Is AppSumo going down the drain?

Update February 2019: You might have noticed that I hardly ever recommend AppSumo deals anymore. Here is why: AppSumo is still a great place to find deals. But it’s not a place anymore you can trust blindly. Some “deals” are not of the quality they used to be. They’re merely slight discounts. Others are great finds.

But it takes time to find out which is which and give you sincere advice. There are too many sites who just list their offers without every trying them as is. I hardly bought any of their deals in 2018 and I wouldn’t recommend products I don’t know.

And I have to admit that I’m still not over the fact that Appsumo not just offered a tool to cheat LinkedIn and risking their buyers accounts being blocked but that they promoted an upgraded version when people started to complain that they received warnings and that some accounts got deactivated.

The cheatery, “hack” and lust for shortcuts (that don’t work) are widespread in the online marketing world. What I loved about AppSumo is that they were not one of them. At first.

Update April 2018: Sadly, it happened what was supposed to happen. All users of the tool received a warning from LinkedIn, many got banned.

I hope everyone’s account will be reinstated and everyone else learns from this.
End of Update

As Y’all know, my friends, I am not an affiliate marketer or online marketer. I’m just a coach/trainer who needs some tools and services to run his business.

How happy have I been when I came across AppSumo:

  • Honest and down-to-earth wording
  • Great deals
  • Trustworthy
  • Wonderful community feel
  • Unspammy
  • Credible offers
  • Talented at finding the “next big thing”

It was love at first sight. Finally, I found a place I could trust and where I did not feel out of place. AppSumo was a site that offered the tools and services I needed without the “eat a yogurt and get rich” or “how to steal everyone’s yogurt without anyone noticing” type of message. I could buy any and every deal blindly.

Some turned out to be a pot of gold (like CloudApp, pCloud), others I will never use but it was worth the try.

I recommended them to all sorts of people I would never send to a JVZOO-type site. CEO, coaches…

You might have noticed, that I have not spoken about AppSumo in the past weeks. Here is why:

What is happening to AppSumo?

appsumo is changing

AppSumo offers are changing

In the past weeks, there have been a few deals I was not too fond of. Like the 4th social media automation tool in two months (and the weakest I know off, for that matter) or a subscription instead of a lifetime deal.

It’s one thing to offer the service of a new company and later learn it doesn’t work out. But it’s another to offer a deal of a company that’s been in the market for many, many years and offers a mediocre/subpar product.

But there was one deal that truly disappointed me.

The product is called MeetLeonard.

MeetLeonard LinkedIn automation (rant)

In my experience and opinion, the reason most new online businesses fail is that they deserve to fail. They try to steal, spam, hack, copy and sneak their way through the system. They break the TOS of sites, steal other people’s content and try to find shortcuts. Sometimes the shortcuts even work for a while until the market (or Google) catches up.

Or they focus only on technicalities (like SEO) and forget that a business should be about offering value to their clients.

That’s not how you create trust, returning buyers or visitors and build a sustainable business. While most people understand that robbing old ladies on the street is not a proper way of building a business, some are lacking the same sense of morale and logic in the online world.

People with a low EQ (hey, check out my emotional intelligence training) are easily tricked into buying the next “get rich with this super hack” tool from someone who often only makes money with selling his “super hacks” to trusting online-marketers – but never with the system/tool itself.

A bubble of make-belief. And, hey, I see the next shiny object shimmering somewhere over there.

MeetLeonard is a LinkedIn automation tool. It sends automated messages, connection requests, “thank you for accepting my request” messages and the bot can also visit profiles for you.

Automated messages are annoying and easy to spot. The use of a tool like that is also against the TOS of LinkedIn.

Automation vs. hacking

Obviously, automating repetitive tasks is a good thing. I see nothing wrong with scheduling posts and automate other redundant tasks. That’s called optimizing a workflow and allows me to be more productive. But it ends with human connections.

Automating direct messages or spamming someone’s feed in an attempt to “hack” a system is not ok in my book. When it comes to LinkedIn, sending automated messages is not only against the TOS but also highly disrespectful. The same applies to automated connection requests.

I’m not sure what kind of people you are trying to connect with, C-Level and leaders will likely not respond well to generic messages. How do you respond to them?

Are people stupid? Why do they fall for this?

People are not stupid. It’s a lack of EQ. Just like people buy the diet pill that claims they lose 20 pounds in a week, even when they know it’s impossible. Sometimes we want to believe. The vision someone paints for us feels so good that we forget to consider if it’s realistic.

We act on triggers. If someone pushes the right triggers, we will make an emotional decision without thinking things through.

If you would think a tool like MeetLeonard through, you’d come to the following conclusion:

  • Spamming is not a good way to start a relationship
  • You treat people in a way you do not want to be treated (or do you like “I would love to connect with influencers from your industry..” messages?)
  • Using a tool like this is against the TOS you agreed to follow
  • You will likely hurt your LinkedIn profile, even if they never realize you break the rules (people will report your messages spam, the number of open connection requests and refused connection requests will not help you) or
  • You might get banned

I thought AppSumo would not stand for this kind of shady tools and also not for putting their trusting buyers at such a risk.

Everyone can make a mistake and that’s totally ok. Would AppSumo have said: “Ok, perhaps that was not such a good idea”, it would have been perfectly fine with me.

Then… what was supposed to happen happened. People who used this tool received a warning from LinkedIn and from what I understand, a few even lost access to their account (hopefully only temporarily.)

Again, it’s ok to screw up. It happens.

But then I saw this message. Olman is an employee of AppSumo I held in highest regard:

meetleonard scam

I suppose this message was not written by Olman but he probably read it before he posted it.

Basically, what this message is saying is: Yes, we got caught cheating. We will now try to find another way to hide that we are cheating.

Wow. AppSumo does not feel that there is anything wrong with offering this kind of tool.

That made me sad.

Instead of warning people that they put their accounts at risk, they condone and support the use of a spammy tool that might get the users permanently banned from the site.

MeetLeonard, the company that people trust with their money (their LinkedIn profiles) seems to reside in India, does not even publish an address on their website and states in their disclaimer that you “use the tool at your own risk.”

You don’t even know the name of who screwed you over when you get (rightfully) banned.

AppSumo where are you going

So this is why you did not hear a lot about AppSumo from me in the past weeks. I will continue to recommend awesome deals that I have used and tested but (at least currently) I cannot recommend buying AppSumo deals blindly at this point in time.

After the MeetLeonard deal, I am probably overly sensitive so that I felt that the new freebie offer sounds a tad like “do this and make millions.”

That said, it does contain great advice, especially regarding copywriting. You should totally get it.

appsumo

Grab it HERE and enjoy the useful tips, but I also recommend to take it with a grain of salt.

It will help you a great deal. But it will not allow you to duplicate the success of AppSumo. You’d have to have a new idea for that.

Viral giveaways, for instance, have become very common these days and it’s much harder to offer something of so much value to the reader that he’s willing to pay by sharing.

Naturally, an eBook “how to do what we did” of a company that did make 200K in their first week will always be a bigger draw than any eBook of a new company who did not (like yours or mine.)

Conclusion

AppSumo might be in a phase of transition. Or it just made a few mistakes and will return to being the exception to the rule, the shining star in their area. Growth always comes with pain and the need to adapt and change.

They still offer awesome deals but you cannot buy them blindly anymore (at this point in time.)  Just use your brain and apply the same rules of morale and logic you do in your offline life.

If you look back at my first review of AppSumo Briefcase and AppSumo, you’ll notice that I pointed out how I admired their sense of finding the “next big thing.” Let’s hope the talented product scouts will never be led by greed.

AppSumo Briefcase is still the only service you need to run your business online. AppSumo still offers incredible deals, just not all of them are incredible.

And me? Well, we’ll see if people like me are even their target. Perhaps, they’ll go the route of most companies in this area and try to push as much quantity of deals down the affiliate-marketers throat as they can. After all, the “online marketing” market is huge and attractive. I get that.

I’ll watch them with faith in my eyes and a smile on my lips.