by Chrissy Jones
Have you ever received an email that promised you amazing business leads, guaranteed web traffic or your dream marketing job that almost seemed too good to be true? If that sounds familiar–you’re not alone. From lead generation fraud and SEO scams to social media click farms and shady social media influencers, marketing scams are a growing problem targeting and exploiting businesses like yours. Marketing has become a huge global industry, driving business growth and success, and scammers are taking advantage, siphoning off more than 20% of your digital advertising budget. They don’t spare job seekers either. With fake job ads, scammers are also duping ambitious individuals eager to break into the marketing industry with the promise of job roles that simply don’t exist. So, how can you protect yourself from these modern-day marketing pirates?
A Very Real Threat
Marketing scams can hit you in the two places that will hurt you the most, your wallet and your reputation. For small businesses, the financial losses can be crippling, which you may struggle to fully recover from. If you’re a larger business, you may be able to absorb the financial loss but you may take a significant hit to your reputation and credibility. With their sights on your money, personal data, and more, scammers are getting more sophisticated and, unfortunately, better at what they do. They’re constantly coming up with new innovative tricks to fool their targets. Scams like fake tech support calls and phishing emails are just two examples of marketing scams that are on the rise that threaten your cybersecurity. Digital advertising fraud alone costs a staggering $120 billion a year, with scammers inflating performance metrics and impersonating brands and websites to deceive advertisers.
Beware of Fake Influencers
The incredible rise of social media has given birth to a new breed of celebrities: social media influencers. With millions of followers, they can command mind-blowing fees for a single post. But as we are seeing with many aspects of marketing, this popularity has a dark side, fake influencers. These scammers don’t earn their followers through engagement; they buy them, creating a facade of influence. This means you may partner with someone who, in reality, has zero real impact. In fact–fake social media influencers cost advertisers an eye-watering $1.3 billion a year. To safeguard your marketing budget, scrutinize potential influencers carefully. Check their background, engagement rates, and content consistency and authenticity before investing in them. Don’t be afraid to walk away if you have any doubts.
Don’t Get Hooked By Phishing Emails
Have you recently had an email out of the blue promising you great things for your business and inviting you to click on some links to learn about the sender’s services? If that sounds familiar, you need to tread carefully. Phishing and email marketing scams are another prevalent threat that often flies under the radar but are just as big a threat as any corporate data breach. Phishing often results in identity theft and financial loss. But it can get even worse by providing scammers and hackers with an entry point for potentially devastating malware attacks. Scammers are also getting smarter, sending emails impersonating legitimate brands that look alarmingly legitimate, complete with links to fraudulent websites. Some of these emails may even ask you to download attachments that could wreak havoc on your devices and networks. To stay safe, always verify the sender, avoid clicking on suspicious links, and never share sensitive information via email.
How to Protect Yourself and Your Business
Whether you’re an aspiring marketer or business owner, vigilance is your best defense against marketing scammers. Research potential marketing partners meticulously before agreeing to anything. Check their credentials, reviews, and references. Create clear, legally binding contracts that outline your expectations so there can be no confusion. It’s also wise to avoid making any substantial payments upfront. In fact, if you’re asked for a large down payment, treat this as a red flag. Keep your team informed about the latest scams, and invest in robust email security. If you do come across what you believe to be a marketing scam, report it immediately to the relevant authorities to help others avoid falling into the same traps.
While the marketing industry is full of promise for ambitious businesses and marketers, it’s essential to stay aware of the scams that can threaten your investment.