Do you know how many people use the Internet these days? More than three and a half billion! And these whopping rates mean that nearly half of the world’s population now has Internet access. With that in mind, I don’t have to do a lot of convincing to let you in on a little ‘secret’ – digital marketing is incredibly crucial for product placement these days; with its value only set to increase over time. Over the following couple of years, more than half of the entire marketing budget for most products will be set aside entirely for the digital aspect of marketing.
And as it happens with any fast-growing sector or industry, all of this value will also inevitably attract some forms of deception and fraudulence. I’ve seen many of these digital marketing scams myself, trust me on that. And the proposition of scams that are threatening the digital marketing industry is particularly frightening when we take small businesses into consideration. Such small shops can’t afford to blow their marketing budget on a scam, which is why avoiding such fraudulent marketing practices is important. And that’s just what I’ll focus on here today!
Fake Followers, Comments, and Likes
I’ve seen plenty of posts in marketing groups to this effect, and I’m sure many of you have as well. These days, fake followers are even marketed to individual users on platforms such as Instagram. But if you don’t want to get caught up in a digital marketing scam, I heartily recommend staying away from such offers. Don’t even open these emails, and delete them immediately.
But why is this a scam? Well, for starters, the followers/likes/comments which you’ll get this way won’t be organic at all. In other words, they don’t truthfully represent the number of people that are interested in what you’re marketing, in reality. These will mostly be automated bot accounts that don’t actually have any activity. And having 10,000 followers on any social media platform won’t do your business much good if the posts there don’t actually have any real engagement.
Plus, the updates made to the Facebook news feed in the past year have made this scam particularly useless. This update has rendered the likes on a Facebook page much less useful than they previously were. Users will find a lot more updates made by their family and friends compared to businesses and brands in their feeds, meaning that you’d be better off investing the money in Facebook Ads.
Fake Awards Given to Digital Marketing Agencies
When it comes to this digital marketing scam, you’ll find that even the biggest companies are susceptible to it. In 2019, it’s not that difficult to fake a client list or even awards, to falsely portray a digital marketing agency as more renowned than it actually is.
Even my digital marketing agency has been offered similar fake awards, from dubious US magazines. We could’ve easily accepted such an offer, and lay claim to the title of ‘award-winning digital marketing agency’. But that should only be done when you receive an actually prestigious award.
And the same thing can happen when digital marketing companies attempt to fake a client list. You’ll easily find agencies that work as subcontractors for a much larger marketing company on a project for a renowned client. Then, on their website, you’ll find them claiming that the said renowned company is their own client. In fact, some companies will go as far as to post fake testimonials from people who have worked in made-up firms, showing that they’ve supposedly got an extremely large portfolio. If you want to detect such a scam, pose a series of questions about the specific projects that the digital marketing agency has allegedly done. If you see them fumbling with the details, that’s a definite red flag.
Promise of a quick Number 1 Google Rank
This is probably the most laughable of all the digital marketing scams that you will see here. Small businesses earn an average of $3 in revenue for every $1.60 they spend on Google Ads. While a real SEO expert will naturally inform you that this isn’t possible, many scammers will offer it as a real possibility; your website ranking as number 1 on Google, and for obscure keywords that absolutely no-one on the Internet searches for. And sure, these ‘SEO experts’ may be able to get you a decent ranking in a couple of months, but if they do it this quickly, your subsequent fall will be just as quick.
If you want to avoid such digital marketing frauds, you need to understand the basics of SEO, and why it’s crucial for your business. Most real SEO experts will tell you that any serious approach to optimization that yields long-term results will take at least half a year to show the first promised rise in rank. SEO is definitely a process that takes time to show results in terms of higher website online traffic and value, so not investing in it is better than investing for just 2 months and expecting immediate gains.
As you can see, there are plenty of scams that are threatening the digital marketing industry these days even though Google and other, similar, platforms release updates monthly. And make no mistake, such fraudulent practices don’t just threaten the clients that fall for them, but the integrity of the digital marketing industry at large. If such frauds are allowed to continue operating freely, they will significantly reduce the overall trust clients have in digital marketing agencies. That’s why both the industry of digital marketing and its clients need to learn everything about the deceptive practices, and do their best to avoid and combat them.
Author Bio: Richard Greene is a digital marketing consultant and freelance author, mostly writing about the development of his industry. He provides insights into the economic shifts caused by newly-developing online industries, as well as online commerce.