You've heard about the sleazy tactics used by some ClickBank sellers before -- "get rich quick and easy" products; sales letters claiming "only 250 will be sold", when a single glance at ClickBank's stats shows that thousands have been sold; etc. Apparently, ClickBank is signalling that they're finally going to crack down.

Yesterday, Paul over at Work at Home Truth wrote:

...recently the marketplace has filled up with all sorts of products promising people "easy money" at "the push of a button" with "no work or effort". And finally ClickBank has started to do something about it.

Some are impressed that ClickBank has taken this action. Others are wondering why it took so long.

Put my vote in the "what took 'em so long?" column.

ClickBank isn't simply a payment processor like PayPal, they're a reseller. When someone buys a product through ClickBank, they're actually buying it from ClickBank, who buys it from the merchant. So if shady practices are being used by the merchants, I can imagine ClickBank being held liable. (Standard disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer. Don't take my word for it.)

I have to wonder whether the FTC may have pointed that out to ClickBank.

Paul reproduced a letter sent to some of ClickBank's merchants. Here are a few interesting excerpts:

Per the new FTC information, sales material shouldn't create the impression that customers can easily earn money without putting in much work...

As Paul points out, this information from the FTC isn't exactly "new".

...and should give specific ideas of how they'll earn the money (e.g., content marketing, video marketing, social media, etc).

Let's hope ClickBank cracks down hard on sales letters that blab on all day about how much you can make using some secret new "loophole", but never drop the smallest hint at what the product is about. That'd go a long way toward solving the problem of products that simply regurgitate an old idea, or spend an entire eBook talking about a tactic that could have been introduced in three sentences.

Reader Comment:
jim burney said:
About time too, although I do feel a rage coming on 9..8..7
(join the conversation below)

Sales pages should also not overstate how much can realistically be made, or imply that earnings are guaranteed.

Does this mean the end of "Discover How You Can Make $28,482.67 a Month With Just 3 Clicks" type headlines? Oh, please, say "yes".

The FTC also strongly discourages false urgency/scarcity messaging (for example, "Only 3 copies left!") when there is no actual scarcity.

"Strongly discourages"? Is that all they do? Isn't that flat-out illegal? This stuff is rampant on ClickBank. I pointed out one example in this post, and several more in its comments (I didn't want to honor each one with its one post).

As Paul pointed out, this kind of thing would be easy for ClickBank to monitor by regularly checking the sales pages of products that are making lots of sales (generally during a big launch).

Any Pitch Page references to ClickBank sales stats need to be verifiable by ClickBank, and need to have been earned by the methods being promoted. For example, selling an affiliate training product using sales snapshots from a vendor-only account is not allowed.

Other than the example they state, and completely fake screenshots, this'll probably be a little difficult for ClickBank to monitor. But even if they only crack down on those two things, it should be a big improvement.

For upsells, the initial product purchased must be valuable and usable on its own, without requiring the purchase of the upsell offers.

Strike 1 against "upsell hell".

Customers must also be able to immediately access their original purchase upon completion of their order, before being presented with upsell offers. An access link may be placed on the first upsell offer page, but the link must be very clear and conspicuous...

Strike 2 against "upsell hell". Strike 3 will be if they actually enforce these guidelines.

A few years ago, I had a product rejected from the ClickBank marketplace because of upsells. But I wasn't doing "upsell hell" upsells. In fact, the upsells weren't even introduced on the "thank you" page, but elsewhere in the members-only area of the site. Now they're allowed, and even...

We highly recommend that vendors use ClickBank's official upsell flows to present upsell offers to customers.

...officially supported! Sheesh.

But that's ancient history.

Let's hope ClickBank takes what they're saying in this letter seriously. It may knock some of their high-fliers down a notch, but that should help the really good products move up to the spots in the marketplace that they deserve.