Why I Asked For My Money Back On The Pipeline Profits Co-Registration System
Update, May 2, 2007: I attended the System Seminar last weekend, and had a chance to talk to Buck and tell him my concerns about my experience. And he couldn't have been nicer. From what I gathered, he is a nice guy who found himself in a very difficult situation with the money back guarantee situation(the initial offer page had mistakenly offered a year money back when they had meant to only offer a 30 day money back guarantee) due to pressure both from his merchant account (to limit any refunds to a 30 day period) and to pay out to his affiliate partners in a similar short time frame. He still is very enthusiastic about the Pipeline Profits System, and is working on getting out case studies to show people how it has worked for some of their students. What did I take away from this? That their System still may be something you want to check out if you are looking for a different way of finding online prospects than the PPC advertising (Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, etc.) And I do feel better about their company after talking to Buck. He seems to be a guy who genuinely cares about his customers and feels bad about what happened.
I'll tell you, I really had high hopes about the Pipeline Profits Co-Registration System that Buck Rizvi and Brock Felt put out in the middle of January 2007. What intrigued me was that co-registration was a whole different web based way to drive people to our website. While I love PPC, at some point you kind of reach the limit to the targeted traffic that you can drive to your site. There are only so many keywords that convert for any particular product profitably. So when I heard about these guys program and learned more about co-registration, I was very interested since it looked like a whole new stream of traffic I could dip into for my web customers.
I really didn't know anything about co-registration before coming across these guys (Brad Fallon's newsletter hyped them), and I have to admit I was pretty skeptical once I understood how co-registration worked. Unlike PPC, people who would happen across our ad on a co-registration website would not necessarily have any particular interest in our product. They just have gone to a website that offers some sort of free or other incentive for people to register with that website. And then as part of registering with that site, people are shown a bunch of different ads and can decide (or sometimes they are all already selected and you would have to opt out) to click on the ad to ask for more information (a free gift maybe, a free report, etc). These leads are then forwarded to you and you pay for them on a per lead basis.
Once you get the leads, you need to get them to your website - so you would need to set up an autoresponder series, etc. So there are a lot of hoops to jump through to get this method of traffic to convert that just aren't there for PPC. The leads aren't warm (they haven't put in a search term that was particularly related to your product), they don't go directly to your website (instead the email address is given to you and you need to follow-up), if you don't follow-up immediately, according to Brock (they partner who really knows the ins and outs of co-registration and claims a lot of success doing large co-registration campaigns), you have little chance to get any conversion on your ad (so you have to set up a way to immediatly get your lead to your autoresponder, not get the email blocked as spam, not get identified as a spammer by the ISPs, etc.), your email must be compelling to get people to click through to your website (whereas with PPC they go to the website directly), and of course your landing page must convert as well (this is the same with PPC - but you can much more easily play with conversion of the landing page by testing different version to specific keywords, etc). Top this off that they price per lead is still pretty high with co-registration (on the Pipeline Profits message board people wrote that they had worked the price down from $1 for a basic name and email lead to .50 cents), and you can see why I was skeptical that this all could work. Even in the best case scenario, Brock said that he got 50% of the people to click to the website over the first 3 - 7 days. This means the price per lead getting to the website is really $1 - which is pretty high territory. I would usually only pay this much for a lead that is really targeted to my product and converts well.
I really can't imagine that a very general lead coming through a co-registration website will convert nearly as well as those coming as from a very targeted PPC keyword. And in fact Brock said you can expect a co-registration campaign to convert about half as well as your PPC campaign. This, then, would double the price relative to a PPC campaign again, raising the price to $2 a click. Pretty heady price per click territory , and one that certainly seemed like a likely deal breaker for all but those website's with high margin products.
But I decided to give it a try anyway - mainly because Brock seemed to really know his stuff, and because the guys where giving a 365 day money back guarantee. I knew on the front side that I just wouldn't be able to get to this sort of a project for a few months (we just have too much going on launching new products till then), but the 365 day money back guarantee won me over and I got in on the launch and snagged one of the 500 spots they were offering.
So imagine my surprise when two weeks or so after buying the Pipeline Profits System I saw on their member message board that the Pipeline Profits guys had unilaterally decided to revoke the 365 day money back trial and instead now the trial was 30 days. They had their reasons (their merchant account wouldn't go along with any longer refund period, someone had put up this version of the web page with the 365 day offer by mistake, they needed to close off refunds after 30 days to pay their joint venture partners, etc), but none of them washed with me (I even wrote them and told them they could cut me a check if they wanted to in order to honor the 365 day guarantee, but they didn't specifically respond to this and just told me the trial was now 30 days).
I just couldn't believe that they had, in effect, sold their system under false pretenses - and hadn't even contacted people about the change. If I hadn't happen to see this on the message board I would have been out of luck. I really still can't believe how amateurishly this change to the money back trial was handled and how cavalier they were about it. To some people almost $2,000 bucks is a lot of money, and bottom line is that you just don't treat your customers this way.
In addition, while the Pipeline Profits guys did get their course up on their website, they hadn't even shipped the physical product almost a month after people had ponied up their nearly $2,000. I've bought other internet marketing courses, and never had this experience. In effect, the now 30 day money back trial was going to be over before you even had the chance to get the physical product. I can't say that this all made me think these guys have their act together. And it did, even though Brock did sound credible in the course materials, undermine the perception of their general competence and how reliable their information and claims are. If you mess up your big product launch like this, it just makes you seem less credible in all other ways.
What finally pushed me over to asking for my money back? Really it was the change in the 365 day money back trial. I really hadn't planned on using the course for a few months, and now I would be stuck with it if the system didn't work out. And given my deep misgivings about the general practicality of the system, I just wasn't willing to toss out my $2,000 on a hope and prayer. I guess if I had any notion that this might work for my business I might have stayed around, but search though I might on the message board there was not one person that had as of yet posted a success story. There were plenty that had posted messages about their frustrations in getting good prices for the leads, or their general problems in getting the right kind of networks to pu their ads on, not one person said they had had any success. And people did ask about this - and the silence was deafening. And while I might understand this given that those who bought when I did had just under a month to put the system into place, others had bought the system a few months earlier and they also had not yet reported any success.
My take on this? I really still feel Brock knows his stuff, and may have done the sort of business with this system that he claimed. But based on the numbers you would probably only make good money on the system if you have a very strong back end that really throws a lot of additional money to your bottom line. I just can't see where driving traffic to a one sale product page will, in general, be profitable. It is hard enough to get these kind of PPC conversions to be profitable, but here you have much less targeted leads and you pay just about as much or more for these co-registration leads than you do for the keywords through PPC.
Would I recommend this course? I did learn a lot, and I do think Brock knows his stuff. But I'm still very troubled by their lack of integrity by just ignoring their 365 day money back trial. And until they have some independently verified success stories showing their system can work for different kind of internet products (not just health products or business opportunity products that Brock has sold) then I remain very skeptical.