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Quick Easy Online Marketing or Online Scam?

March 23rd, 2010 | | Local SEO

I’m almost nauseous going into this blog post. It’s not because I just came back from eating an irresponsible amount of Chinese food – sure, that doesn’t help. What is making me nauseous is the latest assault on my local community by a hard selling ad campaign on a SEM/SEO service that will “make leads just fly into your phones and inbox.”
The way that it is sold is very convincing and very exciting. I won’t mention one of the worst offenders here, if you want me to yodel it out to you later, I will.

But rather than do a “this is what they did and this is how they lie” type of thing, I will post some guidelines. It very easy to rebuttal a wrong sales tactic by saying “well, that rep is no longer with us and we do this and this and this now to ensure…” It doesn’t really help anyone to just take someones complaint and use that as a guide.

When pursing your own online campaign or looking for some additional help, this list of guidelines should alleviate the worry.

1. Read reviews of the service/company
This is easier for national services, there are many sites for reviews but to narrow down the search, google the following terms (replace “company” with the name of the service you are researching: “company reviews”, “company complaints”, “company isn’t”, “company didn’t”, “company wasn’t”, and “company wouldn’t.” Take note of the date of the review too. Older negative reviews might be outdated and changes to the company may have been implemented since then.  Always look for the most recent reviews.

2. Do nothing until you fully understand what you are paying for
High pressure sales rely on emotion, agitation, fear and intimidation. Repeated phone calls for your business happen to wear you down. You should never decide to do business with someone until you see it completley spelled out, drawn out, layed out and set in stone. Do you feel like you would annoy the salesperson by doing that? Good! It’s their job to explain things. If it doesn’t make sense to you, then your money should be harder to let go. I’m not going to say “if it’s too good to be true, it must be a scam” because online marketing can bring some amazing results over traditional media. Ask the right questions!
“What am I paying for?”
“What is the competition in my area paying for?”
“What are you going to do to my site?”
“What are you going to do with a mirrored site?”
“How much more per click do you charge rather than me going to google myself?”
“How do you treat my competitors if they sign up for the same thing?”
“What happens to my site if I cancel?”
“What can I expect as far as communication with a rep?”
“If my rep doesn’t call me back or contact me through email, what do I do then?”
“What kind of response do you guarantee?”
“If I’m not satisfied with the amount I paid for my leads, what recourse do I have?”
You get the point. Grill them. Grill them hard. Make them work for your money. If they are not satisfying you on why you should give up your money, they shouldn’t be satisified with closing a sale.

3. Ask for case studies and online examples
The best type information is from real examples of previous customers or current customers. One misstep some people do is not ask for companies in their own industry. Being shown a case study for a vet clinic to promise how the same service will benefit your sandwich shop. If a similar industry is not in their repertoire, I’d negotiate a lower rate due to their lack of experience in your field. If they do show you examples of clients, call and ask to speak with the person they worked with and get feeling of the relationship they have with the online marketing service.

These are just three, but they should put in perspective the research needed to avoid being fleeced. If not watched closely you can mismanage SEO and PPC budgets on your own, but it’s worse when you have a company managing where they don’t have your best interests in mind.

Can you think of any other things you would do or ask before agreeing to a salesperson? Write them in the comments section!

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