The most common digital marketing scams and how to avoid them

The most common digital marketing scams and how to avoid them

There are many marketing scams aimed at consumers, and they bilk millions of people out their money. This article, however, is focused on scams aimed at small businesses and individual online marketers looking for help with their online marketing campaigns.


These days, nearly every business needs a strong online presence. Regardless of what line of work you or your company is doing, most users will find you through online searches. The logical consequence is that you need to invest in an online marketing campaign.

However, before you go all-in and blow your entire marketing budget, we suggest you first read this article. You don’t want to invest in online marketing tactics that will probably fail. There are many false promises and fakes out there, and it’s easy to get tricked. We’ll take a look at the 7 most common digital marketing scams and how to avoid them.

Fake client lists and testimonials

Finding the right experts to help with your marketing campaign usually starts with some online research. Most people fire up their browsers and check reviews and testimonials. You can also look at what their portfolio looks like. Building up a fake company profile is probably one of the most common digital marketing scams. A trustworthy marketing company will be up to date with the latest trends on every social media platform. If they don’t seem to know their way around social media, they might be trying to scam you.

How to avoid this scam:

  1. Check to see if they have reviews on multiple places or just their own site.
  2. Ask for the contact information of their previous clients.
  3. Search their portfolio to see if they are using stolen or stock images and videos or if it’s actually their work.
Most common digital marketing scams and how to avoid them-2

Does the marketing company follow the latest trends on social media?

People who want to scam you will try to wow you and bombard you with industry buzzwords and tech jargon. They can b>confuse you and offer unrealistic results.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to see through a sales pitch that is all smoke and no substance. Ask them precisely what they will be doing and what approach they will use. Although SEO strategies change over time, most companies have figured out a set of techniques they apply to achieve good results. What’s helpful to you as a customer is that SEO results can be measured and followed.

Arm yourself with knowledge. There are some SEO facts you should be aware of in order to follow the metrics. Don’t expect immediate results from SEO, but know how things work and the essential statistics.

Complicated or misleading marketing results

After you’ve hired a company and they take some time to plan and deploy the campaign, it’s normal to expect results.

However, to get the results you want, it’s essential to define in advance what you are paying them for. Ask them how exactly they will boost traffic for your business. They might be showing you something amazing with numbers that are off the charts. Stop for a second and ask what those numbers mean for you.

How to avoid this scam: What you should be interested in are measurable results for your business. How many clicks is the marketing actually generating? Don’t accept made-up graphs or anything that isn’t actual data.

Most common digital marketing scams and how to avoid them

Do you understand all the metrics used to measure the results?

Purchasing social media followings

Any modern marketing campaign is going to focus on social media. That’s just where people hang out online, so it represents a good target for ads and marketers. While companies make many mistakes when attempting to establish a social media presence, one of the most egregious ones is fake “follows”.

A typical digital marketing scam is to purchase fake likes, followers, and subscribers. These are all just empty clicks that you won’t be able to turn into actual customers. Some platforms can even ban accounts if they see practices that are against their terms of service. What you should be interested in is organic engagement – those are
people who have expressed genuine interest in your product.

How to avoid this scam: Check the dates and times of added followers. Paid likes often come in large, unrealistic groups suddenly and fall off just as quickly.

Exploiting the duration of the contract

It is true that digital marketing takes a little while to show results. Most campaigns will give some measurable signs after a month or two tops. Someone who is trying to scam you might ask for a year-long contract. They might even do some initial work, but what guarantee do you have that you’ll see results after their initial efforts?

How to avoid this scam: Check the fine print of the contract to see how they charge. Most marketing campaigns charge on a monthly basis. See if you can opt out if their service isn’t working for you.

Selling you the same service multiple times

Also known as double selling. This happens when a fraudulent marketing company tries to sell you the same service under a different name. They might try to use tech jargon or abbreviations so that you feel overwhelmed. If you are already paying a marketing company for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), they might offer you a new service – SEM (Search Engine Management). How exactly are those things different, or will you be paying for the same service twice?

How to avoid this scam: Know the most common terms used in digital marketing. To know what you are paying for, you can ask them for a price breakdown. If there is anything you don’t understand, you can ask for further explanations.

Man writing on a pad while working on a laptop

Make sure the work is done by native speakers to avoid trivial mistakes.

Low-quality outsourcing

Outsourcing itself isn’t a problem, but you should know what you are paying for. Some scammers will hire non-native speakers as community managers or as writers to create blog post content. Their work can be full of errors or just sound wrong and thus reflect negatively on your whole website.

How to avoid this scam: Check and approve any content to ensure the quality is acceptable for your image. All of the partners your digital marketing advisor uses need to be reputable professionals. Alternatively, cut the middle-man and hire freelancers yourself.

Final words

Once you know all the most common digital marketing scams and how to avoid them, you’ll see that it isn’t that hard to avoid getting tricked. Before hiring anyone to do your marketing, you should do some research. After you are acquainted with the common practices and the jargon, you will be able to see through the fakes. Of course, don’t just hire someone for marketing assistance without staying involved. Remember to check up on them regularly and ask to see measurable results.

Images used:

Sharing is caring