Clickbank Cracks Down On Deceptive Marketing Practices

by Mike

Clickbank bills itself as the largest online retailer of digital goods.  Countless internet marketers and online entrepreneurs use Clickbank to sell and distribute their ebooks and software.  I used to sell article packages through Clickbank, and I’ve also promoted a few of their products to earn income as an affiliate.

Not long ago I received an from Clickbank indicating they were making significant changes to their promotional guidelines effective August 31, 2011.  Long story short, they’re cracking down heavily on deceptive marketing practices like the ones below:

Fake testimonials.  How many sales pages have you seen that are just covered with one customer testimonial after another?  Using testimonials is a powerful sales technique, but it is also one that can easily be faked.  Clickbank will no longer allow testimonials or endorsements without substantiation.  In other words, a site selling an acai berry wonder-drug that promises you will lose weight fast will need to show proof that it actually works.

Also, any relationship between the endorser and the vendor must be disclosed.  That means if the endorser is friends with the vendor or if he received a free product or payment in exchange for his testimonial  that must be disclosed.

False Scarcity.  Copywriters and marketers know that scarcity is a powerful sales tool.  They make it seem like you’ll never get another chance to buy a product if you don’t do so right now.  But in many cases, that’s just not true.  For example, many sites claim to put a cap on the number of products sold…but when they reach the cap they keep selling them anyway.  Another trick is to use some sneaky coding to put a phony deadline on their sales page.  “If you don’t place your order by midnight on 8/23, you’ll lose your chance forever!”  The problem is if you go back the next day the message is the same but the date says 8/24.

Phony Sales.  Another trick is to make people think they are getting a discount when they really aren’t.  How?  Just have a big graphic on the page that says $99 and cross it out.  Of course, if you never actually sold it for that amount they aren’t really receiving a discount are they?

Unauthorized Use of Brands/Corporate Logos.  If you’re reading a sales page for a new “get rich quickly online in just a few minutes” and you see a big graphic that says, “As Seen On Good Morning America” you’re more likely to be convinced that the product is legitimate.  Of course, anyone can steal the GMA logo and paste it onto their site even if their product is a complete scam.  Gullible readers just assume it must be true.

Sneaky Forced Continuity.  Try it out for free for a measly $7!  (while we rape you indefinitely for $77 month).  Payment terms must be clearly posted and that includes recurring charges.

You can read the full text of Clickbank’s new promotional guidelines here.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

World of Finance

It must be the law of attraction. I just heard about clickbank yesterday and now today I see your article on their marketing practices. Thanks for the heads-up on how they previously operated and what changes they are making.


Car Negotiation Coach

Mike, These new guidelines are fantastic and i really hope they follow through and enforce them.

I dabbled selling my own ebook on Clickbank a year ago (before I decided I’d rather give it away for free). When I did use them, I thought their checkout page was a bit shady too. They disable the back button, so unless you set the cart to open in a new window the customer has no way to get back to your website. Very sneaky and not the kinda thing I wanted to subject my visitors to.



Working for a site that largely deals with affiliate sites like these, I’m glad that they’re cracking down on this type of thing. Not only do the practices you mentioned show the affiliate community in a poor light, but it also makes it tougher on legitimate affiliate sites; the legitimate sites being negatively effected by another person’s shady practices. I think creating more transparency and therefore trust in the ones who offer affiliate deals will help the public, and search engines, regain some trust in the overall affiliate space.


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