Why Do Marketers Use Deception?

  • Sumo

DeceptionThe Backlash is Coming

More and more internet marketers are using deceptive sales techniques to use and abuse their lists.

  • They deceive you with the ad swaps and solo ads that they get others to send.
  • They deceive you on the landing pages that you sign up on.
  • They deceive you in the products that they give away.
  • They deceive you in the emails that they send once you’re on their list.

And they expect you to buy from them?

There is a growing concern about this type of marketing amongst those who are attempting to build quality content and real valuable relationships with clients and potential clients.  Many of the people who use these techniques don’t know any better — it’s what they’ve been taught.  But most of them are just looking to squeeze as much juice out of all y’all as they can.

Here is a list of some of the rants that you can find out there:

Let’s Look at an Example

The Ad Swap/Solo Ad

Recently I got an email advertisement that had the subject “I don’t approve of stealing, but this…”  Not a great start if you ask me.  What am I supposed to think?  Should I trust someone who has a reservation about stealing — except for this one thing?

The body of the email basically says that I would probably agree that it is okay for someone to steal something from a person who trusts them <strong>if it is for me</strong>!  Now I’m a criminal.  As long as I benefit then it is okay for someone to betray a trust.

The Landing Page

Well, let’s follow this down the rabbit hole.  Let’s see the landing page I’m being sent to.  Here is a simple page that tells me pretty much nothing about this free gift that I’ll get except that it is used by thousands to get traffic and profits.  An eCover and an opt-in box.  No mention of stealing anything.  Hmm.

There is a couple of limitations though.  This offer is only available on December 7, 2010.  And there are only 17 copies left out of 200 available.  Guess what, I don’t believe either of these statements.

Can I prove that they’re lying?

The Date

Well, it turns out that I can prove at least one of the statements wrong.  Ctrl-Shft-U and up pops the source code of the page.   A quick scan shows me that the date restriction is created using JavaScript to generate the date.  If I was there yesterday then I would have seen “December 6, 2010”.  If I come back tomorrow it will tell me “December 8, 2010”.

Now, it is possible that they put this page up this morning and will take it down at midnight.  But they wouldn’t need to have the JavaScript code to handle it — a hard coded date would have been much easier.  The real test would be to wait until midnight and then reload the page.  I just may do that in the morning and see what’s up.

The Copies Available

I’ll also see if the count drops from 17 after I’ve downloaded the free gift.  Well, after seeing the typical upsell OTO (why do these guys think I’m gonna buy from them before I’ve seen their sample wares?  That’s another discussion altogether) the refresh of the page still shows 17.

Well, I didn’t actually download the product yet, so let’s try that.  Downloading … 3 actual files as part of this product.  Typical Bonus products (although only a few) listed on the download page.

Refresh the landing page.  Still 17 available.  Statement #2 is looking more like a lie.

The Free Gift

Now to take a quick peek at the product.  There is a 25 page guide on traffic, a check list and a process map.  At a quick scan it actually looks like a pretty decent product.  I’m actually impressed with it.  It is well written and is not promoting dishonest traffic techniques.  In fact, it seems to be discouraging that which is refreshing.

It is obviously an introductory product and contains the links to the upsell product that this guy is offering, but I think he’s done a pretty decent job here.  It has some good information and tips for getting started but leaves enough that you’d likely want to buy the main product to get the rest of the details.

Still, no mention of stealing, so I have no clue what the original email was all about.

The New List

Well, I’m now on a new list.  I imagine it will take some time to see how this one shakes out.  The initial welcome email was simple and concise — link to the gift and encouraging word.  The tone is friendly without pretending to be best buddies.  No “hidden opt-out” or other ridiculous list tricks.

I’m actually looking forward to seeing some email from this guy to find out if he can follow up with the goods.  I hope he can.  The initial contact was a bit rocky and I hope that he changes that landing page.  But he did come through on some decent content in the end and I’m hoping to see some good stuff on his list.


Well, what can we conclude from this?

First of all, we need to look at first impressions.  I nearly didn’t click on the link in the initial email.  It set a bad first impression with the implication that I’d agree to be party to theft if it somehow benefited me. That will colour the feelings that I have towards this new list and it will be a hurdle for him to overcome.

The landing page with the false scarcity was also a problem.  Not everyone would be able to look at the source code of the page and see that it, but the fact is that it was a lie.  That doesn’t lead to trust.

So it seems that we have a decent product and, hopefully, a valuable list that I only got to because I wanted an example to write this post.  Otherwise I would have passed on it.

Second of all, my opinion of the promoter has been diminished.  The original list owner that sent out this ad swap/solo ad has been diminished in my eyes.  Whether he wrote the piece about stealing himself or just used ad copy from the new guy is hard to tell.  But having it in his list hurts his rep.  He needs to look at what he’s promoting and how he’s promoting it.  It will reflect on him and now he has to rebuild a level of trust.

So here are my two pieces of advice for you when you’re trying to build your list:

  • Don’t lie in any part of your sales funnel, from the ads you run through to your sales products.  It destroys trust.
  • Don’t promote anyone who does lie.  It will reflect badly on you.

Followup Posts:

Further Down the Rabbit Hole …

NOTE: This post is a Ramblings Classics. It was originally published at Ramblings on December 8, 2010.

I’ve had the vanbourghini image on my computer for a long time. I have seen it on other sites as well, but never with a credit. If you know who to credit for this image please let me know.

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Why Do Marketers Use Deception? — 1 Comment

  1. Hi Bill
    The thing that I find sad, is the well known marketers now crossing the line. I have unsubscribed from some lists because of this. I don’t condone lies and deceit, and there is too much of it around these days.

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