The Top Marketing Scams
(…and why they don’t work)
There’s no avoiding it any more. We’ve been blogging about effective marketing techniques for years now, but there’s one horrible truth we haven’t yet addressed. So, time to buckle up, stand tall, and face it head on.
Marketing is a dirty word. You know it, I know it… everyone knows it.
Just say the word to yourself. “Marketing”. The word instantly conjures up an image of a glitzy shyster in a tasteless suit, claiming that they can “quadruple your profits.” They’ll talk about tricks of the trade, how to cheat Google, why spam is a viable way of lead generation. Then they’ll take your money, and if you’re lucky they’ll merely be inept and achieve nothing. If they practice what they preach, then your company is in real trouble.
There are no tricks to marketing. Marketing is founded on solid technique with results that bear up to clear analysis. Get-rich-quick marketing schemes will backfire and damage your reputation. Effective marketing strategies are long-term, and performed with an in-depth understanding of the techniques in use. Marketing is not subjective. It can be complicated, but at the end of the day there is a “right” and a “wrong” way of doing things.
In this article, we will examine the top ways in which people try to trick the system and get rich quick. We’ll also look at why each of these methods are doomed to fail.
Black Hat SEO
Would you like to send your website into the Google abyss? Just let someone talk you into using black hat SEO techniques. Essentially, black hat SEO is a method of artificially boosting your website to higher Google rankings. While this may work in the short term, the old saying “what comes up must come down” is very true in this instance.
Black hat SEO normally works through artificial link building. This process involves linking back to your website through numerous generic directories in attempt to boost the authority score of your website. Another, slightly dated method involves keyword stuffing – packing your text full of keywords in order to boost your ranking. However, as Google’s algorithm only pays limited attention to keyword density these days, this is pretty much a way to earn a massive penalty for very little benefit.
Our Verdict: Avoid at all costs. Google’s algorithms are so sophisticated, that any attempts at tricking them will land you on the blacklist and you can kiss goodbye to any first page aspirations for the next few years. Instead, utilise white hat SEO and focus on ethical link building and the consistent creation of relevant, interesting content.
Everyone likes having a lot of followers on twitter. Unfortunately, not everyone likes winning them properly by posting relevant, interesting tweets and interacting with their audience. This lack of patience inevitably leads one of two scenarios.
Rapidly following and unfollowing followers can be a short term way to boost your follower count. When you follow someone, they feel impelled to follow you back. Hence, the logic continues that when you reach your follower cap you should unfollow a bunch of people and follow some new ones, right? Wrong. Twitter has an algorithm picking up on this activity, and it is considered to be a ban-worthy offence.
The second way people will attempt to cheat the system is by buying followers. This is harder to trace, but essentially pointless. Companies offering to sell followers will have a large number of inactive accounts, which they will then follow you with. Given that the purpose of social media marketing is to generate new sales, being followed by numerous dead accounts seems a little counter-intuitive.
Our Verdict: Follow the above steps to get banned or waste your money. Regularly post interesting content and interact with your followers to gain interest and sales. The choice is completely in your hands.
The Sin of Facebook
You may have encountered a service offering to sell you a branded Facebook page with 100,000 likes and shares. Please avoid doing this as it represents the most immoral of all the marketing scams.
You see, your nice fully branded Facebook page didn’t start life with your company on. It first emerged with the following description: “Tommy, aged three, is suffering from terminal brain cancer. We will donate 10p to Tommy’s rehabilitation fund for every like and share we receive.”
For the vast majority of these pages, “Tommy” does not exist. They are run by marketing agencies looking to generate huge numbers of likes and shares so they can then rebrand and sell the page.
Our Verdict: Please, no. From a pragmatic standpoint, this has the same underlying problem that buying Twitter followers has. Namely, that the people interested in helping little Tommy are unlikely to be equally passionate about your product. That aside, if you are seriously considering this then you should give yourself a long hard look in the mirror and remind yourself that some lines just shouldn’t be crossed.
Interesting how “spam” rhymes with “scam”: Maybe there’s an important moral lesson to be had here? It’s mind-blowing that this still needs to be discussed in 2015, but spam email doesn’t work. It is irritating, doesn’t sell anything, and is likely to land you on an email blacklist.
Our Verdict: Like most forms of marketing, email marketing is rewarded by creating interesting, personalised messages to your target demographic that will intrigue and engage them. Sending an email headed “buy XXX now!” to a complete stranger will achieve neither. In a best case scenario, your emails will be ignored. In a worst case scenario, you will be put on a spam email blacklist and your emails won’t be received by anyone. Most mass emailing systems have quite strict guidelines in regards to this – they’ll normally only accept a 0.5% spam rate before banning you.
This only recently emerged as a marketing scam, but it’s hardly surprising. Essentially, it involves paying people to write fake product reviews for your website to increase trust between you and potential customers.
Our Verdict: There’s no practical downside as of yet, as this was only recently highlighted by the mainstream media. However, the practice is likely to ruin review systems on websites within the next couple of years, meaning that even honest results will be viewed cynically. Look at how Trip Advisor’s reputation has suffered as a result of well-publicised fake good and bad reviews.
These are some of the most commonplace marketing scams, and why it’s best to avoid them. At greensplash, we only utilise ethical marketing practices, with a focus on creating long-term comprehensive strategies that allow your business to experience sustainable growth. Give us a call on 01606 884 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about what we can offer.