- Their programs tend to offer higher commissions
- They have a large network of products
- Auto-approval on products (don’t discriminate against new affiliates)
- Have both tangible (physical) and info products (digital)
Cons of Clickbank
- They try to up sell you on services like Clickbank University
- Some lower quality products
- Doesn’t allow certain countries to join
- Have to make commissions from several countries to get paid
All in all, what you promote at the end of the day depends on what is relevant to your given audience. If Clickbank has a product/service that you think would have a good fit with your given audience, then you could certainly try to promote it.
Clickbank is a LEGIT affiliate network, with some quirks.