Affiliate marketing for beginners

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ClickBank Guide for beginners - part 4

ClickBank link and commission hijacking

Clickbank affiliate link is in format: , keep this in mind, you will need it later. If link in this format is displayed on your pages, without cloaking, especially if you are promoting internet marketing products, your conversion rate could be very low. Savvy visitor can simple replace nickname, and you will not get commission, he will be awarded with "discounted price".

To stop signups of "new" affiliates (just to get discounted price), there is one rule. All products sold using your affiliate link, must be bought using 5 or more different Credit Card numbers, including one MasterCard and one Visa (new rule, Sep 2006). There is no (first) check for you, even when sum is far above minimum, before above (five different cards) is met. Paypal and online checks not counted. Simple, five buyers with different credit cards is minimum.

This rule can stop those "new affiliate" signups, but other active affiliates can hijack your affiliate link. So, there is no question do you need to hide clickbank affiliate link. You simply need to do that. Some suggestions are on how to hide affiliate links page, or, if you don't want to bother with that, check this link cloaker

And, ClickBank now has its own hoplink cloaker. HopLink Shield , where in generated hoplink, affiliate and vendor nicknames are encoded. Just don't forget nicknames later, and test that hoplink before using it.

Stuffing ClickBank cookies

On ClickBank affiliate network, like on many others, this practice is forbidden. Affiliates (and some vendors) using this method are in danger to find their account closed. Cookie stuffing is method when you are opening affiliate link in invisible frame, or redirecting visitor (without click on link), forcing affiliate cookie to be set. This is called forced click, and it is, again, forbidden. No discussion here. Your account could be closed.

Traffic hijacking - landing page leaks

After your hardly obtained and motivated visitor came on vendor's landing page, he saw some interesting link and clicking on that link, he left vendor's site. Where did you send your visitor?

First sign of "sneaky" vendor is adsense ads added to landing page. Why adsense ads are added on his CLICKBANK landing page, you don't need to ask him, it is confirmation that his product doesn't have quality, or he don't know how to transform visitor to buyer. There is no excuse for that. That is one example of traffic and possible commission hijacking. He didn't get those visitors, and he doesn't have any right to earn any additional income using visitors YOU sent him. So, on that moment when you see adsense ads or any other affiliate link, avoid that vendor, you can't expect any good from him. Today, he is stealing your visitors, tomorrow, he will use more tricks to steal your commission too.

Sometimes, you could find link to other domain selling similar product. Check that domain and payment link there. If that product is under the same account (same vendor's nickname) you could get commission for that product too. That could be "positive leaking", if that term exists. :-)

Hijacking visitors

List building. Yes, list building could be a good source of income, but for vendor, and he is building list from visitors you sent him. Name Squeeze page is good mailing list generator, but in clickbank affiliate program, it is misused. For those who don't know, visitor must signup and only then he is forwarded to sales page. What this means for you, affiliate? No signup, no possible commission. With signup, email of YOUR visitor is collected, and it is used for selling other products too. This is possible only on ClickBank - Free Lead. On other affiliate networks, they have to pay to affiliate for Lead too.

Anyway, percentage of affiliate sales (%refd) could be indication what vendor is doing with his mailing list. Signup, and check. If you are receiving newsletter with affiliate links (redirections), test that link. If that redirection contains your nickname, you can promote that product, your cookie will be set again every time when reader clicks on link in newsletter. If there is link to vendor's site only (clean url), that is nice too, but cookie could be deleted or overwritten in meantime. If there is some link to other product, that is really not nice.

Commission hijacking

It is well known that some affiliates and vendors are using adware to steal affiliate commission. But some vendors are using old tricks to steal affiliate commission and traffic on their website. Today, when ClickBank Marketplace is updated daily, their position is going down (no affiliate sales), so it is easy to spot when is something wrong with that vendor. Below are some examples of commission stealing.

Nickname switching

Hey, new product, showing good conversion. After promoting that product for a few months, sales suddenly stopped. What is wrong? On clickbank payment form there is affiliate=none displayed?

This happens when vendor changes his nickname, (e.g. one nickname is in hoplink, and different in payment link). In this case affiliate=none and you will not be credited for sale. Nickname switching is not used often, only in case when complete site (product) is sold to some other vendor, so, new vendor starts to use his account (nickname), and landing page url in old account (nickname) is not changed yet. Vendor can be suspected for cheating and hijacking commission from affiliates when old and "new" nickname are leading to the same sales page (same site) and he is an owner of both accounts (nicknames). All remaining links with old nickname are now bringing commission to the vendor only (hoplinks in ebooks, newsletters, forums, generally all links what cannot be updated with new vendor's nickname).
So, use redirections for hoplinks when they are left where they cannot be updated.

Payment link switching

There is an option on ClickBank payment form where buyer can pay using PayPal. Than, what is the purpose of PayPal button displayed on some vendors sites, with link to PayPal payment form? To steal your commission, right. You will not get commission if buyer pays using that PayPal button. If that is clickbank program landing page, product has to be bought using ClickBank payment link, right?

Now, one sneaky script is used on some vendor's sites. Before, similar script was masked with reason, when ClickBank payment form is down, PayPal link is displayed, to get possible sale. Who cares about affiliates. Newer script is checking referral, probably "hop=affiliate", and if visitor is not coming using hoplink, PayPal button is displayed. According to this script, clickbank does not need to spend resources setting cookie life for more than one visit, because, if visitor doesn't buy during his first visit, if returned using link from bookmark, or removing hop=affiliate, you will not be credited for a sale. Cookie redirection, used to test different sales pages, could be misused also, sending returned visitor to a page with different payment processor.
When testing vendor, first test hoplink, then enter landing page (domain) url into browser address bar and test again.

Right, you said, all vendors with small percentage of affiliate sales will disappear from MarketPlace. No, they will sink, but they will still be listed due to other sales (using their affiliate link to set cookie and clickbank payment link). And, various clickbank malls, promoting products listed on marketplace without checking, are promoting those hijackers, too. One example is (tested May 2007) one vendor, was still listed at marketplace, although he/she is now using PayPal only for payment.

Again, if you see any other payment option, especially when PayPal link is above clickbank payment link, blacklist that vendor. And again, there is no reason to use PayPal direct link on landing page, when that option exist on clickbank payment form. Only reason why other payment options are on clickbank landing page, is to steal commission from affiliates. Period.

Affiliate commission set to zero

A few years ago, many vendors were "busted" when ClickBank sets minimum affiliate commission to 1%. Before that, it was possible to set affiliate commission to 0% if vendor didn't want affiliates.

Lots of vendors were playing switching game, setting affiliate commission to zero, and after some time (before next marketplace update) backing to the normal percentage. In case of 0% commission, sale was not recorded in affiliate account, so, bad guys (vendors) used that to collect affiliate commission too. Due to longer period between Marketplace updates, this was possible to check only clicking on vendor's link to generate hoplink, when percent of commission was pulled directly from ClickBank database, showing real percentage at that moment.

In case of 1% sale is recorded and cheater exposed.

Link back to the sales page

One more sales page leaking is not hard to spot, but it is not looking suspicious when link is leading to an other page on the same site. That page(s) is additional description of product, and it is not looking strange, no additional affiliate links, just link back to main sales page. Did you check that link back to main sales page? Is it clean link or vendor's hoplink?

Sometimes those page are used like landing pages for some promotions. To be sure that their effort will be credited, some vendors are using their hoplink to set or overwrite existing cookie. Why that page is linked from main sales page, you can guess, but clear is that those vendors on that way are stealing your commission overwriting your cookie when visitors clicks on link back to sales page.
Carefully check all links from landing page, to be sure that path from sales page to payment page is "clean".

Sometimes is inner page used as clickbank landing page. Is it link to main page present on that page? And what product is promoted on main page of that domain? Clickbank payment link is used? Same nickname is used in payment link?

Clickbank cookie and payment link test

Basic test could be performed to confirm that hoplink is working.

Use Internet Explorer browser and delete browser cookies
- Edit Tools => Internet options => Privacy,
- Click on "Advanced"
- Check "override automatic cookie handling"
- Check "prompt" on both button groups

This setup allows you to accept or refuse cookies, so you can see when any cookie is set. Once again, delete cookies before, to be sure that new cookie is set.

Now, go to the vendor's site using hoplink with your nickname inserted.
If you are not using yours, or some other active nickname, cookie will not be set. Clickbank cookie will be requested to set, accept. Now, click on payment (order) link on that site (page). Before clickbank order form appears, other clickbank cookie will be requested to set. Accept.

Now, scroll to the bottom of order form and look at the "affiliate=" . If your nickname is there, payment link is working and you will get commission for sale. If there is "affiliate=none", you probably have a problem with your browser or firewall not accepting cookies.
If cookie test passed (cookies set), then could be problem with different merchant nickname.

If different nickname appears instead of yours, you have a problem. Clickbank cookie is requested twice (only if cookies cleared before). First when hoplink is clicked (set), and second (read/set) when order link is clicked. If any other clickbank cookie is requested in meantime (while on vendor's site), your cookie is probably overwritten and you will not get commission. If your computer is spyware free (spyware can overwrite cookies), that means that vendor is setting cookie in invisible way, using iframe or some script, overwriting your cookie (stealing your commission).

Example (Jun 2007) of cookie overwriting using iframe happened even at one popular marketing product sales page. Iframe was dynamically inserted (hoplink with different nickname loaded, even old format of hoplink), what also means that you will not get it every time, since that could lead to endless cookie bombing (iframe under iframe - endless copies of landing page loaded).

Also, if any other cookie was set from vendor's website (cookie from that site), visit that site again using vendor's url (domain), not hoplink, and test payment link again, to be sure that no cookie redirection is in action (do not delete cookies before this test).

Warning signs on the product landing page

If you are testing landing pages before promotion of that product, you will learn to make a difference between good and bad guys very soon.

Common warning signs are listed below:

  • BIG subscription form above the fold (top of page)
  • Subscription (opt-in) form only - no order link on page
  • Free chapter offer (appeared more than once)
  • Subscription form (for what?) between sales page and order form
  • Cookie stuffing (iframes, scripts to the order form)
  • Affiliate links (hoplinks or some other aff network)
  • Ads (banners/textlinks,adsense)
  • Links to the other pages or websites not connected with products (account)
  • Landing page not main page on domain (check main and linked from main)
  • Anything other, if it is not connected to sale of that product.

If sales page (focused on sale) and product is really good, you can try to promote that product. Opt-in forms mentioned above can help with sales, but they are primary used to building list for vendors, not to help affiliates. And, most important, check for your nickname at clickbank order form. Always. Found some suspicious practice? Push that in the nearest clickbank forum. Good vendor needs affiliates. Sneaky vendor do not deserve to be promoted. Period.

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