How to avoid popular affiliate marketing scams
The numerous legit affiliate marketing schemes out there sometimes get bad press because they’re wrongly grouped in together with a small number of affiliate scams that operate to catch out the unwary and take their money.
Knowing how to avoid affiliate marketing scams is vital for anyone who is considering joining a scheme, but it isn’t always easy to spot affiliate fraudsters in action if you’re not familiar with the industry.
Internet marketing fraud is big business, and whilst the vast majority of affiliate schemes are genuine and above board, a small minority of online marketing scams operate alongside of them to target unwary would-be affiliates who are keen to start earning – but who soon find themselves out of pocket instead.
Learning about the most common affiliate marketing scams, avoiding them, and knowing how to spot a genuine offer when confronted with it will help you to avoid the pitfalls, and choose an affiliate program that will actually allow you to make money.
In this article, we will look at the main internet marketing scams to avoid, and share some affiliate marketing scams examples to give you a head start. Read on to learn more.
How you might become a target for affiliate marketing scams
Affiliate marketing fraud is by no means common within the industry as a whole, but it is high-profile enough to gain a lot of press attention and cast a negative light on the entire affiliate business model when it does occur.
Knowing where affiliate fraudsters tend to operate and who they target can help you to recognise a deal that seems too good to be true, and lets you avoid affiliate marketing scams in action.
You can find a wide range of marketing scams on Facebook and other social media sites that are designed to grab your attention with the chance to get rich quick, but that then harvest your personal data to sell on to fraudsters who may empty your bank account or use your details to obtain credit.
Data harvesting schemes and fraudsters that want to gain access to your account data or personal information will often place ads for new affiliates that guarantee success – something that no genuine affiliate scheme will do. They may also reach out directly to prospects using Facebook messenger and other social media direct messaging portals, taking the time to personalise their approach to make it seem more plausible.
Your personal information and data are valuable – don’t give it out to strangers on the internet.
Five affiliate marketing programs that are scams
As well as fraudsters that try to con you out of your personal information using fake affiliate schemes as bait, there are also several other approaches that affiliate fraudsters may use to try to part you from your money.
If you want to avoid affiliate marketing scams, here are five types of patterns to look out for.
Fake affiliate training courses
There’s a lot to learn when you first get started in affiliate marketing, and to succeed in the business, you’ll have to put yourself on a steep learning curve to get ahead.
There is no cookie-cutter approach that universally works for every product or niche, and there is no one right or wrong way to become an affiliate marketer – it is a lifelong learning process. However, when you start doing your research online, you will almost certainly come across a number or apparent affiliate training courses that purport to share all of the secrets that successful affiliates don’t want you to know to make a profit – for a price.
Fake affiliate training courses will take your money with the promise of telling you everything you need to know to start affiliate marketing successfully – but this is information that you can find out for yourself for free. If you do get anything at all from the scammer, it is unlikely to be true, relevant, or objective – and the chances are, you won’t actually get anything useful at all.
Get rich quick schemes
There is a lot of money to be made from affiliate marketing if you do it right and hit upon the winning formula – but nobody can guarantee that you will make your fortune within the business, particularly in a very short timescale.
Get rich quick schemes have been around forever – and they’ve been trapping the unwary for just as long. You might be asked to pay a joining fee to get on board with such a scheme, or even be offered membership for free – but it’s not free if you spend a lot of your own time and potentially, money, promoting a scheme that won’t pay out.
Pyramid schemes are a type of multi-level marketing model that is illegal across much of the world – but this doesn’t stop the fraudsters from trying their luck.
Pyramid schemes work by requiring each new member of the scheme to pay a joining fee to gain access to products or services, which they then need to sell on to others, as well as trying to recruit newcomers to the lowest level of the pyramid in their turn.
This is an unsustainable business model, and only the people at the very top of the pyramid make any money – by ripping off the people below them. Ultimately, the members of the lower levels of the pyramid aren’t just being scammed, but are also turned into scammers themselves – so steer well clear.
Paid affiliate sign-ups and “membership clubs”
The core principle of legit affiliate marketing schemes hinges on the scheme paying you for successful sales or acquisitions. Don’t ever lose sight of this – the scheme pays you – you don’t pay them.
If an affiliate scheme charges you a fee to join them or to gain access to better deals, or if they work on a paid membership subscription service, this is an affiliate scam, not an affiliate scheme.
Where’s the product?
When you join an affiliate scheme, you will be selling or marketing specific products or services on their behalf. However, some affiliate scams involve setting up completely fake schemes where no product or service is actually supplied to the end user – your buyer.
The scheme you join must have something tangible to offer, whether that be physical or virtual goods. If the scheme doesn’t make it clear to you what you will be selling, or if they don’t fulfill your orders, it’s a scam.
How to spot online marketing scams
All of the online marketing scams we’ve outlined above have one thing in common – they’re designed to part you from your money. Some scams are easier to identify than others – for instance, if you are told that you have to spend money to join a scheme – while others can be more subtle, such as schemes that are designed to harvest your data or sign you up to try to recruit new affiliates within a pyramid.
Remember, legit affiliate marketing schemes don’t ask you for money, and in order to avoid affiliate marketing scams, you have to be able to critically assess the offers and claims in front of you to make an informed decision.
Never hand over your own money for anything other than your own affiliate adverts and marketing campaigns – and be careful with who you give your personal data to as well.