There are various forms of online marketing. One of the most common, or popular for new online entrepreneurs, is Affiliate Marketing. And whilst in principle, this is a legitimate industry, there are the inevitable online marketing scams to avoid.
They all revolve around similar online marketing techniques like email marketing, content marketing, niche marketing, banner ads and hyperlinks, and driving traffic through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
But pretty much anyone can create an online presence these days. Take social media for an example. It doesn’t take a long read of most Facebook or Twitter posts to see that there are plenty of unsavoury characters around with the ability to post whatever they want.
So, if you are a budding online marketer, you want to keep your eyes open and learn how to identify and avoid the online marketing scams so you don’t start losing money before you earn a dime.
Scammers are pretty good at masking themselves and often use seemingly legitimate opportunities to lead people into their programs.
If you talk to anyone who is making a successful living through online marketing, most of them will give you an account of the scams they have seen or been caught up in and money they have lost along the way.
Let’s look at some of the things to avoid and how to spot them.
The “Get Rich Quick” Scheme
Shiny lights, sparkling teeth, fast cars and mansions, bikinis clad entourages and good looking blokes.
You have seen the ads. They are ever present on social media, email marketing (“how the heck did they get my email address?”) and internet pop up ads.
The promise of riches for little or no work.
It is a common online marketing scam to avoid – the “get rich quick scheme” that offers foolproof methods for earning big dollars without putting in much effort.
The deal usually requires you to buy access to a training course or a ‘Secret method’ where you will learn all the fast track methods that got them from Zero to Hero in 6 months.
These scams prey on the people who can least afford to lose their money. But because they are desperate to get ahead, will fall for the trap.
Generally, you are required to enter your credit card details and hand over your money before you really even know what you are getting. Once you are in and paid, you get sent on a goose chase with links to so much information about nothing that you just give up.
Unless you win the lottery, the chances of you getting rich overnight for doing nothing is impossible.
If it looks too good to be true, It probably is too good to be true.
Fake Products and Services
With online marketing, you are generally promoting a product or service. It’s the same whether you are doing Drop Shipping, selling on eBay or Amazon or Affiliate Marketing. Doesn’t matter if you own the products or service that you are selling – there is something tangible that is being transacted.
However, some scammers create fake services or products and blatantly use the name of a reputable company or celebrity as click bait. Which can make it hard to identify.
Generally, the deal with these ones is that you are lured into paying money to join a program with the belief/promise of increased returns. The words “Pyramid scheme” comes to mind, but also buying and selling “Futures” and “Bitcoins” is popular with the fakers.
These online opportunities are promoted by paid actors who say they are killing it in the program and describe how easy it all is to double, triple your money ….
The only one who makes money here is the scammer. And generally the scammers get away with your money and it all closes down before you figure out what’s going on.
Memberships Programs Paid Upfront
This is another one that really gets me fired up.
It’s paying for memberships to programs before you get to even see what is on offer.
Have you ever come across that?
You see a training program online that sells you on the outcomes but you actually have no idea what they are offering to achieve the results promised. But then you find out you have to plug in your credit card and cough up your hard earned cash, upfront.
Then they send you a link to a rehashed, out of date online training program or send you a series of generic ebooks (probably reproduced from free online content).
Information and trends on the interweb change so fast. So materials from 2, 3 or 5 years ago are old news and of no use to you. You need current updated material to succeed online.
Most of these programs are subscription based as well. So now you have to find out how to cancel your subscription.
Good luck with that!
Always find the exit strategy before you sign up to anything online. Save URLs that you visit. Screenshot guarantees and contact details so you can refer to them when its time to opt out.
Arggh! Don’t get me started.
This is another of the all-time online marketing scams to avoid. The up-sell offers.
Often you see products advertised that sound fantastic, that could be of great use to you and they are cheap as chips.
So you buy the program and, whoops .. my bad! You’re going to need to buy this upgrade or what you have just already purchased isn’t really going to work too well.
And then the cycle begins.
So you get fed up with the Up-sells and decide, ”what the heck, I’m out of here”. So you go to push the X in the top right corner. Then, Hello, it’s Down-Sell time!
You want to leave, so they offer you the whole thing at 50% off, but you have to buy it now.
“Ok … so that doesn’t sound too bad. I’m already in hock to them for $50. Another $50 is not going to hurt, right? After all, it was $175 just a minute ago, so I’m getting a bargain.”
Then it is UP Sell time again! .. you see the pattern! You have probably been there already.
If there is not a clear and defined offer in play then don’t go there.
These are just a couple of examples and there are hundreds more popping up every day. So the key is to be inquiring and not take what is dished up online at face value.
Some key points to take away:
All that glitters is not gold. Don’t be taken in by the fancy ads with promises of wealth overnight. The reality is that you have to do something to get somewhere. Successful people did not just become successful overnight – they have probably put in a lot of hard work and hours to get there.
If you don’t know what the program is about or how it works, then don’t buy it. What do you know about Binary Trading? Nothing? Then why the heck would you give someone money to send you access to their “done for you” binary trading software?
Look for programs and training that offer FREE trial access. And even better still find the ones that offer Free Access without having to give them your Credit Card details upfront. Check out the Wealthy Affiliate business platform – they offer this.
Avoid Up-sell and Down-sell offers…. Sure, upgrades within a program
can be ok, but look out for the programs that offer a one time cost – no up-selling – a known monthly or annual or one-off fee. Then you can budget properly and know what your ROI –Return on Investment needs to be.
Don’t be in a hurry to become rich overnight. Build a sustainable business that will hold you in good stead for years to come.
Check the reviews online. If you are thinking of joining a program do your research first – you will be surprised what you might find that could save you.
17 thoughts on “How to Avoid Online Marketing Scams”
Thank you for this informative post. Quite educating for newbies like in online business. Your tips are quite valid because seeing those posts, one could have easily identify the scams if you’re not greedy. I have know that there is no and won’t be any shortcut to success. All the fantasies being sold online on how to quickly get rich are nothing but scam. Thank you for educating me
I have been scammed, many times over the internet. But the one that I consider the worse is the one I fell for in the name of decentralization. Fake companies offering Initial Coin Offering to rake in free money from unsuspecting victims.If it is too shiny, it is definitely not a gold, or it may be one what is too alloyed. You are so right about wealthy affiliate, I recommend it!
Yes I have certainly been caught up in scams earlier in my career. But being able to identify the early now makes a big difference.
Hey James. This is a really good read. And I completely agree with you. Every person on the internet needs to be aware of how to avoid scams online. With so many offers, it can be very hard to tell offers are real and what is not. And it seems that marketers are only getting better at deception which is worse for all consumers. I have noticed the upsell trend a lot. You Buy this $30 service, and oh wait, for just $50 dollars more and you buy it, and oh wait… Always finding the exit strategy is a great tip BTW. I always check out the company’s website thoroughly and try to find links to support before I buy. I have also noticed if a digital product has an affiliate program, sometimes you can learn about their marketing funnel and how many up sell levels there are. We all need to be super aware, assume it is a scam and research enough to prove it is not. Thanks!
Hi Kim, thanks heaps for your comments. I certainly found that investigating a program’s website for their support options and refund policy (if they exist) is the best first step with any program.
Unsells strategies are my biggest hate. I do a lot of views on JVZoo programs and it astounding how me seemly good programs have stupid upsells that ill their product.
Yep, research everything.
Thanks for the wonderful topic you’re discussing today and I know it’ll be beneficial to all the readers. Most times when we search the internet to get or sort ways to earn a living we mostly end up in hands of scammers! Scammers are everywhere but no one is to be blamed for falling victim moreover just as you’ve mentioned, some scammers create fake services or products and blatantly use the name of a reputable company or celebrity as click bait. Which can make it hard to identify.
Hi Salim, some of the scammers are getting so good with their work these days it is hard to tell the legit opportunities. We just need to remember to look for and identify ways to get out of a program or payment option before committing any money to them.
Hey there James,
thanks a lot for such descriptive and informative article, I found it to be very helpful and I’ve also learned some new things today. As far as avoiding online marketing scams goes, well I have to say- from my personal experience I’ve encountered quite many of them, and honestly it bothers me how much scam, fake products and lies there is on the internet & market out there, especially in online money making niche. The biggest red flag for me personally and the one which I’ve seen the most is when a product claims that a person will get rich quick with their product/scheme in a matter of weeks, without putting any effort. We all know it’s nonsense, because achieving great results & big success in business requires a lot of patience, dedication, hard work, and there is now other way around it. People need to realise that to reach big success in anything that You do in life, You have to be ready to put in a lot of sweat, blood & tears. Another big & quite common red flag is when the creators of the product hide their identities & location. If a company, or the creator is so sure about their product’s legitimacy & effectiveness, why hide from the community? Doesn’t make sense to me. By doing that company creates a very bad image about themselves and leave a very bitter taste in the mouth of consumer, and that’s not the way to approach things. I really liked Your advice about finding the exit strategy before signing up to anything online, which I will be sure to follow it and implement it into my daily routine of searching for new online money making products & programs.
Anyways, keep up the great work James and best of luck to You 😉
Hi Evald, and another common thing happening is where an online scam will disappear overnight then rehash itself a few days, weeks etc down the track with a different name. Same product, but new marketing…. keeps them fresh and ready to target new people.
All the best to you …
James, great advice on what to look out for in regards to scams.
Personally I have seen or tried some this options you mentioned in your article. Took me a long time and lots of frustration before finding a program that wasn’t a scam. It became clear when I finally understood that there isn’t a get rich quick for legit business build in life.
Hi Scott yes I think most of us have been there too. its refreshing when you come across the ones that are legitimate and offer great opportunities. When I came across Wealthy Affiliate I had just been burned with an MLM group…it all just looked too good and too easy, but the reality was quite different. So I left out of pocket. With Wealthy Affiliate program, if nothing else at all happened, at least I leave with knowledge of online business development, website development and online marketing… the training alone is worth it. Fortunately, it works for me and I have not looked back.
I can’t agree with you more that one has to be extra vigilant when searching for a way to make money with the internet. I remember my past scam experience clearly as if it was yesterday. I knew it was possible to create a fortune with the internet but didn’t know the right way to do it. In my desperation, I jumped on every train that goes “make money online” and that returned me a huge loss in terms of time and money until I finally learned to do things right.
Now that I’m in the known, programs with upsells are a no-go area for me and I’m glad you stated it. Now it’s a bit hard to tell if an offer is a scam unless you’re experienced because these scammers are also upgrading their strategies. So keep up the good work in helping newbies to avoid them.
Hi DerrAd, I mentioned the Up-sell programs in this post but I guess they are not always really considered to be a scam. They are more so just really annoying and you find yourself getting overwhelmed with the offers. I’m most case when I have come across these ones I lose interest after I get to the first up-sell .. so I guess I lose my initial outlay. Some potentially good programs get ruined by silly up-sell / down-sell marketing techniques.
Your page is very helpful for the person who doesn’t know anything about online marketing. I, personally have tried a couple other things before I found WA, and none of them work! I will mention, and the one that I probably lost the most money on, is MLM, Multilevel Marketing. You didn’t list that one, and that is huge!! They pump you full of dreams to get rich because there are people who did, but they are few. For the average person to get to those 6 figure incomes, is almost impossible unless you are directly under their immediate umbrella! I just lost a lot of money on one that I really thought would work, I learned that lesson well! I gave it my all, but thankfully it only took me about 6 months to realize it wasn’t going to work! I was living and dreaming it, stressing myself out about it, but now I’m over it!
Hi there, Yes I can see why you would want to include MLMs in the list. I have also been burned here … spent a lot of money chasing a dream, alienating friends and family and feeling a bit foolish. But I do know personally a few people who have made good from reputable MLM groups, so hard for me to call it a scam. For me … it was not a fit for my personality. It was a bitter pill to swallow though.
Great topic and great advice when you are interested in internet marketing. Kudos to you on this
particularly topic because many many have falled victims some over times. It is how ever alarming
the rate these scammers get to victimise people , they are prone to different tecniques towards their
loot. As you have clearly stated , no legitimate online marketing could make you rich over night and the
traps people fall into like the ones you have mentioned are just few . When you have programmes you
can register on for free without credit card requirements like WA, it is a sign that it is legitimate and you can
intergrate in the community to research and find the authenticity yourself .
I would highly commend on this beautiful blog because the knowledge can safe so many and act as a warning to identify
scammers and real people. Thank you
Thanks Stella for your comments. I am glad you have been able to find WA as well because it really does off a full transparent free access to look around, and as you say, integrate with the community to research and try it out. I’m actually not sure I have seen anything else that does that online … but I am not looking anymore !
All the best with your career.