Digital Marketing Scams: 7 Tips to Keep You Safe

Digital Marketing Scams: 7 Tips to Keep You Safe

Digital marketing software is anticipated to have more than $43.8 billion and expected revenue for mobile ads alone is projected at $65.9 billion. With these huge numbers involved, there is no wonder there are so many digital marketing companies.

However, not all of these companies are legitimate. Digital marketing scams often target small businesses, luring them into these get-rich quick schemes and promising them fantastic marketing results.

However, if you own a small business, you need to be vigilant about selecting the digital marketing company you work with, as well as the strategies you use to market your business. Here is what you need to know about digital marketing scams and how to protect yourself from them.

What Is a Marketing Scam?

Digital marketing is the process of marketing your business online. Whereas small businesses previously advertised their business by sending out printed advertisements or advertising in newspapers, many businesses today spend their marketing dollars online.

They pay for strategies such as content marketing, search engine optimization, banner advertising, and pay-per-click advertising.

A digital marketing scam is any tactic that promises sound results for your business that uses one of these or many other digital advertising strategies without delivering results.

Examples of Common Digital Marketing Scams

One of the best ways that you can protect yourself from a digital marketing scam is being able to detect it. Here are some of the most common digital marketing scams and how you can avoid them:

SEO Scams

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of crafting your website in a way that alerts search engines like Google that your site is relevant to a given search query. The better a site is optimized, the better search result listing you get. SEO is approximately 5.66 times more likely to yield results than paid search ads.

While SEO can be particularly effective to market your small business, it is also easy for scammers to promise SEO results and get you on the hook for thousands of dollars a month with very little return.

Avoid this scam by:

  • – Researching the company that is offering you this service. If other small businesses have been disappointed with the results, you will likely find this information online.
  • – Running the website through a result tool such as that will show you their domain authority and whether their clients are ranking well for different searches.
  • – Being wary about unreasonable promises. If the company guarantees you will be the #1 search result in Google, it’s probably lying. Google is constantly updating its algorithms, so no digital marketer can realistically predict whether its strategies will be foolproof.

Directory Listing Promises

An online directory can list your name and the name of your business. For example, if you are a lawyer, you may pay to have your name on sites like or If you are a contractor, you may be on Angie’s List.

Industry-specific directories can help potential customers and clients find your business when they perform a local search. However,

These directories are often legitimate. However, the problem arises when you receive unsolicited calls and emails from digital marketers who promise to submit your information to online directories, many of which may be on sites that generally do not matter and do not rank. They may also charge high amounts to do something that may have been free or cost very little.

Minimize your exposure to these types of scams by:

  • – Researching the directories yourself and what it takes to be listed on them
  • – Requesting a list of directories that your marketing company plans to list your business with
  • – Asking about how these directories will provide value to your business

Paying for Social Media Followers

With 3.6 billion people using social media, you would think that there were enough followers to go around. However, some digital marketing scams ask businesses to pay them money to buy social media followers.

Historically, this has been common practice as companies attempt to exaggerate their influence.

Social media companies have responded to this widespread abuse by trying to identify and eliminate fake profiles. When your company is associated with these fake profiles, this may do more harm to your reputation than good if you are associated with spammy content and profiles.

Rather than trying to buy your place of social media influence, it is usually better to try to grow your social media platform organically by:

  • – Regularly posting relevant content
  • – Engaging with your social media followers regularly
  • – Posting at high activity times
  • – Sharing high-quality content

“Fixing” Broken Sites

Another scam that would-be digital marketers may run is to call up small business owners and claim that your site is broken. Sometimes these scammers say that your website has been hacked and offer to fix the problem for you – for a hefty fee.

According to cybersecurity statistics, many of these messages may come from spam email, which is now more likely to make it past your security filters now than it ever was before.

Digital marketing companies may also advertise that they can add links on your site that will help increase your SEO. Link-building can be an effective way to add relevance and authority to your site, but there are many link schemes out there that are prolific but outdated and ineffective.

Avoid this scam by:

  • – Working only with trusted web developers with whom you have initiated contact
  • – Asking the marketing company how the supposed error is impacting your business and what the value is in changing it
  • – Understanding that experienced web developers may take certain steps to secure your site that amateurs may not recognize and see as a “problem”
  • – Requesting a free consultation with the digital marketing agency before committing any money to it

7 Tips on How to Stay Safe When Looking for a Digital Marketing Agency

In addition to the specific tips listed above, follow these tips to avoid digital marketing scams and stay safe online when searching for a digital marketing agency:

  1. 1. Research the credibility and reputation of any digital marketing company that you are considering working with.
  2. 2. Request regular reports from your digital marketing agency to show how they are providing value to your company.
  3.  3. Ask for references from satisfied clients and check for negative postings on popular review sites.
  4. 4. Talk to the person actually doing the work and ask about the strategies they plan to implement to bring value to your company.
  5. 5. Avoid working with companies that charge significant setup fees or that expect you to enter into long contracts with no guaranteed results.
  6. 6. Look at your increased revenue as a measure of success because sometimes companies can drive traffic legitimately or illegitimately but that may not result in more sales.
  7. 7. Avoid working with a company that tries to pressure you to sign up right now.

Now that you know what type of digital marketing scams to watch out for and some additional tips to help keep you safe from them, you can search for a digital marketing agency that will deliver results.

BIO: David Lukić is an information privacy, security and compliance consultant at The passion to make cyber security accessible and interesting has led David to share all the knowledge he has.