The 3 Biggest Scams in Online Marketing


It’s time to have a dirty conversation. We try to stay on the positive side of everything, but every now and then we have to just talk about something negative. Not because we like it, but because sometimes telling the truth comes with telling a side which no one likes to hear or know about. Knowing these ugly truths, or more accurately exposing certain outright lies, and learning why they are simply not true will help your business. How? Because you will know how to avoid these scammers and those who give digital professionals a bad name. Now, while Circle Marketing is a marketing agency and handles much more than just online and digital marketing, there is a naiveté in most good-hearted and trusting business owners and managers who aren’t as proficient or aware of the latest and most effective strategies and how to tell if an online and/or web professional you’re thinking about contracting work to has really “got the goods.” We’ve all heard the horror stories of how some business got swindled by a so-called “web designer” who left them high and dry with nothing to show for the money they spent, after being promised the world…or at least a darn web site!

Scam Artist 1: The Web Designer
Most of the time a small business looks to hire a single “web designer,” it’s because there’s a perceived lack of budget available to spend on a larger and more expensive company. Even the middle companies who might charge a few thousand dollars for a website, or some online graphic/development work, seems too much. So, the business owner, or manager, looks to hire off of an outsourcing website by placing an advertisement asking for samples and rates. Most of the time, the business owner will get to choose from awful to horrible. And when they do find an aesthetically-pleasing website, then it was usually designed with the web designer’s goals in mind, not the client’s.

A common problem is a general lack of marketing knowledge. A designer doesn’t understand ROI, Conversion rates, usability (for the most part), Search Engine Optimization, or content creation. The web designer may also not be adept at developing efficient code, and may even use a template or CMS Theme “out-of-the-box” and hackingly tweak only what the client needs for the site/project to look like the clients’.

You should look for a company which has a small staff of experts, and whose work is consistent. Also, ask for references and follow up on those references. Asking to see links only tells you a small part of the story. You’re most likely not a marketing expert, either, so knowing how to break-down the effectiveness of each site given to you as links usually isn’t a tool in your toolshed as a business owner. And if you do work in the marketing department of your company, are you informed on the latest and most effective strategies and techniques out there? If you are aware that Google just changed their algorithm almost a year back to counter act link farms and aggregate websites, then you’re more informed than most.

Scam Artist 2: The Social Media “Expert”
When you meed a “Social Media Expert” then you probably have met someone who spends a lot of their time on Facebook and Twitter, and they feel that the hours they’ve logged in gives them enough usage hours and peripheral knowledge of how things works for them to try to get paid for it. Worse yet, if you ever meet a self-professed “guru” then run, don’t walk…and…if you ever meet someone who specifically claims NOT to be a “guru” without you even bringing it up, then run away even FASTER!

A common problem with Social Media consultants is that they aren’t familiar with PR/Publicity, Marketing and Advertising. Having a knowledge in these areas will help your Social Media message be more effective. Social Media is marketing your product, but it walks the fine line between pure marketing and pure publicity/PR. You’re essentially going to be starting a conversation with potential customers, and cultivating a strong relationship with them. You have to strategize your message effectively for your target market and understand who your customers are…from the type of income they make right down to the types of shoes they are likely to wear. You have to know your customers’ mindsets if you’re going to communicate how your brand, company, and/or product is going to help improve their lives in some way.

A honest to goodness true expert (or guru) will have case studies, metrics, and examples of what they’ve done for others. You should also ask your expert how they envision your company or brand being able to harness the power of social media, and what ideas they have for you, and how they will strategize your social media road map. When you begin working with them, after you’ve agreed to work together, then ask for specifics and documentation on how they will work for you, what results to expect, and how you can check their work periodically to chart the progress.

One note, though, to be fair, Social Media is the quintessential real life example of the old saying, “Good, Fast, Cheap…Pick Any Two.” If you’re going to get some Good results Fast, then it’s going to cost you in media buys, hourly charges, and affiliate partnerships just to name a few. If you’re expecting something to work Fast and Cheap, then the results are not going to be very good. For example, if you want 5,000 fans in three months for your Facebook Page, then expect a lot of fillers and unqualified fans usually gotten through trading “Likes.” Depending on the kind of business you have, this might be a decent tactic depending on the overall strategy. Finally, if you’re looking for something Good and for Cheap, then the great results will not come quickly. It will take time to cultivate good relationships while being frugal. Why? Because you’re going to have to keep the hours spend on the social networks down, or you’re going to have to invest a lot of time yourself if you don’t wan to pay others to spend the time doing it, just to name a couple reasons.

Scam Artist 3: The “SEO” Promise
This could be the biggest scam out there. The promise of “I’ll get you on the first page of Google in two weeks!” Anyone who says that, just tell them to politely leave you alone, because you know their game. They know that NO ONE knows the algorithm Google uses, much less be able to guarantee positioning on an on-going basis. There are billions of “first pages of Google,” and you can reach quite a few just with a specific-enough search.

For example, if you search for your own name, or your business’ name then you better be the first entry on Google, or you’ve got some work to do. Being first for your exact name should be easily achievable. The trick, however, is being first for an actual KeyWord and search phrase your customers will be typing into the search engine box to find you.

When looking for better search engine rankings listen to the “experts'” pitch. If they promise first page and first spot rankings for any KeyWord you wish, then they are not being honest. If they want to work with you to find the perfect and achievable “long tail” KeyWords which will help your customers actually find you by what you do and where you are, then you’re on the right track.

Also, you shouldn’t have to pay one penny more for organic search engine optimization. That means developing your website so that it’s optimized for prime display in the search engines, and ready for great rankings. Many scam artist developers, and one-person-shops will grab a WordPress theme, install it for you, and tweak some logos, colors, and text and send you on your way. That’s not going to help you. There are a certain base number of customizations which will need to be done on every site, by an expert, to help you achieve those amazing search engine result rankings you’re looking for.

In Conclusion:
There has been a lot of information here. As a courtesy to you for reading all of this, please give us a call with any questions and we’d be happy to help walk you through a few things which would help you out, and NOT give you a used car salesman pitch for your troubles. It’s our mission to help out, and make businesses more successful however we can, so just Contact Us today! Talk to you soon!

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