Are You Being Ripped Off By Clickbank Merchants?

I see affiliates from two perspectives.

Firstly as an affiliate, I see myself as a business partner to those merchants that I promote. I send them traffic, and if I make sales for them, I expect to be paid for my efforts in the form of a predefined percentage or lump sum.

As a merchant, I see my affiliates as partners and value the traffic they send me. My utmost priority is to make sure that any sales that are made are credited to the affiliate that sends me the traffic. This is essential if my affiliates are going to trust me and put effort into promoting my products. This is essential if I want my business to grow!

Most of my own products are related to internet marketing and webmaster tools. Because of the nature of these products, those visitors are likely to be knowledgeable of affiliate programs and probably Clickbank as well.

Imagine this scenario:

Joe goes to Google and searches for “webmaster tools”. Something caught his attention over in the Pay Per Click ads, an affiliate link to a product that promises to make link exchanges easier.

“Hmmm” thought Joe. “That looks like a great tool”.

Joe clicks on the PPC link and is redirected to a sales page. Scrolling to the bottom of the page, Joe sees that the product is $97.

“I want this”, thought Joe, “but $97 is a bit steep”.

Joe searches the webpage for that magic link, and he finds it easily.

“Great” says Joe out loud. “A link to a Clickbank affiliate program, and this program pays 50%”.

After a few minutes, Joe has signed up for the affiliate program, created his own affiliate link, typed it into his browser, and revisits the sales page.

Joe’s mouse clicks the buy link. He fills in his credit card details and clicks the purchase button. Closing his browser, he checks his e-mail. He watches as two e-mails are downloaded to his machine. The first is the download information for the new software he purchased, the second one is an e-mail with the Subject “Congratulations Joe, you have made a sale”.

Joe checks his stats online for this new affiliate program and sure enough, he has made $48.50 commission on this purchase. In other words, he only paid $48.50 for the product.

OK, what is wrong with this scenario?

Is it fair that Joe used his own affiliate link to make a

purchase?

What about the affiliate who advertised this affiliate program at Google? That affiliate paid for the click that started the sale process, yet did not get the commission.

What is going through the minds of merchants who place links to their affiliate programs on their sales page?

I would imagine that some merchants think about these points:

* I want to make $48.50 per sale minimum.

* If I offer it for $97 and give 50% commission to affiliates I will make my goal of $48.50 per sale.

* By adding an affiliate sign up link to the sales page, I can encourage people to sign up for my affiliate program, buy through their own link and get the software for the real price of $48.50, but the customer will be happy thinking they saved $48.50.

*Great plan!

I am sure that a lot of merchants don’t see things this way – they just don’t think hard enough about their affiliates.

A merchant that uses a link to his/her affiliate program on the sales page is using affiliate traffic as free traffic (whether they intend to or not). After all, the merchant does not need to spend time optimising pages or buying traffic – their affiliates will do that and send the traffic to the sales page for free. If an affiliate sends someone who becomes a customer, the merchant will make their money.

The big problem here is that being an affiliate is hard work. You do have to create content, buy and review products, possibly even pay for advertising. If YOU are doing these things as an affiliate, is your merchant doing their bit to protect your you? Unfortunately the majority of Clickbank merchants don’t, and affiliates waste their time building pages and buying advertising to promote merchants who don’t deserve it.

The bottom line

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If you are promoting products aimed at webmasters, the traffic you send will likely know how to “steal” your commission. In this situation it is vital to only promote merchants without the affiliate sign up link.

If on the other hand you are promoting products to the general public, e.g. weight loss products, dog training eBooks etc, this affiliate sign up link poses less of a problem since most of the traffic you generate wont be affiliates themselves (most wont even know what an affiliate is) and wont have the necessary skills to sign up at Clickbank, create a link and purchase through their link just to get a commission.

What can you do?

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If you find a merchant that you want to promote and they have an affiliate sign up link on the sales page, contact them. Tell them about your concerns and that they should treat you as a partner, not the source of free traffic. Suggest that they remove this affiliate sign up link.

The usual reaction I get

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Merchant: “I get a lot of affiliate sign ups from this link,

there is no way I am removing it!”

Ask the merchant how many of those affiliates ever make a sale or ever send any traffic. This is exactly my point. The merchant is getting a lot of sign ups purely to get a discount. For every person who signs up as an affiliate to get a discount, there is one affiliate somewhere being robbed of his/her rightful commission.

Most of the “affiliates” you get via a sign up link on the sales page are only signing up to get a discount, they are unlikely to ever try to sell that product.

The only affiliates who will promote the product, are those that buy the software, use it and like it. They see the benefits and can sell it well to their visitors. These are the only affiliates worth getting, and you wont get them from an affiliate sign up link on the sales page.

The best way of getting hard working affiliates is to protect your affiliates from this type of link hijacking, gain their trust and do everything you can to help them out. Build a relationship with your affiliates and most of all, make sure they are rewarded for the traffic they send. To this end, remove that affiliate sign up link, and when someone buys your product, send them an e-mail outlining the benefits of your affiliate program. Active affiliates respond well to knowing their merchants are protecting their interests.

A final thought

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If there are two similar products, similar price, similar commission, one sales page with an affiliate sign up link, one without, which would you prefer to promote? If you want to make money online with affiliate programs, take it seriously and start contacting merchants.

Top 7 Click2Sell Advantages For Merchants and Affiliates

Here are seven good reasons why both merchants and affiliate marketers should consider the Click2Sell marketplace.

1. Free To Join

There is no initial fee for joining Click2Sell, either as a merchant or an affiliate. In contrast, ClickBank charges an initial fee of $49.95 to the merchant selling products. PayDotCom allows the merchant a free account to sell one product.

2. Sell Unlimited Products

A Click2Sell account allows a merchant to sell an unlimited number of products. In comparison, ClickBank allows the merchant to sell five hundred products per account; additional accounts cost $29.95 each. PayDotCom will allow you to sell an unlimited number of your own products for $29.00.

3. Handle Both Intangible and Tangible Products

Click2Sell allows you to sell or promote digital (downloadable), physical (tangible) or recurring (subscription based) products. You can’t sell physical products on ClickBank.

4. Pay Up To Ninety-Five Percent Commission

Merchants can pay up to ninety-five percent commission to affiliates on Click2Sell. You can pay up to eighty percent commission through PayDotCom; affiliates earn up to seventy-five percent commission through ClickBank.

5. Affiliate Tools

Merchants may provide advertising media for affiliates to use through Click2Sell; PayDotCom has a similar provision. Click2Sell also has an advanced tracking system for vendors and affiliates. Unique referral links are provided to protect your affiliate commissions.

6. Flat Fees For Merchants

The selling fees for Click2Sell transactions are $1.00 for sales under $20.00, $2.00 for sales from $20.00 to $39.99, and $3.00 for sales $40.00 and higher. (They say that their pricing policy is as simple as one, two, three.) Of course, these fees don’t include the fees charged by payment processors such as PayPal, Moneybookers, or others.

7. Built-in Affiliate Network and Marketplace

Not unlike ClickBank and PayDotCom, Click2Sell provides both affiliates and customers access to your products.

How Merchants Can Reduce Credit Card Fraud

If you operate a retail or ecommerce business, accepting all major credit cards and electronic checks is a required method of customer payment. However, when you decide to accept electronic payments, business owners must also consider the potential cost of fraud. Studies have shown both traditional and online merchants have lost billions in fraudulent transactions. Today, technology provides proven methods for identifying and preventing fraudulent transactions.

Fraud can come in many forms. Needless to say fraud is bad for business. If you process a fraudulent customer order by the time you find out the credit card was stolen you have already shipped the product. Fraudulent orders usually result in a customer credit card chargeback to your business. Unfortunately, by that time, you have delivered and lost your product, you have lost the income from the sale and to top it all off; you will receive a chargeback fee from your credit card processor. I’m sure we can agree there is a strong need to identify and stop a fraudulent order before you deliver your product. Fortunately for the merchant, there are many steps and processes that can be implemented to reduce and eliminate credit card fraud.

10 WAYS TO REDUCE CUSTOMER CREDIT CARD FRAUD

1. Address Verification Service (AVS) – is a simple and easy to implement process to decrease your chances of accepting a stolen credit card. When you process a credit card transaction; make sure you capture the card holder’s billing address and zip code. Manual non-swipe (Internet and MOTO) transactions will require you to capture card holder information. However, card present (swipe) transactions will not. Once you capture the card holder’s billing address and zip code you’re ready to process the sale. Your point of sale system will verify AVS with the card issuing bank. You can receive a street address match only, a zip code match only or a match on street address and zip code. If you do not receive an AVS match you should consider declining the transaction. Approximately 80% of fraudulent transactions in the U.S. are AVS mismatches. Keep in mind, most AVS systems can be configured so be sure to check your AVS settings. Implementing AVS can have a major impact on reducing credit card fraud.

2. Card Verification (CVV/CVV2) – is similar to AVS. CVV is the 3 digit code on the back of a credit card (4 digits for American Express). Like AVS, CVV is entered at the point of sale. The card holder’s CVV code is verified by the card issuing bank when the credit card sale is being processed. If you do not receive a CVV match you should consider declining the transaction. Online merchants should make CVV a required field.

3. Use a Threshold Management Service – Threshold management allows the merchant to set parameters for the transactions they will accept. For example, transactions can be screened based on the amount of money charged per transaction, the number of transactions charged, transaction frequency, average user ticket, etc. Transactions that are marked as a potential fraudulent transaction will require additional review by the merchant. Threshold Management services are usually available an add-on service.

4. Scrutinize Orders from Free email accounts – Fraudsters and thieves like to hide. One of the easiest ways to hide the identity of a thief is to use a free email account. Most fraudulent transactions use a free email service. Merchants should not decline all transactions from a free email service. However, you may want to provide those orders with more scrutiny.

5. Scrutinize Orders with a different Ship to address than Bill to address – The thief with the stolen credit card may have the owners billing address and zip code. If so, you will receive an AVS and CVV match on their order. However, in order to receive your product they will request the order to be shipped to a different address. Merchants should review all orders with a different ship to and bill to address. If the ship to address is a foreign country pay even more attention to the order.

6. Scrutinize International Orders / Foreign Credit Cards – If your business model requires you to ship to foreign countries you should obtain an International merchant account. Since non domestic orders have a higher rate of fraud than domestic orders, having an International merchant account will provide you with a higher level of protection. In additional, an international merchant account will allow you to settle in the local currency. If you require a domestic and international merchant account you should use a payment gateway with load-balancing. Load-balancing provides the merchant with the ability to use multiple merchant accounts in a single payment gateway account.

7. Understand that an Authorization Code does not mean the credit card is not stolen – An authorization code is provided when the transaction has been approved. However, an authorization code simply means the credit card is valid and has the available credit to process the transaction. Ultimately, as the business owner, it is up to you to decide to accept or reject the transaction.

8. Use an Advance Fraud Protection Service – Advanced Fraud Protection services allow the merchant to block transactions by IP address, Country of Origin and other fraud filters. Advanced fraud protection services are usually available an add-on service.

9. Use a PCI Compliant Data Storage Service – Merchants who have a requirement to store the customer’s credit card data should use a PCI Compliant Data Storage Service. A PCI Compliant Data Storage Service allows merchants to transmit and store the customer’s payment information in a Level 1 PCI certified data facility. Once the customer record has been securely transmitted and stored the merchant can then initiate transactions remotely without having to access credit card or electronic check information directly. This process is accomplished without the merchant storing the customer’s payment information in their local database or payment application.

10. Review and Implement PCI (Payment Card Industry Standards) Policies – Merchants can review PCI Standards online at pcisecuritystandards.org. If you’re using a PCI Compliant point of sale solution and you do not store payment data you’re already in good shape. However, merchants should contact their merchant account provider for more information.

Fraud prevention is a necessary activity for traditional and online merchants. Exposing your business to fraudulent transactions and high chargeback ratios is bad for business and could cause you to lose your merchant account. The leading real-time payment gateway services provide advanced fraud protection tools. However, many fraud prevention techniques can be implemented at no additional costs.

Top Real-time Payment Gateway Services

1. Planetauthorize (Domestic USA and International)

2. Authorize.Net (Domestic USA)

3. PlugnPay (Domestic USA)

4. Skipjack (Domestic USA)

5. eProcessing Network (Domestic USA)