Choosing an affiliate network is one of the first decisions a new affiliate has to make. Ideally you want a network with a good range of products, decent commissions, an easy to use system and good support.
Clickbank is a network we talk a lot about here on Affilorama, but we thought it was about time we did a Clickbank review post to weigh up the pros and cons of the popular network.
A little background:
Clickbank was founded in 1998 and has now grown into an online retail service provider with over 12,000 digital product vendors and over 100,000 active affiliates. Processing over 26,000 transactions daily, and averaging over 700,000 unique visits a month, Clickbank has grown into a major player in the affiliate network market.
When you first head over to the Clickbank sign up form, you will notice that everything is pretty straight forward requiring only basic address and contact information. A distinct advantage for affiliates is Clickbank's lack of requirements when you first sign up. Rather than requiring preapproval like many networks, Clickbank allows virtually anyone to sign up and start promoting. This is great for newbies who can't really point to existing websites and programs they have promoted. Clickbank also allows affiliates from over 150 countries to sign up - which is most. Unfortunately if your country isn't listed in the drop-down menu on the sign up page, there isn't much you can do.
Strolling the market-place:
Once you've signed up, one of the first thing's you'll want to do is have a look through the Clickbank Marketplace. Clickbank has thousands of products that you can choose from. However it is important to take your time in promoting. While there are some really high quality products on Clickbank, there are also a lot of sub-par products that should be avoided.
The best thing to do is check the "gravity" score of a product. The gravity is essentially a calculation that takes into account how many different affiliates have made a sale in this product in the past 8 weeks; the higher the number the better. Our in-house affiliate expert Mark Ling recommends that you always aim for a gravity of at least 30. In addition to the gravity, there are a number of other statistics for each product - these are;
- $/sale: This is the average amount that an affiliate earns for each sale of this product, including refunds, chargebacks, and tax.
- Future $: The average amount an affiliate will make from recurring billing of a single sale after the initial purchase (recurring billing only).
- Total $/sale: For one-time purchases, this number is the same as $/sale. For recurring billing products, it equals the average total of the initial sale plus all rebills, divided by the number of initial sales.
- %/sale: Commission rate
- %refd: This is the percentage of sales that were referred by affiliates.
All this information gives you a snapshot picture of the products - how much you are likely make and how competitive it is.
The Technical Bits
Clickbank has a very straight-forward tracking system - basically there are two kinds of affiliate links you can get; either encrypted or standard. The standard Clickbank affiliate link or "HopLink" is in the format http://affiliateid.vendorid.hop.clickbank.net. Clickbank also has encrypted HopLinks that hide the vendor ID and affiliate ID. While I can understand people wanting to hide their affiliate ID, I believe a redirect is a far cleaner way to do it as the encrypted links are not exactly pretty (e.g. 902q3fhawiojewasdfef3.hop.clickbank.net). Also it's important to remember that if someone buys through your link, you affiliate ID will be visible on the payment page.
Some merchants set up more sophisticated set-ups for their affiliate programs through Clickbank. For instance here at Affilorama we allow people to link to any page in our site by simply adding "?aff=affiliateID" to the end of the url. However this is not standard for every product. This does mean that often the only affiliate link you can get is to the main sales page.
Personally I recommend setting up affiliate links in the original un-cloaked format. This is just personal preference, but it is way easier to troubleshoot any problems if you can see what the code actually is!
Clickbank pays out commissions every two weeks. One of the great advantages of Clickbank is that you get to choose the payment threshold which can be set to as low as $10 - which means no waiting around for weeks because you were $1 below the threshold.
Payment is either by posted check or direct deposit is available to 17 countries including the United States. However in order to qualify for direct deposit you have to receive three paper paychecks within any 12 week period - that might be a bit frustrating at first, but once you qualify you're set.
Commissions on Clickbank are generally quite high - many over 50%. This means you are really rewarded for your efforts.
Because Clickbank is also a payment network - i.e. they process the payment of sales, Clickbank is quite good at preventing fraud. Merchants aren't able to try and trick you out of sales (unfortunately this does happen) because Clickbank gives you your cut straight out of the payment.
Becoming a Merchant
A really big advantage of Clickbank is how easy it is to become a merchant. They provide a ton of support material and it's really cheap to get started (just $49.95 to activate a product). While this might seem out of reach for beginners, you'd be surprised how easy it is to create a product and start selling it.
Clickbank has a massive Help Center, with lots of frequently asked questions and informative articles that cover most of the information you will need to know. There is also a video library of useful video tutorials and a frequently updated blog that provides up to date information, news and advice. In addition they do have a contact form for direct requests.
One slight downside with Clickbank is that there is no direct way to contact the merchant unless the merchant goes out of their way to provide contact details. However most merchants have affiliate pages on their site - usually located at www.merchantsitename.com/affiliates, so I always recommend looking through their site and seeing if there's any affiliate resources.
All in All:
In summary, Clickbank is a great network, with a simple and easy to use system, easy sign up and good support. While there are a few things that could be improved, overall Clickbank is a really accessible network that should be perfect for people first getting started in affiliate marketing.