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Do Not Make This Affiliate Marketing Mistake

If you’ve read a few books on affiliate marketing, you already know…

They tell you to go to ClickBank and pick a popular product to promote…

Then go create a Squidoo Lens or a Hubpage, submit articles to directories and post them on your blog, bookmark your pages, post on Twitter, etc. until you’re blue in the face.

It looks good on paper… I mean it’s easy to start, it’s free, and there’s no risk (except your time).

But there is a fatal flaw with this strategy…namely…


Think about it….

Let us say you spend 2 hours a day promoting a Clickbank product, that pays out 60% commission on a $77 product. After a 5 day work week, you put in 10 hours, and you make 2 sales. After taxes, that is less than $50 you made. That is less than $5 per hour.

What makes me sick to the belly are the big name marketers who sell this method…and it is full of SH)*&% (doo doo). Here is why….

When a merchant wants you to promote as an affiliate, and they teach you to drive traffic to an affiliate offer, with your affiliate id of course, something happens:

  1. The merchant, not you, if they do not buy, will capture the lead in their autoresponder and will promote other products to sell to them, and you will not make a dime.
  2. The merchant, not you, if they do buy, will capture a buying customer and will put them on their customer subscriber list.
  3. The merchant, not you, will usually have exit popups, with offers to other products on different affiliate software systems, and you will not make a dime. (yes, some of them really are this sneaky).

So, what do you do?

The biggest mistake you can make as an affiliate marketer is to drive traffic
straight to a merchant’s website instead of building a list first.

Think about this…

If you spend time and/or money to drive traffic to a merchant’s website, fewer
than 5% will buy. So what happens to the 95% who don’t buy?

If you aren’t capturing your visitor’s email addresses, you’re throwing money right down the drain.

Whose list do you want to build, the merchant’s or your own? Stupid question, eh….

Here is a recent example:

A popular product on sale right now is on Traffic, and the merchant has disclosed that over 100k people have subscribed to download his pre-launch giveaways.

The product costs $2,000…for a info product. Incredible!

If you send 1000 visitors to the merchants site, and 50% subscribe to the free giveaways, how many will actually purchase?

Not many. Maybe 1%, depending on the traffic quality. Remember, it costs $2,000. That is a lot of money.

So, what happens to the 99% who do not buy? They end up on the merchants list, and the merchant will sell them other stuff, lower priced stuff, and you will NOT make a dime.

But what if you can set up a page, drive traffic to it, and get the subscriber on YOUR list (and not the merchant), and also YOU get all the sales?

You are probably thinking, “Yes Mark, but what the heck do I do?”

Well, there are some ways to stop this merchant monopoly scam. Here are a few ideas.

1. When you see a merchant with a squeeze page that offers a free report or video, and then it sends them to the product page, in your Firefox browser, go to File/Save As, and save their squeeze page (select complete). This saves the page, images, scripts….everything..to your hard drive.

Then, using a html editor, change their optin form to YOUR optin form. Next, host this page on your server, and send traffic to your website, with the squeeze page you have grabbed from the vendor that now has your optin form.

Thus, if you are selling “xyxproduct” you simply send traffic to the squeeze page you set up at “www.yourdomain.com/recommends/xyzproduct”

After they optin to your list, you can either send them directly to the merchants sales page, or you can send them to the merchants download page for their free offer. You have to optin yourself to the merchants list to find out where these links are.

2. If the merchant has a exit script on their salespage that offers them a free bonus if they subscribe to their list, this is what you can do….

  • “Save As” their entire salespage and put it on your server. Keep the order link in tact.
  • Next, “Save As” their exit page that offers the free offer for a subscribe.
  • Change the autoresponder form on the exit page to that it is YOUR form code to your autoresponder. Make sure the confirmation links go to where you want it to so the person gets the freebie, either directly after subscribing, or via email from your autoresponder. Once again, optin to the merchants list on the exit page so you know where everything is.
  • Upload the exit page to YOUR server.
  • Using a html editor, find the “exit page script” in the source code, and change the exit page URL so that it goes to the URL exit page that is now on YOUR server.

3. If the merchant has a POPUP optin form on their website, then you can simply “SAVE AS” their entire salepage, keep the order links intact, upload it to YOUR server, and delete their popup code using your html editor. Ya, sounds brutal…

(If you have JV partners and you are doing adswaps, then you obviously don’t mind giving away leads, but if you are just starting out, and you have a small list and therefore no leverage, then you certainly want to do everything you can to get the subscriber on your list, rather than the merchants)

IMPORTANT: How To Ensure Your Affiliate ID Is Embedded When The Page Is On Your Server?

No problem. Two methods:

  • You can either use a Affiliate Link Bomber (which I use); or,
  • Add the following code to your landing page and visitors will be tagged with an affiliate cookie the moment they hit the page:
    <img src=”http://nickname.vendor.hop.clickbank.net”border=0> …where nickname is your ClickBank ID and vendor is the merchant?s ID.

You can use the image tag method with any affiliate program.

So, what are the risks with this method?

Top merchants make hundreds of thousands, and some, millions, on #1 selling products. Affiliates use their sales materials every day. Let us remember, you are promoting this persons product and making money for them.

If a merchant gets sour because you are using their sales materials, then ask them to set you up with a unique URL with no autoresponder form or exit popups. If the vender says that their email campaign increases conversion for you, then simply say that you can swipe their email marketing campaign and do it through your email autoresponder.

The merchant will not be bothered…

Please, please…start building your list today. Aweber or Getresponse are the best. I have both of them.

This a new list building plugin, and I just got it today myself

—>> Max Subscriber Magnate

That link is my blatant affiliate link, and I make some money when you order through me, which goes to support all my bad habits :).


Are you sick and tired, and really really tired, of building the merchant’s list, and not your own? Tell me your thoughts….

About Mark Dulisse

Software Developer, Blogger, SEO Consultant, Internet Marketer

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  1. Mark,

    That’s great sneaky advice. I’m going to have to try that. As a merchant myself, I don’t have a problem with affiliates growing there list along with me.

    The merchant will get the email through the paypage right?

  2. Mark,

    Been thinking about this post and have a few questions to see if I’m understanding it.

    1. Someone clicks a link on my site
    2. That takes them to a landing page I’ve borrowed from the merchant
    3. They like the offer and put in their info into the autoresponder
    4. That autoresponder is mine for a list I’ve set up for this landing page
    5. That list is automatically subscribed to my main one – if they came from my site and are on my site, they shouldn’t be surprised to see an opt in from my site.
    6. After they opt-in, they are sent an affiliate link (I cloak mine with http://www.revtrev.com/recommends/NinjaAffiliate – yes that’s an affiliate link)
    7. When they arrive on the actual landing page they need to go through the same procedure with the merchant.

    Is that the gist of it? I have started to wonder if it won’t mean less sales for the merchant…but I suppose if I’m building a relationship with people and they later see that recommendation again, they may be more apt to buy then.

    • Hi Trevor, it depends where you send traffic to. If you send traffic to your blog first, then they would be clicking on a link on your blog, and then to a salespage/squeeze that you have grabbed from the merchant that is now hosted on your server.

      Some of these people will already be on your list, and some of them won’t be on your list.

      After they optin, you send them either directly to the sales offer, or to a “confirmation” page and then send them to the offer via your email sequence. You can mimic the merchant’s sales funnel.

      On point #7, I am unsure if you understand the process. After they optin you bring them directly to the salespage of the merchant, with the merchant’s order button, which you are cookied with. If you have the merchants salespage on your server, then the customer clicks on the order button on your server, which brings them to the same “checkout.”

  3. The only problem is identical duplication for Google. I suppose if it’s a quick buck it works, but I’m not sure about long term. For long term, I think you need to spin the content before you post it.

    This goes back to your post yesterday about conversion to which I replied “maybe now people will focus more on ad copy”.

    In this case, even if you spin it (and especially if you spin it) you better study up a little ad copywriting so you don’t wreck the conversion.

    The bottom line is there is no easy way and I’m thankful that you Mark do not teach the “easy” way, but you teach the way that works.


  4. Thanks Mark, you have given me an excellent idea, and I am certainly going to try this out. I was wondering what to do because I have tried and tried, with no result, and was already thinking to stop bothering because it was of no avail.

  5. Sturgis Nikides

    Mark – as always, you dispense invaluable information. Someone should make a step-by-step video demonstrating these techniques…..

  6. Mark,

    Thanks for sharing, think this will be very helpful for those of us in the beginning building stage. How did you come across this method? I will give this a shot and see how things go.


  7. Hey Mark – I’ve been banging on about this for years. To my mind this is the biggest lie in affiliate marketing. Newbie affiliate marketers get sucked in by the no risk free money line that gurus peddle about affiliate products and then get enslaved into marketing the products for the program owner.

    I’ve discussed this with a few program owners and they say but this is what people want – they don’t want to build a list, they don’t want their own website – they want plug and play……

    It frustrates me mo end.

    When will people wake up and smell the coffee?
    Soon I hope

  8. Great advice Mark – you are 100% correct and these big names know full well what they are doing of course – working with the 1% rule and selling over and over the same old, re-hashed stuff. I know the launch you’re talking about right now and almost fell off my chair today when one email came through my inbox from one of the big players who actually had the nerve to say “I haven’t even looked at this product but I guess it’s pretty good so go buy it from my affiliate link”.. they are carving up the cake and the sooner people see this and start to cut their own cake the better..

  9. Mark

    now those are some clever techniques. By the way, hopefully the comparison of affiliate sales vs. flipping burgers is not too bad. It is possible that you would get some more sales by doing no more additional work (and your earnings / hour would go up)… but I get your point. Email addresses and list building.

  10. Kevin, I’m thinking of making the page no-follow and keeping it out of my sitemap. It saves time without spinning.

    Does anyone know if that will avoid duplication concerns?

  11. Internet Marketing Ground Zero

    I’m always floored by how you conduct yourself in the midst of so many people who simply want to squeeze out the leverage from their affiliates Mark.

    Your information is always premium, and you simply don’t hold back any of the juicy tidbits. I’ve purchased some of your products in the past, and can confirm that ALL your methods are incredibly effective.

    What are the chances you can put a post together regarding what I believe to be a serious flaw in the way most people conduct their IM enterprises – namely NOT selling something?

    In my experience it really doesn’t matter what you promote in the IM niche. If you aren’t packaging materials together, and selling your own products, then you lose out on serious money. Especially when you can be the one gaining all the leverage from affiliates efforts.

    Regarding sour merchants, I can say definitively that I’ve borrowed promotional material for years, and never given it a second thought for the exact reasons you mentioned.

    It’s not like I’m using it to promote my stuff directly, but if something fits, I can always squeeze it into an auto-responder sequence later. Of course, you shouldn’t use merchants materials in this manner to directly pitch anything other than the merchants product.

    These can and do make for great templates that can be easily adapted to promote your own or another merchants stuff down the road though. Thanks again for your post – it’s premium just like everything you offer.

  12. RevTrev,

    If you don’t care about having the page rank or getting natural traffic, then you could just add:

    Mymaindomain.com – robots.txt
    Disallow: /yoursalespage.htm (or php or whatever it is)
    and disallow any other pages you don’t want Google or any other robot from indexing or even going to.

  13. Mark –

    Thank you for this! As a newbie non-techie (NOT stupid), I could SEE what was going on but I did NOT know HOW to do anything about it – just stopped promoting stuff when the knot in my stomach got unbearable.

    Thank you.

    Maybe now I’ll earn more than peanuts/hour equivalent…

  14. Wow, This is an eye opener, thank you very much for this much needed info.

  15. Rusty - Fitness Blog Training

    @ Kevin,

    Yes…to get traffic you need unique content and to drive traffic another way. Mark isn’t suggesting that this page is going to be a traffic magnet. You would still do blog posts, paid traffic, article writing, etc…but when you send someone to a recommended product, they would go to this page instead of the standard affiliate link.

    This way you will build your list instead of the Vendor building their list. The Vendor will be fine with this (I own a successful fitness CB product)…as a product owner obviously I will build a “buyer’s list” no matter what.


  16. @Rusty…

    (note: The whole @name twitter revolution makes me laugh…I never would have thought I’d even use that type of annotation…lol)..

    Anyway, Yes I understand. I am just in a massive organic traffic mindset right now.

    P.S. I went to your blog…love your angle on fitness… I wrote a CB ebook too http://www.diet-weight-loss-answers.com 🙂 I took it off of CB and now use it to list build…

  17. Nice actionable tips mark. This is why I visit your blog – good stuff!

  18. Makes sense.
    Now I just need to get up to speed with my technical expertise to set up said system.
    Thank you mark for reminding us of the truth in marketing.

  19. Mark,
    Thanks for this explanation. I have heard about doing this but did not know the exact method. I have had a little success with Clickbank Products but am sure I will be able to generate a few more follow up sales now.
    I agree you always provide great content.

  20. Mark,

    I am amazed to see this. It is all about Derrick Van Dyke’s
    product, “Affiliate Method X”, except, he’s got the video and
    more details. of course. He just Sold Out yesterday,
    but can get in on the waiting list.http://budurl.com/amxkh
    (leave the page, so you can sign up).

    He said there are a handful of marketers using the method.
    You must be one of them. Thanks, so much for your help
    getting the word out. It’s time for the affiliates to be treat
    themselves right! And the merchants still get what they
    need out of the deal. I have a post on my blog.
    Thanks again, Derrick only speaks highly of you.

    Karin Haworth (Derrick is my mentor and son)

    • Hi Karin,

      Yes, Derrick did go over this. Funny how someone creates a product what savvy marketers do. Derrick also gives you a bonus script and stuff.

      If he is your mentor, you are in good hands. And I don’t say that often.

  21. Great information mark.
    I will implement this as soon as I can.

    Thanks again.

  22. I have to try this out.

  23. I get really annoyed with all the ‘big time’ product creators making people signup before people can even see the sales page. As I promote to my list, the last thing a person on a list wants to do is sign up to another list just to learn about a product. So You method of bypassing the signup page is something that I am going to start taking advantage of!

  24. Jillian M.O.B.S.ter!

    Wow, how come it’s taken over a year of griping about this subject to stumble across an answer!?

    Thanks so much, will have to get my head around the technical stuff and implement this asap 🙂

  25. hey mark,

    the img method for affiliate link cookie tagging sounds greyish to me, do affiliate networks accept this or will they ban if used…

    • The illustration I used is Clickbank products. In my article I describe the risks. If any worried, use robots.txt so your pages are not indexed, and if you have more worries, email vendor for permission.

  26. Hi There
    Found you the other day on the Alexa tool bar? all your information is very valuable thank you so much.
    Keep up the good work

  27. Hmm, whilst I agree In principle to what your saying. You also, have to remember that YOU decide to become an affiliate because you DONT have a product to sell. Yes, grabbing an email as you send them off to a list is good practice but there is other ways to get the email as well, like offering a bonus to the product etc.
    So, it all depends on how far along you are as a marketer.

    Nice read though.


  28. Hello Mark, Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge with us.

    Is there any chance you would do a video demonstration of this?

    keep up your good work, best wishes

    Jason Norman


  29. Hi Mark

    While I agree 100% with your sentiments, I am wondering about the hoplink being opened in an image and the problems that can cause… i.e.

    From – http://www.clickbank.com/help/affiliate-help/affiliate-basics/all-about-hoplinks/
    “Invalid HopLinks – To ensure proper tracking of your HopLink referrals, your HopLink needs to open into the top level of a new or existing window. For most affiliates, this is not a problem. However, some affiliates attempt to hide their HopLinks by having them open into other types of sub-window objects, such as frames, iframes, layers, applets, or images. These types of HopLinks are considered invalid, and can result in lost affiliate referral credit, incorrect display of your website, or, in the case of abuse of the HopLink system, could result in account termination without notice.”

    So this is definitely a technique that does carry some risk!


    • Hi Stephen, this is simply the use or iframes or cookie stuffing using images. We expect them to say there is potential of loss of commissions. There is unethical and ethical cookie stuffing. I’m not going to get into the difference in this thread.

  30. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  31. Hi Mark, firstly great info – Will the above IMG code example, work with “no script” tag? example:

    Thanks in advance, Jean

  32. Hi Mark,
    Put in the just before the in my wordpress blog code. Does not seem to work. Am I missing something here?

    Yes I did change the nickname to mine & use the correct vendor ID.


  33. Hi Mark,
    Actually I copied & pasted the image tag code into my earlier comment but I guess it got snipped away. I put in the image tag code for a clickbank product as you described in landing page code. Place it just before the “/HEAD” tag.
    Did not work for me. Wondering if I miss something.


  34. Put it right before closing body tag

  35. Hi Mark,
    Works perfectly fine now.


  36. Thanks for the info Mark I knew a lot of marketers had been doing this, it makes sense to build your own list, you sure your methods legal ? LOL


  37. Honeslty, I just had to mention that the internet site’s template is totally awesome in my humble opinion.

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