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CB Account Manager

Over the past few years, I've enjoyed a very nice income stream via ClickBank, both selling as an affiliate and selling my own products. But ClickBank, although it's a very reliable online payments processor, produces very poor sales statistics.

I'm a great believer in driving my business partially on business information. Because of Clickbank's restricted reporting, I've had to set up some highly complex spreadsheets to manage my sales information, and it's very time consuming.

"CB Account Manager" ("CBAM") seems to solve a lot of my problems. In a nutshell, CBAM does two things:

  • It downloads all of your sales information from ClickBank and lets you analyse it in a variety of ways (including extracting the email addresses of your customers). This is limited (by ClickBank) to the past 12 months of data.
  • It lets you interrogate the ClickBank products database to help you find other affiliate products to promote.

Installation

CBAM runs on your web server, not your computer (which means that Mac users can use it as well as Windows users). It's not tricky to set up but you do need to be able to:

  • Set up a MySql Database
  • Upload files to and create a new folder on your web server
  • Change the "permissions" of files and folders on your web server.

If you can't do this, "Market Soft", the suppliers of CBAM offer an inexpensive installation service.

Before you upload the files, you need to enter your MySQL details into one of the files. Windows Notepad is fine for doing this.

Once you've uploaded everything, you use your browser to go to an "install" file on the system, and everything is set up for you.

The installation instructions are very clear to follow, and the whole process took me about 15 minutes.

Using The Software

Rather than merely write about the product, I thought it might be helpful to show you a few screen shots. I was intending to produce a video showing it in use, but I'd be revealing too much confidential information!

Setting Up Accounts
The first thing you must do is to set up an account on your system, using your ClickBank username and password. If you have more than one CB account, CBAM lets you set up multiple accounts on the system, but they can't be amalgamated.

Updating The Databases
Before you can do anything, CBAM needs to grab all the data from ClickBank, using your account details. This a simple click of a button:

Retrieving sales data from ClickBank took a few minutes, and the system fell over at one point (probably at the ClickBank end). You then have to click the other button to download the ClickBank products database. This was faster than I thought it would be.

Generating Sales Reports
There's a wide range of reporting functions available:

With most of them, you select a range of parameters. For the "Profit Report", for example, you simply select a date range:

One minor gripe I have about this is that the month & day boxes aren't labeled. Not everyone uses the same date format! The Profit Report generated this page (some items have been concealed for confidentiality reasons:

The Customer Sales Database Report lets you select individual affiliate products. Here's a report I generated from the sales of one small product I promote through just a few pages of my Marketing Magic website. No, I don't mind telling you that this generated over $400 last year! (Not bad for the 15 minutes it took me to set up a couple of years ago!):

The Email List Report is very useful. You can view it as a text file on screen or download it - also as a text file or, as a CSV file, ready to import the data into an autoresponder.

Generating ClickBank Product Reports
This almost looks like a last-minute add-on, although it's very useful. If you want to search for products to promote, you can set certain parameters, such as keywords, minimum commissions, and so on. Here's one search I set up, looking for products with keywords "website" and "design" and with affiliate earnings of more than $30:

The search, which was very quick, produced 5 results:

One neat thing I liked about this report is that it automatically generates your affiliate link to the product. Just right-click on the vendor name and select "Copy Shortcut" and it's ready to paste in wherever you like. Nice touch!

I hope that's given you a good idea about what CBAM can do. There's lots more reports I haven't shown here, including one that you can customise. So - what are the pluses and minuses about CBAM?

What I Liked About CBAM

  • It worked right from the start. It can be very annoying (and time consuming) to find that software doesn't work, and web based software is particularly prone to falling down. But CBAM gave me no trouble at all - except for one little error when it was building the sales database.
  • It's an enormous improvement on ClickBank's reporting. As I said earlier, CB's reporting system is very primitive. You can only view one month at a time and you can't drill down into the reports. But CBAM gives you complete control over your CB stats.
  • It's easy and intuitive to use. (Just as well, because there's no manual - see below). Most of the time I had no problem sorting out what to do and how to do it.
  • It generates information quickly. This is because both sets of data (sales and product data) are stored on your own web server and don't have to be fetched from ClickBank when you need it. A small downside is that you have to remember to refresh each database before you use it. However, after the initial build, I found that the refresh was very quick.

What I Didn't Like About CBAM

  • The lack of a manual. OK, so it's easy to use and I had no problems. There's a "help" link in the software but it leads to a web page with just a couple of advice points and a link to a help desk! CBAM is very new (as I write this in April 2006) so maybe there are plans to put up some more help pages in the near future. As I said, the installation instructions, in a ReadMe text file, are very easy to follow.
  • Some minor inconsistencies in the user interface. E.g. sometimes a previously entered date range is remembered, sometimes not. And, when you've selected one or more items from a drop-down list (to filter reports), when you return to run another filter, there's no way to de-select the previous selections. I think these might have been corrected recently. I need to check. But it's not a 'wrecker'!
  • No facility to download reports. It would be useful if each report could be downloaded as a "CSV" file to import into a spreadsheet. The list of email addresses can be downloaded, and it is in a comma-separated format. But this is the only downloadable report.
  • The size of the header banner. Yes, it's a small point! But why have it so large? It doesn't need to advertise anything and it just takes up screen space.

Conclusions

My only complaints about CBAM are relatively minor, and I enjoyed working with the software right from the start. I can see it saving me a lot of time in the future and giving me better quality information on which I can base my decisions and plan future strategies.

If you only sell a few products each month, or if your affiliate income is tiny, then CB Account Manager is not for you.

But if you've built - or are either building an affiliate marketing business or developing the sales of your own products using ClickBank as your main payment processor, then you should definitely consider buying CBAM. At the time of writing (April 2006) the software is being sold at a low "launch" price. It's very affordable!

Find Out More About CB Account Manager Here

 

 
   

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