2. A very helpful product specialist in ClickBank once told me, "Please keep in mind, that you can always send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions on what products we accept or what the guidelines for certain products are."
Another member replied: Mike, thanks! Oh god, this is what is in store for all of us, is it? And we have to pay for the privilege of being ignored and then rejected!
I replied: You're welcome! And yes, what the first member related is typical for ClickBank and what I related was all true—as awful as that is. In fact, after writing that lengthy critique of ClickBank's product approval process, I submitted a new product for approval to ClickBank and JVZoo. I got two very different product rejections from each of them, despite the sales pages and products being essentially identical.
JVZoo's product rejection email listed and clearly articulates the reasons for the product rejection. In my and others' experience, ClickBank has regularly failed to provide this when rejecting products.
JVZoo's product rejection message also clearly explained what steps to take to resolve the issues; exactly how to resubmit the product for approval; and assurance that the product will be approved if those steps are completed. In my and others' experience, ClickBank has regularly failed to provide any of that when rejecting products.
When I clicked the link in JVZoo's email to resubmit the product, the Web page displayed a list of the reasons for rejection of my specific product and enabled me to check off or certify that I had fixed each one. ClickBank's product approval process doesn't include anything as clear, simple, easy, or efficient as that to get a rejected product approved.
JVZoo reviewed my product and sales page and sent me that product rejection email the same day I submitted the product. I then fixed all those issues the same day and resubmitted it that same day. JVZoo then approved my product that same day. ClickBank typically takes weeks or even months to do that!
In its product rejection message of my ebook, ClickBank referred to "FDA" and "FTC" regulations as reasons for rejecting my ebook. The FDA is the Food & Drug Administration and that agency regulates drugs and medical devices, not ebooks! In my experience ClickBank is ignorant and overly aggressive in interpreting and applying regulatory restrictions when approving or rejecting products. I have not encountered this overzealousness from JVZoo. ClickBank's requests for re-titling my ebook and making changes to the sales page were so ridiculous compared to JVZoo's more sensible approach that I decided to not even bother re-submitting my product to ClickBank. ClickBank even states it uses webmd.com for medical guidance. Are you kidding me? Webmd.com is neither authoritative nor the last word on any medical matter. ClickBank should stop these silly, overzealous attempts at policing such matters. If ClickBank doesn't relax and use a more common sense approach, then good, smart vendors won't even bother submitting products to ClickBank anymore.
Update on May 11 2017: In today's CBU webinar, Justin Atlan mentioned that he had traveled to ClickBank's headquarters last month to pass this feedback to them. He said ClickBank management did take my criticism and suggestions for improving their product approval and customer service processes seriously. So we'll see whether they follow through on that or not.
Update on July 18 2017: Today I submitted a product approval request to ClickBank. I had a better and faster response from ClickBank this time than any of my prior times. But there are still discrepancies in ClickBank's product approval process that need correction.
This time ClickBank reviewed my product pitch page and responded to me within a few hours of my submitting the product for approval. That's far faster than my prior product approval experiences with ClickBank. And they took a more reasonable approach this time than they did with my prior health related information products. This time they stated:
FDA and FTC rules require that all product claims are accurate and can be substantiated. Please confirm that you possess credible scientific studies to substantiate the claims on your Pitch Page, and that you can provide those studies upon request.
Please confirm that the stories told in your promotional materials are true and can be substantiated in the event of a regulatory agency audit.
This time ClickBank simply asked me to confirm that the statements on my product pitch page are true and can be sustantiated if that's ever requested. That's far more sensible than their prior approach of demanding that I prove and document every claim, testimonial, and statement to them in order for the product to be approved. So they've apparently improved that aspect of the product approval process along the lines of what I suggested.
So I did what they requested and replied to confirm that the statements on my product pitch page can be substantiated and are true. Then ClickBank responded and approved my product within an hour. I was impressed. ClickBank definitely sped up and streamlined their product approval process since I complained to them about it months before.
And they didn't give me a bullshit form product rejection message like they did before. So perhaps they've learned from my scolding about that.
But ClickBank is still misinterpreting FDA regulations. I informed that they were making that mistake months ago. And they're still making that same mistake now, apparently. They're still failing to differentiate between what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers a product with medical effects (such as a drug or medical device, and which the FDA does regulate) and information products like books or videos that don't claim to have medical effects of their own and which the FDA does not regulate!
If the product were perhaps a drug or nutritional supplement that made claims about its medical effects, FDA regulations would apply. But my product I submitted for approval was simply an ebook! Apparently ClickBank still doesn't grasp the difference between the two.
Update on August 18, 2017: I submitted some new products for ClickBank's approval this week. Though ClickBank's responses to products submitted for approval is clearly much faster than it was last year, there are still serious problems with the process.
This time around a particular ClickBank product approval rep responded within a few hours to each of my product approval requests. We quickly and easily worked through a few minor issues and questions. That ClickBank rep approved my products and a PitchPlus upsell flow the same day. So that went quickly and easily.
But then the next day I submitted another product for ClickBank's approval. It was the same product that had just been approved, only at a slightly lower price. I used the same pitch page, only with the different payment link for that new product. I connected it to the same PitchPlus upsell flow that had been approved by ClickBank. So the approval of this new product should have been quick and easy. But it was far from quick and far from easy.
This product approval was difficult for a few reasons. The primary reason was that I had a different ClickBank rep working on this product approval. This rep was incompetent and/or unethical.
This rep refused to approve my product because they claimed that I had to put a product download link on my upsell and downsell pages. Additionally, they said I had to place that link above everything else on my upsell and downsell pages. Neither of those requirements is anywhere in ClickBank's own knowledgebase article on PitchPlus upsell flows. And the better ClickBank rep I had worked with the prior day made no mention of such a requirement. That prior rep approved my upsell flow, upsell and downsell pages, and pitch pages without any product download link having to appear anywhere on my upsell or downsell pages.
Nevertheless, I made the unreasonable, unjustified changes that this rep demanded. So did he approve the product then? No, he did not. He then changed his demands, requiring me to change my upsell page (that had already been approved by the prior ClickBank rep) into a thank you page—and meet all of a thank you page's different requirements. I could not tell whether he was deranged, trying to make things hard for me, enjoyed violating ClickBank's own written policies, or something else. So to get the product approved, I decided to change that pitch page's payment link from a PitchPlus upsell link to a regular payment link. Then, once that jerk/fool/druggie approved my product, I just put things back to the way they should be.
So ClickBank's product approval process still sucks in some respects. It needs to be fixed in the following ways:
- ClickBank reps should not be contradicting each other.
- ClickBank reps should not be allowed to make up or enforce product approval requirements that are not stated in ClickBank's publicly accessible support/knowledgebase articles. This is just common sense. That ClickBank currently doesn't grasp this principle is ridiculous. Governments and virtually all other organizations with laws and rules grasp this principle. So why doesn't ClickBank? Why is ClickBank so clueless?
- There should be a succinct checklist with ClickBank's product approval requirements. (Not a long-winded article. A bona fide checklist.) This checklist should be publicly accessible and made conspicuous to ClickBank vendors. No ClickBank rep should be allowed to make up or enforce requirements that are not in that checklist. ClickBank vendors should have the prerogative to override a ClickBank rep's product rejection if the rejection is not in accordance with the checklist.
- ClickBank should link each vendor's product rejection override to the specific ClickBank rep whose product rejection was overriden. That way, ClickBank can identify reps who are making up bullshit and failing to comply with ClickBank's checklist.
- ClickBank should have a clear process for vendors to provide feedback to ClickBank about that checklist.
- Way back in March one of my suggestions for improving ClickBank's product approval and customer service processes was that, "there should also be a supplementary customer service feedback flow for us to anonymously rank ClickBank personnel's each and every communication so that ClickBank can see which personnel are serving us well (and thereby keeping ClickBank in business) and which personnel are not serving us well (and thereby ruining ClickBank)." Clearly, ClickBank has disregarded this suggestion. Other companies understand how critical it is to get customers' feedback on each individual customer service rep's behavior and performance. They consistently solicit such feedback after every interaction with their customers. But ClickBank doesn't do anything like that in their product approval process. ClickBank's policy still seems to be to remain oblivious to such matters. Thus, they continue to employ a mix of competent, helpful product approval reps and incompetent, brazenly unethical ones that should have been fired long ago. So I reiterate my suggestion that ClickBank needs to solicit such feedback on their product approval reps.