How to investigate a product

Posted May 23, 2015 by Brett Rutecky in Training Articles


There are so many IM products that come out every single day that it can be really hard to tell which is a good investment in your business and which is going to just be a waste of your time. While I try to review as many of the big name launches as I can, because I’m only one person and because I spend so much time on each review, its just not possible for me to test everything.

Because of this I wanted to give my top 5 tips on how you can investigate an IM product yourself and make a more informed purchase decision.

#1) Try not to get to hyped about hype: There is always going to be some hype in marketing. Marketers after all want to sell stuff. You can’t expect someone to try to sell something without also trying to get the potential customer excited. However you have to take hype with a grain of salt.

This is especially true about income ‘proof’. All income proof really is, is proof that someone made some money. There is no way at all to prove that the money was made when or how the sales page actually says it was. Here let me give you an example. Check out this screenshot proof that I made over $200,000 this year selling clown figurines online!


But if course I dont sell clown figurines. The point here is that just because you see a screenshot does not mean that its ‘proof’. Photoshop is easy to use and even if the screen shot was not photo shopped as I said there is no way of knowing that the income was really made the way the sales page says it was. When looking at a sales page you really should just ignore any income ‘proof’ graphics. Since they can’t be verified they are worthless.

Also don’t put a lot of stock in words like ‘instant push button results’. Everyone wants instant results. Everyone wants to push a button and start getting a flood of cash to their PayPal accounts. Guess what. It’s not going to happen. Not today, not tomorrow, never ever.

You see wording like this a lot with software. Buy this software, press a button, make money. Well I’m going tell you right now, once and for all. That’s nonsense. No software will ever make you money. Software is a tool. It can help you make money. It can do a job for you. It can make your life more easy or your time more productive. But there never has and never will be a software where you could push a button and make money. I really wish there was. Because I would be pushing that thing all day (instead of typing this article) but the truth is that its just a fairy tail.

So for tip #1. Ignore income proofs, and never forget IM products are tools not magic money buttons.

#2) High pressure sales tactics: This is actually common in all sales not just in IM sales. “Act now or else you might loose out”. Honestly I dont think there is anything wrong with this personally. Trying to build urgency by rewarding the early action takers with a special discount, or an extra bonus or something. As I said before marketers are trying to make sales, that’s why they are marketers. But some marketers take it to far. They take it to the point of dishonesty.

What I’m talking about of course is false scarcity. A good example of false scarcity is a countdown time that tells you that the special offer will end when the timer runs out. But when the timer hits zero all that happens is that it resets. The offer never chances. While some people dont get to bothered by this I personally think it sets a really bad precedent. The first thing the vendor did was lie to you. How can you trust anything they said in the sales page now?

But how can you tell if a countdown timer is real? Well here is one easy way. A lot of these timers will put a cookie on your browser so that if you leave and come back it shows the proper time as if it was a real timer. Because of this closing your browser and coming back to the sales page is not a good way to see if a timer is really false scarcity. But what you can do is open the sales page in a different browser. If the timer does not say the exact same time its pretty solid evidence that its a false scarcity timer.

#3) Ask affiliates questions: Here is something that might surprise you. Lots of affiliates send out marketing emails without ever reviewing the training or testing the software they are telling you to buy. Shocking isn’t it? Not really. The honest truth that there is a lot of ‘you scratch my back, Ill scratch yours’ in the IM world. Especially among product vendors. A lot of people will promote a product just because the vendor is a friend of theirs.

Now this does not mean that the product they are promoting is bad. But it does mean that you dont have to run and buy something without thinking about it just because you get an email saying that XYZ product is the best thing ever.

One way to tell if the affiliate sending you an email has actually tested a product personally is to see if they have a review or demo video that they personally made. Also don’t be afraid to reply to the email that the affiliate sends you asking them any pre-sale questions you might have. If the affiliate really cares about you he will take the time to answer you.

#4) Check out the vendor on JVZoo: This one is easy but its something I’m willing to bet almost no one does. When you click the buy button on any JVZoo product you are taken to checkout page that will display the price of the product and a bunch of other info that no one reads because its in small text down bottom. But this text is important. First it will display the sellers refund policy. Second it will display the sellers name.


Copy the vendors name and head over to JVZoo’s website. If your not signed up as an affiliate on JVZoo do so (its free and you only have to do it once). Click on Affiliates -> Find Products


Paste the vendors name in the Keyword field and press the search button. This will give you a list of all the products that that vendor still has active on JVZoo, including the vendors past products. What your looking for is the vendors past refund rates. Any product is going to have refunds but when you see a vendor that has consistantly high refunds you might want to think twice about making your purchase as that could be indicative of a vendor that produces poor quality products, has poor customer service, or both.

So what is a high refund rate? Well in my experience 3-4% is normal. However when you see refund rates a lot higher than that you need to start questioning things.


The image above is a good example. This vendor consistently has high refund rates. In fact more often than not his refund rate is actually higher than his conversion rate. I would be careful of any vendor with statistics like that.

Now I do want to point out one exception to this. When  the product has a monthly fee it will tend to have a higher than normal refund rate. For example one of my products has a 4.8% refund rate. This is the highest refund rate I have of any product of mine by far. But that is because it is a monthly fee product and I did a promo where people could opt out of the monthly fee by paying a larger one time fee. When people did this I canceled their future payments and  refunded any recent payments.

#5) Learn your lesson: Every once in a while I will write a bad review for a product and the comments will get filled with people responding saying things like: “I bought 3 products from this vendor and got ripped off every time”. When I read comments like that I always ask myself: “Why did you keep buying from this vendor after the first time”?

While no vendor no matter how good they are can make everyone happy every time if you keep having a very bad experience with a specific person at some point you have to ask yourself if you want to keep doing business with that person. All of the time I hear people complaining about vendors that they say are ‘scam artists’, yet they keep buying stuff from them. Want to know how to stop the scam artists? Stop buying things from them. As long as what they are doing keeps bringing them in money they will never change. Once they stop making money the will have to either clean up their act or they will fade away.

Internet Marketing like all business is a democracy. Every customer gets to vote on who stays in business, who does well, and who will fade away into nothing. You vote with your dollars. Never forget that.

About the Author

Brett Rutecky

Brett Rutecky is a full time online marketer, web developer, and entrepreneur. He has developed scores of Facebook apps, dozens of custom web sites and hundreds of scripts.


    Great guide Brett. Your step by step instructions make it clear how to do our research.

    However, personally I feel that refund rate is only one of the criterias.

    Let’s take Fresh Store Builder (which you recommended) as an example.
    1) Let’s say we are researching whether to buy v6 or not. So we look at the refund rate of v5.
    Fresh Store Builder v5 Refund rate: 13.68%
    Fresh Store Builder v5 Funnel Refund rate: 13.45%

    So based on the criteria of high refund rates, then v6 is a no buy?

    2) However if we are researching whether to buy v5 when it launched, we would research v4.
    Fresh Store Builder v4 Refund rate: 2.55%
    Fresh Store Builder v4 Funnel Refund rate: 6.48%

    So based on the criteria of low refund rates, then v5 is a yes buy.

    The refund rates for previous editions of Fresh Store Builder seems to paint opposite pictures.
    I think Fresh Store Builder is a great product. Personally I feel refund rates is one of the criteria and doesn’t tell the full picture.


      Your correct its flawed to assume the ONLY criteria you should judge a product by is its refund rate. Refund rate is just one of them, you have to take it as a whole. For example, a I happen to know why v5 had a high refund rate. Its because a lot of people who had v4 bought to get the bonuses then refunded, kept the bonuses and kept using v4.

      The big concern is if you see consistent high refund rates from the vendor, not just one product with a high refund rate. There are a lot of things that can cause a single product to have a high refund rate, such as the scenario above. Another example would be a bad affiliate lying to customers to get sales.


    These are great tips Brett. The one tip I would add for the consumer is to have a business need to fulfill before you make a purchase. When it comes to IM, consumers lose all critical judgment. Consumers wouldn’t have to worry so much about the validity of income statements, revolutionary claims, or anything else if they focused on what they needed to solve their problem or business issue.

    We all know too well hype sells, great pitchmen sell, income statements sell…these things will likely never change so long as the consumer continue to fulfill wants rather than business needs. I can’t tell you how many people I know that have 4 different applications that post videos in the fb timeline that they purchased within weeks of each other or 5 different popup software that do the same thing yet they have no traffic to their website.

    Personally, I’ve found that if I plan to purchase based on need I tend to ask all the “right” pre-sales question and if I don’t get a complete/satisfactory response within a day or two…I move on. Countdowns and scarcity are all fair game for sellers, but as a focused consumer that just becomes white noise, if I don’t get my concerns/questions about the sale product addressed. My experience has been no product is that good or innovative that someone else doesn’t replace/trump in a week or two.


      Hi Stacy.

      So true what you said. I have also fallen several times into the trap of buying multiple products that have the same function. However, there is no substitute for experience and sadly many people will fall into that category until one day they realize about the mistake and learn their lesson.

      My epiphany came one day that I opened my JVZoo account and saw all my purchases there. There were dozens of products , and in many cases I was not using them, because they all require time to learn and implement, and also because I lacked of a strategy for my business,so I just kept buying on impulse and not because the product served a purpose for my business.

      I think that many people do not understand what exactly is what they are buying because these are not physical products, but if they make and analogy with a carpenter’s shop they will probably realize that they do not need to have four different hammers to put a nail, and much less so if they are not even making any furniture, which is the equivalent of your site not having any traffic.


    Great tips, many thanks


    Good advise Brett,

    There are also things to look at even after purchasing. This is important when considering an upgrade, oto or future purchases from a vendor. This is where customer service and support are important things to look at. I find that often, a vendor shows his/her true colors in this aspect of there business.

    Con-artists, scammers or marketing opportunists often have lousy or no customers service or support. They are quick to take your money but don’t care about builing a solid relation with their customers. Sometimes it can be like ‘pulling teeth’ when you need advise,answers or a refund. I keep a ‘black-list’ of vendors from whom I never intend to buy from again due to their crappy after-sales and service.


      You got it! That comes under the ‘learn your lesson’ tip. Something to keep in mind though is that people throw around the words ‘con artist’ and ‘scammer’ to much. While a scammer may often have bad customer service, having customer service does not automatically mean that a person is a ‘scammer’ or a ‘con artist’. There are a lot of major companies that have poor customer service, that does not mean they are conning you.


    Thank you for the tips. Much appreciated.

    Brendan C

    Hi Brett.

    Thanks for fantastic information to check vendor’s background and refund rates via

    my important questions: When you produce new product and how would you manage serial refunders?

    Any softwares to manage ,remember and block serial refunders?

    I think good way to use IP proxy to recognise serial refunder’s IP and block them.

    Any suggestions?

    I love your brutal,honesty reviews styles on other WSO or JVZoo products.

    I prefers to read any reviews on products rather than Video from Reviewers…Why? I am Deaf,Rely on subtiltes or closed captioned unless they give great demostrations with annonations like camtasia tutorials.

    Brendan C


      JVZoo does that automatically. It blocks serial refunders. Also vendors can keep a ‘black’ list. Further vendors black lists are shared with other vendors.

        Brendan C

        Hi Brett.

        Perfect understood clearly.

        Someday,I will work on sales tactics and manage affiliates and reliable vendors.

        between you and me, when you normally offer your special offer of your software bundles…?

        I normally buy from Andrew Brocklehurst,Neil Napier,Andrew Hunter or Neil Bosley on black fridays special offers or Summer sale,etc.

        any tips to find all IM products special offers on season greetings or anniversary,etc.

        WSO or JVZoo usually notify me by email about new products to sell.

        I have your Squeezematic and other one,cant remember which,LOL

        Thanks again for your reply.
        Brendan C.


    Thank you Brett. Practical tips to look for.

    I also learned to look for:
    1- Is the main focus the product or the bonuses given by the creator (not the affiliates).
    2- Many marketers do not say if the software is WP plugin or web based or local machine software. My needs vary based on the software and for example I do not use WP for many things.
    3- Is the software mobile friendly or not (e.g., video players with promised good features)
    4- Is the product being sold actually used by the marketer (in the sales page or there is a demo site)


    Hi Brett,

    Awesome information as always and as always all of us reading your reviews and posts have to be very grateful an appreciative for an abundance of wisdom and willingness to share.
    What bothers me with certain IM offers is the fact, that the Seller/Vendor in many occasions would not disclose the OTO. Person reads the sales page, decides that it’s a good fit for him/her, goes ahead with the purchase and then….boom! It hits you with the fact that the price they just paid is not really the actual price, because in order for it to work the way sales page explains to you, you need/have to buy another monthly, bi/yearly plan.
    Personally, I think it is not really a fair practice, but my guess is that it would never change, which is very unfortunate.


      Most OTO’s are additions to a product, not something you need to have. People focus on OTO’s to much.


        I have to agree with Audrey and this is what I do now to weed out some of the mayhem. I type in the product name and the word “muncheye” after it. For example, into Google type “Fresh Store Builder muncheye”. Muncheye is a site that many marketers list their launches on for JV partners and it shows their funnels including costs of upsell, downsells, OTOs, etc. Sometimes you’ll even get descriptions of what other items are available after you purchase the front end product. This way I know how much I’m going to be out of pocket depending on whether or not I want all the addons. Sometimes I decide not to buy at all because the front end version needs some of the OTOs to make it really worth my while & I don’t need that added expense.

    Mary Cate

    I also NOW, a bit late, look up what the chatter is on Warrior Forum. Some of that needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as well, because there are always complainers, but when I see longterm, pretty technical commentors voicing consistent negative opinions about the vendor, their support or prior products, I will resist that urge of mine to collect the lastest shiny plugin.


    Does anyone on this forum market other products besides IM products such as clickbank offers or other affiliate offers and if so through email lists or other avenues?? Seems like I am flooded with IM product offers and also with WP Plugins offers. Maybe I am just on the wrong emailing lists.. lol 🙂


    Dana Cassell

    Thanks for the post, Brett. This is one to bookmark and refer to every week.


    Thanks for the great post Brett! All great information to be aware of when those “mega-hype” emails come into our inboxes. I have been using JVZoo Affiliate information on a lot of vendors for the past year, and also use Muncheye to view the funnel, if it isn’t available on JVZoo Affiliate page for the product. I think that one thing that has made me finally drop certain vendors, however, is the level of support, which is not needed so much if the product is as good as they state to begin with. I know a couple right off the top of my head that have either awful support or support requirements that are questionable in order to get support at all for the product.

    I remember something you stated awhile back about certain vendors who release an unfinished product to meet a sales day they want to hit, and then rely on the customers as beta testers to find all of the bugs in the product and finish the programming that way. I have experienced that a few times now and refuse to purchase anymore products from that particular vendor, and goes back to asking the affiliate or marketer the right questions before the purchase. So, my kudos to you for the great, honest reviews, the always awesome software you create and the terrific customer service.


    I woud love to see your review of “SkyRanker” they have a bold pitch… I have purchased too many Google-ranking products and NONE work. I tend to believe it is foolish to assume any product/software can instantly elevate you to P1 position. But perhaps I’m wrong?

    You’re on the inside Brett, please share your thoughts on these SEO products. Whats your thoughts or better still can you test this Skyranker product.


      I dont know who the vendor of that even is. Never heard of it. And you are correct there is no push button magic software. As I said, good software is a tool. Nothing more.

    Colin Koh

    Thank you Brett for these wonderful tips 🙂

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