Info Products, Single Sale vs Rebill, Starcraft II Case Study

by Mike Chiasson on November 16, 2010 · 4 comments

Today I was following up on a post on StackThatMoney.com about his Facebook bidding strategies and I couldn’t help but laugh as his example product was one I had actually promoted in the past.

This got me to thinking about info products and what the better option is, to go Single Sales vs a Rebill product. Allow me to elaborate a bit.

Info products are usually digital downloads of some sort. They can range from software, forums, but typically are down loadable e-books. ‘What is an e-book?’ you ask, well basically it is a PDF…e-book just sounds better than pitching ‘Pay $67 for this Word file I saved as a PDF!’. There are several sites out there specifically for affiliates that ONLY focus on digital downloads. My personal favorite is ClickBank. They have a TON of offers and once you are a member you don’t need approval for about 99% of their offers, you can just throw up a campaign and you are good to go.

A few months ago I was testing out some campaigns on ClickBank to promote the upcoming release of Starcraft II. Starcraft II is a hit sequel to the original video game that sold something like 10 million+ copies. So I figured it should be pretty good potential for a quick campaign. For this campaign I was waaaaay too busy playing the beta release to even worry about making landing pages so I knew I wanted to direct link the products. Therefore I needed a site that had a decent lander of its own and had to have a pretty good payout to beat the CPCs I was going to be paying on Google, Facebook, etc. After looking around I found myself in a small dilemma that I wasn’t quite sure which product to promote. I ended up narrowing it down to two completely separate ‘Guides’.

The two products I was eying were Shokz Guide and Star2Pros Strategy Guide. Below are their ClickBank marketplace listings. These snapshots were taken today and are obviously MUCH different than they were a few months back.

ShockzGuide ClickBank Affiliate Marketplace

Star2Pros ClickBank Affiliate Marketplace

When I was originally looking at these the products had almost identical gravities, their landers were both decent (Shokz has since updated theirs and it looks about 50x better), and there wasn’t too much competition on paid traffic sources. The BIG difference that popped out was Star2Pros avg Sale was $11.92 when I was first looking at it, while Shokz was $19.81. The avg rebill total for Star2Pros was significantly less at the time, almost non-existent, so one would assume that Shokz was the clear winner.

So as any decent internet marketer I decided to promote them both and rotate my offers. I was getting sick CTRs on Facebook and my CPC was like $.04 for certain demographics. Of course those demographics didn’t convert nearly as well as the more expensive ones did….isn’t this always the case. Interestingly enough I got a few sales on the Star2Pros product and none on Shockz. I felt a little uneasy about this because the Star2Pros product was a rebill product, which meant the user would get monthly billed. This typically indicates a forum or a service is included that gets updated…basically if they end up not liking the service they will ask for a refund (all Clickbank products come with a 30/60 day refund policy).

Unfortunately for me this campaign ended up going bust since some big name marketers decided to use an almost identical set of ads on a product launch of theirs and pitched things like ‘YOU CAN COPY THIS CAMPAIGN AND MAKE MONEY NOW, TRY IT!’…there goes my volume. However the experience definitely let me experience some issues with the rebill model as compared to a standard sale model.

Standard Sales Model on ClickBank

  • Person buys products, you get commission. This is usually anywhere from 25-75% of the purchase price.
  • Person has 60 days to request a refund. If they wait until day 59…you still lose 100% of your commission.
  • Unless you previously harvested their email on a landing page, you will never get business from this customer again (well you actually can see their email address in your clickbank sales but to use that to remarket is ‘questionable’).

Rebill Sales Model on ClickBank

  • Person buys products, you get a commission that is probably lower than a standard product.
  • Person has 30 days to cancel the service and request a refund. They will automatically be rebilled the following cycle (usually monthly). Once they are charged for the following cycle they are no longer eligible to request a refund for the prior cycle, they may still cancel and request a refund for the new cycle that was just billed.
  • Receive an additional payout on the monthly rebill, usually very similar to the original payout.
  • You continue to receive cash from the user until they cancel.
  • The user’s satisfaction with the product is out of your hands, you rely on the site owner to keep the subscriber happy.

In my case the payout of the single product would be $19.81 per sale. While the Star2Pros was like $12 recurring. In theory on the second month of a rebill I would’ve made more money than the Shokzguide. I quickly found that direct linking offers like these sucked. It was a lazy mistake, but what can I say, I’m a busy guy. My costs to acquire a sale were just about 2x the initial sale amount. After a bit of target optimization it got to be right about 1.5x the payout. So best case scenario is the user stays subscribed for 2 months and I am right about even with a small portion of profit. 4 Months later I am happy to say that each month I have about a 20% attrition rate. This can be thought of like this:
ClickBank Subscribers Total Value

So as you can see if I am able to maintain this attrition rate I would end up with something about $52 average lifetime value. This is 2.5x the Shockz Guide payout! Obviously this could end up being weighted in several different ways. I am merely displaying how it would look for me given my current stats.

Luckily for me my split testing yielded this as the converting campaign, and I am now at a point where my average subscriber is about $30 total value to me. I am in the green on the campaign and still have a steady monthly incoming coming from a campaign I had paused.

Things to Understand

Lets be realistic. This is not for the faint at heart. There is a lot of risk in putting your advertising budget into something that may take months to recoup! Furthermore like many paid campaigns your volume may dry up before you are able to even know if that particular campaign will be a winner. If 80% of my sales cancelled after the first month I would be in the red hardcore. I think most everyone will agree though that the rebill method rocks because it has the potential to have some long term income as well!

*I ended up purchasing the Star2Pros guide and thought it was absolutely terrible. The quality was no where near the Shokz Guide and the author basically said on every page ‘We are changing some things around so check back next week to see the updates!’. Apparently it works as I have people on their 5th monthly billing cycle lol. I stopped promoting it after actually seeing the product. The traffic was drying up and I really didn’t feel good about promoting an absolute trash product anymore.

About the author

Mike Chiasson Mike Chiasson is the Director of IT for a publicly traded company by day and an Internet Marketer by night. He absolutely hates the words 'serial entrepreneur' but loves discussions about business. You can follow him on Twitter.

shawns November 16, 2010 at 3:16 pm

just now starting to look at promoting clickbank products… what type of lander do you recommend?

review? email capture? farticle?

Mike November 16, 2010 at 7:15 pm

They would all pretty much work. I tend to stay away from Farticles because I seem to have trouble not crossing the line with the stories lol. Reviews work great because it lets you pitch several different products in a comparison so even if they don't go for your item they may go with another one. IE: If I did a review lander of both sites I probably would've picked up sales that had users who didn't feel comfortable paying a monthly fee. With email you would definitely have to incentivize them to sign up.

StackThatMoney November 16, 2010 at 11:51 pm

I didn't kill this campaign!!! Were you profiting?

Mike November 17, 2010 at 12:29 am

Haha no it was Mike Filsaime's product launch that people like Shoemoney were promoting to their email lists. I found on FB my cost to acquire a subscriber was right about $21 with $.05 CPCs!! I was down too much at the time to continue to push it on FB. I then began pushing through some other advertisers that converted a little bit more predictably. Given what I know now I very likely could've continued to run it on FB and been in the green after month 2.

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