5 Digital Marketing Scams to Avoid

Written by: Levy Online on

There’s no denying that digital marketing is a robust industry that can have a significant effect on your business. This includes strategies such as pay-per-click marketing (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), banner advertising, content marketing and other advertising methods that are deliverable online.

Laptop screen with marketing strategy

Unfortunately, there are several cases in which a so-called “marketing agency” will prey on unsuspecting or uninformed business owners and managers. These hoax companies make false promises and take advantage of people who are trying to grow their businesses. Although you may be marketing savvy and aware of the typical schemes, here are some ways to spot a marketing scam and why they should be avoided.

1. Directory Listing Promises

Online directories can provide value and increased visibility if they are trusted, high-quality lists. However, there are plenty of directories out there that will never yield results or give you potential leads. Some directories that customers typically value and trust include HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, Houzz, and even Yelp. For attorneys, in particular, Avvo, Justia, and lawyers.com are the ones that matter. Depending on your industry, there are online directories that will help your business connect with customers and generate conversions.

Unfortunately, some scam marketers will make promises to unsuspecting clients to submit their company information to directories, along with a hefty price tag. Some of these “professional” agencies will then send your company’s details to hundreds of useless directories that won’t make any difference to your bottom line. It can also be harmful to your brand to have your company listed on these low-quality sites. If your marketing agency brings up submissions to directories, make sure you know which lists they are referring to and exactly how being included in these directories will deliver value.

2. Calls from Digital Marketers Claiming Your Website is Broken

While your website is probably not perfect and may have some technical problems, business owners should always be wary when receiving a direct call from a digital marketer claiming they can fix specific issues. There are churn-and-burn digital agencies out there that search for websites that show signs of needing “fixes” without really understanding why certain things on the backend of a website are set up the way they are. In fact, some technical changes that are not considered “conventional” are done intentionally by trained website developers.

If you do get a call from a so-called professional digital marketer who starts listing the issues on your website, don’t jump on board right away. Speak directly with your web developers about any concerns to better understand why your website is set up the way it is. They should be able to fix your technical problems if you actually have any. You can also contact a proven digital marketing agency and ask for a free consultation before committing to spending money.

3. Fake Client Portfolios

If you are actively looking for a digital agency to help you with your marketing efforts, one thing to carefully consider is that company’s work portfolio. You want to see which companies the agency has worked with and specific results they were able to accomplish through their efforts. After all, you want to make sure you’re hiring an experienced agency with proven success.

Unfortunately, some agencies are not completely honest when it comes to this aspect of their business. Scam agencies may even fabricate entire marketing campaigns to draw you in when they really have no professional experience at all. This is why it’s so essential to do your due diligence when vetting digital marketers by looking carefully at their work, reading client testimonials, and reviewing online ratings and reviews on third-party platforms. You don’t want to get stuck paying an amateur company that is unable to deliver what they promised.

4. Unrealistic Google Ranking Guarantees

Any time you hear that something is guaranteed in the digital marketing arena, there should be some cause for concern. While professional digital marketers can do their best to strategize, implement, and garner results, there is really no way to guarantee an outcome, particularly in the digital industry. Google is continuously updating its algorithms, and what worked one day may not be the case the next day.

SEO data analysis results

An experienced digital agency should be able to explain what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how it should impact your Google rankings for specific keywords. They should also boast about their flexibility and the ability to think on their toes when a new Google algorithm update is released that may affect your business. These are more realistic promises versus a blind guarantee of rankings.

5. Asking for Money to Buy Social Media Followers

Buying social media followers has been a common practice with companies trying to exaggerate their social reach and influence. However, social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, have made substantial efforts to crack down on fake profiles. When buying followers or likes on social media, the majority of them are fake profiles that don’t actually add legitimacy or value to your account. It can actually hurt you by making your profile appear forced and spammy. Ultimately, it’s money down the drain.

Facebook Mobile Screen With Profile Pictures in Background

If building your social presence is a priority for you and your company, the best digital marketing agencies will have solid strategies on how to grow your social media following organically. This usually includes sharing high-quality content, engaging with your audience regularly, and strategically posting during times of high activity. Always ask your agency to share their experience and goals when it comes to social media before committing to a vague proposal.


If you need professional digital marketing services but aren’t sure where to start, you can always contact a few companies and ask for proposals and recommendations based on what you’re trying to achieve. Levy Online is able to do complete website audits and assessments to evaluate whether or not we are the best agency for you. To learn more about our services and how we can help you with your digital marketing efforts, contact our team today! We look forward to partnering with you.

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