If you’ve heard of affiliate marketing, chances are you’ve probably heard of Clickbank. It’s one of the largest and most popular platforms that connects product sellers and affiliate marketers, and there are countless resources and membership programs that are ready to teach you how to make the best of Clickbank as both an affiliate and vendor.
But beneath the glowing exterior of Clickbank, is it really the best place to buy from or promote products? Depending on the source, it seems to go either way; some say it’s an amazing place and yet others say it’s horrible. If you’re wondering if Clickbank is a scam, we’ll dive into the details within this review.
The main question we’ll consider here is can you TRUST Clickbank as an affiliate marketer, product seller or even as a potential customer of any product sold through the marketplace?
History, what is Clickbank?
Clickbank is a market platform for vendors (product creators) to sell their digital products. Such products could range from ebooks, downloadable resources/programs or online membership sites. On the flip side, it’s also a place that widely attracts affiliate marketers to help these creators sell their products, essentially giving them a source of free publicity and advertising in exchange for a commission fee on every sale.
Keep in mind the company has been running since 1998, so they have established a very popular reputation within the online marketing industry and have gained the trust of thousands of sellers and affiliates. However in more recent years, Clickbank has taken a slight turn for the worse.
Clickbank’s bad reputation – why?
It’s important we differentiate within this review between Clickbank and products sold through Clickbank.
There’s nothing inherentely wrong with the Clickbank marketplace as it stands. They handle the digital screening process of their vendor products better than most other similar platforms and do a pretty good job of honoring refund requests. I’ve bought many products through the marketplace and I’ve always gotten my money back with no problem when I wanted to return something I wasn’t fully satisfied with.
A major problem lies within the products Clickbank chooses to sell rather than the company as a whole (although not to say the company is perfect either). They have so many horrible, borderline scam type products within their marketplace that it can be really hard to know which ones you can trust. And because of the nature of a lot of products sold there, many people will demand refunds on inferior products.
Affiliate marketers – why should (or shouldn’t) you use Clickbank?
Promoting Clickbank products is an extremely popular option for both new and experienced affiliates. There are so many programs out there that are designed around teaching you how to promote via Clickbank, as well as 1,000’s of digital products to promote within the marketplace around a wide range of topics and interests.
The biggest reason why so many people decide to promote Clickbank products is the huge commission payouts, as it’s not uncommon for affiliates to earn 50% – 75%+ commission per sale. Because the products sold there are mostly digital guides, books, videos or tutorials, the sellers have very low associated costs with the reselling of such materials and therefore are able to price their products fairly low and still make a profit after giving the 50%-75% commissions to affiliates plus the costs of any fees taken by Clickbank.
Things to consider as an affiliate…
There are certain regulations and rules in place for affiliates that may make it hard (and impossible) for many people to get paid their commissions.
From Clickbank’s “accountant help” page, here are some of the rules put in place:
- You must make a minimum of 5 sales with 2 different forms of payment before they will pay you commissions
- If you don’t make sales for 90 days, your account will be charged $1/day, $5/day after 180 days and $50/day after 1 year of inactivity. (The money is taken out of your affiliate earnings, though. They don’t bill you such fees if you have an account with $0 balance).
It does feel a little like they’re stealing money, particularly from those new to online marketing that don’t have a reliable amount of monthly sales. I myself have made affiliate sales and never saw a single cent of any of my commissions, as they took them away from me with these dormant fees. (Although I must note that I never seriously promoted any Clickbank product, I only made a few sales from putting links for products I was reviewing, but not endorsing).
For those who seriously promote and consistently make sales with Clickbank, the problem most likely wouldn’t affect you (well, unless your business suddenly went dry and you stopped making sales and your account went dormant)…
According to Clickbank its done to prevent fraud, so whether you agree with it or not, its something to just be aware of before you start promoting with them.
Clickbank products – the good vs. the bad
While Clickbank is pretty good about screening their products for potential scams, there’s still a pretty large variety of low quality information products available to promote. They frequently allow products to continue being sold even after the refund rate is relatively high. Also, you can be kicked out of their affiliate program for having too many chargeback sales, you want to make sure you only promote quality merchandise.
Some important advice for starting out as an affiliate with Clickbank would be to do proper RESEARCH into any product you decide to promote.
Not all Clickbank products are created equal. You can find some decent things in their marketplace, but you have to hunt. It’s sort of like finding that perfect shirt in the racks at Goodwill – it’s unorganized and most of the stuff is bad, but if you give it enough time and effort you’ll find something great.
Be extra careful sorting through products within the “make money online” and “health and fitness” niches. Everyone is looking for both of these things, and there are many people willing to take advantage of that and unfortunately many times, not in a good way.
Notice 3 of the top products within the “e-business and e-marketing” categories are all paid survey programs, which are all pretty much known to be scams.
The “money back guarantee” – is it for real?
Something that is important for the customers of Clickbank products is having the ability to feel safe purchasing any product knowing you can always get your money back if it ends up being not what you were expecting.
Clickbank prides themselves in honoring every refund request. Like I stated previously, personally I’ve never had an issue with a Clickbank refund. Their support is prompt with responding to requests as well as courteous and friendly.
But keep in mind Clickbank doesn’t have a site wide refund policy, and that will be something that varies by the individual vendor. Some offer 30, 60 or 90 day money back guarantees, while others may not offer the ability to return the product at all. That is something you must be very aware of before you purchase the product. You can read the full explanation of Clickbank’s return policy here.
If you want to return the product after the acceptable return date, then it no longer becomes an issue involving CB and you’d have to contact the seller directly. That may or may not work out either, depending on the seller and what they’re willing to do.
Why all the complaints?
There’s been many complaints filed with the BBB and posted on Consumer Affairs in regards to non-honored refunds, so all I can say is be very careful with paying attention to the exact policy for the particular product, and make sure you ask for a refund as quickly as possible within the allotted refund window.
I think a lot of the confusion and complaints come from people who don’t pay attention to the individual seller’s return policy or they don’t know how to request a refund with Clickbank. I’ve had countless people come to me asking how to get their money back with products they bought with Clickbank, even though that should be information made clear to them when they purchased the product.
To request a refund with Clickbank, the easiest way would probably be to contact their online order support, here. If you prefer handling things over the phone, there’s also a support number to call.
Final thoughts – is Clickbank a scam?
While I wouldn’t call Clickbank a scam, there’s definitely some things you should be aware of before you sign up as an affiliate or purchase products through their platform. Be informed of the products you choose to promote and make sure they meet your quality standards, and always check the refund rate beforehand.
Also just be aware of the fact Clickbank could steal your commissions if you don’t meet their sale requirements, so that money you may see in your account may never make it into your hands at all.
As a customer, always check the refund policy before you purchase the product and make sure you ask for a refund within the time limit or they will have no obligation to honor the request.
While Clickbank can definitely be a good place for online marketers to start if they select the right products, it’s not necessarily the best option for everyone especially considering digital information products don’t exactly make sense with all niches. There’s a whole other world of affiliate marketing programs out there, so don’t limit yourself to Clickbank!