Education on Affiliate Programs is a must before joining any of them! You must do your due diligence or else…..
Spot ’em — Affiliate Programs
Before you sink a dime into a vague online business opportunity promising high income and which pressures you to act quickly, you need to do some research and ask some key questions. Find out how many people earn the $15,000 a month the company is promising and review its income disclosure form. How many retail sales does the company make outside of selling products to fellow distributors?… Those rags-to-riches stories that you’re hearing about – well the only way they’ve made real money is by feeding off of the likes of you. Truth in Advertising
What Is a Fake Review, and Why Should You Care? and Peeling Away the Dark Side of Internet Marketing, we looked at the potential for affiliate programs in particular to hurt, under the guise of helping.
The final article in our series on “The Definitive Guide to Alexa” looked specifically at how to spot schemes and fake reviews in this sector. I won’t review those indicators here, but let’s look at some basic clues.
1. Face reality: First of all, recognize that this is real. Most of us are honest. We know that liars and cons exist. But we don’t twig to the possibility that a great-looking, honest-sounding blogger could simply be lying for a buck.
There are so many fraudulent reviews out there, all trying to separate you from your money. The number of websites that are promoting a product is, therefore, no indication of quality. In fact, those with a ton of reviews are likely to be sites with 10 tons of affiliates.
2. Remember “Bait and Switch”: In Article 2 we looked at how a “review” of Product “A” that leads you instead to Product “B” is already misleading. Compare the quality of the two reviews. If you see a great deal more effort going into B, you’re likely about to become a victim of bait-and-switch.
3. Check the URL: Hover over the link and check your browser’s status bar. Is the URL “clean” or does it have affiliate-type encoding (not Google’s UTM tracking)? If it seems to have an affiliate URL, does the review identify itself as being written by an affiliate?
If not, it’s a fake review. No matter how good a review may seem, if it uses affiliate links and does not notify you that it earns affiliate income, it’s a fake review.
So, ignore it. If it has broken the rules of notification, what is it hiding? Why should you trust it?
4. Knowledge of the product: As with Amazon or hotel products, note whether affiliate reviews give you the sense of deep knowledge and use of the product. Forget if they saythey use it — we already know that fake reviewers lie! Instead, does the content itself indicate deep use and knowledge?
Ignore the number of comments that support it. Many operations work in groups.
5. Show me the proof: Where proof is possible with a physical product, we might insist on seeing it, or hearing about the reviewer’s actual experience of it. If a review is about pain relief, we might expect to see studies from respected authorities. If it’s about a vacuum machine, we’d want to see information about comparative vacuum power and perhaps a demonstration of the various attachments.
It’s no different when it comes to Internet marketing success — except you should go one step further and insist upon verifiable success.
What does that mean?
Let’s take a real life example.
How to Spot a Fake Success Story
The most important criterion of a fake review is that it lacks proof.
Think about this for a moment. You read a wonderful recounting of rags to riches — a genuine solopreneur success story. Or is it?
Scam artists flat-out lie about this stuff to get your money. Often there may be a kernel of truth, but the truth of reality is far from the fiction of the story.
How can you tell what’s true?
1. Insist on proof.
Let’s suppose you’ve read some really strong reviews about an online business builder. Oddly, they all started by reviewing a different product and moved you to this one. But it sure sounds good.
There’s a sales technique called social proof. That can be done in a variety of ways, from brief “love it” testimonials to detailed stories. They can appear anywhere, in any form. And anyone can write them — including the business owner.
But reading no negatives would alert you in the “physical product” world to the possibility of a fake review. And it’s exactly the same in the online world.
Regardless of which company it is, if it suggests business-building success, insist on proof.
Proof of what kind?
- Domain Names.Only one thing matters when it comes to a product that claims it’s going to help you build a profitable online business: domain names.No story is worth a penny if it’s not accompanied by the domain name. 10,000 positive reviews can be safely ignored if there’s no domain name attached to them. If there’s no domain name attached to the “I make $10K/month and rising” story, I don’t believe it. Neither should you.A successful website is like a delicious hamburger. Don’t accept a big fluffy bun of highly convincing copywriting. Keep this really simple…Insist on domain names — the “beef” of hamburger proof.
Great! But — once you have the domain name, what do you do with it?
a. Review the site itself, get a sense for the quality.
b. Contact the owner and ask him how he likes the product, really.
c. Use the domain name to verify traffic by entering the URL into 1, 2 or all 3 of these 3 traffic-measuring tools: Alexa, SimilarWeb and SEMrush.
Each works differently, so using all 3 to cross-check provides the highest level of certainty. Get full info about how this works, here and see here for definitions of high, medium and failure traffic.
When these tools tell you that traffic is undetectable, that is as low as it goes. If all 3 confirm, you can be pretty sure the site’s traffic is zero or near zero.
d. Assess the likelihood of real vs. fake: This type of success story, one that claims to be making huge amounts of money, yet has near-zero traffic, only has two possible realities. Either…
- The story is a lie. This is, by far, the most common situation
- The site gets a few visitors per year but has an extremely high-paying monetization model. For example, a site may only received 5 visitors per day — a disaster for most solopreneurs.
But if only 2 of those 1800 visitors per year buy a multi-million dollar piece of real estate resulting in $100,000+ commissions, that’s great income.
But while this is possible — and while there are many local businesses that should be doing exactly this — these are not the types of niches that most solopreneurs know.
2. Insist on real niches.
If you know and love a niche that’s not related to the topic of “make money,” beware the product that features testimonials and success stories that are largely related to some aspect of “making money online” (MMO).
The dynamic of visitors to these sites is different than what we call “real niches.” Instead of people spending money to make money, which is broadly what happens in “make money” niches, most people on this planet spend money to buy something.
Much of the “make money” advice does not work or works poorly. It needs to be adjusted, often substantially. In fact, the mindset of the “guru” is so stuck in that niche that much of the advice can be counter-productive.