Integrity Marketing – Lies Everywhere

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Stop signUpdate: There have been lots of comments on Keith Purkiss’ blog about the giveaway event described below. It seems that much of the fuss is about a miscommunication — see the update in that section for more info…

The more I try to learn about integrity marketing, especially with respect to online marketing, the more discouraged I get. It seems that integrity and morals are a thing of the past. The world seems to be full of lies. Deceit is the order of the day.

Here are a few recent examples.

Dishonest Giveaway

I received a couple emails promoting a new giveaway, the Everyone Wins event. It looked pretty interesting when I saw the list of names that were involved. It seemed that either this giveaway was standing out somehow, or giveaways in general must be making a comeback. There were a couple big names on the list that I don’t recall ever seeing in a giveaway before.

But there was a problem. The mechanism that the event was using is one I’d seen before. It was a violation of Aweber’s terms of use since the members would sign up for the event, but they wouldn’t sign up for each individual list — the event software takes care of that. Aweber doesn’t like that since it breaks the chain of events and they can’t fight a spam complaint.

So I mentioned it to Keith Purkiss, who is one of the guys who emailed me about the event. And guess what he found out? He contacted one of his buddies that was listed as being part of the event. He didn’t have a clue what Keith was talking about! Keith wrote about it in his article Is 2011 Really The Year Of Ethical Marketers? Great question Keith.

Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on it, I never got an email about this event from the big names I recognized. Do you think they’d sign up for an event and not mail their lists? Pretty sad.

Anyway, I’m glad that Keith had the guts to email his list afterwards to warn them and write that post.

Update – November 2, 2011: There have been a lot of comments on Keith’s blog about this event by the organizers and some of the big names that were listed there. A couple of things that have come to light:

  1. One of the marketers listed was not supposed to be there — it was a miscommunication over similar sounding names.
  2. Keith has taken a lot of flak over his post although he was pointing out his concerns to his list and they were not addressed in a timely fashion by the organizers.
  3. The big names shown on the sign up page are not necessarily joining the event as JV partners (some are, some aren’t). Rather, they have contributed prizes for the contest portion of the event. This was not clearly outlined and has probably led to much of the confusion. It’s probable that this was not intended to deceive people.
  4. There is still the issue that one of the people on the list was contacted directly by Keith and said that they didn’t know about the event (he doesn’t name that person).

Comment Spam Reversal?

Then there is the WSO I was emailed about the other day. This was for a WordPress plugin that was designed to increase your blogs attractiveness to Google and the other search engines.

Sounds great, until you read what it is doing. The premise is that Google loves to see comment activity on a blog. Makes sense. So you want to increase the interaction, right?

But how can a plugin do that? It’s simple. It creates fake comments. You read that right — fake comments.

In other words, you end up spamming your own blog with fake comments by fake user names with links to your own properties and/or affiliate links.

You have the option of adding your own comments or just reusing the spam that naturally comes into your blog.

Super honest technique (that is sarcasm for anyone who missed it). But people love it. There were tons of comments on the thread from people gushing with praise and others complaining that the server went down and they couldn’t get their copy quick enough.

Reviews

Another article that popped up in the past few days that caught my attention was Fake Online Hotel Reviews and Other Demons by Rodney Perez. He outlines some of the fiascoes in the hotel review industry, like employees writing fake reviews of their own hotel (positive ones of course) as well as fake reviews of their competitors (negative reviews known as negging).

He also talks about Craigslist ads for positive reviews. I’ve seen similar things on Fiverr.

The same kind of stuff happens on Amazon and other sites that allow users to review a product.

Lies, Lies and More Lies

It is pretty sad that many of the techniques that we use to get traffic and promote our products are based on lies.

I’ve seen advice that tells you to create multiple accounts at social media and bookmarking sites to promote your posts. Others that tell you to hand craft testimonials (note that this is different than encouraging testimonials from actual customers). Fake earnings “screenshots”. Fake comments (automated or not). Spamming blogs and forums. Deceptive email headlines. The list of deceptive techniques seems to grow daily.

So how do we deal with it? The sad fact is that it often works — at least short term. But it leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. And that colours all of us. One bad apple does spoil the whole bunch, no matter what Michael said.

I have a site that has some quality articles about a topic that I know about first hand. But HubPages won’t let me link to that site. I have a link in the sidebar that links to eBooks being sold on Clickbank. Also, it is in a subdomain and the main domain has an eStore that sells eBooks.

Fear of Panda has HubPages rejecting my well written articles because of one or the other of these reasons (they still haven’t clarified which — it could be both).

Let’s have some ideas. How can we do better? How can we stand up against the bad apples and show the world that there really is integrity left online?

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