An affiliate network is a publisher of websites; sites such as ShareASale, MaxBounty and Commission Junction (which now goes by CJ) are all examples of affiliate networks. But what do these sites do, and what are they for, apart from publishing websites? These affiliates offer space to various merchants and companies to advertise their products and services, and affiliate marketers who work for these affiliates, helping to promote the products further. Every time a customer buys a product online on the recommendation of an affiliate marketer, said marketer gets a commission, varying anywhere between $1 to $10,000 or more, depending on the product sold! So, very simply put, an affiliate marketer gets paid for promoting the products of any seller that the affiliate hosts. Kapish?
If you’ve followed this so far, you probably have one last very valid question (as of now, at least!). Who are these affiliate marketers? Well, they could be anyone! People looking to earn a little extra income on the side, students who need to work to get through college, or just bored human beings looking for something to do!
Either way, our aim today is not to give you an affiliate marketing 101; it’s to discuss one of the most popular affiliate networks out there-ClickBank. In this review, we give you the good, the bad and the ugly of the company; whether you were considering signing up or you’re just interested in the pursuit of knowledge, this review is sure to help. Onward, ho!
What is ClickBank?
As mentioned earlier, ClickBank, founded in 1998 by entrepreneurs Tim and Eileen Barber and privately held, is North America’s 87th-largest online retailer, boasting a staggering six million clients in 190 countries worldwide. One of the oldest digital affiliate marketplaces, the company is a subsidiary of Idaho-based technology giant Keynetics Inc., with offices in Idaho and Colorado. Best known for its offers in the lifestyle category, Clickbank was named the top affiliate network in the United States by Revenue Performance magazine in 2010 and was recognized in 2016 as a top-100 internet retailer by Internet Retailer magazine.
ClickBank lets vendors promote and sell their products (both virtual and tangible), and customers buy these products through its site. The online selling platform guarantees payments and protection against fraud, with a live customer care team backing it up. Additionally, you can sign up as an affiliate and promote other vendors’ products and earn a commission every time you make a sale (as mentioned earlier). Clickbank currently has a network of over 100,000 affiliates and several affiliate programs.
What Kind of Offers Do They Have?
So, to brush up on our marketing terms, there exist 5 different kinds of network models that affiliates offer — cost per acquisition/sale (CPA or CPS, respectively), cost per lead (CPL; sometimes also known as pay per lead or PPL), cost per click (CPC), cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and cost per install (CPI). Going into all these would be equivalent to an entire marketing class, so we’ll stick to CPS, CPC, and CPM, which ClickBank uses and provides.
Cost per sale (CPS) is the amount paid by an advertiser as commission to a publisher to sell a product or service. Clickbank also uses the CPM model, the amount paid per thousand impressions, which is the number of impressions divided by the pre-decided CPM rate. Affiliates can also opt for the CPC model wherein they’re paid depending on the number of clicks a product’s link receives (provided they’re promoting it).
One of the earliest affiliate marketing sites to hit the internet, ClickBank offers over 1,000 affiliate programs divided into 22 categories, mostly focused on lifestyle. These categories range from self-help to politics to employment and mostly comprise tutorials and guides. Some of the categories include:
- Art and Entertainment: This category provides resources in a range of art-related subjects such as film and television, entertainment, body art, fashion, music, photography, radio and even magic tricks!
- E-Business and Marketing: This category offers resources on affiliate marketing, SEO and SEM, niche marketing, paid surveys, promotion, social media marketing, video marketing and blog marketing.
- Parenting and Families: Resources on marriage, divorce, pregnancy and childbirth, special needs, education and genealogy can be found in this category.
- Green Products: Resources on alternative energy and conservation efficiency
- Health and Fitness: Resources are provided on women’s health, diets and weight loss, dental health, beauty, nutrition, mental health, spiritual health and sleep and dreams, to name a few.
- Food, Wine and Cooking: Resources are provided on baking, dieting, vegetables, weight loss, nutrition and so on.
- Employment and Jobs: Job skill training, resume-writing guides, job listings, and job search guides.
- Games: Resources are provided on strategy studies and console guides and repairs.
As mentioned earlier, ClickBank offers 22 different categories of products and services, and the above-mentioned are just a few of the 22. However, whether you’re a vendor or an affiliate, ClickBank has something for everybody.
Quality of ClickBank’s Offers.
The amount of commission you can earn by selling a product depends on the product’s seller, with rates ranging from 1% to 75%. Once you make a sale, ClickBank recognizes and acknowledges the sale in its system, deducts whatever fees it charges and calculates commission on the remaining sale price. This works for products that involve a one-time payment and products with recurring payments; the latter requires subscription or recurring payments and can have varying commission rates (such as a different rate for the first-time purchase and a different rate for subsequent repurchasing). However, ClickBank has also set a cap on the commission an affiliate can earn on a single sale at $150. This may seem like a slight turn-off, yet affiliate marketers have made tens of thousands of dollars despite this cap.
ClickBank pays affiliates once they set their payment threshold (the pre-determined amount you must maintain in your account) and meet the Customer Distribution Requirement, failing which your payment will not be initiated. Unless you opt otherwise, all payments are made via check. Apart from this, you can choose to be paid via direct deposit, wire transfer or Payoneer. ClickBank makes its payments on Wednesday, two weeks after the period end.
If you have opted for and are eligible for direct deposits, you can choose to be paid once a week or bi-weekly. All other methods of payment involve bi-weekly payments. Additionally, the company sends “1099” tax forms in January to affiliates in the United States if they have earned more than $600 via commissions.
It should be noted that ClickBank charges a $2.50-fee for processing and a return allowance of 10% of the total balance in your account unless the payment is lesser than $25. If a customer returns a product or requests a purchase chargeback, the customer is refunded in entirety, meaning that the merchant and the affiliate must also return their sales amount and commissions, respectively. The return allowance covers this as well.
ClickBank holds a generally positive rating among affiliates and vendors. Several affiliates claimed that they earned better than a full-time job via ClickBank, even saying that it is the best online affiliate. However, many users have also called the site a scam, citing several issues of fraud, spam, an extremely long refund process, and hidden shipping and membership charges on products advertised as “free”.
Despite this, the consistency and regularity of payments for affiliates seem efficient and timely. Being one of the oldest digital marketplaces, ClickBank still boasts an ever-increasing affiliate, vendor and customer base with a global presence.
Why Does ClickBank Stand Out?
ClickBank has a host of features that make it appealing. Some things that work in its favour are its reputation and industry experience. Having been around since 1998, the company has managed to build a brand name and customer trust. It is also one of the largest affiliate network sites, providing thousands of products over 22 different categories. The detailed knowledge base that ClickBank provides to help out vendors and affiliates also works in its favour. Several resources on various topics such as ClickBank’s functioning, payment methods, promotion guidelines, and help for vendors, to name a few, are available to everyone who wishes to view them. In fact, the site even provides a tutorial on how to be an affiliate through its “ClickBank University”. It also lets affiliates set their own payment thresholds, and once all requirements are met, payments are prompt and on time. Lastly, ClickBank also provides a money-back guarantee on most of its products.
However, what doesn’t work for ClickBank is its outdated user interface and the fact that not all products and offers are genuine; even if they are, they don’t seem so because of the outdated banner advertisements that ClickBank provides to vendors. In addition, due to the size of its marketplace, regulating products can be hard, which is why several products are scams. The site also has a ridiculous number of pop-ups and upsells. Due to all these factors, customers who use the site to buy products have mostly negative things to say about the platform.
Being an affiliate on ClickBank is as easy as opening an account on the site, providing your details, and choosing the product you want to promote. Each product will have the option of promoting, on clicking which you’ll be provided with the affiliate link. However, aim for vendors that give you a 40% commission to make it worth your while. Additionally, ensure you have a valid tax ID if you’re a US citizen for the times when you earn over $600 in commission.
So there you have it! The good, the bad and the ugly of ClickBank. Despite the many positive and negative comments about the site you may find online, ClickBank is still a great option to try if you’re interested in affiliate marketing. Go through the rich repository of the site to fully understand what it includes and entails, and remember, you may not find success as an affiliate overnight. Take the time to carefully choose your niche, grow your customer base and then promote the product. What do you think? Does ClickBank seem worth a shot? Or has it been a bumpy ride you’ve already been on? Let us know!