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Archive for the ‘Buyer Beware’ Category

Do You Believe Everything You Get in Your Inbox?

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Every day I receive spam in my inbox that some spambot sent about how they can help me build a better website at a cheaper price, get me on the 1st page of Google, help me with my AdWords, build a better email template, shopping cart, social media strategy, blah blah blah blah blah….  I promptly curse at the practice of spamming, delete the emails and then go about my day. 

The only problem is my clients get these emails every day too, and apparently they aren’t aware these emails are spam, scams, phishing attempts, and other malicious malcontents.  So quite often I have clients forwarding these spam emails to me saying, “Hey this company says my website rankings stink and they can help!  What’s the deal??”  So now I have to take time out of my busy day to try to explain the difference between legitimate email (people who you already know, or companies with which you have an established relationship) and spam.  So in reality, spam is a double productivity killer for me…  GRRR!!

Since it’s apparently difficult for the regular email consumer to know the difference between legitimate email and spam I’ve decided to offer the following advice:

1)  According to the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 it is illegal for companies to email you unless you’ve explicitly authorized them to email you, or you’ve done business with them and they are emailing you as a result of the ongoing relationship you have with their company.  So, do you want to do business with someone who is violating federal law?

2)  If someone is sending you an email out of the blue soliciting their services and you’ve never heard of them before, DELETE IT.

3)  If someone is sending you an email from a Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Live or other ‘free’ email account soliciting their services, DELETE IT.  (This isn’t foolproof, but they are more likely to be a legitimate company if they have a real website address. I don’t send email to my clients using my Gmail account, I send email using my email account.)

4)  When it comes to people sending you spam about how they “just looked at your website and noticed you don’t rank well on the search engines”, DELETE IT.  They didn’t look at your website, they unleashed a spambot across the internet hoping it would get into enough people’s inboxes and that a few people would actually respond.  In fact, even Google gets these same emails!  Here is an excerpt from the Google Webmaster Tools website:

  • Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.

Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:
I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”
Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.


I can’t say it any better, Google… I can’t say it any better.



While I was preparing this Blog post I received the following spam through my Facebook page:

Robert Martin              4:08pm

Estate Investment Project proposal:
Dear, I came across your page in this social network website during my official browsing hours, and decided to contact you right away. Well I have the honor to introduce myself as Robert Martin, a citizen of Jordan, but currently residing in the United Kingdom where I run an estate development firm. However, I contacted you with the view to build a mutual investment partnership with regard to the desire to invest in estate development over there in your country, if you are willing to partner with me in this estate investment project in view, be assured that the project will be to our great advantage, because real estate investment has being lucrative and rewarding worldwide, feel free to send an e-mail for more briefing and other necessary information. However, if this partnership proposal is against your moral ethics, accepts my apologies . In the same vain, if you are interested, do write back to me with this email, as I will be glad to receive your response. Yours, ROBERT MARTIN


Need I say any more????!!!!


Price Arbitrage Vs Transparency

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Price arbitrage was again brought to the forefront when Facebook recently changed their policies to prevent the practice within their advertising network.  This practice involves ad agencies buying large chunks of web advertising inventory, and then reselling it to their clients at a premium price.  That allows the ad agency to make profit from managing their clients’ ad campaigns, and also profit off the margin.  This practice is much more common among large media companies and is legal (even though if you tried the same practice on Wall Street you’d be in federal prison.)   Recently large corporations have started asking questions about how their ad budget is being spent and have been pulling out of agencies who can’t (or won’t) be transparent about the issue.  Read more about this on AdWeek.

You may be saying to yourself, “well I’m a small company and I’m not working with those large agencies so I don’t have to worry about it.”  Unfortunately this practice happens on a different level with smaller agencies.  For example, often agencies will create a Google AdWords account for their clients and never give them access to it.  They charge a flat fee to their client which includes the ad budget and the fee the company charges to manage the campaign.  Unfortunately at the end of the day the client doesn’t really know how much of their monthly costs are going toward ad budget and how much the agency is pocketing.  Unscrupulous agencies have been known to mislead their clients on exactly where their money is going. 

To prevent this from happening to you, make sure if an agency is managing an ad campaign for you that the campaign is created in your account and your credit card is being charged directly by Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, or whichever ad networks are being used.   Not only does this allow you to fully account for your ad budget, it also provides portability if you ever decide to leave that agency and work with another.  For example if an agency is managing your Google AdWords campaign and you decide to take it elsewhere, if you do can’t take your account and ad campaign to the new company they have to setup the campaign from scratch.  That means you lose all your account history and Quality Scores.  In the long run that means you are going to pay more money.

At the end of the day make sure you have control over your web properties, your accounts, and demand transparency when it comes to your ad budget and how your money is being spent.