Which internet marketing companies are reputable
Watch out, trap!
We'll show you how to find out about dubious offers
On our article An Immoral Offer from last year, we still get so much positive feedback that we want to go into the topic of dubious online marketing providers again.
Unfortunately, also because the flood of dodgy offers is getting bigger and the methods of the alleged experts are getting bolder. There are several levels of escalation, from offers that are simply poorly researched and not tailored to your needs, to simple fraud.
We have put together for you three examples of such questionable offers that we and our customers have encountered in the last few months and show you how easily you can usually identify the wrong fifties.
Case 1: Online shop for a consulting company?
Our first case is still relatively harmless and has a certain comedy in it. We have received a letter from an online marketing agency in Braunschweig that would like to sell us its services.
Why an agency writes to another agency that is active in a very similar business field in order to then want to sell you the services that it offers itself is pretty puzzling in itself (because how positive can this acquisition conversation be?) . But it's getting better.
Because we have even worked together successfully with this agency in the past. The sender of the strange letter is therefore very well known to us and, at least operationally, we had a professional impression of our colleagues. But it gets better.
Review the recommendations
The prioritized recommendation, which is given as the first official act in this letter, is the "move to a modern shop system such as Magento 2 or Shopware 5". Have you already noticed the mistake? Right, what the hell is a consulting firm that sells services, not products, with a complex online shop system?
To the layperson, the letter looks highly professional, but obviously not a single glance was taken on our website, otherwise the recommendation of a shop system cannot be explained (except with the use of hallucinogenic drugs, but I would not assume that my colleagues are taking this ).
On the following two pages of the letter, the sender goes into detail and attests our website numerous optimization potentials on a scale from 0 to 100 points, such as the loading speed.
Reveals false information
The nice thing is that the sender uses Google Page Speed to indicate the source of these recommendations (which in itself is only professional) and we can therefore check this data quickly. You probably already suspect it? Almost all of the key figures given are imaginary and have nothing in common with the reality of our website.
Conclusion case 1
Don't be dazzled by a perfectly designed presentation or a bunch of buzz words. Even without citing the source, anyone could have found in two minutes of research on Google that recommendations for a heart transplant are being made, even though you only have the flu.
Case 2: SEO from the invisible expert?
Our second case can definitely be assigned to the “dubious” category. At the end of May 2019 we received a well-worded e-mail with the suggestion “a partnership in the e-commerce sector”.
Here, too, the first thing you notice is that the sender could not have viewed our website. Because what he wants to sell us is an SEO optimization and an advertising campaign with Google Ads. So again an agency that offers another agency its own services and that with an online shop connection, which in our case does not even exist.
We're out of here, of course, but what does someone do who actually runs an online shop and who receives this email? Because the writing itself is quite personable, advertises with a lot of experience and manpower and probably makes a competent impression on the SEO layman.
Check the website and the imprint
We visit the sender's website and land at www.seaoptimize.com. The content for the various sub-areas of a Google optimization is a bit thin, but the page itself is optically well designed, responsive, presents a large team and stages the provider as search engine experts, which is certainly quite convincing for the layman.
A look at the imprint can never hurt and lo and behold, a lot of legally binding information is missing here. No telephone number, no tax number, only the name of the managing director and an address in Switzerland are stored. In addition, data protection is actually trampled underfoot in every respect, which should not actually happen with a professional online marketing agency.
Now we want to know exactly and when looking at the alleged company headquarters on Google Street View we land on a large construction site in a cute residential area of a tranquil Swiss village.
Googles the company
After all, we do what everyone should do to check such offers: we google the company. Unsurprisingly, no hits were found on Google when typing the company's name or URL.
Last but not least, we research, via free queries from providers such as Whois.com, when the website of the e-mail sender was registered. Our suspicions are confirmed - the domain is not yet a month old. This is of course no evidence of dubious intentions, but a further indication that caution is required here.
Conclusion case 2
If a company that wants to sell you something in the field of online marketing cannot be found on Google under its own name or domain, something can be wrong.
It doesn't take you 5 minutes to check the provider's imprint, its website and its Google visibility for essential points and this time can save you a lot of trouble in the end.
Of course we didn’t miss it and replied to the e-mail we received as follows: “Hello Mr. # Dubious, that sounds very interesting. So you want to sell a Google optimization to an agency that has been a successful Google partner for 6 years?
You should either reprogram your algorithm again or tell your interns that it wouldn't hurt to actually take a look at the websites before someone is contacted in cold acquisition mode.
That could increase the conversion rate;) P.S .: By the way, your website violates current data protection law - just as a hint ”.
Of course we never received an answer and less than three weeks after this ominous cover letter, the website of the self-proclaimed experts could no longer be reached ...
Case 3: Conquer the online world for 149 €?
Our last example appears to be organized fraud. A friend sees an ad on Facebook that promises to take over the social networks for only € 149.
He clicks on the ad and lands on the website of a GmbH from Aachen. Due to the company name and the well-designed homepage, he does not worry that it might be a dubious offer.
A little later he receives an offer from the same GmbH to create four exclusive Facebook posts per month, which are also advertised within the target group. Including reporting, info sheets with important tips for content marketing and optimization of ongoing campaigns. For € 149 per month! All in! Inclusive taxes! Including advertising costs!
Cheap is by no means always good
Anyone who has dealt with social media marketing or Facebook advertising even a little is already laughing under the table. For everyone else, if someone wants to sell you a diamond-studded Rolex for € 149 - don't buy it!
The offer is of course far too cheap to be serious. Professional social media agencies usually have an hourly rate of 80 to 120 €. No reputable agency can survive with a service package of this kind at a price of € 149.
But unfortunately many fall for such bait offers again and again and so my friend also set out to sign a contract with the provider. It's good that he asked me again beforehand what I thought of the offer.
Fraud, defamation and threats
Here, too, everyone can actually help themselves and simply ask Aunt Google. In this case, the URL was completely different from the company name. This is of course no evidence of dubious machinations, but it is quite strange.
The other search results on the first two pages were much more interesting. In a few minutes it was possible to find out that the company has repeatedly changed its name in recent years and has appeared under at least five different names (which also explains the different URL).
In numerous forums, there were also a number of horror stories from former customers of the company, who reported fraud, defamation and even threats. Not to forget the countless reports that were filed with the Aachen public prosecutor's office against the company or the people behind the company network.
Case 3 conclusion:
Just because someone places an ad on Google or Facebook doesn't mean a reputable company has to hide behind it. If an offer is far too cheap at first glance, there are reasons for this and you should at least show a healthy dose of skepticism.
A little research, which only took a few minutes in all three examples mentioned, is always helpful and can save you a lot of unnecessary costs and even more nerves in the worst case.
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