The Cancer In IM:1 Year Later

Amazingly, it’s been almost a year since I wrote this post on the cancer in Internet Marketing. When I went back looking for it, I expected to find it listed 6 months ago. Has this year flown or what?!

I’m happy to report that somehow – remarkably – all of our efforts did something. The cancer we have in Internet Marketing has taken a beating. Really a lot has happened in the past 12 months in regard to this whole saga. Bigger changes than I’ve seen in the 6 years I’ve been doing this.

Some things have gotten better, some things have gotten worse. There are new challenges now, new scams too. Just more to look out for all around. I thought I’d take a good post to spell out a bunch of what I’ve seen, and what you need to keep an eye on if you’re still trying to learn this game & make a living for yourself online.

1. The Snake Oil Salesmenn Move On…

The old fables about the traveling huckster salesmen go that when people catch on to their scam in one town, they’re forced to move on to another where the people are fresh, unassuming, and fail to see their lies again. That’s kind of what’s happened in the town called Internet Marketing this past 12 months.

You guys really did start voting with your refunds – and it affected the entire industry.

Refund rates went up on all IM products across the board. Regardless of the seller too. Bad guys AND good guys noticed this. On our own last product – Unstoppable Affiliate –  despite getting rave reviews everywhere and being the best product we’ve ever released, our refund rate was more than double our historical average. That was saddening to me, but I totally get it. People trying to learn internet marketing are simply jaded, and rightly so. I’ve confirmed with other marketers I respect and they have reported the same rates.

This caused many “gurus” a lot of grief and they started to seek out greener pastures. The guys who were getting 50% refund rates on their product launches started to think that there had to be a better way to make easy money.


2. The Sheriffs Started Slingin’ Guns

The powers that be also started to get suspicious. By powers that be, I mean payment processors.

Midway through the year, a handful of big name IMers started to think that if Clickbank was going to start cracking down on them (which they’d threatened to do but not yet done) and if they were going to make it so easy to get a refund, they’d move to another processor. Their target was Plimus.

A few multi-million dollar launches happened on Plimus, but with predictable results: High refund rates, and a lot of complaints. Plimus processes a lot of $$ for non IM niches but the level of heat they got from credit card companies over it was through the roof. Plimus was forced to ban all online business/IM related merchants, which they did in an instant. They had far less to lose from the sale volume than Clickbank so it was an easy decision.

So IM scammers with their crappy products single-handedly ruined a potential payment processor for another bunch of well meaning sellers.

Things were heating up hard.

A couple of months later, and under great pressure, Clickbank was to follow suit.

They didn’t ban all IM merchants but they imposed the strictest rules on them since their inception as a processor. No fake actors in sales letters, no exaggerated claims, no this, no that. A LOT of IM offers were forced to remove themselves from the market because they couldn’t comply. The ones that remained had to change their copy up in BIG ways.

Then – icing on the cake – they imposed penalties on vendor accounts with refund rates over 15%. That is, almost ALL IM merchants, period. There might be 2% of IM/biz-op offers that have refund rates below that level. This again caused many of those sellers to decide Clickbank was no longer feasible and go in search of other options.

These are HUGE changes.

The end result of course, is a much nicer market for all of us to learn in. Well, a little nicer anyway…

3. Casualties

Unfortunately, the high refund rates across the board, the changing rules of processors, and the insanity in the market in general made IM a harder place to sell stuff. As a result, a few good, well meaning guys decided it wasn’t worth it any more. They went off to sell other stuff to easier markets.

We lost some good teachers and leaders in that process, so while we’ll let them remain nameless, let us here remember and salute them.

4. What Remains Of The Gurus?

Here’s what happened to the gurus we all love to hate. They either:

a) Moved to the business opportunity market.

Remember the first time you saw an ad like “Make $3000 a month working from home?” how excited you were? At that time, you were in the business opportunity market. Hopeful, unfazed, excited by sales hype… ready to buy NOW!

Those guys realized that group of people are just much easier to sell to and they moved on to that town. Some “good” guys even did that too. It’s a bigger market where easier sales can be made and you can provide the buyers with less information for their money. Sounds like an easy gig right? Too bad the likelihood is that before long, the same thing will happen as what happened when the IMers moved payment processors… they destroyed them. Perhaps that market is too big and too old for that, but that all remains to be seen.

b) They Became a “Good Guy”

You’ve seen this right? Now all of a sudden, EVERYONE emailing you is claiming to be “against the gurus”… EVERYONE is “sick of the scams in IM”, everyone is “fed up with product launches”, and blahdie blah blah.

It’s a joke. They’ve picked up on the sentiment of their market and they’re pandering to you. Many of them are the very same “bad guys” that customers are rallying against in forums and on blogs across the internet.

Be careful of this, reader. As I’ve always said: Choose who you listen to wisely.

c) They went bankrupt.

Not kidding. More than a couple of big name marketers went out of business in the past year for precisely the reasons we’re discussing. Many more who didn’t, resorted to some of the lowest acts they’ve ever committed. Desperation stuff in the name of survival. To say that it’s been crazy times is an understatement.

5. Where To From Here?

Here’s the situation:

You’ve got a big bunch of fed up people who still want to learn how to make good money online, but don’t know where to turn. And you’ve got less people wanting to provide them the right information because it’s difficult to do so.

Here’s what I think we’re going to see because of that…

I think in the next 12 months we’re going to see LESS product launches than the year previous. Less emails flooding your inbox, that’s a good thing, right?

But it’s still going to be messy.

Now that a lot of these guys are meshing lists with people in the biz op market, you’ll also probably get a few emails for products on paid surveys, or “data entry” work at home jobs. I hope if you’re reading this, you know what to do with those.

You’re going to see some “rising stars” in internet marketing. New teachers who haven’t been round for as long, who are happy to get paid less to teach good online marketing info while they make a name for themselves in the biz. Make your judgements on these guys as they come along. They probably haven’t been around as long as more established experts, and their methods may not be proven to ride out the inevitable storms that go along with online business. Proceed with caution.

And finally, you’re going to see a lot of “new” strategies. Many desperate ones, some decent ones.

The backdrop to this whole story is that actually making money online became harder this year. It became harder for affiliates, harder for SEOs, harder for media buyers, harder for content creators. The internet changed again! And a lot of people are running scared from many methods.

As a result you’ll see new ideas coming up for making an easy buck. You know what to do with those. But hopefully you’ll see people innovating on traditional methods (like content marketing) to make them more profitable and more stable too. That part I look forward to.

Final (More Positive) Word

So that you don’t walk away wanting to give up on life, let’s end this on an important positive note…

Make no mistake: Internet business is still the best legitimate income/lifestyle maximization opportunity that exists. This business is awesome; anyone can have it; it’s still there for the taking.

In fact, online business is still in it’s infancy.

If we want to learn it, and keep getting better at it, we need do nothing more than follow the information of people we can trust, and compare notes based on the experience of our own ACTIONS.

Consider the changes of the past year one more obstacle (partly) out of your way. A clearer path awaits you.

To your success!


  1. says

    Cool post Andrew. I too noticed a lot of the snake oil salesmen with their push button software disappear.. thank goodness.

    I didn’t notice any increase of refund requests.. than again, I don’t sell too many high ticket items.

    The only thing I an whinging about is email marketing.. I saw a massive drop in open and CT rates from my lists.

    I’m trying to fix that with all new lead generation methods (no more giveaways or ad swaps with shady marketers)… Also, trying other markets besides the MMO crowd.

    @Chris Rempel – I like that idea about the 2 camps in the IM crowd. I definitely agree. There are those on the sidelines watching and then those who are in the game. It took me a while to realize that and it feels a lot better to sell to those serious people. And it’s hard to be an entertainer unless you have long blonde hair and pretend to be a surfer.


  2. Terry Ackroyd says

    Great post Andrew!
    You are so right and this is the reason I have moved out of IM and now concentrate on publishing Kindle books. Quite a long learning curve with regard to formatting etc, but once you get going, revenue just grows and grows month by month with guranteed traffic.I would never go back again.

  3. says

    Great post, Andrew, as always. I don’t agree to everything, like e.g. new names we’ll see will be people with a short experience in Internet marketing. I will not give examples here, but it’s not always the case. And sometimes you get surprised by learning that old well-known names in this business only recently gave up their day job.

    @Richard Sittel – You write: “Now when you see a glowing review on a product then check your email, you see the shill is an affiliate!”

    I don’t know about you, but I *only* recommend products to my list that I can be able to write a glowing review about. I would never recommend buying a lousy product just to make some money.

    Does this make me a scammer?

    Or are you assuming that all glowing reviews are scam, just because there is an affliate system available?

    Your choice, of course.

    I know what I stand for, and I know others, too, like Tiffany Dow, who are able to write honest reviews AND recommend the product at the same time. (Or to write honest reviews and NOT recommend the product, because there’s something wrong about it.)

    • says

      Hey Britt – I’m with you. There’s also a group that HAVE been doing things for a while, that have deep experience that are slowly making their way out of the woodworks and really being discovered by people. I hope to see more of those in the following year.

  4. says

    one of the trends you alluded to i think could benefit from more “hansen expansion “, was/is the emergence of truly “underground(but ethical) marketers” who (rightly) see
    and detest the “cancer”, and are offering truly solid(and usually low priced) advice/products.

    I’ve personally benefitted from from two such marketers. One of whom, replies personally to my mails. often within minutes!

    so…take this is more positivity for the IM future.

  5. Nicola says

    Hey Andrew,

    That was a great post! Let me also say I love your UA program. I’ve hands down made more money from it than any other program I’ve ever followed. Totally awesome 🙂

    One selling platform that you didn’t mention and that, in my opinion anyway, buyers need to be very aware of are the WSO’s at the Warrior Forum. Ok, I’ll admit I’m not a fan of that place as I got slapped with a 6 month ban for questioning a scammer (shoot the good guy!) but that is now where a lot of scummy IMer’s are now peddling their wares!

    It’s fool proof for them as well. If you complain you’ll get banned so the refund rate must be really low! I get emails daily from the so called ‘guru’s’ heavily promoting some $7 ebook as the answer to a bulging bank balance. Some are good – many are total codswallop.

    Anyway, keep up the good work. If I ever get emails from you recommending something I feel confident in buyijng that product without having to scrutinize the sales copy.

    If it’s from Andrew – it’s kosher! 🙂


    • says

      Thanks Nicola – I really appreciate that.

      Yeah the WSO forum has been terrible for a while but it’s getting worse. Ohh just scanning the headlines there make my stomach churn. And many a “guru” is now finding themselves back there trying to start from scratch again. Crazy world.

  6. says

    Hi Andrew: As I take up my tasks for today ala UA, it’s eye-opening to read all of this. As other comments point out: the good news is that what is solid and honest will prevail. As a newbie on the scene, thank goodness I started out with you and Josh and your UA coaching course. I have faith that if I do everything that UA teaches I will have a legitimate site producing good revenues for all the effort I’m willing to invest. If it weren’t for you and the excellent colleagues you recommend, I’d be drowning in offers and in confusion about what I should be doing. Keep posting and help us steer in the right direction. Thank you!

  7. says

    Great post Andrew!
    I didn’t realize that so many people returned digital stuff. But must say I have – and I’ve felt guilty every time!
    Your Unstoppable Affiliate Coaching was one I definitely didn’t return, and although I haven’t made any sales yet, your coaching is the beginning of me finally implementing all the stuff I’ve been learning.
    I just hope that profitable affiliate marketing doesn’t become out of reach before I make enough money to rinse and repeat.
    Like Pawel above, your emails are one of the few that get into my in box!

  8. says

    Ask for a refund for UNSTOPPABLE AFFILIATES? You just be joking, Andrew!

    When I first saw the program, I thought it was just a crappy little thing – but I bought it anyhow. Turns out it’s AWESOME! It’s one of the best training programs I’ve worked with.

    I’m implementing the stuff as I go through the material. Have created an affiliate niche site this month and made $135 so far (with 40 trial downloads which will hopefully convert into sales). And I’m on no.1 Google for the exact match keyphrase I used.

    I love the idea of creating niche sites. It’s an awesome strategy. It’s also an interesting exercise to apply the strategies of affiliate niche marketing to established blogs.

    I’m a blogger and work with bloggers – and I think we are sitting on top of goldmines. We just need to mine the gold…. with integrity.

    Thanks again for your super product, Andrew!
    – Mary

  9. says

    Hi Andy,

    Funny that you are taking credit for this. The truth is people stopped buying because of recession and nothing else. Stop promoting yourself as the good guy cause we all know what stuff you put out when it comes to IM.

    • says

      Where exactly did I take credit for it?

      I’d say that “people aren’t buying because it’s a recession” is a bit of an “unsubstantiated claim”… wouldn’t you?

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