Do you endorse products you've never tried?

21 replies
I read through a review site of several internet marketing products today. It was clear from the text that the reviewer was brand new to internet marketing, had not actually purchased or used the products, and had no personal knowledge of the product producers.
Despite that, the reviewer rated each of the products, giving a grade or ranking to each one, strongly recommending the one that came out on top. Each of the links was an affiliate link, of course.

I know that review sites are a popular model in affiliate marketing. If you offer review sites, how do you ethically review a product unless you've used it? Have you successfully made sales from review sites like this? Were you ever persuaded by this kind of review site?

Beyond review sites, I get tons of emails every week from affiliates raving about products that haven't been even been released yet, by marketers they don't actually know. (Not speaking here about jv's that are given preview copies, etc).

Isn't this the model of nearly every affiliate network since affiliates aren't required to purchase a product to sell it?

Not to take this too far, since every store worldwide sells products the owners have never tried, but, in the im industry where the claims can be so persuasive, and so much is based on trust and building relationships, is the bar a little higher?
#affiliatiate marketing #endorse #products #review sites
  • Profile picture of the author UKTim29
    I know what you mean.

    What I find funny is when you read this forum and see a newbie saying "How can I earn money from the net" but they have a sig saying "see how I earn 10K a week"!!!

    Always makes me laugh!
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  • Profile picture of the author CurtisN
    I personally strongly dislike review sites because most people who create them follow a formula while making them: Put the most profitable one first and give it a 4.9 stars and write a glowing review with a little thing they could've done better. Then the other two, for example, get 4.7 and 4.4, but they're good too! Review sites, IMHO, are intrinsically unethical because a real review would only feature one product and would go into a lot more detail than a simple blurb.

    Those raving affiliates that you mentioned probably aren't actually raving, but merely sent you swipe emails. I always get a good laugh when I see the same email in my inbox a few times and I laugh even harder when some of them forget to replace [FNAME] with my name.

    Of course, this isn't always the case. Some products are much easier to review or to promote. An ebook entitled "Super Web 2.0 Affiliate Apple Explosion" would be much harder to review than a piece of software called "Directory Submitter Pro". You obviously have to take into account how much info there is on the salespage or if there was a lot of pre-launch material.

    So yeah, I guess the bar is a little higher. I suppose those who go over and beyond get rewarded with trust, respect, and ultimately more cash.
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    • Profile picture of the author Charles E. White
      I don't understand how anyone could endorse a product they have never used or tried. How exactly is that a good testimonial?
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  • Profile picture of the author winebuddy
    I never review a product unless I've bought it and used it or the info in it.
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  • Profile picture of the author RDGatchel
    I have never directly recommended anything that I have never used myself.

    NOW ... if I have close friends or colleagues that HAVE used a product or service and A DIFFERENT friend or colleague asks about it. I try to connect these folks.

    BUT ... I NEVER RECOMMEND ANYTHING I DON'T USE or HAVE NOT USED!
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    • Profile picture of the author Tom B
      Banned
      It would depend on the person that created the product.

      I would recommend but still tell people that I didn't purchase nor use the product but know the author has been known for his/her high quality offerings.
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  • Profile picture of the author InternetM39482
    No, I don't endorse products that I haven't tried.

    It's totally unjust towards those who buy from your recommendation. And I agree with CurtisN's post thoroughly.
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  • Profile picture of the author patchua17
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    • Profile picture of the author creative producer
      Originally Posted by winebuddy View Post

      I never review a product unless I've bought it and used it or the info in it.
      Originally Posted by Charles E. White View Post

      I don't understand how anyone could endorse a product they have never used or tried. How exactly is that a good testimonial?
      Originally Posted by RDGatchel View Post

      I have never directly recommended anything that I have never used myself.

      NOW ... if I have close friends or colleagues that HAVE used a product or service and A DIFFERENT friend or colleague asks about it. I try to connect these folks.

      BUT ... I NEVER RECOMMEND ANYTHING I DON'T USE or HAVE NOT USED!
      That's good networking and a service to both parties.

      Originally Posted by Thomas Belknap View Post

      It would depend on the person that created the product.

      I would recommend but still tell people that I didn't purchase nor use the product but know the author has been known for his/her high quality offerings.
      Yes, when you know someone well and can vouch for the level of quality in their past products, that's useful info. I have bought products sight unseen strictly on my trust in the seller. That kind of loyalty and trust doesn't come easily, though and its hard to transfer to a 3rd party.

      Originally Posted by Swastik View Post

      No, I don't endorse products that I haven't tried.

      It's totally unjust towards those who buy from your recommendation. And I agree with CurtisN's post thoroughly.
      Originally Posted by patchua17 View Post

      I will not definitely!
      I'm not at all surprised by the high standards of the marketers in this forum. This is what makes this a valuable place to learn and grow. Thanks!
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      "Better to have gotten off my behind and risk falling on my face, than never to have gotten off my behind at all!"-Carrie's Quote of the Moment
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  • Profile picture of the author theshkay89
    i have promoted a programme once or twice not on its merits itself but if the creator has got a solid track record of previous outstanding products so i tell my clients i have used his other products before and they were all excellent.

    maybe someone should create a website called imtrackrecord.com and like review products along with the creators track records..
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    • Profile picture of the author creative producer
      Originally Posted by UKTim29 View Post

      I know what you mean.

      What I find funny is when you read this forum and see a newbie saying "How can I earn money from the net" but they have a sig saying "see how I earn 10K a week"!!!

      Always makes me laugh!
      Exactly!

      Originally Posted by CurtisN View Post

      I personally strongly dislike review sites because most people who create them follow a formula while making them: Put the most profitable one first and give it a 4.9 stars and write a glowing review with a little thing they could've done better. Then the other two, for example, get 4.7 and 4.4, but they're good too! Review sites, IMHO, are intrinsically unethical because a real review would only feature one product and would go into a lot more detail than a simple blurb.

      Those raving affiliates that you mentioned probably aren't actually raving, but merely sent you swipe emails. I always get a good laugh when I see the same email in my inbox a few times and I laugh even harder when some of them forget to replace [FNAME] with my name.

      Of course, this isn't always the case. Some products are much easier to review or to promote. An ebook entitled "Super Web 2.0 Affiliate Apple Explosion" would be much harder to review than a piece of software called "Directory Submitter Pro". You obviously have to take into account how much info there is on the salespage or if there was a lot of pre-launch material.

      So yeah, I guess the bar is a little higher. I suppose those who go over and beyond get rewarded with trust, respect, and ultimately more cash.
      One of the reasons I like this forum so much is so many people do go the extra mile to share their direct experience. I respect and appreciate that.

      Originally Posted by theshkay89 View Post

      i have promoted a programme once or twice not on its merits itself but if the creator has got a solid track record of previous outstanding products so i tell my clients i have used his other products before and they were all excellent.

      maybe someone should create a website called imtrackrecord.com and like review products along with the creators track records..
      You may be onto something with a new era in transparency emerging. I do believe integrity is rewarded with repeat purchases as CurtisN said.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lindsay Brynn
    I would only recommend products I've actually used.

    I have promoted sites that I haven't used because I don't need to use them. But in these cases I still buy the product and make sure it is something helpful. And I also don't actually write a review but more of an Overview of what the product is with bullet points and a quick summary.
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  • Profile picture of the author shorwood
    When I am planning on writing a review for a product, I always request a copy from the merchant. Over 80% of the time I get a response and the merchant gives me a copy of their course. If the merchant doesn't respond, I will not even think about promoting the course, as if they are unwilling to respond to me, an affiliate who could make them a lot of money, then I doubt they will treat their customers well. If they respond but are not willing to give me a copy because they have never heard of me (as 99.99999% of the world hasn't), then I will look at other reviews of the product and if it looks good I will purchase it.

    I then go through the material and determine what I think of it. When I write my review, I write it completely honestly, with no intention of selling, but instead with the intention of informing, as I would like to build a good reputation. I state the products good points and its bad points and I state where I disagree and why. I never rate it with stars, I just state exactly what is involved and what I think and let the reader decide for themselves.

    I also completely ignore the cost of a product when I compare it to other products. I recently enter a niche (don't want to say which one as I don't want competition :-) ), and I determined that I wanted to choose between two products to promote. I got a copy of both, and determined which one I believed was better. It ended being the product that paid out $20 less per sale, but I am heavily promoting that product right now, as I truly believe it is a better product.

    I have once promoted a product that I had not purchased or seen, but I did not write a review. I sent an email only to my list, I did not promote it anywhere else, as I have built a relationship (I think) with the people on my list. I told them that the certain product had just been released, and that I had seen what it was supposed to do and it looked great. I then told them that I had heard some great reviews from close friends of mine, but that I had seen, tried out or purchased the product, but I knew the creator and believed it would be a great product. I also requested that if they purchased and found it to be a poor quality product, that they email me and let me know, so I could tell the rest of my list not to purchase.

    That is the only time I have ever promoted a product that I had not purchased. I made I only promoted it to my list, as they know me better than a stranger who stumbles upon my website, and I made it perfectly clear that I had not tested it out myself.

    I don't plan on ever promoting a product again that I have not tried, and I always promote products based on merit, not on payouts.

    Oh, and I always place my personal experience in the review if possible. I can always tell which affiliates have never actually seen the product before, and I am disgusted by the fact that they are just in it for the money.

    And yes, I believe in the IM industry the bar does need to be higher, especially because people are writing reviews. Sharing a review about a product you have never seen is like a movie critic reviewing a movie that they have never watched.
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    • Profile picture of the author faranak
      is not humanely possible to review everything you want to promote how ever is possible to research the products or the books you want to promote to see what the overall views are .i mean how can any one test 10 anti acne cream or 10 slimming pills and in all honesty what works for one person does not always work for the next person but if you read a 100 or so reviews of it you should have an over all idea
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  • Profile picture of the author karlp295
    Before I provoked a product on any of my websites I request from the owner of copy to freely evaluate and profi you the product before I will put it on my website. Like the original poster said at the beginning of this thread you can immediately tell when somebody's just trying to sell something and they had never even looked are the product. Who would buy something from such a person or such your website? The whole point of a review is to give the reader an honest opinion of a product that the reader will judge whether that product is what he needs or wants. As soon as you realise you can't trust the word if the person who wrote the website you're just leave.
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  • Profile picture of the author ChristianM
    I personally feel the problems come when affiliates try and mislead a prospect - I feel it is fine to provide a researched overview of a product (so long as it is clear to the reader that that is what it is) but as soon as you start getting into situations where the affiliate is claiming that it is based on their own personal opinion then it gets shady. I also thought it was illegal to lie about stuff like that...
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  • Profile picture of the author shorwood
    I agree Christian. It is completely ok to give a researched overview, but you can't call it a review if you have not seen the product. You can compare the stats of different products for things like acne cream to give a good idea of what works and what doesn't, and then you can give a review of the products you have actually seen. And yeah, it is illegal to lie about stuff like that, but it is really difficult to enforce.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Fenty
    sign up to 5 IM'ers list the hot product right now is Niche Blueprint...You will probably get your inbox raped by people promoting it but have never bought the course...yet there "guru's?"
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  • Profile picture of the author mikemcmillan
    I must disagree with every post here--although I do respect and understand what you are saying.

    Here is why I say this. Suppose a new product's launch date is tomorrow. Now, suppose I have set up a blog to promote the product as an affiliate and when one enters the name of the product in Google my blog shows up in the #4 position on the first page.

    Now, someone could simply go to the publisher's page for the product (which is likely the #1 position in the AdWords ads if it is a decent product launch). In fact they probably will. But most smart buyers will also go to review or pre-sell sites to actually buy the product. Why? Because they know that every successful affiliate out there is offering huge bonuses if a visitor buys through a link on their review or pre-sell page.

    Indeed, it is ludicrous to buy directly from the publisher because you can get a ton of freebies from buying through an affiliate's site.

    I have openly admitted in many cases that I have not seen the product I have a pre-sell page for to my visitors. They already know what it is or they wouldn't have done a Google search to find affiliate pages like mine. But many will buy from me because I offer huge bonuses.

    Now, many publishers will give you a free copy of their ebook if they know you will promote it. I usually give them links to a dozen or so other products I am promoting so they can see that I do, in fact, promote products as an affiliate.

    Also, remember, (and a lot of affiliates forget this) your job on a review or pre-sell page is not to SELL the product. It is to raise curiosity and get the visitor to the publisher's page through your affiliate link. It is the job of the publisher to give the hard sell on the product.

    Just my opinion.
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  • Profile picture of the author artwebster
    The question here, surely, should be why we allow the sale of ebooks by so-called gurus that tell internet marketers that the way to make money is to create a review site and then give the forumula or template to use.

    Doesn't this give the putative internet marketer confirmation that anything goes in the IM world?

    I used to rely on reviews to learn about products but now, Google any product and you will see hundreds of 'review sites' - many of which will have the word 'scam' in the title - another guru inspired element.
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    • Profile picture of the author JazzOscar
      Originally Posted by artwebster View Post

      The question here, surely, should be why we allow the sale of ebooks by so-called gurus that tell internet marketers that the way to make money is to create a review site and then give the forumula or template to use.
      -----
      Not only the formula or template. They may give or sell ready made review packs for well known products too.

      It may well be that the so-called guru has done a thorough review of the products, but that don't make me comfortable using those reviews as my own.
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  • Profile picture of the author jeewant
    Originally Posted by creative producer View Post

    I read through a review site of several internet marketing products today. It was clear from the text that the reviewer was brand new to internet marketing, had not actually purchased or used the products, and had no personal knowledge of the product producers.
    Despite that, the reviewer rated each of the products, giving a grade or ranking to each one, strongly recommending the one that came out on top. Each of the links was an affiliate link, of course.

    I know that review sites are a popular model in affiliate marketing. If you offer review sites, how do you ethically review a product unless you've used it? Have you successfully made sales from review sites like this? Were you ever persuaded by this kind of review site?

    Beyond review sites, I get tons of emails every week from affiliates raving about products that haven't been even been released yet, by marketers they don't actually know. (Not speaking here about jv's that are given preview copies, etc).

    Isn't this the model of nearly every affiliate network since affiliates aren't required to purchase a product to sell it?

    Not to take this too far, since every store worldwide sells products the owners have never tried, but, in the im industry where the claims can be so persuasive, and so much is based on trust and building relationships, is the bar a little higher?

    This is one of the most common cons of working with those you do not know. People reading such posts are not fools and therefore, marketers reviewing products they have never tried should realize that by doing such unethical marketing, they are not only stooping down on their business ethics; rather, they are also loosing on some hard-earned (or hard to earn) reputation.
    Personally, I would never review a product that I have never used.
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